By Robert Stitt
When Michael Jordan faced the aliens in Space Jam he was in quite a fix. He was the greatest basketball player on the planet, but none of that mattered when the deck was so severely stacked against him. The aliens had stolen the talent from all the great basketball players and used it to improve themselves. It wasn’t until the Looney Tunes characters agreed to do whatever it took to fight back, that they were able to overcome.
If this epic battle sounds a lot like your life, then you may be an African American in the United States.
The country was built on the backs, talents and abilities of black Americans, but their resources were stolen from them. As with Michael Jordan in the ballgame, for many black Americans it really does not matter how talented, skilled, or educated they are because the game is rigged against them.
In Space Jam, it took one of their friends, Stan, to discover the alien’s ruse so the ‘Tunes could start to fight back. In black America, Yolanda Spivey plays the part of Stan. She has discovered part of the ruse that has been keeping the game unwinnable.
Spivey has the talent and ability to succeed. She has a bachelor’s degree in English and 14 years of experience in the insurance industry. Yet, according to NBC News, when looking for a job, she was not only unable to find one, she was not even getting calls.
“I was told…go to school and you’ll be fine for the rest of your life. But obviously that’s a lie,” Spivey said.
Spivey then did an experiment. She created a new profile on the same job site she had been using, Monster.com. This time, however, she used the name Bianca White and listed her race as white – all other information was kept the same.
According to Financial Juneteenth, the next day Spivey got calls for Bianca White and her email inbox was “packed with potential employers calling for an interview.” Some of the employers called for Bianca more than once. Despite having the same exact qualifications and listing on the same job service, the profile for Yolanda Spivey did not receive interest. “Potential positions offering a competitive salary and benefits all went to Bianca.”
Spivey said she learned that “resumes with ethnic sounding names may go into the wastebasket and never see the light of day. The result is that black women have an unemployment rate that’s twice the national average.
Unable to find work the traditional way, Spivey started her own insurance brokerage firm. Developing a client list takes time, however, and bills don’t wait. “My home is about to be foreclosed on. I might have to file for bankruptcy,” Spivey said. “I did everything that I thought I should do in order to compete in this workforce.”
Unemployment has more consequences than just creating a hard time financially. The stress causes health issues, children see their parents struggling and learn from a young age that the American dream is not for them, and the self worth of parents and children alike is challenged.
According to Professor George Lipsitz of the University of California, Santa Barbara, “If Black children are in poverty, they’re almost certain to stay there for three or four generations.”
Unlike Space Jam, this story does not currently have a happy ending. We can, however, hope that we are just entering the second half, and if so, it’s time to pull out all the stops and fight for that win!