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U.S. Census: Blacks Flee Cities for Suburbs

Barrington M. Salmon | , WI Staff Writer | 2/6/2012, 8:51 p.m.

Harrison said there is a "preference queue" which favors people other than blacks and Latinos. Perhaps the most distinctive feature of this queue is the fact that black and Hispanics are the last to be hired.

"The sectors of growth [in the economy] are not owned by blacks," he said. "Affirmative action and the allocation of fair shares - that's where we need to concentrate. Blacks have a history of [chronic] unemployment ... blacks and Hispanics will be the last to be hired. It is incredibly powerful how you can trace these patterns out."

"We are repeating a pattern that is not a legacy of discrimination or racism but it happens. I'd like to see us get past this cycle."

Harrison says alliances and partnership are one viable way blacks can consolidate their political and economic power.

"The direction has to be toward coalition, to link with people of similar political priorities, not voting blocs of one color but organized around the issues people have," he said. "Ninety percent of black and Hispanic agendas overlap. There is no reason why we should not form coalitions to address education, housing, health and employment issues blacks may have been fighting for for decades."

Hard Economic Realities Decimating the Black Community

All of the panelists acknowledged the severe pressures blacks and other Americans are dealing with because of the economic meltdown in 2008, the lingering recession and the dearth of jobs and other opportunities.

Malveaux said of the young women from the graduating class of 2011, one-third couldn't find the jobs they wanted so many of them applied to graduate school or took jobs outside of their fields.

"This particular generation is turned off with the process and need to identify the economic rewards," she said. "It's what have you done for me lately. Young people are dealing with economic survival, dealing with paying tuition and trying to find where the jobs are."

From a political standpoint, some panelists said, the fact that young people generally have less enthusiasm for President Obama and the political process than four years ago presents potential problems as the November elections draw near.

Add to that the concerted attempt by state legislatures to gerrymander as they redraw districts that will dilute 'black and brown power'; deep budget cuts at the state and local level; the sustained backlash against public employees by Republicans; high unemployment, race and gender inequities, racism and discrimination, and the situation looks bleak, some said.

Johnson's comment that black Americans need to consider different approaches through creative thinking and innovation prompted nods of agreement from fellow panelists and the audience.

But Coulter and National Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial said now is not the time for people to shy away from the challenges that face black America.

"We need to gain more courage in attacking these issues," Coulter asserted. "We need to ... become more creative."