Black Workers

For many black men, work is not in their future

Automation is quickly pushing black men out of the workforce

Corporations are being pushed to include racial equity in their hiring

Why aren’t black people talking about this crucial issue?

By Frederick H. Lowe


Black men are predicted to suffer even higher unemployment then they do now because they work jobs that will be replaced by artificial intelligence.

Kiosks at McDonalds have replaced humans

McKinsey & Company, a global management-consulting firm, predicts African Americans will lose 4.5 million jobs because of automation by 2030, and black men will be hit the hardest. McKinsey’s report, titled “The Future of Work in Black America,” said black men are overrepresented in jobs that will be affected by automation.

Artificial intelligence—the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence—will hurt black men more than other groups, including black women, because black  men are employed at high rates by the service economy, fast-food restaurants, bus driving, the mechanical industry and other sectors of production work. Artificial intelligence is expected to disrupt 34% to 36% of jobs in those sectors, McKinsey predicts, unless something is done.

The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a Washington-based think tank for black-elected officials that was consulted by McKinsey, said automation will have a disproportionate effect on black workers.  Yeas ago when this issue surfaced, Spencer Overton,  president of the Joint Center, said corporations must incorporate racial equity in their future work analysis.

Black women will be less affected by automation, but it will affect 60 percent of black men who don’t have either  a college degree or some type of bullet-proof technologyl training.

We are already seeing automation replacing jobs once held by black men.

When McDonald’s first opened, young girls and boys greeted customers. Now customers select their meals and drinks at kiosks. Customers pay for their purchases by swiping their credit or their debit cards.

Once the burgers, fries and drink are paid for, the customer is given a number. An employee calls out the number and the customer retrieves a bag containing his or her order.

We also can see the loss of jobs once held by black men at Los Angeles International Airport where I embarked from for my return trip to Chicago.

When I checked my luggage for my American Airlines flight, I booked my bag by computer. The baggage claim check was texted to my cellphone, eliminating the need for me to pay a black man to take my bag at the curb. I typed in the baggage claim number at one of kiosks located near the airport’s check-in counter.

American Airlines kiosk

The black community owns some of the blame for this looming disaster.

Black men were encouraged to get a “good job,” the accepted language for a job that paid regularly but offered little or no opportunity personal growth.

Because of our terrible history in this country, where we were slaves and earned nothing for our back-breaking work, I can see why those ideas took precedence. We took what whites gave us.

Ernie Hudson

In the 1984 movie “Ghostbusters” the reaction of a black job applicant is typical. And Hollywood turned it into comic scene..

Black actor Ernie Hudson plays Winston Zeeddemore, a job applicant at Ghostbusters, a New York -based company that hunts ghosts.

The interviewer played by actress Annie Potts asks Zeddemore a series of technical questions pertaining to the job.

Zeddemore doesn’t answer any of them. He says, “As long as it has a steady paycheck, I’ll take the job.”

On the other hand, black women are urged to get an education.

Black man 20 and older suffer much higher rates of unemployment compared with other men in the same age group, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Andrew Yang

Although more black men are attending and graduating from college, it is not clear if the trend will slow down or stop this looming disaster.

Andrew Yang, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for president, is the only candidate who so far has discussed the perils of automation. Yang has received very little support from black voters about this crucial issue.

Yang and the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies are ringing the alarm bells about this issue, but many in the black community aren’t listening.



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