Minnesota is home to more Fortune 500 companies per capita than 48 other states. Our current count is 19 and they play a significant role in our states economy. But for the the random brotha on the block, our state could be home to all 500 companies and it wouldn’t make a difference. The reality is, those 19 companies are not concerned with him and he ain’t concerned about them.
Here is why, African Americans have an unemployment rate of 27% versus 5.9% for white folks. So, the presence of those 19 companies is not creating jobs in communities like North Minneapolis. Oh, and did I mention that we (African Americans) only make up 5% of the state’s population but 35% of the state’s prison population. This leads to a higher rate of criminal histories in our community and this is a serious barrier to employment. The conversation around employment ends before it is given a chance to start.
So, how does this translate?
On Broadway and Emerson Avenue, the conversation sounds like this: “I got a felony, ain’t no one trying to hire me.” On Dr. Martin Luther King Drive(AKA the State Capital), it sounds like: “I voted for Ban the Box, isn’t that enough?” and on Nicollet Mall and 10th street it sounds like: “I have to consider the safety of my customers.” And when the conversation is over, we have the worst racial jobs gap in the country.
The hundreds of people who have taken action with Justice 4 All leaders over the past year are not ok with this conversation. Rather, we expect people on the block to keep applying to jobs. We expect elected officials to keep advocating for policy that will create access to employment. And we expect corporations to work with the community to create real opportunity.
This is why we are sitting down with Target Corporation and asking them to take action with the community. Specifically, we need structural change at the policy level. “Ban the Box” was just the beginning of the conversation. We also need services in our community that go beyond workforce strategies, but help people navigate the legality of life with a criminal history. Finally, we want companies to adopt a business model that is based on equity and people. Target is good example of a company that works hard to volunteer in the community and invest in projects like education. But, we need more than just volunteers in our community, and while education is always a good investment. I have had far too many conversations with students who are worried more about their parents getting a job than their grades.
As one of those 19 Fortune 500 companies and as the 3rd largest employer in our state, Target has a unique position in this conversation. The racial jobs gap won’t close itself, we need corporations, elected officials and YOU taking action on this issue.
Join us on Thursday, October 24th at the Capri Theater at 6pm. We will be sitting down with Target leadership and leaders from the Justice 4 All campaign to take action on this issue. Come and see what we can do together.