Yesterday the US Labor Department released the latest economic figures highlighting the staggering inequality that exists for African American New Yorkers today. Since the start of the recession in 2008 this group has experienced the sharpest declines in employment opportunity, which has no doubt added further hardship to families and communities already struggling under the weight of rapidly high costs of living, housing and transportation in New York. This is especially so for residents of the 13th Congressional District, which is currently experiencing approximately double the city-wide unemployment rate.
This is one of the most critical issues facing our District today, not which elected representative deserves another term over another. While the political establishment in Harlem has remained focused on sustaining its own self-interests, the economic outlook for families throughout Upper Manhattan and the Bronx has continued to flounder. People are tired of their leaders telling them they sympathize with their plight, then turning around and doing nothing. We need change in our District, the community knows it and the incumbent leadership does too.
This data also helps to underscore that, despite the divisive rhetoric that’s been a mainstay during most of this race, the issues facing Black and Latino Americans are largely the same: economic inequality, lack of job opportunities, poor schools, unequal rights. The 13th C.D. needs leadership that is capable of working across the aisle to unite people of all races, ethnicities, genders, and political agendas. This united front is the only way that we will collectively win the future.
What we need are leaders who are centrally focused on finding solutions to what is ailing the community. We need investments in youth employment and job training programs so that our young people are adequately prepared to enter the workforce. We need to seek out economic development opportunities that will more evenly spread the bread and butter that are New York’s hospitality and tourism industry and ensure that people in the community have access to jobs resulting from those projects. We must give small business owners strong incentives to hire people from the community, so that we’re able to keep jobs here and fuel the entrepreneurial spirit that has long been a staple of local economic sustainability.
Next Tuesday, 13th District residents will cast their vote for the person who can best accomplish these goals and set Upper Manhattan back on track towards true and lasting recovery. Your votes will represent the very real possibility for a better, brighter future for the community, city, and nation. If you elect me to Congress, I promise you that will be the person to help get us there. I hope I can count on your support on Primary Day.