Economic Disparities for People of Color

The American Indian OIC has long recognized the importance of education as a pre-requisite for embarking upon a career within the modern economy. Without training and a highly developed skill set, employment becomes nothing more than a mere job acquisition – which only serves as temporary alleviation of long-term economic distress. This is not a solution the people of our community are interested in nor can they advance in this environment. Instead, AIOIC supports a robust training and educational model that will empower candidates to be hired in positions in professional careers and that will allow themselves and their families to thrive within the 21st Century. Unfortunately, the current investment in “career training” for populations of poverty – which tend to be highly comprised of people of color – only allow quick, low-skilled options which lead to low skill, low wage jobs. According to the most recent Affirmative Action Data Packet (a joint research effort between MN DEED and the Minnesota Office of Human Rights that examines employment data along racial lines every five years) the greater Twin Cities region continues to exhibit a gulf between non-minority people and minority people in terms of securing long-term and innovative career pathways. The most recent report, covering the years between 2006 through 2010, indicates that the occupations with the largest minority populations remain low-level, low-wage types of employment. Pathways where the percentages between white people and minorities are relatively equal or comprised of a larger minority presence include: cooks; dishwashers; maids and housekeeping cleaners; baggage porters, bellhops, and concierges; telephone operators; and food processing workers. Although this individualized are employed and therefore considered contributing to the overall economy, the very nature of these appointments (low-level, low-wage positions) actually serves to prevent minority populations from advancing and from thriving. Because people in these positions often have to work longer hours in an attempt to compensate for the low rates of pay, minority populations continue to struggle to advance economically when compared to those working higher-level, higher-wage jobs (which are according to this data principally populated by white people). This combination of a lack of real, meaningful employment opportunities – coupled with a need to commit longer hours towards earning a sustainable wage – has swelled the ranks of the employed yet impoverished. In short, these people are the “working poor” of our state, and they are disproportionately represented by minority populations. We have serious concerns about the current economic disparities that still plague Minnesota’s minority populations – particularly among American Indians. AIOIC intends to host a series of World Café events that bring in American Indian service providers – as well as the indigenous community itself – to evaluate the efficacy of current education, training, and employment programs used by American Indians, and to further examine the causality of the pervasive joblessness and unemployment that persists among our people so that we may effectively direct our efforts going forward. Our first event will be held on August 14th with details on event to come soon.