By John Kirksey
One day in the year 1999 I was reading a trade publication for Funeral Directors and I happened across an advertisement that stated a particular organization was looking for a Funeral Director to run for the United States Congress. Being a new and ambitious Funeral Director I decided to go to the office on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC to enquire about the ad.
After what I thought was a fairly good interview, I was asked was I a Democrat or a Republican? I quickly responded, “I am a Democrat”. The gentlemen who were interviewing me looked disappointed and informed me they were looking for a Republican. As I thought about it for a second, I then responded to them and said, “There are actually many issues in which I am in philosophical agreement with many Republicans.” As we concluded the meeting / interview I turned the idea over and over in my head. While on the subway ride home, thinking about all of the issues I have in common with the Republican Party, I began to wonder and think that surely, I am not the only Black person to agree with the Republicans on many issues that affect our community and this country. As I thought about it, I found at least 10 issues where Black Americans are in general agreement with the Republican platform. I will review one issue each week or so, and I would be interested in reading your responses.
1. Illegal immigration
Illegal Immigration affects the Black community in many ways. The most obvious is in looking at the unemployment figures as they pertain to Black workers. For example; In October 2008, amidst claims that one of its subsidiaries was knowingly hiring illegal immigrants, North Carolina poultry producer House of Raeford Farms initiated a systematic conversion of its workforce.
Following a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid that apprehended 300 undocumented workers at a Columbia Farms processing plant in Columbia, S.C., a spooked House of Raeford quietly began replacing immigrants with native-born labor at all of its plants. Less than a year later, House of Raeford’s flagship production line in Raeford, N.C., had been transformed, going from more than 80 percent Latino to 70 percent Black-American, according to a report by the Charlotte Observer.
Under President George W. Bush, showy workplace raids like the one that befell Raeford were standard. And though the Obama administration has committed itself to dialing down the practice, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has occasionally found herself the bearer of bad news to immigration activists who expected the raids to end entirely under her watch.
Increasingly however, in the immediate aftermaths—in which dozens of eager Black-American job applicants lined up to fill vacancies—Democrats call into question a familiar refrain from the nation’s more vocal immigration proponents: Illegal immigrants do work American citizens won’t. Even former Mexican President Vicente Fox succumbed to the hype, infamously declaring in 2006 that Mexican immigrants perform the jobs that “not even blacks want to do.” I have often wished people who made that statement would be honest and finish the statement by saying, “Illegal immigrants perform the jobs that Americans will not do for the low wages they are being offered”. Finish the sentence please!
Four years later, with national unemployment hovering around 10 percent and black male unemployment at a staggering 17.6 percent, it seems even less likely that immigrants are filling only those jobs that Americans won’t deign to do. Just ask Delonta Spriggs, a 24-year-old black man profiled in a November Washington Post piece on joblessness, who pleaded, “Give me a chance to show that I can work. Just give me a chance.”
Spriggs has a difficult road ahead. In this recessed United States, competition for all work is dog-eat-dog. But that holds especially true for low-skilled jobs, jobs for which high school dropouts (like Spriggs) and reformed criminals (also like Spriggs) must now vie for against nearly 12 million illegal immigrants, 80 percent of whom are from Latin America. What’s more, it seems that, in many cases, the immigrants are winning. From 2007 to 2008, though Latino immigrants reported significant job losses, black unemployment, the worst in the nation, remained 3.5 points higher.
For their efforts, Black-Americans were paid a median household income of $32,000 in 2007. In the same year, the median household income for illegal immigrants was $37,000. Black Americans cannot afford to have amnesty granted to 12 million or more illegal immigrants, which is what the Democrats want to do.
Education is the new currency for Black people. A High School diploma will not make it anymore. Black people are going to have to go to Trade schools and pursue College degrees in fields that are in demand in order to sustain themselves economically. In most instances I think it is good to have both, for example: a skill such as Air Condition / Heating System repair as well as a degree in Engineering. I have personally known several Engineers and Lawyers who have lost their professional jobs and had to fall back on a skilled trade to sustain their families until they landed another “white collar” job.
Until my next article questioning whether we are ideologically Republican or not, I’m eager to read your responses.