Stand up for black youth

Unlike countless other black youths, my life was spared when I was robbed at gunpoint in December 2001. As a young black Floridian my story is not unique, which is why I was particularly interested when I heard Illinois Democratic Senator Dick Durbin (Ill.) planned a hearing on ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws.

The hearing featured statements from Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, the Florida teenager who was killed in February 2012, and Lucia McBath, the mother of Jordan Davis, who was killed in a confrontation in Jacksonville, Florida, in November of the same year.

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The hearing came just days after a local Chicago news report read, “2 Dead, 14 Wounded In Weekend Shootings,” and less than a month after another read, “8 dead, at least 25 hurt in holiday weekend shootings.”

In Chicago, as in other cities, such headlines are hardly uncommon. And sadly, so is the silence with which they are met. In fact, a whole host of problems plaguing many of America’s blacks, particularly the young, go largely ignored by Democratic lawmakers.

Unemployment among blacks 16-19 years old is 35.1 percent—nearly double their white counterparts—and 14.4 percent of black students drop out of high school by age 25. That’s twice the rate for white students.

Since 2005, the overall graduation rate for black college students is just 37.9 percent.

Punditry and political grandstanding have done little to address the issues that complicate the lives of black youths.

What’s more, blacks who supported President Barack Obama by a margin of 9-1 in 2012 will continue to bear the brunt of his and the Democratic Party’s misguided legislative agenda.

So while it is laudable that Senate Democrats have mobilized to discuss ‘Stand Your Ground’ Laws, I hope they also plan to address the shrinking opportunities and job prospects for black youth.

In the Obama economy, more than 10 million black Americans live below poverty level.

Why aren’t Senate Democrats also holding hearings on the impact of their economic policies on the black community?

Where are the Senate Democrats with a plan to combat black youth unemployment, which hit 42 percent this year?

We don’t need any more speeches. What we need is a president who will lead. We must do everything we can to create economic opportunity for the black community and improve access to quality schools. We need to strengthen families and communities and open doors for personal achievement and self-reliance.

Hudson is a member of Project 21, which bills itself as the National Leadership Network of Black Conservatives. He serves on the organization's National Advisory Council.