According to the US Department of Labor, the unemployment rate for black teens is six times the national average, and almost 300,000 African American kids are actively seeking low-skill jobs for the upcoming summer and beyond. But many black teens looking for work in California have been caught off guard by a harsh new reality: if you don’t speak Spanish, oftentimes you aren’t finding minimum-wage employment.
When San Bernardino High School teens Jazanique Jackson, Ashanae Brown and Kimyen Hawkins decided they wanted to work this summer, they left nothing to chance.
They knew the rules: plan ahead; role play; be positive; adapt; relate and encourage.
So when they hit the streets to start their summer job search they were prepared for virtually every eventuality except one.
“We were shocked. We applied at places like McDonalds, Burger King and Jack in the Box. We went to shoe stores, pizza parlors and convenience stores. The workers were overwhelmingly Spanish speaking. Pretty much they always ask us, ‘Do you speak Spanish?’ They said we prefer bilingual,” says Jazanique. And, as an American who only speaks English, her answer leaves her without the job.
“It’s hard when you can’t even get an interview because you don’t speak Spanish,” said Jazanique.
Remember when former Mexican President Vicente Fox said Mexicans are “doing jobs that not even blacks want to do”? We always knew he was a fucking idiot for saying that, but it’s nice to have some evidence.