In Berkeley, Do Black Lives Matter?

When I shop around town, I like to talk to average people. I may chat with someone in line at a bank or with a worker in a store.

The other day, I had a long conversation with two young, black security guards who were working in a big box store. What they said has disturbed me ever since.

They were telling me how hard it is for them to find jobs with long-term prospects. One said, “I want a job where I can stay and retire. I don’t always want to work as a security guard.”

Both these young men have looked high and low for jobs: in the government, in public transportation, at the phone company. Clearly motivated and humble men, no job appeared to be beneath them, and being a bus driver with a nice pension someday would suit them just fine.

Although they have searched all over the place, neither have gotten any bites. And then one of the men said the thing that struck my heartstrings. He said, “Everything around here is tech. But not everyone can work in tech.”

It broke my heart to hear him say this. Still in his 20s, he had already become discouraged about his long-term prospects. But what saddened me was more than this. It was how displaced and marginalized he feels because he doesn’t have the education and training to get one of the coveted (and common) high tech jobs.

With all the wealthy tech companies moving in to SF, Berkeley, and Oakland, there have been a deluge of young techies arriving here from NY, LA, and India. They’re given large sign-in bonuses and six figure salaries. Sometimes they are even moved into expensive apartments that cost 50 times what they should.

So where does this leave the security guards that I spoke with — how do they move out of their relatives’ houses on minimum wage salaries when crummy studios are 3 grand? How do they find a decent job and, even more than that, a feeling of self-worth and hope?

But it’s not just the tech boom that leaves men like this out in the cold. It’s the avalanche of Spanish-speaking immigrants, some legally here, but many not. Most of the jobs that don’t require college are going to them, not to black, legal citizens. And since there is a huge population of Latinos in California, jobs are now requiring Spanish-speaking skills, which most blacks don’t have.

Which brings us to the question: In places like Berkeley and Oakland, do black lives matter? Sure the lefties will demand that blacks receive as much entitlements as possible. . that they get welfare, free health care, and food stamps. But what about decent jobs for the many African-Americans who want to work, to buy houses, and to raise families?

Nothing much offered here. While the residents (literally) put up signs announcing that all immigrants are welcome, there are no welcome signs for black people. The opposite is true. How can this area be welcoming when the policies of the left hurt, not help, the average black person . .. and no one seems to notice or care?

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