WASHINGTON – Akunna Cook, Executive Director of the Black Economic Alliance, issued the following statement tonight in response to President Trump’s State of the Union Address:
“Tonight, President Trump repeated his claims about how our current economic conditions impact Black Americans. While the unemployment rate among Black Americans remains at a historic low, as it was under the Obama Administration, it continues to be nearly twice that of Caucasian Americans and two full percentage points higher than that of Hispanic Americans – a fact that we believe is a direct consequence of our government’s failure to prioritize economic policies that empower our communities.
“Tonight’s State of the Union address ignored both the deep-seated economic challenges facing Black Americans after decades of being locked out of opportunity as well as the intense damage wreaked by the recent federal government shutdown precipitated by this Administration. Between the slowing of economic growth by an estimated 0.13 percentage points for each week of the shutdown to the overall $11 billion lost over the course of the historic 35 day closure, all our communities will continue to be harmed, with $3 billion in value lost forever.
“We heard the President’s call for bipartisanship and unity and now call for solutions to these persistent problems. We need a specific plan to remedy the vast gaps between Black Americans and the rest of America when it comes to home ownership, savings, college and educational attainment, and overall economic prosperity. We also need a plan that ensures all formerly incarcerated Americans have access to job and skills training to ease their reentry into the labor market and allow them to contribute to prosperity in their communities. The President should work with Congress to ensure that Black workers are adequately trained for the jobs of the future, that the critical infrastructure in broadband and transportation are made, and that Black entrepreneurs have access to financing to grow their businesses and build wealth in our communities. So long as race and gender determine any American’s economic outcomes, our country can never truly reach its potential and be the envy of the world.
“It’s little wonder that Stacey Abrams called for the kind of change that American families need in her response to the Address tonight. American families don’t need campaign slogans or partisan shutdowns. Each and every American deserves the opportunity to contribute to and benefit from our economy and our country. And as Stacey said, for far too long, we’ve made it harder – not easier – for Americans to participate in our economy and our democracy. We join her and others who are concerned about Black economic progress in America in calling on all our elected leaders to seize the opportunity and prioritize the problems facing our country – so we can take meaningful action to address them.”