Job Choices For Urban Youth: Drug Dealing Or Starbucks

An article in The Economist titled “Back from The Brink” tells the story of the falling crime rate in Baltimore. The story describes such things as community policing and new laws which have aided the effort.

However it was the following paragraphs that caught my attention. They present the sad, shocking truth of the employment choices for many urban youth.

A big problem for the police (and more so for respectable ghetto residents) is the unfortunate truth that for many young men, gangster culture is alluring. Apart from the low pay and the high risk of getting murdered, drug-dealing is not a bad job, says Peter Moskos, a sociologist who spent a year as a policeman in Baltimore’s eastern district. You hang out with your friends. People “respect” (ie, fear) you. You project glamour. You get laid.

You also become otherwise unemployable, says Mr Moskos. To survive on the street, you learn to react violently and pre-emptively to the slightest challenge. This is a useful trait for a drug-dealer, but, oddly, managers at Starbucks do not value it.

What do you mean “Apart from the low pay and the high risk of getting murdered”?  Isn’t that an oxymoron? A path that doesn’t build employment skills in Corporate America. Too funny in a very dark, twisted way.

At a charity fund raising dinner last Saturday, a speaker told a roomful of high acheivers that we cannot take too much credit for who we are no matter how hard we have worked to become successful. His point was that we do not determine when we are born, where we are born or who our parents are.

I do not think I fully understood the point until I read this article. I was fortunate to be born in the middle class and not in a dangerous urban environment or in a poor third world country. I am one of the lucky ones.

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About 48facets
What you read is what you get.

3 Responses to Job Choices For Urban Youth: Drug Dealing Or Starbucks

  1. Frank says:

    I’m one of the lucky ones too, brother.

  2. Pax Romano says:

    Rick,
    Yes, you are lucky. I was born and raised in the inner-city, as was my partner (who is African American), the only thing that saved us both was that we had strong parents. Though, my partner was raised by his mother, so she had to be both father and mother to him … obviously she did an outstanding job, as these days “Whatshisname” (as I refer to him on public forums) works for a publishing company and is well respected at his job.

  3. 48facets says:

    Pax, I cannot imagine what living as an African American in the inner city with one parent would have been like. Whatshisname must be quite the guy.

    Oh, you too btw.

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