Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Black Teens Feel the Chill of 'Bilingual Preferred'

'Don't speak Spanish…can't get the job?'

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.

¿No habla ingles? Can't speak Spanish.
"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.
For Jazanique, Ashanae and Kimyen the job hunting experience is both frustrating and sobering. The unemployment rate among African-American teens is shockingly six times the national rate. This according to the U.S. Department of Labor translates into approximately 296,000 African-American teenagers actively seeking employment who are finding it difficult to secure a job.

To read the complete story, visit www.blackvoicenews.com/content/view/42068/4/

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