‘They think I’m a gangster’: the young black men caught in joblessness

A Hackney youth project aims to help overqualified but underemployed young people find their place

In youth centres in cities across the UK young people are going into studios and remixing music. But at the Moving on Up project at Hackney Council for Voluntary Service (HCVS), young men searching for a job are remixing their names.

Oluwatosin Adegoke, 23, who graduated this year from Bristol University, was an early adopter of this strategy. He’s been called Peter, the last of his four middle names, since he was a child.

Adegoke is in precarious work. But many of the other young black men who visit the project are unemployed. They have that in common with more than a quarter of black people aged between 16 and 24 – the highest of any ethnic group, and more than double the 11% rate for white youths. Black males are understood to be the worst affected, but figures – while apparently collected – are not readily available.

At Moving on Up, which the Guardian visited as part of its Bias in Britain series, they aim to do something about that.

The strategy Adeoshun advocates might seem radical to some, but in the context of a workplace culture that often leaves black men excluded, radical action can be necessary.

Binna Kandola, a business psychologist who specialises in racism and sexism, argues that offices are prone to a deep-seated racist culture. “There’s a racial hierarchy. It was developed during the course of the slave trade and it’s a hierarchy of human beings. And wherever I looked, whether it was Brazil or north America or Europe – [or] even South Africa where black people are the majority – the hierarchy is always the same. It’s white at the top, black at the bottom, and everybody else in between.”

Read the full article on Keep the Faith.

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