WASHINGTON – Americans have watched in astonishment, along with the rest of the world, the violence that’s erupted in England as young, disaffected Britons take to the streets to vent their rage.
But could it happen in the United States as it grapples with a 25 per cent youth unemployment rate and a double-dip recession potentially in the offing?
The current bleak landscape in the United States is littered with all the same disturbing elements at play in the U.K. _ racial tensions, high unemployment, a growing income gap between rich and poor, a gloomy economic outlook and a feeling of hopelessness among youth.
Recent statistics reveal that 39.2 per cent of black teens and 36.2 per cent of Hispanic youth are jobless. In New York City, black and Hispanic youths are twice as likely to drop out of school as their peers, have a poverty rate that is 50 per cent higher than other ethnicities, experience an unemployment rate that is 60 per cent higher, and make up more than 90 per cent of young murder victims and perpetrators.
Although the biggest riots in the United States have involved race and civil rights, some observers think throwing a Great Depression-esque economic situation into the mix could spur America’s youth to rise up too.
“There is a direct correlation between the violence here in Chicago, which is off the charts right now, and the lack of investment in inner cities and inner-city youth,” Phillip Jackson, founder of the Million Father March, said in an interview on Wednesday.
“In Chicago and other major American cities, the violent acts are singular and isolated. The violence in London has become collective and focused, but the underlying causes are the same, and as soon as American kids figure that out, we’re in trouble.”