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Employers Prefer White Felons Over Blacks With No Criminal Record; So, How Will Blacks Feed Their Families?

July 11, 2011   |  

Kathleen Cross

Kathleen Cross

You may remember the 2003 University of Chicago study by Devah Pager that sent young white and black “testers” with randomly assigned “felony convictions” to apply for low-wage jobs. The study found that whites with felonies were more likely to be called for interviews than black applicants without criminal records.

Eight years later, black male unemployment has hit the highest rate since the government began keeping track in 1972. It is estimated that only 56.9 percent of black men over age 20 are working, and the prospects for them to earn an honest living anytime soon in this crumbling economy are not good.

While Obama battles the GOP over raising the debt ceiling and preserving “sacred cow” tax cuts and entitlement programs, the unemployed poor are becoming increasingly desperate. Of particular concern is the reality that the once-supportive family members who used to serve as safety nets for struggling felons are now losing their jobs and homes in record numbers. The safety net exists no more.

According to an analysis of Federal Reserve data by the Economic Policy Institute in 2004, the median net worth of white households was $134,280, compared with $13,450 for black households. By 2009, the median net worth for white households had fallen 24 percent to $97,860; the median black net worth had fallen 83 percent to $2,170.  And, no, that is not a typo.  Algernon Austin, director of the Economic Policy Institute’s Program on Race, Ethnicity and the Economy describes the wealth gap like this, “In 2009, for every dollar of wealth the average white household had, black households only had two cents.”

Two cents. Really? If anyone has the audacity to suggest to me that having a black president means America is now “post racial,” I will have to hold myself back. And, speaking of remaining nonviolent in the face of violent oppression… If there has ever been a reason to march on Washington, it is right the hell now. –kathleen cross

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  1. Ron on July 12, 2011 at 11:18 am

    The so-called “household” stat is misleading since, 1) the typical white household consists of two working adults while the typical black household consists of one, and in many cases none, and 2) net worth is based on assets minus liabilities. Whites tend to defer gratification and make wiser investment choices while studies have shown that blacks are more into instant gratification and waste their money on material items that tend to depreciate in value. Items such as expensive clothing, rims, etc. Blow money on things such as these instead of investing a portion of your income in the stock market and building a respectable credit history by paying bills on time is not the way to financial freedom. EARNING a lower interest rate, then use that better credit rating to purchase a home on a low, fixed interest rate will in most cases build a better net worth. Oh, and by all means get married before having kids. Turning your household into a 2 income household will close that deceptive number.

    • Mel Mel on July 14, 2011 at 4:07 pm

      You make some valid points, however, the University of Chicago study does not lie. How can you even invest money if you can’t even get hired on a job to make money? Speaking for myself, the solution is not as simple as you make it all the time. A household could’ve been affected by divorce, incarceration or death. Based on the study, black men WITHOUT felonies were being passed over in favor of white men WITH felonies. How fair is that. Imagine how difficult it is for a black man WITH a felony to get a job…

    • Mel Mel on July 14, 2011 at 4:07 pm

      You make some valid points, however, the University of Chicago study does not lie. How can you even invest money if you can’t even get hired on a job to make money? Speaking for myself, the solution is not as simple as you make it all the time. A household could’ve been affected by divorce, incarceration or death. Based on the study, black men WITHOUT felonies were being passed over in favor of white men WITH felonies. How fair is that. Imagine how difficult it is for a black man WITH a felony to get a job…

    • citizen477 on June 11, 2012 at 10:11 pm

      You also have to take into consideration wealth that is passed on from one generation to the next. A lot of Black people and not-so-wealthy whites do not have access to sound information about financial literacy and how to bequeath their wealth to the next generation. How many times have you heard about a matriarch or patriarch passing away and the family left having to fight over what’s left behind because proper arrangements weren’t made prior to their death. That is a big issue. Many upper-middle-class white household have wealth in the form of stocks, bonds, and property passed down through generations. Many Blacks weren’t even allowed to do that, so we haven’t had a history of wealth building. Also, depending on where you live, you can pay a lot more for services than the next person simply based on your zip code. There is still a helluva lot of unfairness that is absolutely systemic, and that eats away at one’s income, leaving little as disposable for savings and so on. 

      • linda on August 18, 2013 at 5:04 pm

        You know maybe blacks are so tire of working for nothing in your ancestors fields is probably the way you required your wealth,is why we make money we spend money

        • ohReally on December 25, 2015 at 12:36 pm

          Are you really that stupid? “blacks are so tire of working for nothing in your ancestors fields”? How old do you figger these blacks ARE, anyway?

          • Madlilith on March 29, 2017 at 3:22 am

            At this point, if you’re not part of the global elite, you are a wage slave just like everybody else.

    • Big Ric on April 5, 2013 at 7:54 pm

      Ron have u physically seen this fuck statistics they can be fudged just cause its on paper dont make it the truth gtfoh with tht I maintained a household were both were working so was my parents grandparents n wifes family so please shove ur statistics sideways up ur ignorant racist azz thank u.

      • Nimo74 on April 5, 2013 at 7:57 pm

        the american dream was made for white america y’all enslaved n sat back as lazy people for years while minorities of all cultures built this country so how dare ur race fix its lips to say anything

        • Royal Queen on July 7, 2013 at 4:16 am

          White minorities built this country? You a mf lie. BLACKS built this country cause racist fucks like you forced our ancestors too. Know your history punta!

          • A on July 29, 2013 at 1:47 pm

            Queen, did you even read his post? He said that minorities of all cultures built the country… and you’re a little quick to label someone a racist..

          • linda on August 18, 2013 at 5:07 pm

            Royal queen the right name for a miss no nothing

        • linda on August 18, 2013 at 5:06 pm

          I agree they want every thing life offers so as long as they still it ,let’s start with america

        • J. Williams on June 23, 2015 at 3:18 pm

          Including those who were commonly referred to as ‘Wahps, Krauts, and Hymies’; and these same people were immigrants who took jobs that no one wanted- and would be referred to as ‘white’. Ignorant much?! Educate yourself before you spew hate.

        • J. Williams on June 23, 2015 at 3:20 pm

          “Jesse Jackson provoked controversy by referring to New York City as “Hymietown” in 1984.[130]” *Source:

    • ROYAL QUEEN on July 7, 2013 at 4:12 am

      That’s not true. THERE ARE MORE BLACKS than you can ever imagine that DON’T waste their money. I am living proof! My house consists of 1 television and nothing fancy. My children are taught to pay themselves first, pay their savings account 2nd, handle their bills than IF they shall find any money left over to invest. I’m not into the bs rap. Don’t teach my kids to dress to keep up with the rich.

      Folks need to quit believing everything you see and hear. These statistics come from a small percentage of households. Not all. How do I know? Cause I NEVER fill that crap out. It ant no one business what I’m doing in my home or purchasing. Especially not to be used against me.

      And for a Black woman that owns 2 companies and is married to a man that owns 1 I can honestly say I agree with this article. It’s as if we have a full time job.

      Until you step over to our side of the tracks YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT’S GOING ON!!!

      • suprmon on May 30, 2014 at 8:43 pm

        Then your more the exception than the rule!

        • lordblazer on November 8, 2015 at 1:27 pm

          not fucking true. he is the rule. most people live within their means. but you think black people are inferior or incapable so you stick to negative stereotypes.

    • Sila on July 7, 2013 at 10:10 am

      Being an economist I could rip you a new one with all your assumptions of whats typical and what blacks do. I’ll take a wild guess and assume you’re not black. However I’ll save my time, it’d fall on uneducated death ears

    • linda on August 18, 2013 at 4:59 pm

      I don’t know where you from but these trailer parks are full of one parent white mother trying to make ends meet,cooking meth,and what ever else it take,blacks live for the moment and its there right look at the manandez brothers couldn’t wait for inheritance,killed for it so u better live why u alive can’t take that money with you

  2. LovingMom on July 12, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    Ron, you make valid points, but there is so much more to it than that. Deep down inside, you know it.

    • Alexander2112 on July 12, 2011 at 7:41 pm

      @LovingMom…you make the assertion that Ron somehow has some knowledge of a conspiracy or other motive by evil Whites in order to hold Blacks back. This is tired, lame and unfounded. Whites have bent over backwards to help Blacks and all Blacks ever do is complain complain complain and NEVER accept responsibility for their own actions. Blacks always blame Whites for everything wrong in Black communities. Yet, any sensible person can see that those communities were pretty nice places to live before Blacks got there. Black people act like angry unrealistic irrational children and Whites have been forced to dealing with you like you are the crazy teenager in a household. Some parent lets the teenager run the household with their temper tantrums, however, eventually most parents get fed up and knock the piss out of the teenager and the kid deserves it. Eventually, and not to far off, White America is gonna knock the piss out of Black America. We are fed up and sick of your irrational childish and destructive behavior. Grow the hell up, you are making yourselves look like the uneducated savages everyone knows you really are. 

      • LOVElife4u on July 14, 2011 at 3:57 pm

        Since you are so high on your horse, name 10 not including your self since you probably can’t anyways. White teachers don’t count and presidents either. You know you are racists, and I hope you never deny that about yourself!  Don’t be scared of the blacks, because for the one’s that do eventually come up, they will probably come to your neighborhood FIRST, then what are you going to do kill them because they might decrease your property value? Not all are complaining, and for the one’s that are they just might have a valid reason, and not all are crazy teenagers, by the way lets not refer to them as crazy teenagers given the way white adults and their teens alike act. We all know most of their stuff is pushed under the rug. Uneducated you say….wow! You just spoke of what you are truly afraid of and that is exceptional. I could go all day with you, but my life unlike yours is a more precious and educated (i might add) and not filled with hatred, except for people like you. Learn to live with out hate or die slow.

      • Mel Mel on July 14, 2011 at 4:16 pm

        Please sir. Get your head out of your ass. We all know what the truth is. While it is true that SOME whites have bent over backwards to help blacks, you also got some that want nothing more than to keep blacks poor and fucked up. And while you got some blacks who are self destructive as shit, you also have blacks who want nothing more than a better life for themselves and their families. So chill with the broad ass sterotypes will you. Those negative sterotypes is what pepetuates ill will and bad feelings between blacks and whites. PLEASE. Open your mind.

      • Ron Plummer on July 6, 2013 at 9:54 pm

        Alexander2112 – the data speaks clearly for itself and America’s original sin racism (a system of privilege based on race) arrogantly marches onward. Though somehow your uneducated, ignorant and in for a rude awakening self never got the message, which is probably the only reason you continue to subscribe to backward and contradictory white supremacy ideologies.

        Oh, while you’re on this self-righteous “White America is gonna knock the piss out of Black America” rant, take a quick look around the planet and listen to the footsteps of 5 billion people (3 billion in India and China) emerging and demanding the same standards of living currently enjoyed by 500 million. Take a look at the changing demographics of American technical graduate schools or even the rapidly increasing numbers of Asians honestly grabbing those valedictorian seats in American high schools and oh, BTW, over 76% of these folks are people of color.

        So you just go ahead and continue living inside that rotting cocoon you hide in during the day and pulling stuff out your backside if you wish. As the saying goes “payback is a!”

      • linda on August 18, 2013 at 5:35 pm

        Mother of loving kids to loving mom,u have no idea what u talking about why would u bend over backward for black people no body need that if u had the access or company’s,to hire people u would t be on here trying to get your rascist remarks heard.talking about crazy teens ,black teen do not make bombs in our garages,shoot up schools full of kids,and u talking dysfunctional,maybe if u watch your kids at home we want have to put up with there killing ass.u say if u carried your self out side the way u use that finger on these keys u would have lots of opportunity to knock the piss out of black America,but I’m sure your fake out in the world,so why don’t u grow up I’ll tell u how tomorrow when u leave home walk up to the first black person u see and say,I’m tired of y’all bullshit and smack there face.I’m not talking about a baby,toddler,or teenager I’m talking about a grown person.I’ll be checking back on this site to see what happen if I don’t hear from u then I know u dead

  3. W.d. Phillips on July 13, 2011 at 2:23 am


  4. LovingMom on July 13, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    Ron and Alex, you apparently don’t read well because your comments don’t even address the article. I’m sorry. But that’s usually what happens with people who are not enlightened. Please stay off of this site and go to this one instead: That is the type of forum you need. Some white people somewhat understand the issues at hand and what being black in America might be like. Others like yourselves don’t and won’t ever understand and really don’t care. So, conversation with you is useless. Take care, and find something better to do than being cowards and surfing black sites with your blatant ignorance.

    • B4REAL on July 14, 2011 at 3:20 pm

      That’s the type of mentality which keeps fueling hatred. You can’t expect rationality from ignorance. Obviously they really believe their insane opinions. You know what they say about opinions!!!

  5. JazzyShiron on July 14, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    I don’t remember now who it was that said it, but it’s been said that “when white people get the flu, black folks end up with pneumonia”.  I love that saying because it is so true, even to this day.  For anybody that thinks, as it said in the article, that the figure of $2,100  is a typo, it is not.  I can relate to that figure.  After graduating from college last year, I had an extremely difficult time finding a job, inspite of the fact that I had a college degree and experience.  $2,100 dollars is exactly the amount of money that I made last year, which is unbelievable.  For all the black men out there, even though I’m a black female, I feel your misery.       

    • citizen477 on June 11, 2012 at 10:18 pm

      Amen, JazzyShiron: 
      And don’t even think about entrepreneurship. My brother and I were thinking about starting a food truck, but by the time we calculated all the licensing and other municipal fees and buying the truck and all that, we would need close $45,000! 

      Sure, we could take out a loan, but we both already have student loans. Thankfully, that is the only debt we have, so we decided that we are going to save up and revisit the business thing in a few years, because we would like to start our business DEBT FREE. 

      The point I’m making is that it is really tough, and as was said in the article, without a safety net (parents, other family and friends or even savings), it is very scary because you have NOTHING to fall back on. 

  6. Eervin44 on July 15, 2011 at 2:15 pm


  7. 1RonMexico on September 10, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    I be hating dat rayschism. Fuh sho.

    Now, first to get this article from its current status: Partially Distorted Bullcrap, over to Fact, Not Fiction, we need to find out a few facts…what was the sample size used of white felons vs. black grads…if it was less than 20 or so, throw this whole thing out, don’t care.

    Also…how did the employer know who was a white felon? You can tell races by names sometimes, but not all the time….so that means they went in person to the store to apply? Well then you had a lot of white people who probably looked like decent guys claiming they were felons, and the store-owner went with the appearance over the false claim of a felony. You’d need to use real data from real felons who applied and compare that, not clean-cut guys walking to stores saying they reformed from past felonies, because they’ll do better than real felons with felon looks, will. Yes, criminals do look different a lot, more tats, etc, and other things you could think of.

    The comparison white wealth to black wealth is distorted because of the recession. As they show. When the economy is normal again, it won’t be 2 cents on the dollar.

    Now, to the extent some of these problems do exist, and disparities in employment, and wealth (which for most people just come down to your house value, unless you are significantly in the stock market)…racism is a slight factor, but not the major one.

    Deficiencies in American black character and American black culture are the reason for the rest of the disparities that exist. You still have this ex-slave mentality of feeling the law is wrong, and it’s cool/right/good to be against the police, against the law. This feeling was justified in 1850, even still justified to a degree in 1910, even still justified to a degree in 1965. It’s not anymore. You need to get over it, and eliminate the huge crime culture within the black community, which has been thankfully getting defeated by you (and the cops) to a large degree in the last couple decades. Blacks need to become law-and-order type people who not only don’t commit crimes, but turn in those who do. You’re about the worst in the world, at least the industrialized part, at crime and murder rates, so grow up and embrace post 17th century societal norms already. You’ve made progress, so that’s good.

    The Collapse of the Black Family is a huge reason for the wealth disparity. That household income they’re talking about above usually has only 1 parent in it, in the black community, and it usually has 2 everywhere else in America. 70% out of wedlock births. In a racial group that is 90% so-called Christian. If mom has to do all the providing for the household, it’s going to be poorer than if Mom and Dad are. If blacks just had kids in wedlock as much as all other races in America, your household income stats wouldn’t look as bad. So…try to pretend you’re actually a Christian (or a Muslim) on sexual matters, that’d help.

    White divorce rates and single parent family rates are bad…yours makes them look good.

    And…let’s see…yah let’s go here too…you’re going to have to up your work ethic standards. This isn’t like the past where all your hard work goes to whitey’s benefit, you will go as far as you let yourself go, and as far you work hard at whatever it is you’re doing. You are the major factor in your salary, not racism, even if it hurts you some, not anything else. Blacks still have the “lazy” rap, and it’s not all because everybody has a KKK uncle they worship at the feet of, and look to for advice. Look at it as, you have a bad reputation, so you have to work harder than everyone else to change it.

    Is there racism involved against blacks in the above…yah, to a degree definitely, but we have to exclude any bias against blacks that is on the basis of real events the particular business owner who is hiring/not hiring you experienced….like if he watches the news and sees all the crime in black neighborhoods, and then is less likely to hire you, a upstanding black citizen, when you walk in, that’s really the thugs’ fault, not his. Or if he had bad previous black employees, and so he doesn’t hire you, that’s their fault not his.

    We’ll only give you bonus points and an excuse for racism if a non-black business owner has no particularly negative experience with black people any more than any other race, and yet still is less likely to hire blacks…if he’s biased against you due to other blacks’ misdeeds, then you’re going to have to blame them.

    I hope I was fair and balanced, openminded, etc etc. And that’s…the way it is.

    • Friday Foster-ABWW on July 7, 2013 at 3:04 pm

      Fair and balanced like Stormfront, Vdare and the KKK.

    • Sad about the whole situation! on September 10, 2013 at 1:19 am

      I hope you are still in here. The comments you just made are exactly what perpetuates racism. EVERY person should be taken on their own merit and not the actions of someone else. If you had a bad experience with a white person, you wouldn’t hold that against every other white person you met. So don’t do it to anyone else! No matter what their race. Give every person you meet a chance to prove who they are and who they are not!

      • ohReally on December 25, 2015 at 12:47 pm

        If your ancestors were enslaved by someone else, don’t look to people who weren’t even there for a remedy, then. And quit being a hypocrite, by the way.

    • ohReally on December 25, 2015 at 12:42 pm

      Excellent post. Sending actors in with fictional stories and then attempting to relate the results as real world data is almost as hilarious as demanding people be paid for work they never did by people that work was not done for. It’s amazing to me how stupid some people really are.

  8. RP favor on April 6, 2013 at 9:24 am

    We must create our own jobs we will never get anywhere depending white people to make it better for us. We were not put here to work for another race or wait for them to create for us. We are a race of creators not consumers (at least we should be, I know I am)

  9. kam on July 7, 2013 at 1:57 am

    In all my years I have never seen a white person or white people to bend over backwards, frontways, sideways, or anyway for black people. You do the opposite. And the crack about black people spending their money on the wrong stuff? What stuff with what money and what damn job. Reread the article with your glasses on this time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. Professor on July 8, 2013 at 12:48 am

    I worked near Baltimore and my counterpart had no degree yet he was making approximately $117,000.00 per year. I made $135,000.00 but I had a terminal degree in computer science, MBA, MS in MIS, 4 graduate certificates, technical undergraduate degree, lots of professional certifications, and published as a researcher. And we were on the same engineering management level. My employee who made $115,000.00 had a MS in information assurance, technical certifications and years of experience with the Navy. He is Dominican (American) and I am African (American). We both were shocked how he was hired so quick as we had to undergo extensive technical interviews among other things. Both of us came from two parent households. My father was a retired Lieutenant Colonel with two graduate degrees and my mother a retired Major from the Army with four graduate degrees. Growing up the message in this article was always told to me by my parents to inform us early we are not equal and we must be three times as good as white Americans to ensure job security. This is the reason my daughter and son grow up speaking English, and German with yet another language to follow. However we as African (American) need to reinvest in ourselves and think outside the box. Why not look towards Sub-Saharan Africa in countries like Ghana, South Africa, or even Botswana? Land in Ghana is cheap and they offer dual citizenship to those of the African diaspora. Again we need to take our future(s) into our own hands.

  11. kromecom on July 16, 2013 at 7:54 pm

    Yep. I sit here with a master’s degree and 20 years experience and nada. Thank god I have a skill set so I survive on freelance. But the word for the past 5 years despite my bona fides is “need not apply.” Of course, people will claim I’m lying. So what?

    • A Dub on January 22, 2015 at 4:57 pm

      I agree with everyone except the white bigots/deniers coming in here running their mouths. I have a BS degree, military veteran, and in physical shape (I’m a fitness trainer: group and personal). No criminal record. I’ve applied for the Fire Department in Nashville TWICE. Once in 2007 @ age 25 and in 2010 @ age 28. I scored outstanding on all the tests. Got an interview. Not hired. This past December I applied again for Firefight in LaVergne TN and received an email last week saying “you are not qualified for entry level firefighter. We are considering other candidates…” I’ve applied for Meter Reader TRAINEE at the electric company three times. I’ve taken the tests and physicals…..great scores… an interview. No hire. Thankfully I have a skill/knowledge I can use to make money (health and fitness).
      I know a black female in Phoenix. She worked for a college for nearly three years. She has a 4 year degree and several types of job experience. She asked to be promoted to GM at the 2 year mark. A white guy (boss) said “you don’t have enough experience…”. Yet some white girl achieved GM in less than a year with the same or less work experience.
      WE got to create our OWN economy. Watch the documentary 7AM. Listen to Jason Black on youtube and Tariq Nasheed/Elite on UStream.
      Take care and may the true Creator and Messiah (who was a black man) bless his people…

  12. J. Williams on June 23, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    Really?! I am a white woman, w/ a bachelors degree in science (honors), and a couple of very old misdemeanors- that I acquired well before pursuing my degree (I reformed myself); and I can’t find a job any where. I’m really tired of ‘skewed’ media reports. Start actually doing your research, instead of getting your ‘stats’ from special interests.

    • THE ONE on January 7, 2017 at 8:51 am

      My wife is a sleep technician and she has a degree for that graduated top of her class… but in order to practice in the profession, you have to take another test to get the job… it pays about 60k a year… a white girl straight out of high school at 19 years old no experience, no college, no work experience period… got the job and was trained by my wife, they found a loophole around the test because in order to pass the test you need college education to read the the studies and able to understand the heart rate patterns and determine a diagnosis… the white girl could not keep up because this job was way over her head as a high school graduate with no work experience with an addiction to Facebook and short attention span… so the employers asks why she ain’t coming along, the white girl said my wife ain’t teaching her properly, but my wife had already emailed them that she doesn’t pay attention, and she always on social media instead of paying attention to the patient monitors… or talking on the phone with her boyfriend or smoking cigs…. the employers told my wife that if she could prepare the white girl for the job then my wife would get demoted and get her hour cut in half…. by the way the white girl was able to get a mortgage loan with a 400 credit score and wasn’t even full time on the job yet on a 180k house…. explain that shit ….pure racism….

      • J. Williams on January 7, 2017 at 2:24 pm

        What???! That is an individual case- that probably has more factors than you’re citing.

        • THE ONE on January 7, 2017 at 4:55 pm

          Really. Then show me a black man with no degree get a job that requires a degree and training… then show me, you know since these are individual cases, a black man with a 400 credit score and no co signer get a 180k mortgage. With less than three month work experience and no down payment… in fact they offered her a grant for down payment assistance… which I never knew existed…. show me that individual case since that’s your argument …. you can’t and you want and if you do take a picture because you will never see it again….

          • J. Williams on January 8, 2017 at 12:57 am

            I can reference MY own case! I can reference the cases of many white folks I know- who have degrees and work shit jobs! I can point out black friends of mine- who don’t have a degree and have great jobs (while I have a degree and NO job). The point I’m trying to make- it’s NOT just a ‘black lives matter’ issue. And to keep dividing the issue, will ensure that nothing will be done to fix the issue. It’s a ‘background check’ crazy, liability fearing, flawed criminal justice system ISSUE. When only 5% of the accused ever see their day in court- called Due Process (and is a right afforded under the Constitution)- and are ‘incentivised’ to take a plea….there is something WRONG w/ ‘the system’. The poor are the hardest hit- BY FAR!

  13. mnyama on November 2, 2015 at 1:09 pm

    True…. And they don’t give a cat’s crack about your college degree either. They’ll hire a white guy with little or no college and no experience AND train them over a Black who they will then say needs to ” work their way up.”

  14. MrPresidentCFO on May 24, 2017 at 1:31 pm

    The answer to this question is, “Become the BOSS!”. Stop building some else dream and build your own “EMPIRE”. 9 out 10, they learned a trade in the cage. Take that training and turn it into a business. We talk about this issue constantly on The Elijah Isaiah Talk Show!

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