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Need to Know, March 16, 2012: Revisiting ‘The Corner,’ bridging the racial divide

This week's host, Scott Simon.

Scott Simon returns to the inner city community in Baltimore that he first visited last fall to see if recent improvements in the economy are improving the lot of chronically under-employed and unemployed young African-American men there. Vietnamese-American essayist talks about tensions in the inner city of Philadelphia between African-Americans and newly arrived south Asian immigrants.

What’s on this week:

‘The Corner,’ revisited

Last fall, Scott Simon traveled to Baltimore to report on the chronically unemployed youth there, who are rarely counted and rarely talked about. This week, Simon returns to see if improvements in the economy have made any difference.

Solving the inner city jobs crisis

Deborah Simmons of The Washington Times and Algernon Austin of the Economic Policy Institute discuss possible solutions for the unemployment crisis in inner cities.

American Voices: Thoai Nguyen

Essayist Thoai Nguyen discusses how to bridge the racial divide in inner-city Philadelphia.

Watch more full episodes of Need to Know.



  • Pat Peters

    The federal government needs to provide employment opportunities for inner city people who are capable of working. How is the challenge question! Park big learning vans with computers that train in the middle of the ghettos.  Offer food for studying or learning how to do something different. Ask potential employers to invite a yound adult to the job site for a week to learn about all the different kinds of work needed at various jobs. it sounds like they know how to get customers for illegal substances.   Let them use that know how to get customers for wholesome products.   The federal government could sponsor  bonus programs for good attendance at work,  creativity,  or just for having a good attitude at the work site.   For example the most congenial worker, or the best dressed worker.

  • Robert

    Employment Opportunities come from the local community, not from the Federal Govt. If one waits for the Federal Government to do something in your community, get in line. You are not alone. Your questions and answers go unheard. Sure someone hears your plea but that is not the Federal Government. When was the last time your community was visited by anyone that could cut you a check for your issues. Wait in line, were working on it attitude.You need to form a co-ordinated effort, to protest. The divide is not always a racial one but an economic one. The Govt is spending more time making sure foreign nations have better living conditions than inner city. I only hear on the News  Mid East Situations. Make sure your broom cleans your neighborhood before sweeping the doorstep of distant neighbors.

  • jan

    Given the fact that the republican party has spent decades destroying the various safety nets and trying to turn this country into a country of survival of the fittest mentality, the current inability of government to do anything to alleviate the suffering around us is not surprising.  As far as the local community providing economic opportunities?  That only works if you’re talking about the Chinese federal government backing the chinese local community.   

  • American Taxpayer 301

    I watched your show about Inner City jobs crisis and would
    like to add my opinion for the solution of employment applicants with
    criminal records. I know employers are reluctant to hire those applicants with
    felonies or misdemeanor’s because they worry about their liability or whether
    they will be subject to untrustworthy behavior. I propose that as a condition
    for employment that applicants are required to have a one -on -one supervisor
    or monitor for a predetermined period of time. The monitor would be responsible
    for the applicant during the course of work and would make sure they stay out
    of trouble. Also, provide a positive work ethic toward the applicant. Now, the
    ideal situation would be to have volunteers so the employer is not buying one
    worker for the price of two. For example, the area I live in- school districts
    provide special needs students with an adult guide or assistant during the
    school day. We pay for this in our school taxes. The purpose of this is to
    integrate special needs with main stream students.  Before, we would stuff these people into
    various institutions. Just because someone commits a crime does not mean they
    are lost forever and can never rejoin society.  We as a country are willing to forgive much
    and give people many chances when they screw up! Now, like I said it would be
    nice if these applicant monitors were volunteers but if not I would support the
    Federal or State Government paying for the monitors to help the applicants reestablish
    themselves and their community. This would probably be a small cost and more
    productive and inclusive. We pay quite a bit right now to house inmates and
    with fewer inmates you could say we are saving that money and redistributing to
    a good cause with future benefits to society. I think inclusion is always a
    better alternative to exclusion.

  • John D

    I am so disappointed in this program.  The interviewer asks the inner-city preacher about the current campaign – obviously a shot at Republican candidates, none of whom is in office.
    Democrats controlled both houses of Congress for 4 years starting in January 2007.
    During that time, no Republic legislation was considered in committee.
    Legislation is crafted in committee where the majority is in control.
    Even now, Democrats control the Senate and the White House.
    No law can be passed without approval from both of these.
    Demorcrates are still in control of 2/3 of the Federal government.
    Only a complete moron could blame conservatives for the current state of affairs.
    Every major city in America is controlled by Democrats.
    Every major city in America is an economic basket case.
    How can progressives make their case when they refuse to face this?
    This program is a pathetic disgrace.

  • Anonymous

    To be clear in most places employers can eliminate applicants if they check the box asking if they have been convicted of a felony – and they do eliminate folks without considering them at all. This is just one type of structural discrimination faced by formerly incarcerated – you serve your time and your parole and despite that you are forever punished – and so is your family if you have one. You can’t get housing, you can’t get education aid, you can’t get a lonnnnng list of certificates and licenses, and in many places you can’t even vote!

    The tide is turning however – municipalities like San Francisco and Philadelphia and six states, including MASS have passed “Ban the Box” legislation -  For more information on model city and state policies in hiring formerly incarcerated and convicted people see:

  • John D

    Liberals/Progressives run Baltimore.  Liberals/Progressives run Maryland.  Liberals/Progressives control the Senate and the White House.  Look at your own progressive house, Scott.  Month after month, year after year, progressives bitch and complain about conservatives and the bad old Republicans.  But then, when they control almost every branch of government, they don’t do shit for minorities or poor people.  When will Scott interview Harry Reid or the President’s staff to ask them for action that will make a difference?  Answer:  never.  Scott Simon is such a pussy.  What a hypocrite.