Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, Rapper Common, and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on the Effects of Youth Unemployment

Schultz sheds light on the racial injustices minority youth face when seeking employment

Image: CNN screenshot

Following the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative kick-off event in Chicago on Aug. 13, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, award-winning rapper Common, and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel sat down with CNN’s Poppy Harlow to talk about the adverse effect of youth unemployment across the city and the nation.

With the goal to hire and engage at least 100,000 youth by 2018 who face systematic barriers to employment and education, the new initiative held its first job fair in Chicago with more than 3,000 registered youth attending. In addition to recruiters from various companies like Taco Bell, Macy’s, and Hyatt looking to fill hundreds of local positions, the all-day event also included workshops, on-the-spot mentoring and feedback, college counseling, skill development and other entertaining activities. Award-winning rapper and Chicago native Common also attended the event and offered a few words of encouragement and support to the young people, who ranged between the ages of 16 and 24.

[Related: Starbucks and Other Major Companies Pledge Job Opportunities for 100,000 Unemployed Youth]

In a sit-down interview, alongside Howard Schultz, Common spoke to Harlow about the benefits of providing young people with jobs and opportunities.

“It gives them something concrete to be able to make a living,” said the Chicago native.  “It helps them to succeed in being able to provide for their families. And I mean, we all, when we get a job, feel good about ourselves.”

Schultz chimed into the conversation agreeing with Common, but also pointing out the racial barriers that some young people face when it comes to employment opportunities.

“I think there is a cultural divide and there are racial injustices today. And we should see opportunities for people irregardless of their situation in life or [the] color of their skin,” said Schultz. “And I think the fact that there are 5.6 million kids in this country who do not have the opportunity, it is a tragic situation. And it’s – to me, it’s un-American.”

In addition to speaking with Schultz and Common, CNN also spoke to Mayor Rahm Emanuel about his thoughts on youth employment helping to solve the city’s violence problem.

“There’s no doubt, I mean, like true across the country, where you have poverty, you have violence,” Emanuel said.

Check out the video below to hear more insights from Schultz, Common and Emanuel, as well as the young adults who participated in the Chicago job fair.