Green Energy, Black Jobs - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue


President Barack Obama is not only the first black president, but the first green president, said Van Jones, special adviser for green jobs, enterprise, and innovation with the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

With unemployment rates for African Americans at 13.3% in March, compared with the national average of 8.5%, blacks are in dire need of economic growth. Obama is sending help, in the form of green jobs, as a pathway “out of poverty to prosperity,” said Jones during a conference call, adding that his goal is to dispel the myth that green jobs are not for African Americans.

“Cities produce 75% of greenhouse gas emissions. We cannot beat global warming without greening our cities,” he said. “Buildings don’t weatherize and retrofit themselves. The solutions for global warming are jobs and contracts in the urban environment.

Of the $787 billion in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan, $20 billion will specifically target green endeavors in energy efficiency and weatherization. The Department of Labor will receive $500 million for job training money and the Department of Energy has $3.2 billion to invest in energy efficiency and conservation projects.

“There is a wingspan on those jobs that go from GEDs to Ph.D.s — every kind of person, every color, every class can participate and I think it is important that all communities get in on the ground floor of this stuff,” Jones said.

Under the plan, the federal government will give money to governors and mayors who will distribute the funds throughout their communities. Jones hopes that organizations such as the National Urban League will compete for and begin to train people to participate in the green energy revolution.

In addition, recent guidance from the Office of Management and Budget will make sure that the money is dispersed in a way that is consistent with equal opportunity employment, local hiring, and support for disadvantaged and small businesses.

Join the Conversation

Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.