MPN CEO C.J. Bland on CNN with Anchor Don Lemon


"The Rising Job Loss Impact on African-Americans and Latinos"

Photos before Interview

(March 9, 2009 - Atlanta, Georgia)  C.J. Bland, founder and CEO of Minority Professional Network (MPN), was recently interviewed on CNN on March 7th by Weekend Anchor Don Lemon to discuss rising U.S. job losses and the disproportionate impact on African-Americans and Latinos.


During the roughly 34-hour period between receiving the invitation and appearing on-air, Mr. Bland documented his own talking points as well as interviewed or solicited feedback from dozens of others to gauge their thoughts on the reasons for the disparities and their responses to the five questions.


Given the time constraints allotted for the on-air interview, unfortunately, Anchor Lemon and CEO Bland were not able to have extensive dialogue on possible reasons for the disparities or discuss the pre-interview questions.


Nevertheless, below are CNN's Ali Velshi's interpretation of the recent employment numbers, C.J. Bland's pre-interview preparation notes, and comments shared by others in response to the disparities and pre-interview questions.

CNN's Ali Velshi's Analysis of the Feb. 2009 Unemployment Data  
February employment report -- More breakdown from Ali Velshi:

Adult Men: 8.1%
Adult Women 6.7%
Whites: 7.3%
Blacks: 13.4%
Hispanics: 10.9%
Teenagers: 21.6%
Asians: 6.9%

651,000 jobs were lost in February.
(December figure revised to 681k loss, worst since Oct. 1949)

12.5 MILLION people now unemployed

4.4 Million jobs lost since beginning of this recession

Only gains were in education, healthcare and government jobs.

Manufacturing lost 168-thousand jobs

Construction lost 104-thousand jobs

Retail lost 40-thousand jobs

Education & Health care ADDED 26-thousand jobs

Government added 9-thousand jobs
Pre-Responses to Pre-Interview Questions from CNN (C.J. Bland and Others)

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  1. Why have African-Americans and Latinos felt the brunt of the current job loss?

(C.J. Bland's Pre-interview Talking Points)

Undoubtedly, many Americans regardless of race, culture, education, skill level, experience, job title, etc. have been adversely impacted by the steadily increasing massive job loss.  

Regarding the disproportionate impact on African-Americans and Latinos, I believe there are multiple factors for such disparity, possibly including -

  • Employment cultures that have not effectively stressed the importance, value and benefits, and necessity to implement and sustain diversity throughout its work environment.

  • Lack of comparable business ownership, and hence a lack of power to determine who’s hired and who’s fired.

  • Lack of sufficient representation in key leadership and decision-making roles (i.e., supervisory, management, executive, board room).

  • Employers who lack sufficient policies, metrics, and oversight to effectively eliminate or significantly minimize bias (intentional or otherwise) in the decision-making process, including which employees to keep or let go.

(Comments from Others in Response to this Question)

  • Last hired, first fired

  • Inadequate Presentation

  • Insufficient Preparation

  • Lack of Initiative to Enhance Credentials

  • Making Excuses instead of Ceasing Opportunities

  1. How has this issue played out geographically as well as within particular job sectors?

(C.J. Bland's Pre-interview Talking Points)

  • The impact has been widespread. 

  • Some rural areas as well as metropolitan areas have been severely hit.  Areas in PA, MI, IN, OH and other states with a higher concentration of manufacturing jobs have above average unemployment rates. 

  • Similarly, early 2000’s rapid growth areas such as Atlanta, Phoenix, and Las Vegas have lost numerous construction jobs and have not been able generate sufficient jobs in other sectors to sustain such growth and expansion. 

  • Given the impact on the financial sector and retail, even areas such as New York have also experienced rising job loss.

  • Healthcare, Education, Government, and Green jobs have experienced gains during the recession.     

  1. How does this current situation compare to previous years?

(C.J. Bland's Pre-interview Talking Points)

  • The current situation is unprecedented in recent history.  We have not witnessed such a cascading tsunami-like effect with such massive job losses and lack of available replacement jobs, coupled with frozen credit markets, a massive decline in savings and investment portfolios, dwindling home values, and such low consumer confidence.

  • Given the severity of the current crisis, I think the policy decisions and actions by President Obama and our congressional leaders are necessary and essential to stop the decline in helping to restore confidence (among employers, workers and consumers), and steering us back on the road to recovery.    

  1. What does this say about the current job situation particularly for minorities?

(C.J. Bland's Pre-interview Talking Points)

  • The current job situation is undoubtedly very difficult and challenging for many; and especially minorities.

  • However, as stated by Kevin Johnson, CEO of Johnson Media and founder of, the downturn potentially has an upside, as it could inspire more minorities to start their own businesses.

  • For example, in early 2001, I along with thousands of my colleagues, were unexpectedly laid off without any warning or rumors of pending lay-offs.  I took my severance package and used in to formally incorporate Minority Professional Network, and launched our global web portal later that year. 

  • Since then, our comprehensive career, economic, lifestyle and networking resource portal ( or has attracted millions of multicultural users and subscribers from across the U.S. and around the world.  We have also supported the diversity recruiting and outreach efforts of hundreds of clients and advertisers, including the U.S. Department of State, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Mass Mutual, Honda, Xerox, and many others.   

  1. What advice would you offer to individuals currently faced with this situation?

(C.J. Bland's Pre-interview Talking Points)

  • Continue to network through family and friends, organizations and groups, etc.   

  • Prepare, Plan, Pray, Persevere!

  • Maintain a positive attitude and determination to persevere.

  • Be flexible and adaptable.

  • Swallow your pride, humble yourself, and be willing to accept any viable job (regardless of pay grade or title).

(Comments from Others in Response to this Question)

  • Don’t give up, keep the faith.

  • If you get laid off, don’t get lazy, get busy!

  • Education and re-training

  • Work multiple jobs, if necessary, to take care of yourself and provide for your family.

  • If necessary, pool your incomes together with others until your collective financial situation improves.

Select Comments and Feedback from Others

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CJ –I would say speaking from a cultural view…I think African Americans and Latinos may fall into desperate situations because there is no back up plan – they are not prepared for crisis situations.


Our cultures are known for leading the charts as consumers and oftentimes that mean savings or an investment is not highly regarded. If they find themselves unemployed, they are in trouble because they are living paycheck to paycheck. They can easily run out of money before they can find a new position. It can take 6 months to find a job in this climate and if you are living paycheck to paycheck, 6 months is 5 months too long.


I think more life skills training is essential for our black & Latino communities.  Really driving home the importance of saving and creating an investment portfolio that will prove to be a shelter during trying times as these.


Karen H.



The only input I have is that minorities have to go the extra mile to distinguish themselves - we have to make sure we are positioned in a way that makes us stand out in a positive way.  I always have to compensate for the fact that I am not only a minority but foreign.  I do so by going into the interview with more than just a copy of my resume and a smile.  I go in armed with some tools including portfolios and presentations after having done a good amount of research.  Of course a smile and a pleasant demeanor always help (smile).


Muthoni W.



I would tie in that the black population, especially males, who are upwards in age, traditionally had blue collar, labor intensive jobs. Such jobs in manufacturing, being exported to China, or eliminated by newer technologies and automation, reduces the total number of jobs. States who create "opportunities" through Workforce Commissions and Unemployment agencies to retrain workers in "new industries," often overlook the following:

1) The limited number of jobs in those industries.
2) The fact that the aging population is living longer.
3) The fact that the younger, educated population is already poised and educated for those jobs; and
4) Illegal immigrants continue to erode the availability of jobs. (Whereas jobs which teenagers and college freshmen once held, [fast food, hotels housekeeping - service, and more] are now unavailable. As such teenagers are now entering into markets for jobs their parents may have held, often leaving the parents unemployed.

Of course, this all being from a New Orleans perspective.

Charles T.




I think (and some others as well) that there will be a trend for technical education and technical schools.  After all we will always need plumbers and electricians, if not to build then certainly to repair the stuff we all have.  And much of that kind of work is not optional.  My plumber is $125/hr.  He and his brother (electrician) left Eastern Airlines when they saw the handwriting was on the wall and started a contracting business.  They never looked back. 


Technical fields are the perfect opportunity for minorities to regain viable self-employment and return to entrepreneurship.  I think in this environment people will get over what looks like a dirty job.  But what they must get and the technical schools must provide are the business skills.  Without the business acumen you have the e-myth that because they are a plumber does mean they are good at running a plumbing business.  If they miss that part, there will be just be an abundance of contractors showing up late who go out of business because they never managed the business. 

Jeffri E.


Success is loving life and daring to live it. --Maya Angelou--




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