Transforming Policy Narratives for Young Black Workers: A Groundbreaking Initiative by the Joint Center

Jo-Carolyn Goode | 5/22/2024, 4:06 p.m.
The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies has recently launched a transformative project titled "Improving Policy Narratives for Young …

The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies has recently launched a transformative project titled "Improving Policy Narratives for Young Black Workers." This initiative, aimed at reshaping how educational systems, labor market institutions, and policy frameworks serve young Black workers, offers 13 key messaging principles derived from extensive research and collaboration.

The Birth of a Vision

In 2022, the Joint Center assembled a dynamic task force of 11 young Black professionals. These individuals, all college graduates employed in entry-to-mid-level roles, provided invaluable insights based on their personal experiences and peer observations. This Black Youth Worker Task Force became the driving force behind the narrative solutions that this project presents today. Members of this task force include Cierra Baker, Reshad Daniels, Donovan Hunt, Grant (G.E.) Loveless, Nasir Mack, Evan Wayne Malbrough, Ciarra Malone, Morgan Mitchell, Ian Moet, Kaylah Oates-Marable, and Sando Zou-Capuzzi.

Shaping the Future

“Starting this project in 2022 and witnessing the growth of our task force members has been transformative. Their evolving perspectives on workforce challenges have shaped our recommendations,” said Justin Nalley, the Workforce Policy senior policy analyst. Nalley emphasized that the initiative’s goal was to develop narrative frameworks and messaging strategies that center on young Black workers, engaging key stakeholders such as policymakers, journalists, and advocates.

Key Findings and Recommendations

The Joint Center recently hosted a webinar to unveil the project’s findings, which include insights from the task force, focus groups, and media analysis. Task force members Malbrough and Baker shared their firsthand experiences, highlighting the challenges and solutions for improving workplace narratives.

“Young Black workers are often under intense scrutiny while simultaneously having their abilities undermined. Policymakers need to embrace these frameworks and recognize the diversity in our needs and abilities," said Evan Wayne Malbrough, who is active in education, advocacy, and policy.

Cierra Baker emphasized the importance of equal opportunities for young Black workers. “My friends and I have worked hard to position ourselves for success. Employers need to understand we need the same chances to gain experience and build our resumes,” she said.

Morgan Mitchell, a law student and task force member, added, “This project is essential for changing the narrative around young Black workers' abilities. Building an inclusive workplace requires dismantling systemic injustices and supporting professional development.”

The 13 Messaging Principles

The project's 13 key principles include:

1. Addressing the link between racial divisions and economic hardship.

2. Uniting under the idea that racism is a tool for division.

3. Connecting racial and economic justice explicitly.

4. Highlighting systemic injustices rather than blaming individuals.

5. Leading with shared values.

6. Contextualizing the problems facing young Black workers.

7. Identifying economic bad actors responsible for current conditions.

8. Promoting systemic rather than individual-level change.

9. Tying policy solutions to shared prosperity.

10. Focusing on asset-based framing.

11. Offering well-rounded portrayals of young Black individuals from diverse backgrounds.

12. Including the voices of those most affected.

13. Emphasizing the stories of young Black workers, not just statistics.

Voices of Change

The webinar featured prominent speakers, including Dedrick Asante-Muhammad, president of the Joint Center; Dr. Kayla C. Elliott, director of Workforce Policy at the Joint Center; Senator Laphonza Butler (D-CA); Satra Taylor, director of Higher Education and Workforce at Young Invincibles; and Wisdom Cole, national director of the NAACP Youth & College Division.


The "Improving Policy Narratives for Young Black Workers" project by the Joint Center is a crucial step towards changing how society views and supports young Black workers. By implementing these 13 messaging principles, stakeholders can help create a more equitable and just workforce environment.

For more details about this groundbreaking initiative, visit the Joint Center’s website. Let's work together to build a future where young Black workers are seen as the invaluable assets they truly are.

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