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Not All Black and White: The Factors Behind Racial Inequality Stats

Education, employment, family, incarceration all play a part in pursuing the dream.

by
Rodrigo Sermeño

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September 27, 2013 - 12:07 am
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WASHINGTON – While racial inequality has largely disappeared and the nation has grown wealthier and better educated, the economic disparities between blacks and whites remain relatively unchanged since marchers assembled in Washington five decades ago.

The country recently celebrated the 50-year anniversary of the historic civil-rights gathering at which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a stirring speech that articulated the dream of many Americans who yearned for racial equality.

The event, known as the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, was not only for racial equality; it was also a call for better access to everything the thriving American economy had to offer.

The Washington marchers made several economic demands, including a higher federal minimum wage, a law barring discrimination by employers, and a massive job-training program. In January 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson launched the set of policies that became known as the ‘War on Poverty’ to meet some of those demands. Later that year, Congress enacted the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which ended racial segregation in education, employment, and voting facilities. In 1966, the Johnson administration increased the federal minimum wage.

The changing economic landscape in the following decades after the civil-rights movement saw improved conditions for all Americans, and by some measures, black Americans have seen clear improvements. More blacks are finishing high school and more are in college than at any point in history. As of the last presidential election, blacks are more likely to vote than any other racial group in America. The gap in life expectancy rates among blacks and whites has narrowed in the past five decades.

Yet, blacks remain likelier than whites to be unemployed, be poor, get arrested and serve time in prison.

In 1963, the unemployment rate among whites averaged 5 percent and the black rate averaged 10.9 percent. The ratio of the black unemployment rate to the white unemployment rate has changed little since the 1960s. Last month, the jobless rate among whites was 6.6 percent while almost twice that number among blacks, at 12.6 percent.

Poverty in black communities, as with poverty overall, declined dramatically through the 1960s, falling from a rate of 55 percent in 1959 to 32 percent in 1969. By 1989, the black poverty rate had declined to 30 percent. The economic boom in the late 1990s pushed black poverty to its lowest rate on record – 22.5 percent in 2000. But the financial crisis in 2007 drove the black poverty rate back up to 27.6 percent by 2011, which was nearly three times the white poverty rate of 9.8 percent that year, according to the Congressional Research Service.

After years of narrowing, the gap between black and white median income widened from 2000 to 2011, and the gap in household wealth is even larger.

Between 1967 and 2011, the median income of a black household of three rose from about $24,000 to nearly $40,000, according to census data analyzed by the Pew Research Center. In 2011, the median income for black households was about 59 percent of the median income for white households, up slightly from 55 percent in 1967. The gap in median individual income between blacks and whites rose by a third, to almost $9,000 a year, between 2000 and 2011.

The housing market collapse that began in 2007 took a greater toll on black families than whites because heading into the recession housing constituted a higher proportion of their wealth. Between 2005 and 2009, the median wealth – as measured by assets minus debts – of black families fell by 53 percent. White median wealth fell only by 16 percent during the same period. An Urban Institute study found that whites had six times the wealth of blacks. By the most recent data, the average white household had about $632,000 in wealth, versus $98,000 for black households.

One particular area where the gap has narrowed is in high school graduation rates, which have risen for both whites and blacks. High school completion rates have converged since the 1960s, and now about nine out of ten blacks and whites have a high school diploma.

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Top Rated Comments   
Data, lots of data, but no intelligence.

I spent 40 years as an executive in the construction business, a source of high quality jobs with good pay and benefits. (i.e. A skilled construction craftsman in almost any of the trade sets available makes 120% of the national median income, without overtime. With a little, and I mean little, effort, a tradesman can rise to supervision/ instructor/ specialist status and reap 200% of national median income. All of this with Significant benefits)

Construction is always, always, always looking for employees willing to start their careers at $15 (18 yr old with no skills) and grow to $25-$33 per hour in 4 to 6 years. We actively solicit both Americans who happen to be black and African-Americans.

Why aren't we able to keep them?
1. For cultural reasons I still do not completely understand, the idea of showing up on time, sober (that is safe), give an honest days work, care about the quality of your work and make some effort to learn is alien.
2. "Acting White". What the hell is that? Working for a living, supporting your family and being a good, growing, and better rewarded employee is a "White" thing? OK, then what the hell is the "Black" thing?...see #1 above.
3. Where do black people get their information? They don't even know what MSM says. Somewhere there is an underground misinformation system in black communities. It displays itself as unwilling to participate in normal work and advancement schemes, demanding immediate promotion to the top, and when there behaving as some petty non producing ward healer. See Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. Getting the project built, safely, on time and on budget seems to be nowhere in the thought process.
4. Here's a surprise. We ALL have glass ceilings. All construction companies (but for three, really, three) are closely held or family concerns. You think the sons and daughters and in-laws get moved up faster? Yep. Most of us float up to a level or two below where we are capable of being. Welcome to being a normal person...black or white.
5. Who broke the Black family? For that matter who broke the American family? When people restart the basic economic unit much will get better.
6. Drugs. Sorry, drug use is higher in black community...no matter where they use. Black incarceration is because dealing is the career of choice...lets you ride around in a pimp mobile....and not "Act White".
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
What would be instructive is the experience of blacks who have recently arrived to this country. Not those who were resettled by the government or assisted by well meaning, but misguided religious organizations, but hose who have arrived at our shores by the sweat of their own brow and a sense that America was the place where their future resided.

I have met them and the difference between them and their American cousins could not be more stark. Their children have not learned the self-destructive habits of American blacks.

I have close relatives whose behavior approximates that of American blacks. No amount of outside effort will lift them from their circumstances. They have not and will not cultivate the habits of planning and saving and the suppression of immediate gratification in favor of long term goals.

The black family has been destroyed by government policy, e.g. "The welfare state". Now that same government has turned it baleful gaze towards the entirety of the population with the goal of creating a citizenry dependent upon its largesse.

All this will not end well, as end it must and will.

48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
" In the recent telephone survey of more than 2,200 adults, 44 percent of white respondents said the U.S. had a long way to go before achieving racial equality, compared with 79 percent of black respondents."

So called "affirmative action" gives blacks a big leg up (just look at admissions to medical school by race and MCAT's/grades for just one example). If even with that big racist boost in their favor they are still behind, that's not my fault.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (32)
All Comments   (32)
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I omittedthe word "not" before the second because . This changes the sentence from one making no sense to one making some sense.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
The quality of high school education has decreased because of popular demand because teachers and schools want it that way. If you doubt this, sit in a class while homework is assigned or collected.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
A high school diploma now is not like a high school diploma then. Nowadays you can graduate high school with a junior high school education. Back then the big sacrifice was staying out of the work for a few more years. Now, you need a college degree to guarantee 1962-level high school abilities -- which takes more years and also tuition.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
The awful drug problem could be resolved by a law requiring on the spot execution of any person found in possession of any more than some miniscule amount of a scheduled substance. The recidivism rate would be zero. Since the vast majority of serious crimes are committed by persons under the influence of alcohol or some other drug, the commission of serious crimes would also be severely curtailed. Draconian? Yes! But not nearly as draconian as the stupid, silly notion that selfishness, greed, hostility, envy, lust, sloth, irresponsibility are tolerable attitudes and behavior patterns.Changed attitudes will result in changed behavior.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
some of us see the blacl/nonblack performance differential as attributable to morality. The thesis is that, the closer one adheres to scripture in both his faith and his works the closer he is to God,and thus the closer he is to success, happiness and peace. The balancing factor, since some amoral ones achieve temporal success, is eternity, in which evil ones will be eternally punished. Those who comport themselves with a view to enjoying eternal happiness, based on their faithful, loving obedience to scriptural demands . They see themselves required, by God, to love all mankind, and to behave accordingly. Such an attitude necessitates proactive helpfullness, maximum effort, compassion, justice and precludes war, crime and poverty, as well as deliberate disobedience to the commandments of the NT.Hypocrites, by definition, do not follow such a course. In fact, few do. Fewer blacks than nonblacks. Thats why...
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
I may be called racist for saying this but, I feel that after fifty years of enabling them, creating numerous programs to help lift them out of poverty, Affirmative ACtion, that they are basically to blame for their lack of progress. They whine ad nauseum about slavery and blame everyone else for their problem.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Deep down black people have a sense of anguish and shame over their relative lack of success. This can manifest itself in many ways but most notably extreme aggression or self destruction. Take a walk through any black neighborhood and take a look at the many lost souls hanging around who do not work, particularly men. This is a tremendous tragedy. I think I am going to get off my lazy but, and try to get them into church where maybe God can repair them.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
The first thing is that blk American families are taught is that they are blk before they are human. Blks from say Africa do not have the chains of the past. plus the Ghetto politician has not got a hold of their psyche.
Many foreigners come here with a very different belief system that allows them to withstand frustrations and setbacks. They have a goal of a better life but many American blks do not believe that is possible.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
One of the barriers to blacks in this country is that they speak a dialect of English that labels them as illiterate, lazy, and dumb. After four hundred years on this continent, they are the only not-WASP group that does not speak in standard American speech.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Try having a Southern accent. Even if your grammar, syntax, and orthography are perfect, if you're outside The South, you're "illiterate, lazy, and dumb."

I grew up in rural Georgia in the '50s and '60s where you learned to be "tri-lingual." To get along in the higher castes you had to speak formal church, courthouse, and school English, and teachers would literally whack you with a pointer or paddle for saying something like "ain't got no." To have any authority over lower caste whites you also had to speak fairly formal English. To get along and mingle with the general culture, you had to speak the dialect of the area, a dialect that was very different from place to place before TV and greater mobility somewhat homogenized the common Southern accent. And you had to be at least able to understand if not speak fluently the black dialect in the area, which was also quite different from place to place. A black from the piedmont region of Georgia would barely be able to understand the Geechee dialect of a black who'd spent his whole life in the rural areas along the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina. An educated white from the coastal areas of Georgia has a syrupy smooth "tidewater" cultured Southern accent, the only one that won't get you looked down on as a professional. An educated white from the upland parts of the state has a more nasal and twangy accent that gets more pronounced as one's home region gets closer to the Appalachians. My sister and my cousins who've spent their whole lives in rural parts of Southeast and central Georgia have almost perfectly preserved their "piney woods" twang and, after forty years in Alaska, I can barely understand a word they say unless I've been around them for a few days. My sister has a master's degree in Education, but she would be unemployable outside the rural South simply because of her accent. She never had to moderate that accent because she spent her whole career teaching in public schools in rural areas where all the whites talked pretty much like her and the blacks talked either like poor whites or in black dialect. I learned very quickly when I left school and moved to Atlanta that working for those Yankee managers in Atlanta you'd be on the loading dock and never get off unless you were twice as good as the next guy simply because of your accent. After forty years in Alaska, most of them in Juneau where there is no Southern influence and few expatriate Southerners, unlike Anchorage and Fairbanks, any native Southern would think I talked like a Yankee, though a Southerner would pick up a hint of moonlight and magnolias and ask me if I'd spent any time in The South or had been in the military. Any Yankee and most Westerners would to this day find a way to remark on my having a Southern accent.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
To which one might add that Standard American Speech is the result of a great deal of input by the various groups that inhabit our fair land, not in the least black dialect...largely due to its over representation in our culture.
Oh Snap, more truth. No mas.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Data, lots of data, but no intelligence.

I spent 40 years as an executive in the construction business, a source of high quality jobs with good pay and benefits. (i.e. A skilled construction craftsman in almost any of the trade sets available makes 120% of the national median income, without overtime. With a little, and I mean little, effort, a tradesman can rise to supervision/ instructor/ specialist status and reap 200% of national median income. All of this with Significant benefits)

Construction is always, always, always looking for employees willing to start their careers at $15 (18 yr old with no skills) and grow to $25-$33 per hour in 4 to 6 years. We actively solicit both Americans who happen to be black and African-Americans.

Why aren't we able to keep them?
1. For cultural reasons I still do not completely understand, the idea of showing up on time, sober (that is safe), give an honest days work, care about the quality of your work and make some effort to learn is alien.
2. "Acting White". What the hell is that? Working for a living, supporting your family and being a good, growing, and better rewarded employee is a "White" thing? OK, then what the hell is the "Black" thing?...see #1 above.
3. Where do black people get their information? They don't even know what MSM says. Somewhere there is an underground misinformation system in black communities. It displays itself as unwilling to participate in normal work and advancement schemes, demanding immediate promotion to the top, and when there behaving as some petty non producing ward healer. See Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. Getting the project built, safely, on time and on budget seems to be nowhere in the thought process.
4. Here's a surprise. We ALL have glass ceilings. All construction companies (but for three, really, three) are closely held or family concerns. You think the sons and daughters and in-laws get moved up faster? Yep. Most of us float up to a level or two below where we are capable of being. Welcome to being a normal person...black or white.
5. Who broke the Black family? For that matter who broke the American family? When people restart the basic economic unit much will get better.
6. Drugs. Sorry, drug use is higher in black community...no matter where they use. Black incarceration is because dealing is the career of choice...lets you ride around in a pimp mobile....and not "Act White".
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Segregation is a serious problem and one of its pernicious effects is tribalism.....

An Elder related a story to me about two fishermen out on a lake in a simple open boat. One of them had the bait bucket which he tossed over the side and it had no lid. Yet there was alway a nice shiner minnow to put on an empty hook for all the hours they were out on that lake. Invariably the question came up; why didn't the minnows just swim away?. The answer....... "oh, those are Chippewa minnows. When one tries to swim out of the bucket, the others pull him back in"..........
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Unfortunately, those "Black" attitudes about work and culture are permeating white culture as well. They told us back when they were pushing school integration on The South that after a generation of blacks and whites going to the same public schools the racial differences in educational attainment would disappear. They were pretty much right, but not in the way they represented it.

What the dumbing down of schools and affirmative action have really achieved is that you simply cannot trust somebody to actually be what their credentials and resume say they are. In my time in government I worked around my fair share of tokens and affirmative action hires. The truly sad thing was that so many of them thought that what they did was what was really expected of the job. How many times I've been a part of cleaning up some token's mess and keeping it quiet! When a supervisor or manager called me about a disciplinary issue with an employee, my first question, very first question, was whether the employee was a member of a protected class.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
You have hit the nail on the head. Upper middle class minorities have to fight the street culture that indoctrinates the youth. Showing the only avenues for success is gangs,athletics or entertainment.
"Acting white" is a way to keep the individual from success. Blks are like lobsters in a basket always trying to pull down those who succeed and enforcing racist policies.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
The lobster pot and bait bucket theme seems to be a common metaphor for how the tribe suppresses the interests of the individual to serve group cohesion and dominance......
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Fortunately, a few of us are snapping turtles.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
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