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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

Bio

September 27, 2013 - 12:07 am
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White adults 25 and older, however, are significantly more likely than blacks to have completed at least a bachelor’s degree – 34 percent versus 21 percent. But in 2010, 38 percent of blacks between the ages of 18 and 24 were enrolled in a university, compared with 43 percent of whites.

On other measures, too, blacks fare poorly. The higher incarceration rates and the dissolution of the black family have particularly hurt black mobility. Blacks are about 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites, despite using the drug at roughly the same rate. Black men were more than six times as likely as white men in 2010 to be incarcerated. In 2011, 478 of every 100,000 white men and 51 of every 100,000 white women were imprisoned. For black men the rate was 3,023 per 100,000 and for black women 129 per 100,000. Former inmates earn less money and have a harder time moving up the economic ladder.

The traditional family has collapsed since the 1960s because of a decline in marriages and an increase in out-of-wedlock births. Blacks lead the way in both. Marriage rates among whites and blacks have declined in the past 50 years. Today about 55 percent of whites and 31 percent of blacks ages 18 and older are married. In 1960, 74 percent of whites and roughly 60 percent of blacks were married. In 2011, 72 percent of black children were born to unwed mothers and 55 percent of black children were being raised by single parents. Such children are four times more likely to be poor than children raised by married parents.

President Obama paid tribute to King’s legacy in a speech that touched on the accomplishments the nation has made on racial equality. He also issued a call to complete the journey to economic equality set forth by the march in 1963.

“We must remind ourselves that the measure of progress for those who marched 50 years ago was not merely how many blacks could join the ranks of millionaires,” Obama said on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. “It was whether this country would admit all people who were willing to work hard, regardless of race, into the ranks of middle-class life.”

The president urged the nation’s leaders to tackle the problems of income inequality to live up to King’s dream.

“For over a decade, working Americans of all races have seen their wages and incomes stagnate. Even as corporate profits soar, even as the pay of a fortunate few explodes, inequality has steadily risen over the decades. Upward mobility has become harder,” Obama said.

Explanations for these economic disparities fall more or less into two camps: those stressing the lingering effects of racism and those arguing that these gaps are caused by racial differences in human capital.

Ron Haskins and Isabel Sawhill, two Brookings Institution scholars, have found that Americans who finish high school, work full-time, and wait until 21 and married before they have children have a 72 percent chance of joining the middle class and only a 2 percent chance of being poor. Sadly, few blacks meet all three of these basic conditions.

Americans are pessimistic that progress is being made toward King’s goal of racial equality. A Pew Research Center poll found that nearly twice as many blacks than whites say the police treat blacks less fairly. And about three times as many blacks than whites believe blacks are treated less fairly at work, public schools, stores, and courts. 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.

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Rodrigo is a freelance writer living in Washington, D.C.

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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".
42 weeks ago
42 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.

42 weeks ago
42 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.
42 weeks ago
42 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.
41 weeks ago
41 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.
41 weeks ago
41 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.
42 weeks ago
42 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.
42 weeks ago
42 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...
42 weeks ago
42 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.
42 weeks ago
42 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.
42 weeks ago
42 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.
42 weeks ago
42 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.
42 weeks ago
42 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.
42 weeks ago
42 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.
42 weeks ago
42 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".
42 weeks ago
42 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"..........
42 weeks ago
42 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.
42 weeks ago
42 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.
42 weeks ago
42 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......
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Fortunately, a few of us are snapping turtles.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
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