Monday, March 26, 2018

The Black American Male Has Been Permanently and Intentionally Left Behind



NYTimes |  A new study rebuts a widely shared view that racial disparities in social mobility are economic inequalities in disguise — the belief that if we address class issues, we can fix racism.

The report, by the Stanford economist Raj Chetty, the Harvard economist Nathaniel Hendren and colleagues at The Equality of Opportunity Project, provides an empirical basis for an economic susceptibility that black parents like me have sensed: Across generations, we are less likely than whites to rise and when we do, are more likely later to fall. We seem unable to grasp or preserve economic gains as other groups do, including Latinos and Asian-Americans.

The study’s findings build on the authors’ prior research that has empirically substantiated two insights about intergenerational economic mobility. One is that a child’s economic position is sticky: Children from affluent families are many times more likely to maintain their privileged status than children from poor families are to attain it.

The other is that while economic mobility may be individual, the conditions that enable or retard it are social. Wealthy neighborhoods with good schools and strong social ties propel even poor children toward a brighter future.

But the reality for black communities is grim.

Black families trace our economic insecurity in part to a gender divide that we see but often don’t discuss. We know that African-American daughters tend to do well. They climb the socioeconomic ladder as high as their white peers, if not higher.

It’s the boys who fail. Whether born to a rich family or a poor one, in an impoverished neighborhood or wealthy one, black boys lag behind their white peers as adults. Black boys who grow up rich are twice as likely as their white counterparts to end up poor. And of those black boys who start life poor, nearly half will remain so in adulthood, while more than 2 in 3 of their white peers will escape the poverty of their youth.

Black women may surpass their white counterparts in individual income, but they lag in household income. The men who would be their husbands are missing — incarcerated, unemployed, unable to be the partners that women want. Or the parents that children need.