Thursday, May 19, 2022

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Article Index

II. The Effects Of Government-Sanctioned Racial Oppression And Racial Caste Are Evident In The Continuing Economic And Social Disparities Between Blacks And Whites.

Every major economic indicator demonstrates that African Americans continue to experience significant economic disparities compared to whites. In 1999, black median household income stood at only 63% of that of non-Hispanic whites. Blacks earn less than whites in virtually every occupational group. The unemployment rate for blacks is 2.4 *25 times that of the white unemployment rate, and blacks are twice as likely as whites to be in poverty. African Americans lag far behind white Americans in overall wealth. For every dollar of wealth the median white household held in 1999, the median black household held 9 cents. Net worth for the median black household declined between 1994 and 1999 while net worth for white households increased 20%. African Americans are 2.3 times more likely to die in infancy than whites, are three times more likely to be below the poverty level than non-Hispanic whites, and have a lower life expectancy than whites.

Black high school students drop out of school at 1.76 times *26 the rate of white students. Black high school graduates are significantly less likely than their white peers to enter college within a year of graduation. Even at the college level, racial differences in completion rates have increased since the early 1990s. Despite increasing racial diversity in the country generally, the racial segregation of public schools has increased in the past decade.

Black/white segregation in housing - the market that determines one's schooling, peer groups, safety, jobs, insurance costs, public services, home equity, and, ultimately, wealth - “remains the most extreme” of all residential segregation. “No other ethnic or racial group in the history of the United States has ever, even briefly, experienced such high levels of residential segregation.” Moreover, unlike the experience of other ethnic groups, segregation of African Americans is not *27 explained by class - “no matter how socioeconomic status is measured, black segregation remains universally high.”

These disparities exist, in whole or in part, as a result of racial discrimination and its continuing effects. Blacks experience persistent disparities in family income, a legacy of past and present pervasive race discrimination in housing and in the labor market.

In the labor market, African Americans continue to face the exclusionary barriers created by segregated social networks, information bias, and statistical discrimination. All factors *28 being equal, blacks on average are less likely to receive job offers than whites and can expect to “sample about 50 percent more jobs than whites to get an offer.” Black applicants are also “much less likely to be hired by small establishments than large ones and are less likely to be hired for jobs that involve significant contact with white customers.” The greater the degree of informality and subjectivity in the hiring process, the greater the likelihood of discrimination. Absent comprehensive federal government protection and regulations, “the prospects of suburban job opportunities for black workers are dismal at best” due to general white “aversion” against blacks.

Distinct racial barriers have also limited the entrepreneurial opportunities of African Americans. While self-employment *29 has been the key to economic success and wealth accumulation for many Americans, blacks “have faced levels of hardship in their pursuit of self-employment that have never been experienced as fully by or applied as consistently to other ethnic groups, even other nonwhite ethnics.” For many years during the first half of the twentieth century, many types of businesses were off-limits to African-Americans, and those African-American businesses that did exist were restricted to all-black segregated markets. Barriers to entry prevent blacks from competing in an open market. This has ensured “low levels of black business development and has kept black businesses relatively small.”

 

Vernellia R. Randall
Founder and Editor
Professor Emerita of Law
The University of Dayton School of Law

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