Race and inequality in the United States

Race and inequality in the United States

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

  (Redirected from Race and Inequality)

In the United States, different ethnic groups have varying socioeconomic standings. The assertion that there is a correlation between race and inequality covers such notions. Historical evidence suggests that the unequal treatment of racial minorities in the United States dates as far back to the start of colonization. [1] In the early days of European settlement of the Americas[clarification needed], European explorers encountered a group of people who appeared radically different from them. American Indians were discriminated against because their beliefs and practices were perceived as being “savage.”[2]

Other minority groups have also been discriminated against in the United States. Hispanics, Asian Americans, and people of Middle Eastern descent have also been subject to racial discrimination, stereotype, and unequal treatment.[clarification needed] Asian Americans are unlike other minorities in that some Asian groups are considered to be a model minority because they have succeeded in education, upward mobility, income, and have a low incarceration rate. [3][4] This is mainly true of Asian Indian Americans, Japanese Americans, and Chinese Americans - other Asian groups like Hmong Americans and Cambodian Americans have considerably higher poverty rates,[3] incarceration rates,[3] and lower educational attainment and income[3] than the average American family. That there are visible minorities who outperform the majority in economic and educational attainment throws the contention that economic inequality exists because of discrimination into question.



[edit] Income and wealth

Income refers to a flow of resources over time and represents the value of labor in the “contemporary labor market and the value of social assistance and pensions.” [5] It is a valuable gauge of economic inequality. The income of racial minorities has increased with the reduction of racial discrimination in the labor market. As a result, the hourly wage gap between minorities and Whites has narrowed. While this suggests that the various races are competing in a somewhat level playing field, it is challenged when wealth is taken into account.[expand]

Dating to the inception of slavery, government policies prohibited blacks from beginning businesses. Federal Housing Authorities made it difficult for African Americans to obtain loans and mortgages. While racial and ethnic minorities were legally denied opportunities to accumulate wealth for future generations, most whites did not encounter these same obstacles. Perpetuations of these practices for centuries attest to the wide wealth inequalities among Whites and minorities.

In “The Hidden Cost of Being African American,” Thomas Shapiro uses the concept of transformative assets to explain racial inequality in wealth. Transformative assets are inherited wealth from previous generations that lift families beyond their own achievements. Inheritance is important right now because the generation that benefited from the post-World War II economic boom is now at the age when they are passing off their wealth to their children. In his research, Shapiro finds that these assets help white people more than they help African Americans. White people have more wealth and head-start assets than African Americans do. This, according to Shapiro, is the crucial cause of the disparity between African Americans and whites with regards to wealth because inheritance is the key determinant in what kind of life families can enjoy. A disparity in wealth between African Americans and whites exists even when there are similarities in economic achievements such as income, level of education completed, and job quality. There is also a wealth gap between blacks and whites of similar incomes, similar levels of education, and similar job quality. In all comparisons, black families have less wealth than white families. [6]

An implication of this segregation of communities is wealth and inequality in education. Housing discrimination and the effects of transformative assets limit educational progress. Communities with better home values receive more funding for schools[citation needed]. This results in better quality schools in primarily white suburban communities, while primarily African American and Hispanic communities in the inner-cities do not receive adequate funding or government attention. [4]

Aiding to the ever growing gap between white and black Americans is their weekly earnings. In 1981, black males averaged a weekly income that was approximately 20% below that of white males.[7] Furthermore, not only do black males not get paid the same as white males, they are also more likely to experience unemployment. In 1980, black males on average were over 60% more likely to endure unemployment than whites. By 2000, however, this gap shortened to about 10 percent. [8]

Many studies[which?] have shown that earnings do not increase with job experience for black males as they do for white males. These studies have also shown that black males get hired for jobs that have little promotional benefits. On the other hand, white male accept jobs with training requirements to receive promotions and pay raises. In brief, white males receive jobs with promotional incentives and blacks simply do not.[9]

Whether racism is the cause of this gap can be contested by examining the socioeconomic status of Asian Americans, who on average have on average a higher median income than all American families, as per data in a 2004 U.S. Census Bureau publication.[3]

[edit] Education

A disproportionate number of working class and working poor minorities live in metropolitan areas, which only go to further exacerbate the racial inequalities that already exist.[but do they exist?] Although several state Supreme Courts[which?] have ruled in recent years that the current method of funding public schools is unconstitutional, no major reforms have occurred in any of these states.[10]

There is a significant trend of inequality in educational achievement across different races. According to the U.S. Department of Education, "The social class, race, and ethnic achievement gap widened since 1988, despite continued educational policies aimed at reducing them." [11]. Data on high school completion rates from 1990 to 1996 reveals discrepancies in terms of race, with 91% for Whites, 83% for African Americans and 69.1% for Hispanics[12]. Conversely Asian American students have the highest educational attainment in the United States.[3] Black Americans, on average, are half as likely to have a bachelors degree than the total population.[8] One possible explanation for racial inequality in education is that educational achievement is correlated with socioeconomic status, and many inner-city school districts have high proportions of African-American and Hispanic students. [13]

One of the most consistent research findings on racial inequality is that black men receive considerably lower income returns to education than do white males. A study of U.S. men in the early 1960s concluded that black males generally begin in a lower starting position and may face other forms of discrimination. Their disadvantages are cumulative. They are less likely to obtain a higher education, and this is coupled with the fact that when they do, their occupational returns are less than those received by whites. Furthermore, the extended gap is also caused by the strong correlation between income inequality and mortality rates in African Americans. [1][14][15]

The large inequality gap of blacks and whites could be directly related to education. In New York, New York some school districts are polar opposites when compared. The low-income regions of New York have public schools that are on average 90% Black and Hispanic and 10% Asian, White, and Middle Eastern.[16] These underprivileged public schools have to content themselves with whatever personnel is left available, once the best trained have been hired by the more affluent schools. Physical installations and didactic equipment also tend to be lacking. [17]

These differences find repercussions as the children grow older: the underprivileged do not have opportunities to learn the social skills needed to perform adequately in socially higher milieus and, in addition to general below grade-level performances, this may lead to subordinate, low wage jobs.

Although there are prominent blacks like Colin Powell, Bill Cosby, Bryant Gumbel, and Michael Jordan who are living comfortable lives, the whole black population is not as lucky. “It appears that school integration peaked in 1967 and declined ever since.” [18]

[edit] Health

Life expectancy is a common measurement of one's health, and is commonly used[by whom?] to gauge the quality of life in a group of people. A health study in 1999 looked at life expectancies from Whites, Blacks, Asian Americans, Native Americans, and Hispanics. For both men and women, Asian Americans were found to have the highest life expectancy at 59.13 more years for men aged 20 and 64.31 more years for women aged 20. For men, Native Americans and Whites aged 20 had the next highest life expectancy to live 54.73 and 54.59 more years, respectively. They were followed by Hispanics, who had a life expectancy of 48.97 more years after age 20. Black men had the lowest life expectancy beyond 20 years of 47.58 more years. Women, while having higher life expectancies than men, mirrored the life expectancy of men in their respective race. Native American women had the second highest life expectancy past age 20 with 63.09 years. White women were expected to live 60.93 more years past age 20, and Hispanic women were expected to live 57.74 more years. Finally, Black women were expected to live 56.56 more years past age 20. [19]

Though life expectancy is a good indicator of quality of life, it does not usually separate active and inactive life expectancy. In the 1999 health study, researchers looked at anticipated inactive and active life expectancy to see if there was a relationship between living a longer life and living a more active life. The study found that Native Americans and Blacks were expected to spend more of their lifetime inactive because of disabilities or chronic health impairments. Asian Americans, on the other hand, lived longer and had a smaller estimate of inactive life expectancy. Thus Asian Americans are more able to live a longer, more active life while Native Americans spend more of their longer life in an inactive condition. Blacks were found to be the most disadvantaged, living both a shorter life but also a larger portion of it inactive. [9]

[edit] The Criminal Justice System

Max Weber, a prominent sociologist, explained life chances as “the typical chances for a supply of goods, external living conditions, and personal life experiences.”[20] Race, in combination with class and gender, largely determine a person’s quality of life and access, or lack of which, to the benefits offered in society. Some examples include infant mortality, obesity, chances of holding political office, and lifetime earnings. One of the more salient areas of life is the criminal justice system, and among other factors, an individual’s experiences are largely shaped by their race. [21] Recent methodologically sophisticated studies that investigated the relationship between race/ethnicity and sentence severity discovered that “race and ethnicity do play an important role in contemporary sentencing decisions. Black and Hispanic offenders—and particularly those who are young, male, or unemployed—are more likely than their white counterparts to be sentenced to prison; in some jurisdictions, they also receive longer sentences…than do similarly situated white offenders.” [22]

Likewise, racial profiling exists when certain people are targeted for heightened law enforcement scrutiny based on their race. Research confirms that blacks are more likely to be stopped in traffic by the police, and black women are nine times more likely to be x-rayed or subjected to intrusive searches by customs officers in airports. [23][24]

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ Hurst, C. (2006). Social Inequality: Forms, Causes, and Consequences. (6th ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
  2. ^ Jahoda, G “Images of savages: ancient roots of modern prejudice in Western Culture”, p.23. Routledge, 1999.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Reeves, Terrance J.; Bennett, Claudette E. (December 2004). "We the people: Asians in the United States" (in English) (PDF). Census 2000 Special Reports. Washington D.C.: U.S. Census Bureau. http://www.census.gov/prod/2004pubs/censr-17.pdf. Retrieved 2009-11-03. 
  4. ^ Wong, P., Lai, C.F., Nagasawa, R., & Lin, T. (1998). Asian Americans as a Model Minority: Self-Perceptions and Perceptions by Other Racial Groups. Sociological Perspectives, 41(1), 95-118.
  5. ^ Oliver, M. L., & Shapiro, T. M. (1997). Black wealth/white wealth: A new perspective on racial equality. New York: Routledge.
  6. ^ Shapiro, T.M. (2004). The Hidden Cost of Being African American. Oxford: Oxford University Press
  7. ^ Osberg, Lars. Economic Inequality In the United States. New York: M.E. Sharpe, Inc., 1984
  8. ^ a b Reeves, Terrance J.; Bennett, Claudette E. (August 2005). "We the people: Blacks in the United States" (in English) (PDF). Census 2000 Special Reports. Washington D.C.: U.S. Census Bureau. p. 10. http://www.census.gov/prod/2005pubs/censr-25.pdf. Retrieved 2009-11-03. 
  9. ^ Osberg, Lars. Economic Inequality In the United States. New York: M.E. Sharpe, Inc., 1984.
  10. ^ Wong, Kenneth K. Funding Public Schools : Politics and Policies. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, c1999.
  11. ^ US Department of Education, National Center for Educational Statistics (2000). The Condition of Education: National Assessment of Educational Progress. Office of the Under Secretary and Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Washington, DC.
  12. ^ Kopstein,A “Drug Use Among Racial/Ethnic Minorities”, pp.68-70. DIANE Publishing, 1998.
  13. ^ Sadovnik, A.R. (2007). Urban Education. Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology.
  14. ^ Weiss, R. (1970). The effect of education on the earnings of blacks and whites. Review of Economics and Statistics, 52, 150-159.
  15. ^ Blau, P.M., & Duncan, O. D. (1967). The American Occupational Structure. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
  16. ^ Gallagher, Charles A. Rethinking the Color Line. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2007
  17. ^ Gallagher, Charles A. Rethinking the Color Line. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2007
  18. ^ Henslin, James M. Down to Earth Sociology. New York: Free Press, 2007
  19. ^ Hayward, M.D. & Heron, M. (1999). Racial Inequality in Active Life among Adult Americans. Demography, 36(1), 77-91.
  20. ^ Weber, M. (1946.) From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology. (H. Gerth & C.W. Mills, Trans.). New York: Oxford University Press.
  21. ^ Rothman, R. A. (2005). Inequality and Stratification: Race, Class, and Gender. (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
  22. ^ Spohn, C. (2000). Thirty Years of Sentencing Reform: The Quest for a Racially Neutral Sentencing Process. National Institute of Justice Journal, 3, 427-428.
  23. ^ Norris, C., Fielding, N., Kemp, C., & Fielding, J. (1992). Black and Blue: An analysis of the influence of race on being stopped by the police. British Journal of Sociology, 43, 207-218.
  24. ^ GAO (General Accounting Office). (2000) Better Targeting of Airline Passengers for Personal Searches Could Produce Better Results. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.

Faith (for Content):