Race Disparities

To understand systemic racism in our country you have to understand the racial disparities in most aspects of lives.  Below are selected highlights from multiple sources on racial inequality.

While reading through the disparities, keep these numbers from the Census in your head

  • 62% of this country that is White American (not Latinx)
  • 13% of this country that is Black American

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Table of Contents

Overview and Intersectionality
Police Interactions
Criminal Justice/Courts
Prison (Mass Incarceration)
War on Drugs
Education
Modern School Segregation
Employment
Income
Wealth
Voting
Housing
Retail Shopping

Surveillance
Healthcare and Health
COVID
Media Representation
The Kerner Report: differences between 1968 and 2016
False Perception of White Discrimination
Learn More
Follow Campaigns


Overview and Intersectionality

The Root w/Splinter: Criminal Justice in Black and White

Racism Is Real • BRAVE NEW FILMS

Inequality.org: Racial Economic Inequality

Great up to date overview of racial inequalities in American

The Case for Reparations

“Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole.” Ta-Nehisi Coates

Intersectionality

The Maven:  How To Do Intersectionality

“intersectionality is an analysis related to identity, not an identity in itself. Everyone has multiple identities. Systems of hierarchy have been created around our identities, and the combinations (or intersections) of those systems affect how life goes for us. Some of these identities give us a leg up, while others push us a rung down the ladder. The combination of identities can compound (or diminish) advantage or compound (or relieve) harm, and there are perhaps endless variations. The point of intersectional practice is to look at all these possible combinations of privilege and vulnerability, rather than just stopping with the ones that apply to us, whoever we are.”

As you read about race disparities below please understand that these disparities can be exponentially worst depending on what combination of identities someone has.  For example people of color often have worst racial disparities than white people.  But a person of color who have other identities such as a women, LGBTQ, Muslim, low income or homeless, often will have much worst disparities that what is recorded below.

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Police Interactions

  • Young black boys/men, ages 15-19, are 21 times more likely to be to be shot and killed by the police than young white boys/men.
  • Blacks are less than 13% of the U.S. population, and yet they are 31% of all fatal police shooting victims, and 39% of those killed by police even though they weren’t attacking.
  • A 2007 U.S. Department of Justice report on racial profiling found that blacks and Latinos were 3 times as likely to be stopped as whites, and that blacks were twice as likely to be arrested and 4 times as likely “to experience the threat or use of force during interactions with the police.”

Source: The New Progressive: The Ultimate White Privilege Statistics & Data Post

  • The top situations where African Americans most frequently say racial discrimination “often” happens where they live are when interacting with police, being paid or promoted equally, and applying to jobs.
  • In the context of institutional forms of discrimination, half or more of African Americans say they have personally been discriminated against because they are Black when:
    • interacting with Police (50%)
      • 60% of African Americans say they or a family member have been unfairly stopped or treated by the police because they are Black
      • 45% say the court system has treated them unfairly because they are Black
      • Blacks living in suburban areas are more likely than those in urban areas to report being unfairly stopped or treated by police and being threatened or harassed because they are Black
    • when applying to jobs (56%)
    • when it comes to being paid equally or considered for promotion (57%)
  • In the context of individual discrimination
    • 51% personally experienced racial slurs
    • 52% experienced people making negative assumptions or insensitive or offensive comments about their race
    • 40% experienced people acting afraid of them because of their race
    • 42% have experienced racial violence.
  • African Americans also report efforts to avoid potential discrimination
    • 31%) say they have avoided calling the police
    • 22% say they have avoided medical care, even when in need
    • 27% of Black Americans say they have avoided doing things they might normally, such as using a car or participating in social events, to avoid potentially interacting with police
  • Overall, 92% of African Americans believe that discrimination against African Americans exists in America today.
  • 49%say that discrimination based on the prejudice of individual people is the bigger problem
  • 25% who say the bigger problem is discrimination based in laws and government policies.
  • 25% say both are equally problematic.

Source: Discrimination in America: Experiences and Views of African Americans

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UMICH: Police: Sixth-leading cause of death for young black men

“ANN ARBOR—For young men of color in the United States, police use-of-force is among the leading causes of death, according to a study from the University of Michigan, Rutgers University and Washington University.

Police use-of-force—which includes asphyxiation, beating, a chemical agent, a medical emergency, a Taser, or a gunshot—trails accidental death, suicide, other homicides, heart disease and cancer as a leading cause of death for young black men, who have the highest risk of being killed by police.

About 100 in 100,000 black men and boys will be killed by police during their lives, while 39 white men and boys per 100,000 are killed by police. This means black men are about 2.5 times more likely to be killed by police than white men…”

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Criminal Justice/Courts

  • Blacks are vting.
  • Blacks are 20% more likely to be sentenced to prison than whites.
  • Once convicted, black offenders receive sentences that are 10% longer than white offenders for the same crimes.

Source: The New Progressive: The Ultimate White Privilege Statistics & Data Post

  • A black person and a white person each commit a crime, the black person has a better chance of being arrested. Once arrested, black people are convicted more often than white people. And for many years, laws assigned much harsher sentences for using or possessing crack, for example, compared to cocaine. Finally, when black people are convicted, they are more likely to be sent to jail. And their sentences tend to be both harsher and longer than those for whites who were convicted of similar crimes. And as we know, a felony conviction means, in many states, that you lose your right to vote. Right now in America, as many as 13% of black men are not allowed to vote.

Source: 7 Ways We Know Systemic Racism Is Real

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Stand Your Ground Law Stats

“Stand Your Ground” laws allow defendants to “stand their ground”, instead of retreating when possible, and use force without retreating, in order to protect and defend themselves or others against threats or perceived threats.  For a person to be justified in using deadly force, the person must not be ‘engaged in unlawful activity”.  The law was based on a legal precept called the “castle doctrine,” which does not require a person with a gun to retreat in the face of danger.

  • Whites who kill blacks in Stand Your Ground states are far more likely to be found justified in their killings.
    • In non-Stand Your Ground states, whites are 250 percent more likely to be found justified in killing a black person than a white person who kills another white person
    • in Stand Your Ground states, that number jumps to 354 percent.
  • when the shooter is black, the homicide is justified in about 1 percent of cases in “Stand your ground” states.
    • When a white person kills a black person in a “Stand your ground” state, the murder is justified 17 percent of the time (versus 11 percent in states without such laws)
    • the odds that a white-on-black homicide is ruled to have been justified is more than 11 times the odds a black-on-white shooting is ruled justified.

Source: 2012 John Roman of the Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center conducted a study of “Stand your ground” data

  • Between 2005 and 2013, Florida juries were twice as likely to convict the perpetrator of a crime against a white person as they were to convict in a crime against a person of color.
  • These results are similar to pre-civil rights era statistics, with strict enforcement for crimes when the victim was white and less-rigorous enforcement with the victim is non-white

Source: Race, law, and health: Examination of ‘Stand Your Ground’ and defendant convictions in Florida

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Prison (Mass Incarceration)

  • 1 in every 15 black men (and 1 in every 36 Latino men) are currently incarcerated, while for white men the statistic is 1 in 106.
  • Minorities are less than 28% of the U.S. population, but they are nearly 60% of the prison population. Blacks in specific are less than 13% of the U.S. population, but they are 38% of the American prison population.
  • Black boys are five times as likely to go to jail as white boys; Latino boys are 3 times as likely.

Source: The New Progressive: The Ultimate White Privilege Statistics & Data Post

  • Blacks make up 13% of the population, they represent about 40% of the prison population.

Source: 7 Ways We Know Systemic Racism Is Real

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Ta-Nehisi Coates: The Enduring Myth of Black Criminality

Mass Incarceration, Visualized

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War on Drugs

  • Blacks are less than 13% of the U.S. population, and they make up only 14% of regular drug users, but they are 37% of those arrested for drug offenses, and 56% of those in state prisons for drug offenses.
  • Black kids are 10 times more likely to be arrested for drug crimes than white kids —even though white kids are more likely to abuse drugs
  • What the War on Drugs has done is trap millions of people, especially black men, in poverty, and push them toward a life of crime. With black boys arrested 10 times more frequently than white boys, for a non-violent crime that they commit less frequently than white boys, black men are funneled into the criminal justice system from a young age. With felonies on their records, it is incredibly difficult for black men to get work. As a result, they are trapped in low-paying jobs, or worse, turning to crime. Finally, once they have a felony on their record, most states prohibit them from voting.

Source: The New Progressive: The Ultimate White Privilege Statistics & Data Post

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  • In our federal prisons, 46% are incarcerated because of drug offenses. Yet a 2013 government survey of 67,500 people revealed that White and Black Americans use drugs at similar rates (9.5% and 10.5%, respectively).
    • Isolate heroin use, and the picture shifts dramatically. The New York Times reports that “nearly 90% of those who tried heroin for the first time in the last decade were White.”

Source: Everyday Feminism: Here’s Your Proof That White Americans Don’t Face Systemic Racism

Race Forward: What is Systemic Racism? – Incarcertaion

Opioid Vs. Crack Addiction: A Racial Double Standard?

inkredibly: But When The Addicts Were Black, Nobody Cared

“When people of color were victimized by drug addiction they were criminalized. In contrast, when a particular addiction disproportionately victimizes white Americans it is treated as a public health crisis. Although one could argue the influential impact of time’s contributions to a change in modern approach, can we agree that other contributing factors might include race and socioeconomic status? Just might?

When considering the medieval mandatory sentencing laws that were passed through congress almost immediately in the 1980s? Still? Even when considering the 100:1 disparity of mandatory minimums prompted by the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 between crack, a drug with an 85 percent black usage rate, and powdered cocaine, the more affluent version of the drug? Despite this number now being closer to 18:1, Still? Even when considering the demonization and criminalization of marijuana, when the drug was associated with Mexican immigrants in the 30s, enabling law enforcement to incarcerate and deport them after the Mexican Revolution. This despite cannabis being prevalent in American medications for decades prior. Compared to the attitudes of marijuana use in the 60s when white college aged hippies were experimenting with the drug, still?”

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Education

Funding

NPR: Why White School Districts Have So Much More Money

  • Predominantly white school districts receive $23 billion more compared with districts that serve mostly students of color.
    • Average nonwhite school district receives $2,226 less per student than a white school district
      • High-poverty districts serving mostly students of color receive about $1,600 less per student than the national average.
      • While school districts that are predominately white and poor receive about $130 less.

What’s causing the disparity?

As Rebecca Sibilia, founder and CEO of EdBuild, explains, a school district’s resources often come down to how wealthy an area is and how much residents pay in taxes.

“We have built a school funding system that is reliant on geography, and therefore the school funding system has inherited all of the historical ills of where we have forced and incentivized people to live,” she says.

Public schools are primarily funded by local and state sources — the federal government pays for less than 10 percent, on average, of K-12 education. States sometimes step in to provide extra funding for districts that need it most. But not all states have been able to keep up with that demand.

The relationship between funding and teacher strikes

In some of the states with the worst funding disparities, teachers have gone on strike in the past year. In Arizona, poor, primarily white school districts get about $19,000 per student — while high-poverty, nonwhite districts get about $8,000, according to EdBuild.

That means high-poverty districts made up of mostly students of color — about a third of the school districts in the state — receive almost $11,000 less per student than the state’s high-poverty, predominantly white districts.

Sibilia also points to the #RedForEd movements in Oklahoma and Colorado. Because those states have placed limits on their taxes, she says, they simply don’t have the income to step in and fund the school districts that need it most.

Student Treatment

Source: 7 Ways We Know Systemic Racism Is Real

  • Whites are 78% more likely to be accepted to the same university as equally qualified people of color.
  • The U.S. is one of only 3 of the 34 O.E.C.D. nations to give fewer resources and have lower teacher/student ratios in poorer communities than in more privileged communities.
  • A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that young black boys were viewed differently than their white peers. “Children in most societies are considered to be in a distinct group with characteristics such as innocence and the need for protection. Our research found that black boys can be seen as responsible for their actions at an age when white boys still benefit from the assumption that children are essentially innocent.” Children of color are more likely to be perceived of as guilty, problem children, young criminals, and funneled into the justice system early. This is referred to as the school-to-prison pipeline.

Source: The New Progressive: The Ultimate White Privilege Statistics & Data Post

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  • The US Department of Education recently found that Black preschoolers are 3.6 times more likely to be suspended than White preschoolers. Preschoolers. Representing 19% of preschoolers, Black children make up half of all preschool suspensions.
  • Given these disparities that begin so early, it’s no surprise that large gaps in achievement and representation in advanced classes for Black and White students persist.
  • And the predominately White teaching force plays a role. The Washington Post reports that “Black students are half as likely as white students to be assigned to gifted programs, even when they have comparably high test scores.” That disparity disappears when the teacher is Black.
  • According to the Pew Research Center, 69% of all bachelor degrees are held by White Americans. While Black enrollment in universities has “skyrocketed” in the past twenty years – despite the bleak disparities of public education – Black Americans make up only 6% of enrollment at “top-tier” universities.

    • Census reminder #1: It should be 62% and 13% – not 69% and 6%.

Source: Everyday Feminism: Here’s Your Proof That White Americans Don’t Face Systemic Racism

For The Record: How The SATs Perpetuate Racial Inequality

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Modern School Segregation

  • School segregation for black students is worse today than it was in 1968
  • Classrooms were the most diverse from the 1970s through the early 1990s. At peak integration, four out of 10 black southern students attended a white school, while less than a third of all black students attended black schools.
  • Experts say the backslide was the consequence of a series of judicial decisions, beginning with Milliken vs. Bradley in 1974, a relatively unheard of but seminal case in the desegregation saga. Criticized by some as “one of the worst Supreme Court decisions” ever, Milliken dealt with Detroit’s plan to integrate students by busing them from the intercity to the suburbs. The court ruled that such a plan was unconstitutional, arguing that black students had the right to attend integrated schools within their own school district, but were not protected from de facto segregation.”That decision … said the racial disparities across districts would remain outside the reach of policymakers,” Clotfelter wrote in piece exploring the impact of Milliken.
  • Court-mandated desegregation was dealt its own deadly blow by three rulings from the Supreme Court between 1991 and 1995. According to the court, integration was only a temporary federal policy and after the historical imbalance was righted, school districts should reclaim local control and were released from desegregation orders.
  • Since then, school segregation has been intrinsically tied to the racial gaps in housing and income, leading to the re-emergence of the color line. Economic segregation, which disproportionately affects black and Latino students, is increasing. In California, Asian and white students are 10 times more likely to go to a high-quality school than Latinos and therefore dramatically more likely to attend college.

Source: Politifact: American schools are ‘more segregated than they were in the 1960s,’ says Hillary Clinton

  • In the wake of the Brown decision, the percentage of black students in majority white southern schools went from zero to a peak of 43.5 percent in 1988. But those changes have reversed in recent years, with data from UCLA’s Civil Rights Project showing that by 2011 that figure was back to 23.2 percent, just below where it stood in 1968.
  • Today’s typical white student attends a school that is nearly 75 percent white, but only one-eighth Latino and one-twelfth black. Put another way, in a classroom of 30 students, the average white student has 21 white classmates, two black classmates, four Latinos, one Asian and one “other.” Conversely, the typical black or Latino student would have eight white classmates and at least 20 minority classmates.
  • The UCLA research also found strong connections between poverty and segregation, with blacks and Latinos representing more than half of children in schools with the most poverty, and just 11 percent of students in the least impoverished schools. For many black and Latino children, this can often mean less qualified teachers, as well as shoddier facilities and materials. “In many respects, the schools serving white and Asian students and those serving black and Latino students represent two different worlds,” say the researchers.

Source: Frontline: The Return of School Segregation in Eight Charts

  • Brown v. Board happens, and the way that we’re taught it or the myth about it is immediately our nation repented and went into an integrated future together. That’s not what happened. There was massive resistance, and we don’t see real desegregation occurring in this country until 1964, and really most rapidly from 1968 on. Then you see pretty rapid desegregation particularly in the South, but then that changes, and in 1988 we start to go backwards. So we reach kind of the peak of schools integrating, of black students attending majority white schools at the highest rates that they ever have in the country, and then we start to see school districts re-segregating, which means black students are starting to go to schools that are more and more segregated. And school districts that had had a degree of integration are losing that integration.

Source: NPR:  How The Systemic Segregation Of Schools Is Maintained By ‘Individual Choices’

The Atlantic: Can School Integration Make a Comeback?

AJ+: U.S. Schools Still Segregated

How Black High School Students Are Hurt by Modern-Day Segregation | NowThis

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Employment

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  • A black college student has the same chances of getting a job as a white high school dropout.
  • Meanwhile, a white male with a criminal record is 5% more likely to get a job than an equally qualified person of color with a clean record.
  • Blacks need to complete not one but two more levels of education just to have the same probability of getting a job as a white guy.

Source: The New Progressive: The Ultimate White Privilege Statistics & Data Post

  • The New York Times has compiled multiple studies over the past twenty years that all confirm that White Americans’ race benefits them in the process of gaining employment – like the study from 2009 that found Black applicants without criminal records fared as well in getting hired as White applicants with criminal records.

  • The Washington Post asserts that Black Americans are twice as likely to be unemployed as White Americans – a statistic that was true back in 1954. If you include incarcerated Americans, Black Americans are nearly three times as likely to be unemployed.

Source: Everyday Feminism: Here’s Your Proof That White Americans Don’t Face Systemic Racism

Source: 7 Ways We Know Systemic Racism Is Real

Race Forward: What is Systemic Racism? Employment

Eduardo Bonilla-Silva: Racism without Racists

“Since the 1990s, analysts have relied on a research strategy to directly assess the impact of discrimination. The technique used to examine labor. market discrimination is called an “employment audit,” borrowed from the housing audit strategy, and consists of sending subjects matched in most characteristics except their race to find jobs. By adopting this approach, analysts have been able to estimate the extent as well as the form of discriminatory racial practices minorities endure in the labor market. Probably the most famous of these studies was one carried out by the Urban Institute in 1991. It was conducted on randomly selected employers in San Diego, Chicago, and Washington, D.C., and found that on average, white testers were significantly favored over black testers. In 20 percent of the audits, blacks were denied job opportunities, and in 31 percent of the audits Latinos were denied job opportunities. In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Pager divided applicant testers with comparable resumes into four groups: whites without criminal record, whites with criminal record, blacks without criminal record, and blacks with criminal record. White applicants with a criminal record (17 percent) were more likely to be called back for an interview than black applicants without a criminal record (14 percent).

Research indicates that blacks are discriminated against at all levels of the job process. In the search process, they are left behind because most employers rely on informal social networks to advertise their jobs. And since blacks are not part of those networks, they are left out in the cold. Not only does this hinder blacks in their efforts to gain middle-class jobs, but also, as Royster shows in her book Race and the Invisible Hand, networks of gatekeepers maintain white privilege in trade careers as well. Specifically, she shows how white students in a trade school who have similar credentials to their black counterparts (in fact, black students in the study are slightly better) are given preference by employers who clearly wish to hire their “own kind.”

Furthermore, recent examination of welfare leavers since the 1996 welfare reform laws indicate that white privilege operates even at low-level service jobs. Employers were less likely to hire black than white welfare leavers and paid the black welfare leavers they did hire less. At the job entry level, in addition to the practices mentioned above, blacks are screened out by tests and the requirement of a high school diploma. These two practices were developed in the late 1950s and 1960s as substitutes for outright exclusion from jobs and were mentioned in the 1964 Civil Rights Act as practices that could have exclusionary results. They are discriminatory because the diploma and the test are not essential to the job performance.”

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Income

  • Although white women make 78¢ for every dollar a white man makes, black men make even less: 72¢ for every dollar a white man makes.
  • Black women make 64¢ for every white male dollar, and Latina women make 53¢ for every white male dollar.
  • According to CNN, the average household income for White Americans is $71,300. For Black Americans? Just $43,300.

Source: The New Progressive: The Ultimate White Privilege Statistics & Data Post

Newsy: Minority Retail Workers Paid Less; What’s The Solution?

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Wealth

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The median Black family, with just over $3,500, owns just 2 percent of the wealth of the nearly $147,000 the median White family owns. The median Latino family, with just over $6,500, owns just 4 percent of the wealth of the median White family. Put differently, the median White family has 41 times more wealth than the median Black family and 22 times more wealth than the median Latino family.

Screen Shot 2019-05-29 at 9.04.43 PM.pngFamilies that have zero or even “negative” wealth (meaning the value of their debts exceeds the value of their assets) live on the edge, just one minor economic setback away from tragedy. Black and Latino families are much more likely to be in this precarious situation. The proportion of Black families with zero or negative wealth rose by 8.5 percent to 37 percent between 1983 and 2016. The proportion of Latino families with zero or negative net worth declined by 19 percent over the past 30 years but is still more than twice as high as the rate for Whites.

Source: Ineqality.org

  • The average net worth of black households is $6,314, compared to $110,500 for the average white household.
  • While a college-educated white American has an average net worth of $75,000, a college-educated black American has an average net worth of less than $17,500.
  • The black-white wealth gap is greater in the United States today than it was in South Africa in 1970, at the height of apartheid.

Source: The New Progressive: The Ultimate White Privilege Statistics & Data Post

Source: 7 Ways We Know Systemic Racism Is Real

  • Not only is the poverty rate of Black Americans (26.2%) more than 2.5 times that of White Americans (10.1%), Black Americans are “much more likely” to live in concentrated poverty, which means they have less access to the coveted schools that drive housing purchases.

  • One study found that, in 2010, Black families were seven times more likely to stay in a homeless shelter than White families.

Image source: The Atlantic

  • According to Forbes, a typical White household has sixteen times the wealth of a Black household.

  • CNN reports that, based on current trends, “it will take 228 years for black families to accumulate the same amount of wealth” that White Americans have today.

  • According to The New York Times, from 1992-2013, “the median net worth of blacks who finished college dropped nearly 56%.” In contrast, the net worth of White Americans who finished college climbed nearly 86%.

Source: Everyday Feminism: Here’s Your Proof That White Americans Don’t Face Systemic Racism

Washington Post: A new explanation for the stubborn persistence of the racial wealth gap

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Few data points more clearly illustrate how decades of discrimination affected black Americans than the racial wealth gap. As of 2016, the typical black family had a net worth of $17,100, roughly one-tenth the $171,000 accumulated by a white household, federal research shows.

Economists tend to trace the staggering divide to the nation’s long history of bigotry against its black citizens, starting with slavery. But decades of discrimination after the Civil War played a role, too, from the overt racism of Jim Crow laws to the more subtle forms of bias built into the New Deal, the G.I. Bill and many of the nation’s economic and criminal justice policies of the 20th century.

But there’s less agreement on the exact mechanisms by which these policies contributed to such disparate financial outcomes. Some economists say it comes down to inheritance, which allows families to build on the gains of preceding generations. Other researchers contend the difference can be found in the types of financial assets held by black and white families.

But in February, research by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland concluded that differences in black and white wealth can almost entirely be explained by disparities in black and white incomes. If confirmed, the finding could help lawmakers better understand which policies would be most effective at closing the racial wealth gap.

“We find that the income gap is the primary driver behind the wealth gap and that it is large enough to explain the persistent difference in wealth accumulation,” the authors write. “The key policy implication of our work is that policies designed to speed the closing of the racial wealth gap would do well to focus on closing the racial income gap.”

Wealth Inequality in America

Race Forward: What is Systemic Racism?  Wealth Gap

Splinter: Definition of Racism and Racial Wealth Gap

Why is the 1% So White? | Decoded | MTV News

Institute for Policy Studies: Ten Solutions to Bridge the Racial Wealth Divide

The solutions in this report include:

  1. Baby Bonds
  2. Guarantee Employment and Significantly Raise the Minimum Wage
  3. Invest in Affordable Housing
  4. Medicare for All
  5. Postal Banking
  6. Significantly Raise Taxes on the Ultra-Wealthy
  7. Turn Upside-Down Tax Expenditures Right-Side Up
  8. Congressional Committee on Reparations
  9. Improve Data Collection on Race and Wealth
  10. Racial Wealth Audit

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Eduardo Bonilla-Silva: Racism without Racists

“Studies analyzing differences in median income between blacks and whites a revealed some convergence; much of it has been attributed to the rising levels of educational attainment of African Americans, in particular among cohorts, as well as affirmative action policies. 129 However, the empirical evidence among younger cohorts, evidence regarding racial convergence in income is somewhat mixed Several social scientists have found that the incomes of African Americans began rapid convergence with whites from World War II, but during the recession of the early 1970s, African Americans income levels began to stagnate and the isl convergence ceased. By the 1990s a substantial black-white earnings gap had reemerged as the black-white family income ratio reached 0.56. a ratio hardly larger than the 0.55 of 1960. In 2014, the median black family income had only marginally improved to 59 percent of white median family income. Interestingly, the decline in blacks’ income vis-à-vis whites has been attributed to the decline in enforcement of antidiscrimination laws and affirmative action policies by the federal government. Thus, while blacks made marked advancement from World War II to the early 1970s, their income relative to whites has progressed little over the last several decades.

Furthermore, analysts who focus on income convergence tend to mask serious trends affecting the African American population-like unemployment and underemployment and the decrease in the rate of labor-force participation–by making their comparisons based on full-time workers. Darity and Myers astutely observe that the exclusion of African Americans with zero incomes (i.e., the unemployed and the jobless) in social scientists’ assessment of income differences between African Americans and whites masks the persistent racial fault line in economic life.130 The gap in unemployment between African Americans and whites increased during the 1970s and the 1980s-the same period in which African Americans’ incomes ceased converging with whites. Even though the racial gap in employment decreased during the economic prosperity of the 1990s, the employment-to-population ratio for black men was 86 percent that of white men and black men were employed seven hours less per week than whites by 1999. By 2014, after the “Great Recession,” black unemployment was 2.3 times higher than white unemployment, almost identical to its recent peak in the 1980s. Moreover, in 2015, black unemployment was higher among all degree levels, suggesting employment differences are not simply the result of educational difference. And in some geographical areas, the differences are vast; for example, in Chicago, only 47 percent of black twenty- to twenty-four-year-olds are employed, compared to 73 percent of white people.

Further Readings

Insight Center for Community Economic Development: What We Get Wrong About Closing the Racial Wealth Gap

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Voting

  • 11% of the American population do not have the kind of government ID required by the strictest state voter ID laws—including 18% of Americans over 65 and 25% of blacks.
  • Voter laws that prevent felons former felons from voting disenfranchise 5.85 million Americans with felony charges in their past. Because of racial disparities in incarceration, these laws disproportionately disenfranchise people of color. As a result, felony-disenfranchisement policies currently deny more than 10% of the black population the right to vote.

Source: The New Progressive: The Ultimate White Privilege Statistics & Data Post

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Housing

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As with total wealth, homeownership is heavily skewed towards White families. In 2016, 72 percent of White families owned their home, compared to just 44 percent of Black families. Between 1983 and 2016, Latino homeownership increased by a dramatic nearly 40 percent, but it remains far below the rate for Whites, at just 45 percent.

Source: Inequality.org

  • Blacks and Latinos face housing discrimination an estimated 4 million times each year.
    • Housing discrimination can include such things as landlords refusing to rent to black people, or charging higher rent; real estate agents failing to show black people houses in white neighborhoods; banks funneling black people into higher-priced loans; and much more, all on the basis of skin color.
  • Practices such as redlining, in which banks designate certain low-income neighborhoods where they won’t lend for home purchases or where they charge higher interest rates than similarly priced homes in non-redlined neighborhoods, and pricing discrimination, in which lenders charge minorities higher loan prices than to comparable white buyers, made the 2007 housing crash and the financial crisis worse overall, and particularly bad for black families, who were twice as likely to enter foreclosure during the recession than whites.
  • In 2009, bailed-out banks such as Wells Fargo and many other large banks were found to have pushed minority borrowers who qualified for prime loans into subprime loans, which can add as more than $100,000 in interest payments to a mortgage over the life of the loan.  Subprime loans were given to 41.5% of blacks and 30.9% of Latinos, but only 17.8% of whites.
  • Among high-income borrowers in 2006, African Americans were three times as likely as whites to pay higher prices for mortgages—32.1 percent compared to 10.5 percent. Latinos were nearly as likely as African Americans to pay higher prices for their mortgages at 29.1 percent.”  Washington Mutual was the worst: 56.9% of blacks and 42.3% of Latinos paid higher prices, compared to 16.9% of whites

Source: The New Progressive: The Ultimate White Privilege Statistics & Data Post

  • When the government sought to make mortgages more affordable back in the 1930s, thereby jumpstarting the epoch of suburban living, the Home Owner’s Loan Corporation (and thereafter private banks) ranked neighborhoods all around the country, giving high marks to all-white neighborhoods and marking those with minorities in red as risky investments.
  • Redlining, which essentially barred blacks and other minorities from sharing in the American Dream and building wealth like their white counterparts, was officially outlawed in the 60s, but the practice really never went away. In fact, during the Great Recession, banks routinely and purposely guided black home buyers toward subprime loans.

Adam Ruins Everything: The Disturbing History of Housing Discrimination

NPR: Why are Cities Still so Segregated

  • A recent study demonstrated that people of color are told about and shown fewer homes and apartments than whites.

Source: 7 Ways We Know Systemic Racism Is Real

  • The rate of home ownership for White Americans is 73% and for Black Americans is 45%, and is explained in part by the video above. Like with the criminal “justice” system, bias is documented in many of the steps in the home-buying process.

  • Forbes uncovers that Black people tend to receive higher interest rates and that Wells Fargo admitted to pushing Black households into subprime mortgages.

  • The New York Times reports that, when applying for conventional mortgages, one in four Black Americans are denied, compared to one in ten for White Americans.

  • And for those who actually make it to the house hunt, a $9 million study of 28 metropolitan areas found that “[c]ompared with white homebuyers, blacks who inquire about homes listed for sale are made aware of about 17% fewer homes and are shown 18% fewer units.”

  • Here’s a two-minute crash course on the discriminatory housing practices that played a large role in today’s wealth disparities, giving White Americans a head start and only allowing Black Americans into the race when real estate had appreciated beyond an affordable cost for too many: 

Source: Everyday Feminism: Here’s Your Proof That White Americans Don’t Face Systemic Racism

Race Forward: What is Systemic Racism – Housing Discrimination

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Retail Shopping

Based on interviews with 55 middle-class African-American shoppers in the New York City area:

  • 80 percent reported experiencing racial stigma and stereotypes when shopping;
  • 59 percent reported being perceived as a shoplifter;
  • 52 percent said they received poor or no service;
  • 52 percent reported being perceived as poor.

Common treatment reported by study participants included:

  • Being followed around the store;
  • Told the location of the store’s sale section unprompted;
  • Ignored, made to wait and skipped over for non-minority customers;
  • Told the price of expensive clothing items before asking or trying them on.

The annual buying power of African-American consumers was expected to reach $1.3 trillion by 2017, according to a 2013 Nielsen Co. study.

Source: Journal of Consumer Culture: “Shopping while Black”: Black consumers’ management of racial stigma and racial profiling in retail settings

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Surveillance

Source: 7 Ways We Know Systemic Racism Is Real

  • In 2011 the NYPD was exposed for targeting their surveillance specifically at what they called “ancestries of  interest” (Indian, Banglasdesh, Pakistani, Guyanese, Egyptian, Lebanese).

Source: Race Forward: What is Systemic Racism

Race Forward: What is Systemic Racism – Government Surveillance

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Healthcare and health

RWJF: Why Discrimination Is a Health Issue

African-Americans live sicker and die sooner than whites in America. Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States and middle-aged black males and females have death rates that are about twice as high as their white counterparts. Elevated death rates are also evident for cancer, stroke, diabetes, kidney disease, maternal death—the list goes on. In fact, every 7 minutes, a black person dies prematurely. That’s more than 200 black people a day who would not die if the health of blacks and whites were equal.

And, as the Yale example shows, even higher levels of education—which can lead to higher incomes and the ability to live in healthier neighborhoods and to access high-quality health care—can’t protect African-Americans from the disparities leading to higher mortality rates.

So What’s Behind This?   

A large and growing body of research shows that day-to-day experiences of African-Americans create physiological responses that lead to premature aging (meaning that people are biologically older than their chronological age). Or, as described in the American Behavioral Scientist, “experiences of racial discrimination are an important type of psychosocial stressor that can lead to adverse changes in health status and altered behavioral patterns that increase health risks.”

Stress is a normal part of life, but when stress is a persistent, daily experience, it exceeds our ability to cope and the physiological systems designed to handle it fails. This resulting physical response leads to increased incidence of hypertension, diabetes, or other health issues.

When discrimination is a part of your day-to-day norm, even an Ivy League education can’t fully protect you from its effects.

This week, the first data from an unprecedented survey of 3,453 African-Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, Native Americans, whites, and LGBTQ adults from the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, NPR, and RWJF explores experiences with discrimination. Every demographic group surveyed felt that discrimination against their own race or ethnic group exists in America today. This included 78 percent of Latinos, 75 percent of Native Americans, 61 percent of Asian Americans, and 55 percent of Non-Hispanic Whites. However 92 percent of African-Americans surveyed were most likely to agree with this statement.

Among African-American respondents when asked about their own personal experiences:

  • 32% say they have personally experienced racial discrimination when going to a doctor or a health clinic; 22% have avoided seeking medical care out of concern about discrimination;
  • 60% say that they or a family member have been unfairly stopped or treated by police; 31% have avoided calling the police when in need to avoid potential discrimination;
  • 45% say they have been discriminated against when trying to rent or buy a house;
  • 27% say they avoid day-to-day tasks like using a car or participating in social events.

It’s not just avoiding the doctor that can lead to poor health. Not calling the police in an emergency can risk safety and protection. Safe and stable housing is one of the most foundational needs for good health. And avoiding interaction with others can result in social isolation, which is also linked to poor health.

The word discrimination often brings to mind historical examples of denial of voting rights, hate crimes or discriminatory practices in housing and criminal justice. But not all discrimination is conscious, intentional or personal. It’s often built into institutional policies and practices such as mortgage lending, zoning or school funding practices—which, in turn, impacts where you live, the quality of education you receive or access to public transportation or good jobs—all of which are linked to health.

But when discrimination is a part of your day-to-day norm, even an Ivy League education can’t fully protect you from its effects.

So what do we do about it? Although there are examples of programs and policies aimed at increasing health equity, there’s really no simple answer. But the first thing we have to do is acknowledge that the everyday racial discrimination embedded in our culture is sickening and killing African-Americans, and make a new commitment to work together to make America a healthier place for all.

I hope to see my youngest daughter graduate from college in 2020. I look forward to that day. But beyond that, I hope that she and all her African-American classmates will go on to live healthier, longer lives than those who graduated from Yale’s class of 1970.

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  • According to the CDC, black mothers in the U.S. die at three to four times the rate of white mothers, one of the widest of all racial disparities in women’s health.

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    • A black woman is:
      • 22 percent more likely to die from heart disease than a white woman
      • 71 percent more likely to perish from cervical cancer
      • 243 percent more likely to die from pregnancy- or childbirth-related causes.
    • In a national study of five medical complications that are common causes of maternal death and injury, black women were two to three times more likely to die than white women who had the same condition.
    • In New York City, for example, black mothers are 12 times more likely to die than white mothers, according to the most recent data; in 2001-2005, their risk of death was seven times higher. Researchers say that widening gap reflects a dramatic improvement for white women but not for blacks.
    • The disproportionate toll on African-Americans is the main reason the U.S. maternal mortality rate is so much higher than that of other affluent countries. Black expectant and new mothers in the U.S. die at about the same rate as women in countries such as Mexico and Uzbekistan, the World Health Organization estimates.
    • A 2016 analysis of five years of data found that black, college-educated mothers who gave birth in local hospitals were more likely to suffer severe complications of pregnancy or childbirth than white women who never graduated from high school.
    • For much of American history, these types of disparities were largely blamed on blacks’ supposed susceptibility to illness — their “mass of imperfections,” as one doctor wrote in 1903 — and their own behavior. But now many social scientists and medical researchers agree, the problem isn’t race but racism.
      • There was the new mother in Nebraska with a history of hypertension who couldn’t get her doctors to believe she was having a heart attack until she had another one. The young Florida mother-to-be whose breathing problems were blamed on obesity when in fact her lungs were filling with fluid and her heart was failing. The Arizona mother whose anesthesiologist assumed she smoked marijuana because of the way she did her hair. The Chicago-area businesswoman with a high-risk pregnancy who was so upset at her doctor’s attitude that she changed OB/GYNs in her seventh month, only to suffer a fatal postpartum stroke.
      • The systemic problems start with types of social inequities that include differing access to healthy food and safe drinking water, safe neighborhoods and good schools, decent jobs and reliable transportation.
      • Black women are more likely to be uninsured outside of pregnancy, when Medicaid kicks in, and thus more likely to start prenatal care later and to lose coverage in the postpartum period. They are more likely to have chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes and hypertension that make having a baby more dangerous. The hospitals where they give birth are often the products of historical segregation, lower in quality than those where white mothers deliver, with significantly higher rates of life-threatening complications.
      • Those problems are amplified by unconscious biases that are embedded in the medical system, affecting quality of care in stark and subtle ways. In the more than 200 stories of African-American mothers that ProPublica and NPR have collected over the past year, the feeling of being devalued and disrespected by medical providers was a constant theme.
      • In a survey conducted this year by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, 33 percent of black women said that they personally had been discriminated against because of their race when going to a doctor or health clinic, and 21 percent said they have avoided going to a doctor or seeking health care out of concern they would be racially discriminated against.
    • An expanding field of research shows that the stress of being a black woman in American society can take a physical toll during pregnancy and childbirth.

Source:  Black Mothers Keep Dying After Giving Birth. Shalon Irving’s Story Explains Why

  • Limited diversity in the medical profession contributes to the black mothers’ sense of alienation. Blacks make up
    • 6 percent of doctors (though 11 percent of OB-GYNs)
    • 3 percent of medical school faculty
    • less than 2 percent of National Institutes of Health-funded principal investigators.

Source: ProPublica: Nothing Protects Black Women From Dying in Pregnancy and Childbirth

Racist History of American Medicine | Racist American History

  • A 2012 study found that Black Americans report “experiencing discrimination at significantly higher rates” than other racial or ethnic groups, leading to PTSD-like symptoms – not from war, but from living in the United States.

  • The Washington Post recently compiled several studies that document racial bias in health care – including a recent one that found “whites are more likely to be prescribed strong pain medications for equivalent ailments.” NPR attributes many of these disparities to the “unconscious biases” of the doctors.

Source: Everyday Feminism: Here’s Your Proof That White Americans Don’t Face Systemic Racism

  • A 2012 study found that a majority of doctors have “unconscious racial biases” when it comes to their black patients.
  • Black Americans are far more likely than whites to lack access to emergency medical care.
  • The hospitals they go to tend to be less well funded, and staffed by practitioners with less experience.
  • Black doctors are less likely than their similarly credentialed white peers to receive government grants for research projects.

Source: 7 Ways We Know Systemic Racism Is Real

Vice: Being Black in America Is a Health Risk. It’s Time for Reparations.

“Black people in the United States have, since slavery, been systematically overexposed to health risks while also being deprived of healthcare. This lethal combination continues to cause suffering and death, as well as a massive and measurable loss of wealth, because it is expensive to be sick in the U.S….

The disparities by the numbers

There’s no denying that being Black in America is a health risk. Racial health disparities have been extensively documented when it comes to asthma, arthritis, aggressive breast cancer, kidney disease, heart failure, maternal mortality, lung disease, chemical exposures, and overall life expectancy.

“Racial health disparities have existed as long as medicine has existed in this country,” said Brian Smedley, executive director of the National Collaborative for Health Equity.

The persistence of these disparities is astounding. In 1896, the sociologist W.E.B. Du Bois showed that Black children under five were three times more likely to die than white kids; today, Black infants are still twice as likely to die as white babies. In 1915, Booker T. Washington estimated that 45 percent of Black deaths were completely preventable. Nearly 100 years later, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholars investigated why so many more Black Americans die before they turn 65 than white Americans. They found that 70 percent of the gap in early deaths was from treatable conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and appendicitis.

death-rates-black-versus-white-americans

Illustration by Mona Chalabi. Source: BMJ, 2005

avoidable-deaths-black-versus-white-americans

Illustration by Mona Chalabi. Source: BMJ, 2005

How many people have died from racial health disparities? In 2005, David Satcher, the former surgeon general, and colleagues, published an analysis of 40 years of death rates using data from the National Center for Health Statistics. In 1960, racial health disparities took the lives of more than 60,000 Black Americans. By 2000, the number had reached nearly 84,000. While the number of people dying from racial disparities has decreased since the early 2000s, let’s put this into perspective: For decades, the number of people dying from racial health disparities in the U.S. was even higher than the number dying from opioid overdoses today—yet only one of these crises was ever splashed all over the media and designated a national emergency.

You don’t have to go too far into the past to find the underlying causes of these health disparities

From the Middle Passage to slave labor camps to Jim Crow to the present, at the root of these disparities is segregation, which, as a matter of public policy, sorted Black people into places that incubate illness. The effect, according to Rodney Hood, the former president of the National Medical Association, in a 2001 column on reparations, has been to repeatedly lock Black people into “contagious, cruel, and stressful” environments while also locking them out of healthcare.

Mary Anne Adams is a 64-year-old Black woman who was born during the reign of Jim Crow in Oxford, Mississippi. The South that Mary Anne was born into by law restricted Black people from receiving healthcare. Jim Crow laws segregated hospitals in Mississippi and made it illegal for nurses to treat Black men in Alabama. One out of three hospitals in the South would not treat Black people even in emergencies, according to a study published the year after Mary Anne was born.

Though Mary Anne was one of 10 children, none were born in hospitals—indeed, fewer than 10 percent of all Black infants were born in hospitals in Mississippi at that time. “I have no recollection of Black women going to a hospital to give birth,” Adams said.

The outcome is what you would expect: Before the federal government forced desegregation in hospitals, more than six times as many Black babies were dying of diarrhea and pneumonia than white infants in Mississippi.

Meanwhile, in St. Louis, Missouri, a series of conscious policy decisions segregated the city, ultimately creating an 18-year Black-white disparity in life expectancy. As VICE has previously reported, the real estate industry put an enormous amount of blood, sweat, and white tears into this effort, starting with a 1916 racial zoning ordinance, which kept Black people from moving onto blocks that were mostly white. When the Supreme Court ended the ordinance, industry leaders turned to racial deed covenants, which said white home buyers couldn’t rent to Black people. When the courts stopped them from using those covenants, they created residential security maps, which allowed lenders to deny Black people mortgages on the basis of “undesirability” or other less overtly racist-sounding euphemisms. This practice, known as redlining because of the red color applied to the “undesirable” areas on maps, resulted in only 3.3 percent of Black people in St. Louis having mortgages by the early 1960s.

The result of these and other practices, such as designing highways that cut off Black neighborhoods, has been to trap Black people in places with greater exposure to environmental threats like air pollution and lead poisoning, while cutting off access to social goods like quality food and pharmacies.

Not only do these environments lead to Black communities facing higher rates of health problems, but at every step of the healthcare-seeking process, Black people run into man-made barriers: There are often fewer choices of providers in their communities, transportation barriers to seeing those providers, and higher costs to get the care needed. Even if people can clear those hurdles, there’s a risk of not receiving the same quality treatment as white patients for the same conditions, too often with deadly consequences.

For example, people with aggressive prostate cancer need surgery or a combination of radiation and hormone therapy. “Our data show that Black men with this form of prostate cancer are less likely to get any treatment in such circumstances,” said Quoc-Dien Trinh, an assistant professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School. “If Black men don’t get treated when they have lethal cancer, then obviously they will appear to die more often from this form of cancer.”

Exactly how much do Black people pay?

Since the nation has been indifferent toward the human cost of these racial health disparities, scholars have tried to provoke concern by calculating their financial cost.

“We believe that policy makers should be motivated by the social justice argument, however for some that’s not enough,” said Darrell Gaskin, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Disparities Solutions. “We wanted policymakers to know that injustice comes with a hefty price tag.”

The price tag Gaskin and colleagues calculated totaled $45.3 billion in healthcare costs and another $9.6 billion in lost wages for Black Americans in 2009 alone. While insurance covered an estimated 40 percent of those healthcare costs, Black people spent a staggering $12.5 billion out of pocket in just one year because of racial health disparities.

“It’s a combination of both the direct and indirect costs of medical care,” said John Ayanian, professor of medicine and director of the Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation at the University of Michigan. “If conditions like diabetes or asthma or high blood pressure are not diagnosed early, those conditions will worsen and people will develop more complications, and those complications can cause significant direct medical costs—particularly if people are uninsured or underinsured.

“There are also substantial indirect costs, when people have to take time off from work because they or a family member is ill or losing a job because of their health,” Ayanian said.

Black women with breast cancer, for example, are five times as likely to lose their private insurance and more than twice as likely to lose their jobs than white women with breast cancer. One reason, according to Jenny Spencer of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is that the “time cost” of cancer is different for Black women. “Black women may be disproportionately likely to have jobs that do not offer flexibility in hours or paid sick leave,” Spencer said. In North Carolina, women also often have to drive a long distance or pay for a taxi or bus to get to a cancer clinic.

When Louise Tatum, of the South Side of Chicago, was first diagnosed with breast cancer, she felt failed by her community hospital, which lost her records and sent letters to the wrong doctor. Tatum, who is Black, travels an hour each way in a shared van for daily radiation treatments. A half-hour procedure is turned into a two-and-a-half hour journey at least, a consequence of how segregation puts distance between people and the services they will die without. “I almost urinated twice in the van, because no one would drop me off,” she said of one recent trip.

Since she started treatment, Tatum has lost her job. “There are not many things I can do,” she said. “I have swelling where I had my surgery and now I have radiation every single day. I haven’t had income since October.

Black people individually pay a staggering price for health disparities, both because of how much they lose when they are sick, like Tatum, and how much more they have to pay because their disease is often much worse by the time they get care. Take the racial disparity in stroke: when a Black person has a stroke, they face an average cost of $25,782, while white people with the same condition are looking at $15,597. Black people pay roughly the same $10,000 racial tax for heart failure ($82,929 vs. $73,985).

Black-Stroke-resized

Illustration by Mona Chalabi. Source: Neurology, 2006

White-Stroke-resized

Illustration by Mona Chalabi. Source: Neurology, 2006

Or consider that Black children more frequently need to visit the emergency room for asthma attacks—at an average cost of $2,116, according to Medical Expenditure Panel data—since they’re at greater risk of not having a primary care provider than white children. In Chicago alone, Respiratory Health Association researchers found that Black kids were five times as likely as white kids to visit the ER and determined that preventable charges totaled $6.1 million annually. That doesn’t include the costs of missed days of school and childcare.

Two of Rolinda Robinson’s daughters suffered from severe asthma attacks. Living in the Austin area of the West Side of Chicago, Robinson often drove her children nearly a half hour in the middle of the night to an emergency room she trusted, only to wait two or three hours to be seen. “We would be sitting in the emergency room until the next day to the point where I would be so drained that I could not go to work the next day, as well as she would be so sick that she would not be able to go to school or daycare,” Robinson said.

Though Robinson had health insurance for most of her children’s lives, her insurance did not cover all of the expenses that come with being a single parent trying to care for children with asthma. “There was the constant cost of going back and forth to ER, the gas to get there, paying for parking, and missing time off work,” she explained.

One of the straightest lines we can draw between a racial health disparity and lost wages is lead poisoning. For at least 20 years, it has been known that Black children are at a much greater risk of lead poisoning, a clear consequence of housing segregation that exposes them to lead-based paint and contaminated soil and water.

Lead poisoning has a destructive effect on health, which directly affects a person’s lifelong ability to make money: Children endure behavioral and cognitive problems that may hinder their chances at doing well in school and on tests. “There is strong evidence that exposure to lead in early childhood negatively affects a developing brain and has long-term negative effects on both cognitive achievement and behavior,” said Anna Aizer, an associate professor of economics and public policy at Brown University. “These children will grow up to earn less in adulthood.”

Elise Gould of the Economic Policy Institute estimates that a loss of one IQ point from lead poisoning may lead to a loss of more than $22,000 in lifetime earnings (adjusting for inflation). Now consider that 14 percent of the children poisoned in Flint, Michigan, had very high blood lead levels—above 10 micrograms, which works out to a lifetime loss of at least $162,800 in earnings per child. It is medically impossible to reverse the damage done to the nervous systems of these children. But it is very possible to compensate them for unnecessary harm.

Improving the financial health of Black Americans is critical for improving their mental and physical health

Cash is certainly not an on-off switch to fix racial health disparities (especially maternal mortality, which affects every socioeconomic class of Black women), nor can any amount of money make right the loss of so many lives. Yet, there is evidence that cash reparations would not only be a just form of repayment, but a massive evidence-based health intervention.

Public health scholars David Williams and Chiquita Collins have shown that improving the financial health of Black Americans is critical for improving their mental and physical health. When the racial economic gap was narrowed between 1968 and 1978, so too narrowed the racial health gap (this trend reversed with the widening economic gap in the 1980s).

Black Mamas Matter Toolkit:  Talking Points for Advocates

  • Black women’s lives and families are at stake. Black women in the U.S. suffer from life-threatening pregnancy complications twice as often as White women, and they die frompregnancy-related complications four times as often as White women. When mothers die, it breaks apart families and can lead to negative health consequences for their children.
  • Preventable maternal mortality is a human rights crisis in the United States.  The U.S. is one of only 13 countries in the world where pregnancy-related deaths are on the rise. Women in the U.S. are more likely to die from pregnancy complications than women in 45 other countries, including the United Kingdom, Libya, and Kazakhstan.
  • Poor maternal health outcomes are getting worse. Both the likelihood of experiencing a severe pregnancy complication and dying from it are on the rise in the United States. Although the U.S. spends more on health care per capita than any other country, maternal health outcomes are deteriorating overall and racial disparities are as wide as they were in the 1930’s.
  • The risk of dying from a pregnancy complication should not depend on one’s race or zip code. But the reality is that women in the South are at much higher risk than women in other areas of the country. A Black woman in Mississippi is almost twice as likely to die as a White woman in Mississippi or a Black woman in California.
  • Maternal mortality affects Black women of all socio-economic backgrounds. Racial disparities in pregnancy-related deaths show that across all income and education levels, Black women in the U.S. are at higher risk for poor outcomes than White women.
  • To tackle the problem of maternal mortality, we need to address racial discrimination and structural racism. Poor maternal health outcomes expose inequalities in U.S. society that go beyond the health system. Improving those outcomes will require more equitable access to health care and the social determinants of health.
Articulate Solutions
To improve U.S. maternal health outcomes we must prioritize Black women’s health and lives and commit to taking meaningful action. Every state must take steps to ensure safe and respectful maternal care for all women At a minimum, these steps include policy measures that address the following areas:
  • Respect: States must trust Black women with the decisions and resources that empower them and their families. Health care providers and systems must approach every woman with respect and compassion, build her capacity to engage in informed health care decision-making, and honor her autonomy to make decisions about her body and care.
  • Education: States must ensure that women are equipped with the knowledge, tools, and power to determine if and when they want to become pregnant and have a child. At a minimum, this requires: comprehensive, evidence-based information about sexual, reproductive, and maternal health.
  • Access: Every woman must have access to health care before, during, and after childbirth. States must ensure health coverage for low-income women before they get pregnant, promote continuity of care and insurance coverage as women’s life circumstances change, address barriers to prenatal and postpartum care, and reach women in the communities where they live.
  • Prevention: Every state must take action to address and prevent risk factors for poor maternal health outcomes such as obesity, chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes, and underlying determinants of health. Policymakers influence the structural conditions in which women live, work, and grow, and in turn, these conditions influence maternal health.
  • Quality: States must ensure that every pregnant woman has access to facilities, health care providers, and support persons that are capable of safely and respectfully managing chronic conditions, identifying, monitoring, and appropriately addressing obstetric emergencies, and providing unbiased care.
  • Equity: To prevent pregnancy-related deaths and sustainably improve maternal health, states must make transformative investments in the health and well-being of Black women and girls throughout the life course, including in the areas of housing, nutrition, transportation, violence, environmental health, and economic justice.
  • Data: Every state must have a process in place to collect and disaggregate data about maternal health in a timely manner. Data collection should include both quantitative and qualitative methods, including community-based participatory data, in order to understand the impact of race and socio-economic inequality on Black women’s health.
  • Accountability: States must create systems to design and implement recommendations, and hold institutions accountable when they fail women. These include independent and fully funded maternal mortality review boards, supportive maternal health programs that implement review findings, and attention to social determinants of health.

Now This: How the Health Care System Has Racial Biases

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COVID

The color of coronavirus: COVID-19 deaths by race and ethnicity in the U.S.

The novel coronavirus has claimed about 112,000 American lives through June 9, according to officially reported statistics. We know the race and ethnicity for 93% of these deaths. The latest data reveals continued deep disparities by race, most dramatically for Black and Indigenous Americans. Our ongoing Color of Coronavirus project monitors where the burden of this virus falls inequitably upon certain communities—to guide policy and community responses to these disproportionate COVID-19 deaths.

The APM Research Lab has independently compiled these mortality data for Washington, D.C. and 43 states. In addition, while the seven outstanding states are not publicly posting their data by race and ethnicity, they must report death certificate data to the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. Although that data is lagged and has a high degree of suppression, we have included it in our latest release to capture what is known about all states. (We have also used CDC data in place of Texas’ public reporting, as it is more complete.)

The result is the most robust and up-to-date portrait of COVID-19 mortality by race available anywhere, with a lens on inequitable deaths. Read on to see these statistics represented as rates per 100,000; total deaths experienced by group; and examined against the population share by state.

KEY FINDINGS:

  • Aggregated death rates from COVID-19 across all states and the District of Columbia have reached new highs for all groups:

  • 1 in 1,625 Black Americans has died (or 61.6 deaths per 100,000)

  • 1 in 2,775 Indigenous Americans has died (or 36.0 deaths per 100,000)

  • 1 in 3,550 Latino Americans has died (or 28.2 deaths per 100,000)

  • 1 in 3,800 Asian Americans has died (or 26.3 deaths per 100,000)

  • 1 in 3,800 White Americans has died (or 26.2 deaths per 100,000)

  • Black Americans continue to experience the highest overall mortality rates and the most widespread occurrence of disproportionate deaths. Since we began reporting these data, the Black mortality rate across the U.S. has never fallen below twice that of all other groups, revealing a durable pattern of disproportionality.

  • The latest overall COVID-19 mortality rate for Black Americans is 2.3 times as high as the rate for Whites and Asians, and 2.2 times as high as the Latino rate.

    • Relative to White rates, Black rates are most dramatically higher in the District of Columbia (6 times as high), Kansas (5 times), Wisconsin (5 times), Michigan (4 times), Missouri (4 times), New York (3 times) and South Carolina (3 times).

  • Compared to their representation in the population:

    • Indigenous Americans are dying above their population share in Mississippi, Arizona and most dramatically, New Mexico.

    • Asian Americans are dying above their population share in Iowa and Nevada.

    • Black Americans are dying above their population share in 30 states and most dramatically, in Washington, D.C.

    • Latino Americans are dying above their population share in Tennessee, Illinois, Wisconsin and New York.

    • White Americans are dying above their population share in Delaware, Washington, Texas, Massachusetts, Maine, Idaho, Connecticut, Oklahoma and Rhode Island.

    • Data for Pacific Islander Americans is hampered by poor reporting; however, they are dying at rates roughly equivalent to their population share in the two states that have experienced 10 or more deaths: California and Washington.

If they had died of COVID-19 at the same rate as White Americans, at least 14,400 Black Americans, 1,200 Latino Americans and 200 Indigenous Americans would still be alive.

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EXAMINING DISPROPORTIONALITY IN DEATHS

Another way to examine racial disproportionality in COVID-related mortality is by comparing the percentage of COVID-19 deaths to the percentage of population. Our chosen threshold for highlighting disproportionality is a difference of two percentage points or more, above or below the population share. Using this measure of disproportionality:

  • Collectively, Black Americans represent 12.4% of the population in the U.S., but they have suffered 24.3% of known COVID-19 deaths—i.e., they are dying at twice their population share. Black Americans are also over-represented in deaths in 30 states and Washington, D.C. In 16 states as well as in the District of Columbia, Black residents’ share of the deaths exceed their share of the population by 10 to 30 percentage points—extremely large disparities.

  • Whites are considerably less likely to die from COVID-19 than expected, given their share of the population (10.4 points below). White Americans represent 62.2% of the population in the U.S., but they have experienced 51.7% of deaths.

  • Collectively, Indigenous, Asian and Latino Americans are dying roughly proportional to their population share.


INDIGENOUS AMERICANS

609 Indigenous Americans are known to have lost their lives to COVID-19 through Tuesday, June 9. This is an increase of 206 deaths among Indigenous people compared to our last report two weeks earlier (but also reflects an increase in areas with available data).

Notes: This total is a known under-count. Numerous states report Indigenous deaths in the Other category, so we cannot see those numbers uniquely. Deaths among Indigenous residents in Michigan have been downwardly revised since our last update. Michigan is now providing counts rather than just percentages, which previously required us to estimate Indigenous deaths.

For each 100,000 Americans (of their respective group), about 36 Indigenous people have died from the coronavirus, a mortality rate well above Whites (26), Asians (26) and Latinos (28), although below the rates for Blacks (62). Users are cautioned that this overall mortality rate for Indigenous people was constructed from 21 states reporting deaths, while other rates reflect additional geographies in the U.S.

The graph below shows where Indigenous deaths are over- or under-represented, relative to their population, in places with 10 or more known deaths.

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DISPROPORTIONALITY AMONG INDIGENOUS AMERICANS’ COVID-19 DEATHS

  • The data picture for Indigenous Americans is hampered by many states’ poor reporting. However, we know that Indigenous people are dying above their population share in Mississippi (by 4 percentage points), Arizona (by 16 points) and, most dramatically, in New Mexico (by 51 points).

  • Arizona and New Mexico both contain portions of the Navajo Nation, which has been severely hit by the virus.

  • The convergence of racial and geographic disparities in COVID-19 mortality in Mississippi and New Mexico has resulted in more than 1 in 1,000 (not 100,000, as is typically reported) Indigenous residents who have died in those states—a very high loss of life.

  • Please see our complete data file to examine deaths for “Other” race Americans, which include Indigenous residents in many states.


ASIAN AMERICANS

4,588 Asian Americans are known to have lost their lives to COVID-19 through Tuesday, June 9. This is an increase of 846 deaths among Asians compared to our last report two weeks earlier (but also reflects an increase in areas with available data).

Note: Florida, Mississippi, Missouri and South Carolina include Asians in their “Other” category, so they are not shown here. Additionally, it is not known whether Rhode Island and Virginia—which show zero Asian deaths to date—are also doing so, due to unclear reporting. Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Michigan, Oklahoma and Wisconsin report deaths for Asians and Pacific Islanders jointly, so they are presented together for those eight states below.

For each 100,000 Americans (of their respective group), about 26 Asians have died from the coronavirus, a mortality rate similar to Whites (26), slightly below Latinos (28) and well below the rates for Indigenous people (36) and Blacks (62).

The graph below shows where Asian deaths are over-represented or under-represented, relative to their population, in places with 10 or more known deaths. (They were not over-represented in any places.)

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DISPROPORTIONALITY AMONG ASIAN AMERICANS’ COVID-19 DEATHS

  • Asian Americans are dying above their population share in Iowa (by 2 percentage points) and especially in Nevada (by 8 points). (Note: A difference of two percentage points or more is what we have considered above or below the population share. Proportionality was only examined in states with 10 or more deaths.)

  • In 11 states, Asians are dying roughly proportional to their share of the population. In eight states, Asians are under-represented in mortality statistics relative to their population, with the greatest under-representation seen in New Jersey.

  • Collectively across the U.S., given all available data, Asians appear about equally likely to die of COVID-19 as would be expected based on their population share. Collectively, they represent 5.3% of the population in these places but have experienced 4.4% of deaths.

  • The convergence of racial and geographic disparities in COVID-19 mortality in New York has resulted in more than 1 in 1,000 (not 100,000) Asian residents who have died there (driven largely by New York City).


BLACK AMERICANS

25,028 Black Americans are known to have lost their lives to COVID-19 through Tuesday, June 9. This is an increase of 4,833 deaths among Blacks compared to our last report two weeks earlier (but also reflects an increase in areas with available data).

For each 100,000 Americans (of their respective group), about 62 Blacks have died from the coronavirus, a mortality rate more than double the rate for Latinos (28) and 2.3 times the rate for Asians (26) and Whites (26). The overall Black mortality rate exceeds the Indigenous rate by 1.7 times.

In some places, the multiple between Black and White mortality rates greatly exceeds the 2.3 overall figure that we’ve constructed from all available data for the nation. Relative to White rates, Black rates are most dramatically higher in the District of Columbia (6 times as high), Kansas (5 times), Wisconsin (5 times), Michigan (4 times), Missouri (4 times), New York (3 times) and South Carolina (3 times). In many states, the virus is also killing Black residents several multiples more often than Asian and Latino residents.

The graph below shows where Black deaths are over-represented or proportionally represented, relative to their population, in places with 10 or more known deaths. (They were not under-represented in any places.)

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DISPROPORTIONALITY AMONG BLACK AMERICANS’ COVID-19 DEATHS

  • Disproportionately high mortality is more widespread for Black Americans than any other group. (Note: A difference of two percentage points or more, before rounding, is what we have considered above or below the population share. Proportionality was only examined in states with 10 or more deaths.)

  • Blacks are dying at elevated rates, relative to their population, overall and in 30 states and Washington, D.C. Collectively, they represent 12.4% of the population, but have suffered 24.3% of deaths. In other words, they are dying of the virus at a rate of roughly double their population share, among all American deaths where race and ethnicity is known.

  • In 16 states—Michigan, Missouri, South Carolina, Louisiana, Kansas, Alabama, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Georgia, Arkansas, Illinois, Mississippi, Maryland, North Carolina, New York and Texas—as well as in the District of Columbia, Black residents’ share of the deaths exceed their share of the population by 10 to 30 percentage points. These are exceptionally large disparities.

  • In no state with 10 or more deaths were Black residents under-represented in COVID-19 mortality data. However, in the six states of Massachusetts, Iowa, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Washington and Arizona, Black residents are dying at roughly proportional to their population share.

  • The convergence of racial and geographic disparities in COVID-19 mortality in Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey and New York has resulted in more than 1 in 1,000 (not 100,000) Black residents who have died—an exceedingly high death toll. Illinois is also just below this threshold.


LATINO AMERICANS

16,875 Latino Americans are known to have lost their lives to COVID-19 through Tuesday, June 9. This is an increase of 3,687 deaths among Latinos compared to our last report two weeks earlier (but also reflects an increase in areas with available data).

For each 100,000 Americans (of their respective group), about 28 Latinos have died from the coronavirus, a mortality rate slightly above Asians (26) and Whites (26), but well below Indigenous people (36) and Blacks (62 deaths per 100,000).

The graph below shows where Latino deaths are over- or under-represented, relative to their population, in places with 10 or more known deaths.

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DISPROPORTIONALITY AMONG LATINO AMERICANS’ COVID-19 DEATHS

  • Across the U.S., Latinos are dying from COVID-19 at a rate similar to their share of the population (18.3%). They have suffered 16.4% of deaths in America where race and ethnicity is known. (Note: A difference of two percentage points or more, before rounding, is what we have considered above or below the population share. Proportionality was only examined in states with 10 or more deaths.)

  • However, Latino Americans are dying at rates above their population share in New York (7 percentage points higher), Wisconsin (4 points), Illinois (3 points) and Tennessee (2 points).

  • In New York, Latinos comprise 19.2% of the population, but have suffered 26.6% of deaths. At the time of this writing, 7,399 Latinos were known to have died in New York (including 6,536 in New York City), which has experienced the highest overall (and Latino) mortality rate of any state.

  • In 17 states, Latinos have a mortality advantage, dying less often than their population would suggest. They are most under-represented—dying far less likely than their population share—in New Mexico (-35 percentage points).

  • The convergence of racial and geographic disparities in COVID-19 mortality in New Jersey and New York has resulted in more than 1 in 1,000 (not 100,000) Latino residents who have died in those two states—an exceedingly high loss of life.


WHITE AMERICANS

53,402 White Americans are known to have lost their lives to COVID-19 through Tuesday, June 9. This is an increase of 13,705 deaths among Whites compared to our last report two weeks earlier (but also reflects an increase in areas with available data).

For each 100,000 Americans (of their respective group), about 26 Whites have died from the coronavirus, a mortality rate similar to Asians (26), somewhat below Latinos (28), considerably below Indigenous people (36) and less than half of the rate experienced by Blacks (62).

The graph below shows where White deaths are over- or under-represented, relative to their population, in places with 10 or more known deaths.

Screen Shot 2020-06-11 at 3.50.13 PM

DISPROPORTIONALITY AMONG WHITE AMERICANS’ COVID-19 DEATHS

  • White Americans are dying at elevated rates, relative to their share of the population, in nine states: Rhode Island, Oklahoma, Connecticut, Idaho, Maine, Massachusetts, Texas, Washington and Delaware. (Note: A difference of two percentage points or more, before rounding, is what we have considered above or below the population share. Proportionality was only examined in states with 10 or more deaths. Additionally, this data is not adjusted for the variation in the age structure of the populations. Because COVID-19 mortality is strongly associated with advanced age, White Americans are expected to experience higher levels of mortality, due to their older age distribution relative to populations of color and Indigenous Americans.)

  • Most dramatically, White residents in Rhode Island have suffered 92% of all the state’s reported COVID-19 deaths. However, they represent only 71% of the overall population.

  • In 27 states and the District of Columbia, Whites are under-represented in mortality statistics relative to their population, often greatly so. In five states (Tennessee, South Carolina, Missouri, New York and Michigan) as well as in Washington, D.C., the difference between their share of the population and their share of deaths is 20 percentage points or more, revealing a significant mortality advantage for White Americans.

  • Disproportionality was not examined for the states of Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and West Virginia, as all deaths among people of color have been suppressed in the CDC data file and these states are not releasing complete data to the public.

  • Collectively across the U.S., Whites are considerably less likely to die from COVID-19 than expected, given their share of the population. They represent 62.2% of the combined population, but have experienced 51.7% of deaths in America where race and ethnicity is known.

  • Connecticut has seen the highest rate of COVID-related deaths among White residents in the country. More than 1 in 1,000 (not 100,000, as is typically reported) White residents have died there, as well as in Massachusetts, while New Jersey is just below this threshold. (However, Blacks are still more likely to have died in all of these states than Whites.)


NOTE ABOUT INDIGENOUS, PACIFIC ISLANDER, MULTIRACIAL & OTHER RACE AMERICANS

COVID-19 mortality data for Americans who are Indigenous, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islanders, Some Other race, or Multiracial is inconsistently reported by many states. Users may download our complete data file to better understand the loss of life in these groups as well. Users are cautioned that Indigenous and Pacific Islander people appear in the “Other” group in many states, along with Multiracial Americans and in a few cases, Asian Americans.

It is worth noting that many of the states not yet publicly reporting death data by race—such as Utah, North Dakota and South Dakota—as well as reservation lands, have large Indigenous populations. We continue to advocate for complete, consistent reporting for all racial and ethnic groups.


WHICH PLACES ARE RELEASING DEATH DATA BY RACE?

At the time of this writing, the District of Columbia and 42 states are known to be publicly releasing full or partial COVID-19 death data disaggregated by race and ethnicity: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin. (Note that New Mexico has provided summary data to the APM Research Lab, which appears in our analysis, although the data does not appear on its public website.)

Screen Shot 2020-06-11 at 3.50.23 PM

Racial detail on the deceased was available for 93% of all American deaths to date—the highest percentage since our Color of Coronavirus project began tracking these data in early April.

However, the following eight states have not yet publicly posted COVID-19 mortality data with racial details: Hawaii, Nebraska, New Mexico (although the state has provided us data), North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming. For these states (and Texas, whose poor public reporting has racial details available for only 29% of all deaths), we have supplemented our data file using data reported to the National Center for Health Statistics, a division of the CDC. Note that these data have additional time lag and have a high degree of suppression, especially for groups other than Whites. Nonetheless, their inclusion improves the picture of COVID-19 mortality for the entire United States.

As of Tuesday, June 9, more than 112,000 Americans had died of COVID-19. Data about race is available for 93% of these deaths.


It should be noted that even among states releasing COVID-19 data by the race of the deceased, the data is often incomplete or infrequent. Numerous states release only percentages, not counts of deaths, requiring us to estimate the data rather than know precisely how communities have been affected. Many states also fail to report smaller populations uniquely, obscuring the picture for Indigenous Americans and other groups. All of these reporting shortcomings render our picture of the virus’ toll incomplete and makes it more difficult to assess the disproportionate impacts on communities.

We call on state and local health departments to release timely data about COVID-19 deaths with as complete racial and ethnic detail as is possible. As the data reporting improves, so too will our understanding of the devastating impact of this disease. This will inform states and communities about how to direct resources more equitably as well.

NY Times: Its Not Obesity, Its Slavery

About five years ago, I was invited to sit in on a meeting about health in the African-American community. Several important figures in the fields of public health and economics were present. A freshly minted Ph.D., I felt strangely like an interloper. I was also the only black person in the room.

One of the facilitators introduced me to the other participants and said something to the effect of “Sabrina, what do you think? Why are black people sick?”

It was a question asked in earnest. Some of the experts had devoted their entire careers to addressing questions surrounding racial health inequities. Years of research, and in some instances failed interventions, had left them baffled. Why are black people so sick?

My answer was swift and unequivocal.

My colleagues looked befuddled as they tried to come to terms with my reply.

I meant what I said: The era of slavery was when white Americans determined that black Americans needed only the bare necessities, not enough to keep them optimally safe and healthy. It set in motion black people’s diminished access to healthy foods, safe working conditions, medical treatment and a host of other social inequities that negatively impact health.

This message is particularly important in a moment when African-Americans have experienced the highest rates of severe complications and death from the coronavirus and “obesity” has surfaced as an explanation. The cultural narrative that black people’s weight is a harbinger of disease and death has long served as a dangerous distraction from the real sources of inequality, and it’s happening again.

Reliable data are hard to come by, but available analyses show that on average, the rate of black fatalities is 2.4 times that of whites with Covid-19. In states including Michigan, Kansas and Wisconsin and in Washington, D.C., that ratio jumps to five to seven black people dying of Covid-19 complications for every one white death.

Despite the lack of clarity surrounding these findings, one interpretation of these disparities that has gained traction is the idea that black people are unduly obese (currently defined as a body mass index greater than 30) which is seen as a driver of other chronic illnesses and is believed to put black people at high risk for serious complications from Covid-19.

These claims have received intense media attention, despite the fact that scientists haven’t been able to sufficiently explain the link between obesity and Covid-19. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 42.2 percent of white Americans and 49.6 percent of African-Americans are obese. Researchers have yet to clarify how a 7 percentage-point disparity in obesity prevalence translates to a 240 percent-700 percent disparity in fatalities.

Experts have raised questions about the rush to implicate obesity, and especially “severe obesity” (B.M.I. greater than 40), as a factor in coronavirus complications. An article in the medical journal The Lancet evaluated Britain’s inclusion of obesity as a risk factor for coronavirus complications and retorted, “To date, no available data show adverse Covid-19 outcomes specifically in people with a BMI of 40 kg/m2.” The authors concluded, “The scarcity of information regarding the increased risk of illness for people with a BMI higher than 40 kg/m2 has led to ambiguity and might increase anxiety, given that these individuals have now been categorised as vulnerable to severe illness if they contract Covid-19.”

Promoting strained associations between race, body size, and complications from this little-understood disease has served to reinforce an image of black people as wholly swept up in sensuous pleasures like eating and drinking, which supposedly makes our unruly bodies repositories of preventable weight-related illnesses. The attitudes I see today have echoes of what I described in “Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia.” My research showed that anti-fat attitudes originated not with medical findings, but with Enlightenment-era belief that overfeeding and fatness were evidence of “savagery” and racial inferiority.

Today, the stakes of these discussions could not be higher. When I learned about guidelines suggesting that doctors may use existing health conditions, including obesity, to deny or limit eligibility to lifesaving coronavirus treatments, I couldn’t help thinking of the slavery-era debates I’ve studied about whether or not so-called “constitutionally weak” African-Americans should receive medical care.

Fortunately, since that event I attended five years ago, experts focused on the health of African-Americans have continued to work to direct the nation’s attention away from individual-level factors.

The New York Times’ 1619 Project featured essays detailing how the legacy of slavery impacted health and health care for African-Americans and explaining how, since the era of slavery, black people’s bodies have been labeled congenitally diseased and undeserving of access to lifesaving treatments.

In a recent essay addressing Covid-19 specifically, Rashawn Ray underscored the legacy of redlining that pushed black people into poor, densely populated communities often with limited access to health care. And he pointed out that black people are overrepresented in service positions and as essential workers who have greater exposure than those with the luxury of sheltering in place. Ibram X. Kendi has written that the “irresponsible behavior of disproportionately poor people of color” — often cited as an important factor in health disparities — is a scapegoat directing American’s attention from the centrality of systemic racism in current racial health inequities.

Evaluating the inadequate and questionable data about race, weight and Covid-19 complications with these insights in mind makes it clear that obesity — and its affiliated, if incorrect implication of poor lifestyle choices — should not be front and center when it comes to understanding how this pandemic has affected African-Americans. Even before Covid-19, black Americans had higher rates of multiple chronic illnesses and a lower life expectancy than white Americans, regardless of weight. This is an indication that our social structures are failing us. These failings — and the accompanying embrace of the belief that black bodies are uniquely flawed — are rooted in a shameful era of American history that took place hundreds of years before this pandemic.

Further Reading

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Media Representation

News

  • Black families represent 59 percent of the poor portrayed in the media, according to the analysis, but account for just 27 percent of Americans in poverty.
  • Whites families make up 17 percent of the poor depicted in news media, but make up 66 percent of the American poor
  • Black people are also nearly three times more likely than whites to be portrayed as dependent on welfare
  • Black fathers were shown spending time with their kids almost half as often as white fathers.
  • Blacks represent 37 percent of criminals shown in the news, but constitute 26 percent of those arrested on criminal charges
  • In contrast, news media portray whites as criminals 28 percent of the time, when FBI crime reports show they make up 77 percent of crime suspects.

Source: Washington Post: News media offers consistently warped portrayals of black families, study finds

Children’s Books

diversityinchildrensbooks2015_f-1

Hollywood

  • Vanity Fair writes that, of the top grossing films of 2014, 73.1% of the speaking roles went to White Americans, while just 12.5% went to Black Americans.
    • This overrepresentation of White people in Hollywood has led to two straight years of the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag.
  • Media representation is a category where other groups of Color can fare worse than Black Americans. For example, Latinx Americans – 17.6% of the population (some of whom are Black) – make up just 4.9% of speaking roles.
  • Even though diverse casts translate to box-office success, according to NPR, representation in our media remain stubbornly White – from the cast to the creators: 
  • But numbers are only part of the issue. The types of roles available also matter, and many groups of Color find the menu of opportunity quite limited (with color-coded, lower paychecks to match), which might explain Viola Davis’s 2015 Emmy acceptance speech: “The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity.”

Source: Everyday Feminism: Here’s Your Proof That White Americans Don’t Face Systemic Racism

Color of Change: Race in the Writers’ Room: How Hollywood Whitewashes the Stories that Shape America

“This study considered 1,678 first-run episodes from all 234 of the original, scripted comedy and drama series airing or streaming on 18 broadcast, cable, and digital platforms during the 2016-17 television season. The report demonstrates that the executives running television platforms today—both traditional networks and emerging streaming sites—are not hiring Black showrunners, which results in excluding or isolating Black writers in writers’ rooms and in the creative process.

Over 90% of showrunners are white, two-thirds of shows had no Black writers at all, and another 17% of shows had just one Black writer. The ultimate result of this exclusion is the widespread reliance on Black stereotypes to drive Black character portrayals, where Black characters even exist at all—at best, “cardboard” characters, at worst, unfair, inaccurate and dehumanizing portrayals. Many other studies have shown how dangerous inaccurate portrayals can be—resulting in warped perceptions about Black people and Black communities that perversely inform the decisions of doctors, teachers, voters, police, judges and more.

The report also highlights a pattern of excluding women and people of color in hiring showrunners and writers, and clearly suggests that current industry “diversity” programs are not working to either create success tracks for talented people of color in the industry, or create the range of authentic representations and stories on television that we need to sustain a healthy society.

KEY FINDINGS

While the report presents many striking findings, a few stand out, providing an overall picture of the problem of Hollywood executives excluding people of color and women. For additional findings (e.g., the severe lack of Black writers on crime procedural shows), read the full report.

1. While two-thirds of all shows across 18 networks did not have any Black writers, and another 17% had just one Black writer, not all networks are the same with respect to exclusion.

AMC stands out as having the worst inclusion problem overall: both women and people of color, both showrunners and writers. Eight networks excluded Black showrunners and writers the most, while CW and CBS were notable for generally including women and people of color, while excluding Black talent specifically.

2 On the whole, the industry does not include people of color—91% of showrunners are white, and 86% of writers are white. 80% of showrunners are men.

3. Showrunner exclusion is particularly troubling because it leads to writer exclusion—while all Black showrunners include white writers in their rooms, white showrunners tend to exclude Black writers, with 69% of white showrunner shows having no Black writers at all.

4. As part of this first-of-its-kind study, we have created a definitive chart that breaks down inclusion and exclusion practices across 18 individual networks that have tremendous influence over the television landscape and the thoughts, feelings and perceptions of millions of viewers.

Writers Room Project Full Report

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The Kerner Report: Differences between 1968 and 2016

Economic Policy Institute: 50 years after the Kerner Commission African Americans are better off in many ways but are still disadvantaged by racial inequality

“The year 1968 was a watershed in American history and black America’s ongoing fight for equality. In April of that year, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis and riots broke out in cities around the country. Rising against this tragedy, the Civil Rights Act of 1968 outlawing housing discrimination was signed into law. Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their fists in a black power salute as they received their medals at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. Arthur Ashe became the first African American to win the U.S. Open singles title, and Shirley Chisholm became the first African American woman elected to the House of Representatives.

The same year, the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, better known as the Kerner Commission, delivered a report to President Johnson examining the causes of civil unrest in African American communities. The report named “white racism”—leading to “pervasive discrimination in employment, education and housing”—as the culprit, and the report’s authors called for a commitment to “the realization of common opportunities for all within a single [racially undivided] society.” The Kerner Commission report pulled together a comprehensive array of data to assess the specific economic and social inequities confronting African Americans in 1968.

Where do we stand as a society today? In this brief report, we compare the state of black workers and their families in 1968 with the circumstances of their descendants today, 50 years after the Kerner report was released. We find both good news and bad news. While African Americans are in many ways better off in absolute terms than they were in 1968, they are still disadvantaged in important ways relative to whites. In several important respects, African Americans have actually lost ground relative to whites, and, in a few cases, even relative to African Americans in 1968.

Following are some of the key findings:

  • African Americans today are much better educated than they were in 1968 but still lag behind whites in overall educational attainment. More than 90 percent of younger African Americans (ages 25 to 29) have graduated from high school, compared with just over half in 1968—which means they’ve nearly closed the gap with white high school graduation rates. They are also more than twice as likely to have a college degree as in 1968 but are still half as likely as young whites to have a college degree.
  • The substantial progress in educational attainment of African Americans has been accompanied by significant absolute improvements in wages, incomes, wealth, and health since 1968. But black workers still make only 82.5 cents on every dollar earned by white workers, African Americans are 2.5 times as likely to be in poverty as whites, and the median white family has almost 10 times as much wealth as the median black family.
  • With respect to homeownership, unemployment, and incarceration, America has failed to deliver any progress for African Americans over the last five decades. In these areas, their situation has either failed to improve relative to whites or has worsened. In 2017 the black unemployment rate was 7.5 percent, up from 6.7 percent in 1968, and is still roughly twice the white unemployment rate. In 2015, the black homeownership rate was just over 40 percent, virtually unchanged since 1968, and trailing a full 30 points behind the white homeownership rate, which saw modest gains over the same period. And the share of African Americans in prison or jail almost tripled between 1968 and 2016 and is currently more than six times the white incarceration rate.

Educational attainment

The most important development since 1968 is that African Americans today are much better educated than they were in 1968. These absolute improvements in educational attainment—including substantial increases in both high school and college completion rates—have opened important doors for black workers compared with their counterparts 50 years ago. In relative terms, African Americans today are almost as likely as whites to have completed high school. But even though the share of younger African Americans with a college degree has more than doubled, African Americans today are still only about half as likely to have a college degree as whites of the same age.

High school graduation rates. Over the last five decades, African Americans have seen substantial gains in high school completion rates. In 1968, just over half (54.4 percent) of 25- to 29-year-old African Americans had a high school diploma. Today, more than nine out of 10 African Americans (92.3 percent) in the same age range had a high school diploma. (See Table 1 for all data presented in this report.)

The large increase in high school completion rates helped to close the gap relative to whites. In 1968, African Americans trailed whites by more than 20 percentage points (75.0 percent of whites had completed high school, compared with 54.4 percent of blacks). In the most recent data, the gap is just 3.3 percentage points (95.6 percent for whites versus 92.3 percent for African Americans).

College graduation rates. College graduation rates have also improved for African Americans. Among 25- to 29-year-olds, less than one in 10 (9.1 percent) had a college degree in 1968, a figure that has climbed to almost one in four (22.8 percent) today.

Over the same period, however, college completion expanded for whites at a similar pace, rising from 16.2 percent in 1968 to 42.1 percent today, leaving the relative situation of African Americans basically unchanged: in 1968 blacks were just over half (56.0 percent) as likely as whites to have a college degree, a situation that is essentially the same today (54.2 percent).2

We would expect that these kinds of increases in the absolute levels of formal education would translate into large improvements in economic and related outcomes for African Americans. The rest of our indicators test the validity of this assumption.

Unemployment

The unemployment rate for African Americans in 2017 (the last full year of data) was 7.5 percent, 0.8 percentage points higher than it was in 1968 (6.7 percent). The unemployment rate for whites was 3.8 percent in 2017 and 3.2 percent in 1968.3

The unemployment data for these two years, almost 50 years apart, demonstrate a longstanding and unfortunate economic regularity: the unemployment rate for black workers is consistently about twice as high as it is for white workers.

Wages and income

Hourly wages. The inflation-adjusted hourly wage of the typical black worker rose 30.5 percent between 1968 and 2016, or about 0.6 percent per year. This slow rate of growth is particularly disappointing given the large increase in educational attainment among African Americans over these decades.

Even slower real wage growth (about 0.2 percent per year) for the typical white worker—albeit starting from a higher initial wage—meant that African Americans did modestly close the racial wage gap over the last five decades. But, in 2016, by the hourly wage measure used here, the typical black worker still only made 82.5 cents on every dollar earned by the typical white worker.4

Household income. The inflation-adjusted annual income of the typical African American household increased 42.8 percent between 1968 and 2016, slightly outpacing income growth for the typical white household (36.7 percent). But the typical black household today still receives only 61.6 percent of the annual income received by the typical white household.5

Poverty rates. The share of African Americans living in poverty has declined substantially in the last five decades. Using the official federal poverty measure as a benchmark, over one-third (34.7 percent) of African Americans were in poverty in 1968. Today, the share in poverty is just over one in five (21.4 percent). For whites, the decline in the poverty rate was much smaller, from 10.0 percent in 1968 to 8.8 percent in 2016. In the most recent data, African Americans are about 2.5 times as likely to be in poverty as whites. (In 1968, they were 3.5 times as likely to be in poverty.)6

Family wealth

The typical black family had almost no wealth in 1968 ($2,467; data refer to 19637). Today, that figure is about six times larger ($17,409), but it is still not that far from zero when you consider that families typically draw on their wealth for larger expenses, such as meeting basic needs over the course of retirement, paying for their children’s college education, putting a down payment on a house, or coping with a job loss or medical crisis.

Over the same period, the wealth of the typical white family almost tripled, from a much higher initial level. In 2016, the median African American family had only 10.2 percent of the wealth of the median white family ($17,409 versus $171,000).8

Homeownership. One of the most important forms of wealth for working and middle-class families is home equity. Yet, the share of black households that owned their own home remained virtually unchanged between 1968 (41.1 percent) and today (41.2 percent). Over the same period, homeownership for white households increased 5.2 percentage points to 71.1 percent, about 30 percentage points higher than the ownership rate for black households.9

Health

Infant mortality. Over the last five decades, African Americans have experienced enormous improvements in infant mortality rates. The number of deaths per 1,000 live births has fallen from 34.9 in 1968 to 11.4 in the most recent data. Over the same period, whites have also seen dramatic reductions in infant mortality, with rates falling from 18.8 to 4.9 by the same measure.

In relative terms, however, African Americans have fallen behind. In 1968, black infants were about 1.9 times as likely to die as white infants. Today, the rate is 2.3 times higher for African Americans.10

Life expectancy. African Americans’ life expectancy at birth has also increased substantially (up 11.5 years) between 1968 and today, outpacing the increase for whites (up 7.5 years). But an African American born today can, on average, still expect to live about 3.5 fewer years than a white person born on the same day.11

Incarceration

The share of African Americans in prison or jail almost tripled between 1968 (604 of every 100,000 in the total population) and 2016 (1,730 per 100,000).

The share of whites in prison or jail has also increased dramatically, but from a much lower base. In 1968, about 111 of every 100,000 whites were incarcerated. In the most recent data, the share has increased to 270 per 100,000.

In 1968, African Americans were about 5.4 times as likely as whites to be in prison or jail. Today, African Americans are 6.4 times as likely as whites to be incarcerated, which is especially troubling given that whites are also much more likely to be incarcerated now than they were in 1968.

Washington Post: Report: No progress for African Americans on homeownership, unemployment and incarceration in 50 years

“Convened to examine the causes of civil unrest in black communities, the presidential commission issued a 1968 report with a stark conclusion: America was moving toward two societies, “one black, one white — separate and unequal.”

Fifty years after the historic Kerner Commission identified “white racism” as the key cause of “pervasive discrimination in employment, education and housing,” there has been no progress in how African Americans fare in comparison to whites when it comes to homeownership, unemployment and incarceration, according to a report released Monday by the Economic Policy Institute.

In some cases, African Americans are worse off today than they were before the civil rights movement culminated in laws barring housing and voter discrimination, as well as racial segregation.

  • 7.5 percent of African Americans were unemployed in 2017, compared with 6.7 percent in 1968 — still roughly twice the white unemployment rate.
  • The rate of homeownership, one of the most important ways for working- and middle-class families to build wealth, has remained virtually unchanged for African Americans in the past 50 years. Black homeownership remains just over 40 percent, trailing 30 points behind the rate for whites, who have seen modest gains during that time.
  • The share of incarcerated African Americans has nearly tripled between 1968 and 2016 — one of the largest and most depressing developments in the past 50 years, especially for black men, researchers said. African Americans are 6.4 times as likely than whites to be jailed or imprisoned, compared with 5.4 times as likely in 1968.

“We have not seen progress because we still have not addressed the issue of racial inequality in this country,” said John Schmitt, an economist and vice president of the Economic Policy Institute, citing the racial wealth gap and continuing racial discrimination in the labor and housing markets. “One of the key issues is the disadvantages so many African Americans face, right from the very beginning as children.”

The wealth gap between white and black Americans has more than tripled in the past 50 years, according to Federal Reserve data. The typical black family had zero wealth in 1968. Today the median net worth of white families — $171,000 — is 10 times that of black families.

The wealth black families have accumulated is negligible when it comes to the amount of money needed to meet basic needs during retirement, pay for children’s college education, put a down payment on a house, or cope with a job loss or medical crisis, Schmitt said.

The lack of economic progress is especially startling, given that black educational attainment has improved significantly in the past five decades, Schmitt said. African Americans are almost as likely as whites to have completed high school. In 1968, 54 percent of blacks graduated from high school, compared with 75 percent of whites. Today, more than 90 percent of African Americans have a high school diploma, 3.3 percentage points shy of the high school completion rate for whites.

The share of young African Americans with a college degree has more than doubled, to 23 percent, since 1968, although blacks are still half as likely as whites to have completed college.

Yet the hourly wage of a typical black worker grew by just 0.6 percent a year since 1968. African Americans make 82.5 cents of every dollar earned by the typical white worker, the report said. And the typical black household earns 61.6 percent of the annual income of white households, with black college graduates continuing to make less than white college graduates.

Despite the poverty rate dropping from more than a third of black households in 1968 to about a fifth of black households, African Americans are 2½ times as likely to be in poverty than whites.

“We would have expected to see much more of a narrowing of the gap, given the big increase in educational attainment among African Americans,” Schmitt said.

A book, “Healing Our Divided Society,” to be released Tuesday at a D.C. forum, also examines how little progress has been made in the past 50 years.

Housing and schools have become resegregated, “locking too many African Americans into slums and their children into inferior schools.” White supremacists have become emboldened. And there is too much excessive use of force — often deadly — by police, especially against African Americans, notes the book, co-edited by Fred Harris, a former U.S. senator and sole surviving member of the Kerner Commission.

“Whereas the Kerner Commission called for ‘massive and sustained’ investment in economic, employment and education initiatives, over the last 50 years America has pursued ‘massive and sustained’ incarceration framed as ‘law and order,’ ” the book says. “Mass incarceration has become a kind of housing policy for the poor.”

The 1968 Kerner Commission report ended on a note of deja vu, citing a witness who recalled similar analyses, recommendations and, ultimately, inaction following a government investigation nearly 50 years earlier after the 1919 Chicago riot.

“The destruction and the bitterness of racial disorder, the harsh polemics of black revolt and white repression have been seen and heard before in this country,” the report concluded.”

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False Perception of White Discrimination

According to Everyday Feminist: Here’s Your Proof That White Americans Don’t Face Systemic Racism

For one, a startling number of Americans – 49% – think that “discrimination against whites” is “as big a problem as discrimination against” black people and other people of color. Research by The Washington Post corroborates this poll: “Whites now think bias against white people is more of a problem than bias against black people.”

Before you start blaming Trump supporters for these results, a recent poll of 16,000 Americans revealed that Clinton supporters, too, have some serious work to do. For example, 20% of Clinton supporters described Black Americans as “less intelligent” than White Americans. And, not so long ago, two Black women exposed the racism of “progressives” when they dared interrupt Bernie Sanders at a rally in Seattle.

This is a problem all across the board.”

PRRI: Diversity, Division, Discrimination: The State of Young America | MTV/PRRI Report

More than 1 in 3 white young people believe “reverse” discrimination is a serious problem.

  • About one-third (36%) of white young people say discrimination against white people is as serious as that experienced by minority groups. Only 16% of black, 19% of API, and 28% of Hispanic young people agree.
  • White young men are more likely than white young women (43% vs. 29%, respectively) to say discrimination against whites is as serious a problem as discrimination against other groups.
  • A majority (55%) of white Americans overall—including roughly equal numbers of white men (55%) and white women (53%)—agree that discrimination against white people has become as big a problem as discrimination against black people and other minority groups.

Nearly one-third of young people, and almost half of white young men, say efforts to increase diversity harm white people.

  • About one-third (32%) of young people, including 38% of white young people, believe efforts to increase diversity almost always come at the expense of whites.
  • White young men are more divided. Nearly half (48%) believe diversity efforts will harm white people, while more than half (52%) disagree. Only 28% of young white women believe efforts that promote diversity harm white people.

Young men and women have starkly different views on gender discrimination.

  • More than six in ten (63%) young women believe that women face a lot of discrimination in the U.S., while only 43% of young men say the same.
  • A majority (56%) of young men, including nearly two-thirds (65%) of white young men, say that women do not confront a substantial amount of discrimination in the U.S. today.

Market Place: Half of white millennials say discrimination against whites is as big a problem as discrimination against people of color

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Gen Forward Survey: The “Woke” Generation?Millennial Attitudes on Race in the US

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The Root: Is Reverse Racism A “Thing?”

Aamer Rahman Reverse Racism

Cultural Bridges to Justice:  Training and Resource for Building Just Communities

Reverse Racism

(a)            “People of color are just as racist as white people.”

(b)            “Affirmative Action had a role years ago, but today it’s just reverse racism; now it’s discriminating against white men.”

(c)            “The civil rights movement, when it began was appropriate, valuable, needed. But it’s gone to the extreme. The playing field is now level. Now the civil rights movement is no longer working for equality but for revenge.” or

(d)            “Black Pride, Black Power is dangerous. They just want power over white people.” (Include here any reference to pride and empowerment of any people of color.)

Reality Check and Consequence

(a)            Let’s first define racism:

Racism = Racial Prejudice (white people and people of color have this)

Plus

Systemic, Institutional Power (white people have this)

To say people of color can be racist, denies the power imbalance inherent in institutionalized racism.

Certainly, people of color can be and are prejudiced against white people. That was a part of their societal conditioning. A person of color can act on their prejudices to insult even hurt a white person. But there is a difference between being hurt and being oppressed. People of color, as a social group, do not have the societal, institutional power to oppress white people as a group. An individual person of color abusing a white person – while clearly wrong, (no person should be insulted, hurt, etc.) is acting out a personal racial prejudice, not racism (by this power definition.)

(b)            This form of denial is based in the false notion that the playing field is now level. When the people with privilege and historical access and advantage are expected to suddenly (in societal evolution time) share some of that power, it is often perceived as discrimination.

(c + d)            c is a statement by Rush Limbaugh. Though, clearly he is no anti-racist, both c + d follow closely on the heels of “reverse racism” and are loaded with white people’s fear of people of color and what would happen if they gained “control.” Embedded here is also the assumption that to be “pro-Black” (or any color) is to be anti-white. (A similar illogical accusation is directed at women who work for an end to violence against women and girls. Women who work to better the lives of women are regularly accused of being “anti-male.”)

Privilege as a Zero-Sum Game

“to the extent that white people believe that racism against blacks has decreased, they also believe that racism against whites has increased. They really see it as kind of a fixed pie of resources, a zero-sum game. One job for a black person equals one job that a white person didn’t get” Michael Norton, Harvard

“When a person of color receives a benefit, like a scholarship, it feels like feels like something is taken away from white people” MTV Look Different: White People

  • 21 million people apply for financial aid every year
    • Among undergraduate college students
      • 62% are white students but receive 69% of private scholarships
      • 38% are minorities but receive 31% of private scholarships
    • Even with affirmative action
      • Whites students 40% more likely receive financial aid
      • Blacks and Hispanics are more underrepresented at top colleges than 35 years ago

Affirmative Action

  • Policy that ensures qualified minority applicants
    • Are given the same employment and college opportunities as white people
  • It is a flexible program:
    • No quotas or preferential treatment for people of color
    • No one is required to hire/accept an unqualified person of color
  • Companies and schools are suppose to explain why they didn’t hire/accept a qualified applicant of color
    • Rarely ever enforced
    • Only applied to public companies and college
  • White women have been the greatest beneficiaries of affirmative action

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Rolling Stone: 75 Percent of Republicans Say White Americans Are Discriminated Against

The victimization of white America put forth by conservatives and right-wing media has taken hold, according to the results in a new poll from Hill-HarrisX. A whopping 75 percent of registered Republican voters said that white Americans face discrimination.

A majority of Independents, 55 percent, sided with Republicans and said white Americans are discriminated against. Meanwhile, only 38 percent Democrats agreed, and sixty-two percent of Democrats said that white Americans face little or no discrimination at all.

However, the poll did find some agreement among the different political spectrums. Seventy-eight percent of Republicans, 82 percent of Independents and 95 percent of Democrats said that African-Americans are discriminated against. And, in total, 81 percent of the registered voters polled said Hispanics also face discrimination.

Interestingly, only 19 percent of white respondents said they personally faced racial discrimination, proving the point that the fear tactics of Fox News and other conservative media who sell the myth of “reverse racism” are working.

The Root: The Oppression of White America

“In recent years, a narrative has formed and spread among the masses that asserts that white people in America are being subjected to reverse racism, ridicule, public scorn and discrimination. Before attempting to examine (and ultimately dismantle) this preposterous hypothesis, we should acknowledge all the ways in which this premise has manifested itself in mainstream society:

In October 2017, a poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Harvard revealed that 55 percent of white Americans believe there is discrimination against white Americans. More Americans agree than disagree that “white people are under attack in this country,” according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll. Numerous studies have shown that “racial resentment” was the overriding factor for people who voted for Donald Trump.

Anecdotally, there are cases like the recently approved White Civil Rights rally coming to Washington, D.C., sponsored by the same activist who organized Charlottesville, Va.’s Unite the Right march; the rise in claims of “reverse racism”; and the main refrain in the white national anthem: “Not all white people.”

Not to mention the white-tears-induced furor over people of color who blatantly discriminate against the Caucasian masses by using heinous racial slurs like “wypipo,” “colonizer” and—no, this is not a joke—the actual word “white”:

Their monuments to the Confederacy are being dismantled. Their potato salad is subjected to ridicule. People even poke fun at their dancing just because they choose not to adhere to the racist tradition of moving to the rhythm. Who among us will fight for the downtrodden, forgotten Caucasian victims of racism?

We will.

Well … maybe.

If we want to end the oppression of white people, we must attack it in every sector in which it exists. Any kind of discrimination is wrong, including the newly branded form of bigotry referred to as “reverse racism.”

But, first, unlike police officers who respond to 911 calls and people who watch Fox News, we must investigate the veracity of these white people’s allegations.

Are white people really oppressed?

The previously mentioned data proves that most white people feel that they are being attacked and oppressed. But if we accepted white people’s “feelings” as fact, we’d have to believe that Taylor Swift was better than Beyoncé, Jesus was white, and Donald Trump was an economic genius in perfect health whose inauguration was attended by invisible supporters who lived in the once-great part of America.

Economics

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (pdf), the “not seasonally adjusted” black unemployment rate in May 2018 was 5.7 percent, almost twice the not seasonally adjusted white unemployment rate of 3.2 percent. When numbers were controlled for education, Pew Research reports that white males outearned every group of men except Asian men, and white women make more money per hour than every group of women except Asian women.

When the Center for Investigative Reporting and Reveal News looked at 21 million home mortgages in 2015 and 2016, it found that whites were more likely to be approved in almost every region of the U.S.

Image: Pew Research Center

Not only does white homeownership outpace that of blacks 72 percent to 43 percent, but blacks are routinely subjected to higher interest rates on car loans and higher payments on car insurance, even when they have the same financial qualifications as whites.

When it comes to wealth, the wealth gap between whites and blacks continues to widen. A white household headed by someone with at least a bachelor’s degree is 11 times wealthier than a black household headed by a college graduate, according to Pew Research.

I wish I were that oppressed.

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Education

White people might have an economic advantage, but what about when it comes to education? Everyone knows that affirmative action has made it tougher for white kids.

A 2015 study shows that the larger the black population at a school, the less funding that school receives. This wouldn’t be troubling if not for the fact that a UCLA study (pdf) shows that American schools in the South are more segregated than they were 50 years ago.

On the college level, black students are more underrepresented at the top colleges and universities than they were 35 years ago. While the college enrollment rates for both blacks and whites increased from 2000 to 2016 (pdf), the moment a white kid graduates, he owes less money and earns a higher income than his black counterparts.

Politics

Non-Hispanic whites make up 62 percent of the population in the U.S. but make up 81 percent of Congress and 89 percent of federal judgeships, and hold 49 of the nation’s 50 state governorships.

Even at the state level, in 2015, 81 percent of the members of legislatures were white (pdf), and there was no state legislature where whites were underrepresented in their state government as a percentage of the population. Whites control the U.S. Supreme Court, both houses of Congress, the White House and the judiciary. Aside from ordering Ben Carson’s office furniture, they control every imaginable seat of power in government.

Criminal Justice

Whites are less likely to be stopped by law enforcement officers while driving. Even though whites use and sell drugs at about the same rate as blacks, blacks are more than 2.7 times as likely to be arrested for drugs and more than five times more likely to be incarcerated for drugs.

When it comes to all crimes, blacks receive sentences that are 20 percent longer than those for whites who commit the same crime. Whites are even granted bail more often than African Americans and released on their own recognizance more often than blacks.

Although blacks are less than a quarter of the white population, in 2017, police killed more black people who were unarmed and not attacking than they did whites.

White oppression is a myth.

White people are not, and nor have they ever been, under attack. The overwhelming sentiment they are feeling is that of reality. It is that of truth.

No one is attacking white people. What is happening is that people of color are increasingly unashamed to point out discrimination and racism. Combined with the legitimate measures taken by some people and organizations to untilt the playing field, any attempt at fairness might feel like an attack on whiteness.

So calm down, white people.

The truth is, you have been perched on your pedestals of privilege for so long, when you are asked to step down, your fragility might make you feel as if you are being attacked.

That’s not oppression.

That’s equality.

Further Reading

The Root: The Oppression of White America
The Root: Everything White People Think About Affirmative Action Is Wrong
The Root: Separate and Unequal: The Real Education Scandal Is America’s Affirmative Action Program for White People
Patricia Bidol-Padv: Developing New Perspectives on Race: An Innovative Multi-media Social Studies Curriculum in Racism Awareness for the Secondary Level.

Vox: White women benefit most from affirmative action — and are among its fiercest opponents
The Daily Beast: The Racist Origins of the SAT
Huff Post: 4 ‘Reverse Racism’ Myths That Need To Stop
Atlantic: The Myth of Reverse Racism

 


Learn More

Duke: Income inequality begins at birth and these are the stats that prove it

The New Progressive: The Ultimate White Privilege Statistics & Data Post

Ben & Jerry: 7 Ways We Know Systemic Racism Is Real

Source: Everyday Feminism: Here’s Your Proof That White Americans Don’t Face Systemic Racism

Propublica: Deadly Force, in Black and White

NY Times: When Whites Get a Free Pass

Sentencing Project: Racial Disparity

Criminology: RACE, RACIAL THREAT, AND SENTENCING OF HABITUAL OFFENDERS

The Sentencing Project: Black Live Matter – Eliminating Racial Inequality in the Criminal Justice System

Fusion: The operating definition of racism needs an overhaul.

Mic: The Police Are Killing One Group at a Staggering Rate, and Nobody Is Talking About It

Mic: Black Women Are Getting Killed by Police Too — So Why Aren’t More People Discussing It?

Books:

Black Stats: African Americans by the Numbers in the Twenty-First Century

 

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