Understanding the Black-White Wealth Gap

"The large and growing wealth gap separating white and black families is the product of stubborn barriers that disproportionately consign African Americans to less-valuable real estate and lower-paying jobs, according to a new study.

"A long-term examination of the financial lives of black and white Americans revealed that African Americans typically face a subtle but persistent opportunity gap that has served to widen financial disparities remaining from a long history of overt discrimination, according to a report to be released Wednesday by Brandeis University’s Institute on Assets and Social Policy." [Read more]

Michelle Obama Responds to a Critic . . . Sort of

Cortland Milloy: "It’s time for first lady Michelle Obama to raise her game. Nothing wrong with telling kids to eat their peas or showing them how to Hula-Hoop. But after four years of focusing on the body, she’d do well to spend these next four on building strong minds."

Michelle Obama: "we know is that what goes into our children’s bodies, how they move their bodies, directly affects how healthy their minds are … health,   obesity rates, good nutrition — these aren’t ancillary issues. It has a direct impact on our kids’ ability to achieve in school. We know that that kids that have daily, physical activity are more focused when they get into the classroom. They can concentrate better, they get better test scores. The same thing is true when they get a healthy, nutritious balanced breakfast and lunch. We know what an impact that makes on their test scores and a whole range of academic achievements."


Unemployment rates are projected to remain high for African Americans throughout 2013

"Three-and-a-half years into what should be a recovery from the Great Recession, whites, Latinos, and blacks are still experiencing an ongoing jobs crisis characterized by high levels of unemployment (Shierholz 2013). We need much stronger job creation; unfortunately, our leaders have gotten sidetracked by potentially harmful calls for deficit reduction (Bivens and Fieldhouse 2013)." [Read more]


The Minimum Wage

 [Not] Making ends meet on the minimum wage

"But even with the [minimum-wage] job, the income of his girlfriend, Janise Creek, and support from their parents, they can’t afford to get their own apartment with their daughter Jayla, who is 8 months old, has two front teeth and is always eating. Or to get his Jeep running. Or for him to get back to the criminal justice courses he left to get a paycheck when Janise got pregnant." [Read more]

$9 an hour is still not enough

"Since its peak in 1968, the minimum wage has lost 31% of its purchasing power, while the prices of basic necessities such as food and rent have continued to climb."

"Raising the minimum wage is one of the simplest and most effective ways to help working families succeed. It also helps our economy by putting additional money in the hands of consumers who will spend it right away in their local communities." [Read more]


How Mass Incarceration Hurts Black America

  From, "Prison and the Poverty Trap," New York Times, 2/18/13

Epidemiologists have found that when the incarceration rate rises in a county, there tends to be a subsequent increase in the rates of sexually transmitted diseases and teenage pregnancy, possibly because women have less power to require their partners to practice protected sex or remain monogamous. 

When researchers try to explain why AIDS is much more prevalent among blacks than whites, they point to the consequences of incarceration, which disrupts steady relationships and can lead to high-risk sexual behavior. When sociologists look for causes of child poverty and juvenile delinquency, they link these problems to the incarceration of parents and the resulting economic and emotional strains on families. 

Some families, of course, benefit after an abusive parent or spouse is locked up. But Christopher Wildeman, a Yale sociologist, has found that children are generally more likely to suffer academically and socially after the incarceration of a parent. Boys left fatherless become more physically aggressive. Spouses of prisoners become more prone to depression and other mental and physical problems. 

“Education, income, housing, health — incarceration affects everyone and everything in the nation’s low-income neighborhoods,” said Megan Comfort, a sociologist at the nonprofit research organization RTI International who has analyzed what she calls the “secondary prisonization” of women with partners serving time in San Quentin State Prison


Little Protection from Wage Theft

"Even as the ranks of low-wage workers have swelled since the recession, Democratic and Republican legislatures in more than a dozen states have quietly slashed funding for the agencies that enforce minimum wage law. Budget cuts are no surprise in an era of austerity. Yet the effect of these cuts on wage-and-hour investigative units—charged with examining and settling wage disputes—has seriously compromised an essential line of defense for already vulnerable low-wage earners, according to experts. State labor officials and researchers around the country tell In These Times that low-wage workers facing abusive employers increasingly have nowhere to turn." [Read more]


Washington Monthly drops the stereotypes and looks at the data on black youth

"Prevailing stereotypes about America’s youth, and particularly about young African Americans, are often wildly off base, either because they were never true, or because they have failed to keep up with the reality of generational change. Below is a selection of social indicators showing ways in which today’s younger generation exhibits substantially more positive behaviors than did Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers at the same age, with young African Americans often leading the trend toward cleaner living and greater personal responsibility." [See the charts]

I've been making a similar point for nearly a decade. It's good to get some help.


Do Black Intellectuals Need to Talk About Race?

The Room for Debate debate: "Today, more African-Americans hold more positions at colleges, not always involving subjects that have particular relevance to black people.

"Do these academics still have a special obligation to address the nation’s social and racial issues? Are there particular challenges or opportunities faced by intellectuals who talk to the public about social issues?" [Read more]

Arrest ads are more often called up for "black" names

"black-identifying names turned out to be much more likely than white-identifying names to generate ads that including the word 'arrest' (60 per cent versus 48 per cent).  All came from www.instantcheckmate.com.

"She says the results are statistically significant with a less than 0.1 per cent chance that they were generated by chance." [Read more]

Social and cultural factors affect test scores

Girls Lead in Science Exam, but Not in the United States

"among a representative sample of 15-year-olds around the world, girls generally outperform boys in science — but not in the United States.

"What explains the gap? Andreas Schleicher, who oversees the tests for the O.E.C.D., says different countries offer different incentives for learning science and math. In the United States, he said, boys are more likely than girls to 'see science as something that affects their life.' Then there is the 'stereotype threat.'"

[Read more]

Black women are finally accepted . . . maybe not

"Five intelligent, beautiful, well-respected, and phenomenally successful black women made the evening [of Super Bowl XLVII] — power outage and all — an evening for the history books.


"Not that long ago, black women were routinely raped by their slave-holders and sold into slavery.  We were not treated with the respect, dignity, or opportunities that we fought for, side-by-side with so many of our white sisters.

"We were not considered intelligent.  We were not considered beautiful.  We were not considered sexy."

--Michelle D. Bernard, "Five black women brought their ‘A game’ to the Super Bowl," Washington Post, February 5, 2013

"'Fat butt Michelle Obama,' said Bob Grisham, a high school football coach who was surreptitiously recorded by one of his students. 'Look at her. She looks like she weighs 185 or 190. She’s overweight.'

"Grisham, who was suspended Monday, is neither the first nor the most high-profile person to feel moved to comment on the first lady’s physique. Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh has repeatedly called her Michelle 'My Butt' Obama. And Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner, the Wisconsin Republican, issued an apology after he was caught commenting on her 'large posterior.' (Grisham has also said he misspoke.)"

--Krissah Thompson, "Michelle Obama’s posterior again the subject of a public rant," Washington Post, February 4, 2013