Hope you are staying safe & healthy during this extremely difficult time. This week we wish to educate each other about racism. After a week of protests across the country against police brutality towards Black Americans, including a pledge to dismantle the police department from the city of Minneapolis and an end to racial profiling in New York, people are actively supporting anti-racism.
Historically, it began with associating privileges with “whiteness” and disadvantages with “color”. However, racism extends beyond violence and verbal attack; it is entrenched in every level of our society and has gained a new name — structural racism. It has become part of the collective social, economic, and political systems. The case of George Floyd is not an isolated incident. It reflects the long-rooted systemic racial inequality in the U.S across wealth management, employment, and education.
First, let’s look at Wealth Management — according to the Survey of Consumer Finances by the Federal Reserve, the racial wealth gap has widened even more after the recession of 2008. White families hold 90% of national wealth, Latino families hold 2.3%, and Black families hold 2.6%. The average income of White families in 2013 was about $680,000 whereas Black and Hispanic households’ income was about $95,000 to $120,000.
Moreover, the racial gap in income also leads to significant differences in investment assets. Statistics from the Economic Policy Institute shows that White middle-income households own an average of $86,100 in assets, whereas Black households in the same income range only own about $11,000. The stark differences in assets can be largely attributed to lack of exposure to the market for Black Americans, risk aversion, and lack of community support. Therefore, the immense gap in wealth not only reflects racial injustice, but also is both a cause and a result of further discrimination in other sectors such as education and employment.
Second, employment — stable and merit-based employment is crucial to accumulating wealth. However, according to a survey of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over the last century, the unemployment rate of Black Americans has been about as twice as that of White. Some may argue that the unemployment might be due to Black Americans’ lower college enrollment rates, but the statistics show that Black Americans with college degrees between the ages 22 and 27 still have an unemployment rate of 12.4%, which is still more than twice the unemployment rate of White — 5.6%. This shows that race itself play a role in determining the “employability” of a college graduate. Furthermore, a report by the National Bureau of Economic Research shows that job applicants with White-sounding names get called back about 50% more of the time than applicants with Black-sounding names, and with better resumes, White-sounding names still get 30% more callbacks. This shows that the racial bias might be deeply rooted in the perceptions of employers as well as sentiments of the public, which adds further barriers for people of color to rise in social mobility.
Lastly, in an interview on December 17th, 2018 on the Daily Show by Trevor Noah, sociologist and author Eve L. Ewing proposed that there are two types of standards: one for kids who grew up in an affluent neighborhood and go to elite schools and the other for people of color who grow up in poor neighborhoods and go to so-called “failing schools”. For people growing up in completely different environments that hold them up to distinctive standards, how they value a good education and what they get out of the education would consequently be different. According to an issue brief released by the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights in 2014 (full report here), Black students are enrolled less than half as much as White students, but their in-school suspension rate jumps to 32%. They also have the highest out-of-school suspension rates and second highest expulsion rates among all racial groups surveyed. Out of 260,000 students referred to law enforcements, 70,200 were Black students.
Hope this article helped bring light on racism seen in every level of society in the US. Leave us comments if you have any questions or want to get involved !
By Shirley Ye & Annie Cui ~