Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Racism for educated blacks?

The New York Times talks about the racial disparity in the unemployment rate of educated blacks compared to their white counterparts. According to the article, many Americans assume that racism would affect the more under and uneducated rather than this successful subgroup.

I have a distaste for articles like this because it is a story that can be written at any time, and is more a production of the writer's views than a new reality.

I would note according to the story:

The unemployment rate for black male college graduates 25 and older in 2009 has been nearly twice that of white male college graduates — 8.4 percent compared with 4.4 percent.

Using my college education, that puts the respective employment rates at 91.6 for black college graduates versus 95.6 for white college graduates. It is similar to the foreclosure "crisis" where around 90% of people aren't behind on a home mortgage.

There are various reasons for racial disparities in America. Racism is but one. But the first acknowledgement should be that a 4% gap is not a crisis or a horrendous situation. If you don't think so, ask people who you would figure "believe racism is alive and well in America" how big the unemployment gap is between college educated blacks and whites. All would correctly guess that blacks are worse off overall, and I suspect it would be greatly overstated.

One of the big reasons for this gap could be: quality of candidates. I know it is politically incorrect, but all college graduates aren't created equally.

Another could be confidence. What if (on the margins), African Americans are more pessimistic about their chances and they convey that in the interviews. Most black people have in either the front or back of their minds that something bad is possible because of racism. What if for some people this is a self-fulfilling outcome.

But, at the end of the day, if the employment rate for college educated blacks is 96% that of whites, I think the racism angle is overplayed, overstated, and bogus.

When will the stories be written from a more positive perspective:

Even in the midst of one of the worst downturns in American history, the employment situation for college educated blacks has nearly matched that of their white counterparts at a 96% level. While surely there are still hurdles to be overcome to completely close the gap, the fact that 91% are employed versus 95% of whites is a testament to our country's journey over the past fifty years.

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