Friday, April 18, 2008

Race in America--Part Two

John E. Stapleford published a significant paper in the latest issue of Christian Scholar's Review entitled, "A Torturous Journey: The Condition of Black America" (XXXII:2, Winter 2008, pages 231-251). It is a tough read in terms of facing up with a continuing reality. But, in my view, a must read.

What follows are quotes lifted from Stapleford's extensive research. For the sake of space and due to my limited format here, I'll omit most of the extensive footnotes that document all that he reports--I do list a few in the text of the quotes below. For those interested in following all of his sources, check the journal.

In labor markets, even after controlling for observable proxies for productivity, family structure and the attractiveness of welfare, black and white earnings differentials remain. Labor market audit studies confirm the existence of discrimination. Just having a black-sounding name can reduce callbacks for job interviews from similar resumes by as much as half (see Marianne Bertrand and Sendhil Mullainathan, "Are Emily and Greg More Employable Than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment in Labor Market Discrimination," in The American Economic Review 94:4, 2004, pages 991-1013).

Market audit studies also confirm discrimination against potential black renters and owners in housing markets with regard to availability, opportunities to inspect, agent encouragement, and geographic steering. Racial discrimination is found in home mortgage lending in the form of high-cost, inappropriate, or predatory financing. Even controlling for credit history and household income, blacks are less likely to have access to prime lending and more likely to experience high rates of foreclosure in the sub prime market. Capital market discrimination is also found in business lending where black firms are more likely to be denied credit and have significantly less access to debt financing than white-owned firms. . . .

Criminal Justice
Bias in sentencing outcomes is found in America's criminal justice system. For example, after controlling for a variety of factors, black offenders receive longer sentences than white offenders and all offenders receive lighter sentences when the victim is black (Edward L. Glaeser and Bruce Sacerdote, "The Determinants of Punishment: Deterrence, Incapacitation and Vengeance," Harvard Institute of Economic Research, 2002, paper 1884).

Facts of life 40 years after the death of Dr. King.

For more of Stapleford's research findings, refer back to my post last Tuesday, April 15.




Eric Livingston said...

This type of vast, broad discrimination could even be seen as systematic and insight wild conspiracy theories about our society. I don't always excuse wild theories, but since Rev. Wright got so much attention recently, one could almost understand how such theories come about when one considers the overwhelming evidence that racism is a part of every facet of our society.

c hand said...

How best to expend our energy, elliminating obsticles or overcoming them? I might incline toward a black kid named Greg or Emily, over a Lakisha or Jamal. Is it an act of maternal devotion to give unconventional names if that handicaps the child?

Daniel Gray said...

What seems unconventional in one community is quite the norm in another. Are we going to solve discrimination by asking everyone to forgo aspects of their culture and assimilate into our own culture by adopting white, anglicized names?

We need to focus on the issues behind why people see certain names/cultural backgrounds as inferior rather than assuming assimilation will solve the problem.

Charles said...

Just for perspective, has there ever been a culture that has had as much tolerance and respect for cultures and even quirks from outside the mainstream as modern America? Europe is more liberal, but doesn't have anything like our cultural mix. 200 years ago, our Founding Fathers were revolutionary for treating all land-owning white men as citizens.

There's a lot of work to be done - we don't even have laurels to sit on if we wanted to. But I don't think we are so much failing in this as being on a historical leading edge of dealing with a universal problem of simple prejudice. Not to keep moving forward - that would be failure.

Thanks Larry for keeping this conversation in everyone's mind, and agitating for more progress from everyone.

Anonymous said...

This is a very well researched and written article about a very important subject. Kudos to John Stapleford for his work, and to Larry for bringing it to our attention.

C Hand:

I actually have a small amount of sympathy with your point of view. I have trouble understanding quirks of some AA communities like naming. But, to paraphrase MLK, we should all be striving to judge people by the content of their character and not their given name.