Conformism, Social Science, Top Stories

Racial Disparities and the High Cost of Low Debates

Ideological intolerance in academia and the media has dramatically narrowed the range of ‘acceptable’ ideas, beliefs, and even topics of discussion. This can have a particularly deleterious effect on discussions relating to public policy. An example of this phenomenon was recently provided by the release of a landmark new study on race and economic mobility entitled “Race and Economic Opportunity in the United States: An Intergenerational Perspective.”

The study was published by the Equality of Opportunity Project and produced by Stanford economist Raj Chetty, Harvard economist Nathaniel Hendren, and U.S. Census Bureau researchers Maggie R. Jones and Sonja R. Porter. Using a uniquely wide-ranging dataset, the researchers examined the individual income rank of almost all Americans now in their late 30s and compared them to their parents’ household income rank at the same age. Their findings revealed significant disparities in income between racial groups, some of which substantially persisted across generations. More about the study and its key findings can be read here, but by far the most significant finding was the stark gap in relative economic mobility between black and white Americans. Furthermore, the research revealed this gap to be entirely driven by differences in income between black and white men, and the gap remained even when the researchers controlled for many other factors, such as household income and individual family structure.

By the time the study was published, the academic consensus and range of acceptable policy solutions had already been established. The Upshot blog at the New York Times created graphics that detailed the report’s main findings beneath a headline that read, “Extensive Data Shows Punishing Reach of Racism for Black Boys.” Some commentators, such as Ben Shapiro, have suggested that since the mobility gap between white and black women is non-existent and other racial groups are exceeding the upward mobility rate of whites, there could be explanations for these disparities besides pervasive societal racism. Nevertheless, the Times doubled down on the contention that racism is the primary driver of the observed disparities. A week after the original Upshot article about the study was posted, the Times published a detailed Q&A series in which readers sent in questions for the study’s authors, the Upshot article’s reporters, and other experts to answer. Succinctly summarizing the article’s tone and conclusions, the headline read, “‘When I See Racial Disparities, I See Racism.’ Discussing Race, Gender and Mobility.”

When one reader asked directly whether the claim of racism in the original article’s title was justified by the data, the responses were revealing. Claire Cain Miller, one of the authors of the original Upshot article, explained:

Our headline, and the story’s conclusion that racism plays a big role, was absolutely supported by the data. The researchers tested many other theories about the causes of inequality, and found that the gaps between black and white boys could not be fully explained by family income, family structure, education or accumulated wealth. However, they did find that discrimination—as measured by surveys and tests of racial bias—was correlated in low-poverty areas with how well black boys fared.

Despite Miller’s confidence, there is at least some reason to doubt the validity of the discrimination measurements used by the study’s authors. In measuring discrimination, the researchers relied on two tools. The first of these was the Racial Animus Index, which measures the frequency of racial epithet web searches in a particular area; the second was the Implicit Association Test (IAT). The IAT has come under harsh criticism in recent years from a variety of sources and is considered completely discredited by some psychologists. But on these shaky foundations, an ironclad consensus about racism was built and continues to be vehemently defended. Answering the same reader question, Ibram X. Kendi, professor of History and International Relations at American University and Director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center, put it more bluntly:

As an anti-racist, when I see racial disparities, I see racism. But I know for many racist Americans, when they see racial disparities they see black inferiority. So I was not surprised in the least by the number of comments claiming racism is not a major factor in the lives of black males. So many of our neighbors are unfortunately still living in their post-racial fantasy world. Let’s hope this study thrusts some of them into the racist real world.

Immediately, a racist and anti-racist dichotomy was established, and it became clear that all future discussion would be placed in either one category or the other. When another reader asked why racism was the only explanation for this phenomenon and accused the study’s authors of taking the easy way out by blaming “amorphous racism,” Kendi responded:

Actually, the easy way out is to say there must be something wrong with these black boys. It is the easy way out that Americans have historically taken in trying to explain racial disparities in our society since the founding of the United States. Either there is something wrong with our policies, or there is something wrong with black boys (or black people). Either the United States is riddled with racist policies or inferior black boys. We have all sorts of evidence of racist policies.

Thus, the tribal lines were drawn. Policy solutions that address systemic racism are not only desirable, they are essential. Policies geared toward improving opportunities for black men to succeed are not just ineffective, they are racist. Suggestions that other factors (such as cultural phenomena of the variety described by economists for years) might play a role in these disparities will not be tolerated. The assessment of the problem as one entirely of racism (and contemporary, systemic, societal racism in particular) tilts the discussion toward sweeping public policy interventions aimed at mitigating a perceived societal unfairness in the name of justice, rather than ones emphasizing individual development.

Noelle Hurd, Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia, responds to a reader who asks how a single citizen can improve the lives of disadvantaged black boys with a comment that all but rules out the efficacy of any individual action:

Ultimately, the problem is a societal one and not an individual one, so solutions will have to be at the systemic level—like changing public policies and practices and policies within schools and law enforcement agencies. It is a mistake to think that there is any one thing a person can do at the individual level to sidestep the consequences of living in a racist society. But individuals can do some things. For example, they can pressure their employers to make sure hiring committees receive training in identifying and managing their own explicit and implicit biases.

In addition to limiting the range of ‘acceptable’ debate about the causes of the observed data, this intellectual rigidity greatly limits the range of potentially acceptable public policy solutions as well. There is little evidence that training programs to reduce prejudice are effective, and some suggesting that certain kinds of training can actually exacerbate problems. Nevertheless, Ibram X. Kendi offers his advice for black parents and for how policy interventions should be evaluated:

… support researchers and organizations that are uncovering racial disparities in your community, that are discovering the discriminatory policies behind those disparities and that are working to eliminate those policies and replace them with anti-racist policies of equal opportunity. A racist policy yields racial disparities. An anti-racist policy reduces or eliminates racial disparities. Anti-racist policies can protect your black boys.

While various interpretations of data are nothing new in American politics, the unwillingness to consider other points of view and the eagerness with which the motives of those who break with the accepted narrative are called into question is a relatively recent phenomenon—and one that comes at an enormous price. Maligning the motives of those with whom you disagree has become the kind of argument welcomed in one of the most influential and important newspapers of record. Later, in response to another reader question, Kendi writes:

From my reading, the critics of the study have a problem with the conclusions derived from the data on racial disparities. That is where one’s racial ideology, or what you call ‘political affiliation,’ most comes into play. It is not about liberal or conservative. The political divide is anti-racist and racist. Anti-racists express racial equality. So when they see studies like this that showcase racial disparities between black boys and white boys, they look for racism, and what is wrong with our policies. Racists express racial hierarchy. So when they see studies finding racial disparities, they articulate racist ideas, and claim without evidence there must be something wrong or inferior about black boys or their black parents or their black culture and on and on.

At this point, any pretense of intellectual charity and fair-mindedness has been discarded in favor of a reaffirmation of the crude racist versus anti-racist dichotomy. Kendi’s conclusion flirts with the outright assertion that you are either on board with policy preferences or you are a racist. Continuing another trend that has become popular among the American Left in recent years, Hurd analyzes the motives of the “deniers”:

It seems there are also political motivations for the racism deniers. Some people are invested in denying racism and insinuating that these findings must be due to personal shortcomings of black men because this possibility means that we, as a society, are not responsible for doing anything to address our racist past or present. Denying racism gives everyone a pass to engage in business as usual and blame the horrible inequalities we see on individual shortcomings as opposed to racist policies and practices.

Contrary to the opinions of the experts printed in the New York Times, there are at least some plausible alternative explanations for the disparities between white and black men that deserve to be given a hearing and vigorously debated in the public policy arena. The moral certitude of those who malign anyone that disagrees with them stifles the public conversation and harms those who would benefit most from a free and open discussion—black boys. Without a free and open atmosphere in which to generously share ideas and honestly debate, the resulting policies may not address the root causes of these disparities and could have significant unforeseen negative externalities.

Convinced that racism is the primary driver of the disparities, some public policy scholars have begun to advocate for an even more dramatic shift in approach to address the racial gaps in economic mobility. In a blog posted on the Brookings Institution website, David M. Rubenstein Fellow Andre M. Perry asks, “How can we hold those who benefit accountable for racism?”—not, readers will note, necessarily those actually engaging in racist behavior, though presumably these categories overlap. Perry writes:

Instead of focusing on the negative impact of racism on black boys, the headline of that Times story could have read, “Racism enables whites to maintain wealth.” The charts presented in the reporting also highlighted white men’s elevated position in society. Yet the reporting on the study inexplicably placed the scrutiny on black men.


Likewise, the focus on differences ends up perpetuating a line of research that ultimately leads to victim blaming—and we have enough of that. Think about the rhetoric around single mothers causing poverty. Believe it or not, there are still people who continue to blame poor women for having too many children and not getting married—rather than fixing the systemic problems of unequal pay, tax policy that favors the rich, and discrimination in housing and employment. You know, the factors that determine how much money people make.

Perry was certainly not the only commenter questioning why the apparent advantage of white men was not the focus of discussion. A reader question featured in the Times’s follow-up article asked why the study appeared to unnecessarily put the focus on black men. The researchers from the Equality of Opportunity Project explain:

The reason we focus on black men in particular is that they look distinct on many dimensions when we look beyond simple measures of income. Black men have much lower employment rates, lower high school completion rates and higher incarceration rates than black women and white men or women. This is not to minimize gender equity issues, of course — there is a large body of research studying factors that may lead to pay inequity and differences in career choices, work hours, etc., that we do not speak to in this study. But, in thinking about racial disparities, it does seem like there are a unique set of challenges for black men.

Though the focus of researchers may seem like minutia in the greater policy debates, the ideological biases that frame the discussion can have a big impact on which potential factors are studied thoroughly and which are overlooked or even deemed taboo. Additionally, despite examples of its rampant misuse, the mere accusation of racism remains capable of destroying even the most sterling reputations. As John McWhorter of Columbia University argued last October, “To hurl the N-word at someone is an attempt to shut down discussion. Today, the word ‘racist’ serves the same function.” The fear of social repercussions for publicly espousing certain viewpoints can significantly affect what will be discussed and which conversations are closed off, reducing options for potential improvements.

For example, researchers have long discussed the role of family structure in accounting for future economic outcomes of children. Summarizing the findings from a previous 2014 study from the team at the Equality of Opportunity Project led by Raj Chetty, W. Bradford Wilcox, professor of sociology and Director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, describes the authors’ conclusions about the importance of family structure:

By their reckoning, when it comes to mobility, “the strongest and most robust predictor is the fraction of children with single parents.” They find that children raised in communities with high percentages of single mothers are significantly less likely to experience absolute and relative mobility. Moreover, “[c]hildren of married parents also have higher rates of upward mobility if they live in communities with fewer single parents.” …

What makes this finding particularly significant is that this is the first major study showing that rates of single parenthood at the community level are linked to children’s economic opportunities over the course of their lives. A lot of research—including new research from the Brookings Institution—has shown us that kids are more likely to climb the income ladder when they are raised by two, married parents. But this is the first study to show that lower-income kids from both single- and married-parent families are more likely to succeed if they hail from a community with lots of two-parent families.

Similarly, one of the most important takeaways from the most recent study on race and economic mobility was the importance (in black men achieving economic success) of black fathers within a community. According to the researchers, areas with low rates of poverty and a high concentration of black fathers yielded the best future outcomes for the economic mobility of black men (and were among the areas where the black-white mobility gap was narrowest). Unfortunately, just 4.2 percent of black children grew up in such areas. Meanwhile, more than half, 62.5 percent, of white children grew up in areas with low poverty rates and high concentrations of white fathers.

This observation, among several others, was included in an article from W. Bradford Wilcox that offered several significant critiques of the popular conclusion that the new study had finally shown that family structure doesn’t explain the racial mobility gap. But such arguments are increasingly unwelcome in mainstream discussions. The insistence that any criticism of a personal choice is an example of victim-blaming, and therefore intolerable, is particularly tragic for those struggling to climb the income ladder. In the same post for the Brookings Instruction, Perry continues:

Since 1965, when Assistant Secretary of Labor Daniel Patrick Moynihan published his report “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action,” better known as the Moynihan Report, researchers and journalists have continued framing poverty mainly as an individual choice—i.e., mothers form families that put children in harm’s way. Moynihan also offered a robust structural analysis of the economic and social conditions that help shape black family structures. However, he set a dangerous example by identifying the main problem as black people not living up to white middle-class ideals. It’s a mold that researchers of black men willfully maintain to this day.

“When there’s only one parent with a meager income, the burdens mount and feed on themselves,” wrote Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson in an op-ed just this month. “That’s one reason the growth of single-parent households is rightly regarded as a cause of poverty.”

When you fault single parenthood, you inevitably to go down a path of chastising women, culture, and individual behavior. The focus on negative outcomes among black men has led to programs to instill “grit,” charter schools that “sweat the small stuff” (i.e. suspend and expel children), and other initiatives that condemn the effects of housing and employment discrimination, lack of access to capital, and the prison-industrial complex on black families while privileging white men.

Quite simply, the entire policy conversation breaks down when empirically relevant factors are considered off limits. If calls for more married, two-parent families are deemed nothing shy of thinly veiled racist exhortations that black people live up to white middle-class ideals, the racial mobility gap will almost certainly grow. Researchers on both the political Left and Right have comprehensively documented how upper-middle-class families consistently get and stay married far more frequently than their less affluent peers. There is an enormous cost to society incurred when those who are economically successful refuse to discuss a major part of why that is the case.

Summarizing the view of Charles Murray in a 2012 interview about his then-recently released book Coming Apart, Nicholas Confessore writes, “[members of the new upper class] have lost the confidence to preach what they practice, adopting instead a creed of ‘ecumenical niceness.’ They work, marry and raise children, but they refuse to insist that the rest of the country do so too.” Although Coming Apart focused exclusively on white Americans, the pattern he identified is certainly recognizable. In fairness, it becomes more difficult to preach what you practice when doing so risks social exile.

Again, the insistence that some factors cannot be discussed or considered often leads to the premature dismissal of public policy solutions that might be truly beneficial. The proliferation of charter schools, for example, has allowed parents the option of rescuing their children from failing schools. When it comes to future economic outcomes, these kinds of efforts to expand parental choice are especially promising. Furthermore, there is evidence suggesting that charter schools emphasizing ‘grit’ and other forms of character education significantly improve future student outcomes. A 2016 study examining the Milwaukee urban school voucher system (implemented in 1990 as the first such system in America) found that students attending schools through the voucher system for at least four or five years were between five to 12 percentage points less likely (than their Milwaukee public school counterparts) to be accused of committing a crime. One article about the study noted the following:

Patrick Wolf, a professor in the University of Arkansas College of Education and Health Professions and one of the authors of the study, has a hypothesis: The reduction in criminal behavior could be attributed to private schools’ emphasis on character formation and moral values.

Private schools, and especially religious institutions, “try to infuse their educational community with a set of moral values and it could be that that has a clearer and more positive effect on disadvantaged students than the education that they’re provided with,” said Wolf, who also leads the School Choice Demonstration Project at the university’s Department of Education Reform.

“It could be that this emphasis in private schools on character formation and moral values is paying off in terms of the ability of these low-income, inner-city, mostly minority kids to avoid criminal behavior shortly after they leave the education system,” he said.

It is a mistake to dismiss such ideas as inherently nefarious. If there is any chance of discovering solutions to our most challenging social problems, there must be an environment of honest debate and open discussion. When the highest levels of discourse raise the social cost of openly discussing factors relevant to public policy conversations, fewer people engage, and the probability of meaningful progress shrinks. Early childhood development, family structure, education policy, character education: each of these are promising areas for future research and could hold important clues to boosting upward economic mobility for black men but are quickly becoming too taboo to investigate.

While factors other than racism should not be dismissed in the discussion of observed racial disparities in rates of economic mobility, neither should racism be dismissed from consideration as an influential factor. The commitment to a generous and open discourse must go both ways. Racism is still very much with us, and the atrocities of the past certainly created a variety of disadvantages that very likely continue to contribute to disparate economic outcomes today. Racial gaps in accumulated wealth, professional networks, and other factors are important pieces of the puzzle and also deserve to be vigorously discussed and debated.

Despite the extremely advanced tools now used in social science and economic analyses, the mode of our current public discourse jeopardizes many opportunities for real improvement. The speed and viciousness with which people that offer explanations or solutions outside of the accepted narrative are viewed as buying into the idea that certain groups are ‘inferior’ to others is a major obstacle to an important conversation. If our major societal problems stand any chance of improvement, the public policy discourse needs to change dramatically.

Impugning the motives of those who disagree with your views or attempting to stigmatize their ideas without engaging with them in good faith means that the ideas that eventually do prevail will not face the scrutiny they should and are much less likely to be effective. When scarce resources are wasted on ineffective programs, and well-intentioned policies backfire because of the dysfunctional public discourse, those who are most vulnerable bear the cost.


Ben Wilterdink is the Director of Programs at the Archbridge Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit focused on removing the barriers that prevent individuals from bettering their lives. You can follow him on Twitter @bgwilterdink

Filed under: Conformism, Social Science, Top Stories


Ben Wilterdink is the Director of Outreach and Policy Research at the Archbridge Institute, a Washington, DC based nonprofit focused on economic mobility. His twitter handle is @bgwilterdink


  1. Hexsig says

    After recently encountering the Upshot piece, this was comforting read. An appeal to moderation should be a platitude, but when some perceive it as a call for injustice, it is a cliché worth defending.

  2. Daniel says

    Perry, Hurd, & Kendi are doing a massive disservice by ruling out any possibility of action that is separate from anti-racist policy activism. So teaching a struggling reader to read is pointless? Not for him, it’s not. Following this line of logic, why fund public schools at all if they are in disadvantaged areas? Preposterous!
    Granted, systemic racism is clearly a factor, but the first and most pressing aspect of systemic racism that needs to be investigated is the effect that racist-fear-mongering has on minorities. Until that is investigated, how can we rule out that the biggest problem is the negative effect that Perry, Hurd & Kendi themselves have on cultures that perpetuate racism?

    I’m including an amusing anecdote that I think illustrates the problem faced by black boys:
    I was an assistant coach on a basketball team that regularly got pounded. We sourly noticed that the other schools bent the rules regarding offseason activities (our AD & principal were sticklers for the league rules.) Furthermore, not a single referee of our games came from our area — they all came from the areas we’d play against. They often knew the opposing players’ families. For about two years our players would be consoled by coaches, parents and fans that the deck was stacked against them. Take a wild guess what happened in those two years — a heck of a lot of miserable losses, that’s what. The tide eventually turned because we approached our opponents’ coaches after games and said, “Man! You guys cleaned our clocks. How do you get so good? What’s your number one favorite drill?” etc. Turns out it wasn’t some phantom discrimination (not that it wasn’t there — we even had a coach apologize to us for the blatant hometown refereeing — it’s just that the discrimination had nothing to do with the solution.) No, rather than discrimination, the problem was our coaching.

    The point is the biggest problem with Perry, Hurd & Kendi’s recommendations is that they limit the possible effect of education & training, and what kind of monstrous imbecile would want to do that?

    There are plenty of wildly successful, small anti-poverty operations out there. Why not learn from them? A few years ago I visited a place in Indianapolis, IN, named Shepherd Community Center. ( It was in a disadvantaged neighborhood with a lot of the problems that are described in Wilterdink’s article above. At that time (and I don’t know if this statistic is still true) they had a K-8 education & support program, and 100% of the kids who had gone through that program had successfully finished High School. Let that sink in: 100%.They’re doing something right, and they aren’t the only one experiencing success. Why not — and hold on here, I’m about to suggest something crazy — walk in and ask them what works?

    • Bill says

      @Daniel, I love your coaching anecdote since it’s one I relate to as a soccer coach and gives a great example of the problem around statistics. Studies that perform statistical analysis and find racial disparities then blame racism ignore the concept of Anscombe’s quartet. There are several things that could happen within a dataset and still present the same general statistics result.

      Perhaps it is the unconscious bias of the publishers of the study on display and they need some unconscious bias training? Ok, enough snarkiness, it’s the problem seen in epidemiology far too often where insufficient attention is paid to the numerous variables at play. It is far easier to stratify the dataset by skin tone and gender. I’m curious, would Barrack Obama have played into the dataset as a “black boy” considering he is bi-racial?

      Mentioned prior are some examples like:
      1. Presence of a father (or 2nd parent, the reason being not “father” (male) but two adults sharing duties which is almost mandatory since “women in the workforce” created inflation requiring dual-incomes to be above poverty.

      But i’ll add:
      2. Geographic mobility as well. If you consider suburban neighborhoods, there is a lot of familiar churn while in the inner-city the conditions are more static. From a culture/learned behavior/acceptable behavior standpoint, the surburban churn introduces cultural diversity where the inner-city may not. Has anyone looked at the differences, again cutting by ethnicity/gender, but subsetting the data-set to those who are geographically mobile? (Military families)

  3. CCZ says

    I imagine that the Anti-Racist Research and Policy Center could not exist if racism was not the reason for all racial disparities. Kendi offers us this rather simplistic foundation for his racial emphasis:

    “The more that I talked to people about anti-racist ideas and what anti-racist ideas allow us to see, I came to realize that means that racial inequality must be the result of racial discrimination or racist policies,” Kendi said

  4. Jay Salhi says

    Perry criticizes Moynihan saying he “set a dangerous example by identifying the main problem as black people not living up to white middle-class ideals. It’s a mold that researchers of black men willfully maintain to this day.”

    Why are they “white middle-class ideals” rather than American middle-class ideals? Immigrants from Korea, Cuba and Ghana, among other non-white countries, often espouse such ideals more so than your typical white American. People who adhere to these ideals are often economically mobile. Rather than admit the obvious, Perry seeks to disparage these ideals using racialist language. There’s a word for that.

  5. Emmanuel says

    Left-wing social scientists explain the existence of racial disparities by invoking systemic racism and they “prove” the existence of systemic racism by invoking racial disparities. You don’t need to be a genius to see the problem with that argument.
    Racism exists. However, if you want to invoke racism to explain a specific situation you should have to prove that racism is involved and there is no other explanation that could explain that situation.

  6. Pizza Pete says

    I find Baudrillard’s argument that the “imaginary world” of Disneyland helps people believe that the outside world is “real” helpful in understanding this phenomena.

    The fever dreams of the Right – birtherism and pedophilia sex rings under pizzerias – allow for uncritical scientism and the injection of religiosity and romanticism into interpretation of research by the Left that seem reasonable by comparison.

    The New York Times inability to facilitate an open discussion of this work is pathetic. It is worth noting that the Times reader comments were generally hostile to using social science research as a pretext for ideological cant.

    There’s no evidence that honest debate will lead to anything besides better ideas. What is in danger of being punctured by open discussion is the romanticism and moral preening of class war ideologues on the Left. It should by now be clear that if the choice is between defending ideology versus figuring out what is best for black boys, the Left will choose the former reflexively.

  7. Mork says

    Sooner or later, the amount of genetic research which shows how much of our behavior, temperament and intelligence is in fact inherited and not socially constructed, will hopefully bring us back to reality that differences between races and notably differences in average IQ is why sub-Saharan Africans are incapable of constructing or even maintaining an advanced civilization. Same with Aboriginals, which have among the lowest mean IQ on the planet.

    How many more extremely expensive ideological social experiments do we need to go through before we take into account that general IQ of a race does matter? Does Haiti (independent since the French revolution), or Liberia (created in the middle of the 19th century as a nation where free Africans in the US could emigrate to and build their own country), tell us nothing? Is it simply a coincidence that in our evil Western countries of “systemic racism”, it is not whites who earn the most but Asians and Indians? The answer to these questions is so blatantly obvious, it’s only because we are currently living through the absurd intellectual dictatorship of the postmodernists that we pretend we don’t know, that there is no such thing as race, that any differences are insignificant, and of course it’s all the fault of the evil white colonialist.

    There were only about 100-140 million Africans on the ENTIRE continent, when colonization began. There are now 1.1 billion. Projected to be 4 billion by 2080. Because of our evil vaccines, evil medicine, evil electricity, evil schools, evil roads. And even though their agricultural capacity has grown significantly over the last half century, it cannot keep up, because of the demographic explosion due to our well intentioned billions in aid. The mentality of an ethnic group can’t change over such a short time period.

    Africans where and still are deeply tribal. No matter if in Guyana, Haiti, or Nigeria. Our notion of democracy, and our creation of imaginary borders and nations do not work, and will not work when competing tribes are shoved together into one “nation”, especially when their demographic explosion means they no longer have vast amounts of space separating them, as was the case before colonialism. And good luck telling a tribal leader that his people need to make less babies, when for the last 10 000 years, it is precisely a high fertility rate which has allowed his tribe to persist, and fight back the attacks of competing tribes. Good luck showing him the declaration of human rights and explaining how wonderful our one man, one vote democracy is.

    The new kind of colonialism is the condescending paternalistic kind, which is infinitely more dangerous and insidious than the limited military, administrative colonialism of the 18th/19th century. The marxist ideologues with their cult of hyper-egalitarianism are truly putting Africa on a course of catastrophic famine and conflict of a scale never before witnessed, while also tearing apart highly developed and technical Western societies with multiculturalism and completely ineffective and very expensive social policies which, not incidentally, are also destroying the qualities of merit, excellence, rigour, discernment, freedom of thought upon which our universities were built.

    • cacambo says

      Wow. Doesn’t take long for pseudo-scientific racism to rear its ugly head! You do realize that sub-Saharan Africans and Australian Aboriginals are about as far from each other as you can get on the hominin family tree… What mysterious link are you proposing to substantiate your racial folk categories?

      • Mork says

        Where did I say sub-Saharan Africans and Aboriginals are linked closely genetically? I said Aboriginals have an even lower average IQ than sub-Saharan Africans. Different groups/ethnicities/races (this distinction varies of course, depending at which point in the genetic differences you draw a line), call them whatever you like, evolved differently over long periods of time because they lived in different areas.

        Different environments created different people, with different abilities and traits. It is absurd to think that the evolution they went through stops at the brain. Generally speaking it seems as soon as people encountered colder climates, winters, the intelligence increased as they needed to figure out how to make robust shelters, how to store food etc. Climate is course not the only factor, but it seems to be a major determining one. When the danger becomes periodic, predictable climate, predictable periods of abundance of food and shortage of food, compared to an environment where the dangers are random diseases or predator attacks, but food is always available and it’s close by, it is also logical that you develop a survival mentality of planning ahead. When to have offspring, having less of them, but investing more time in their upbringing. That during long winter months you need to develop an exploration mentality to search for food further and further away from your tribe etc. etc.

        If I’m Chinese and say this, would you still call me a white supremacist? Would I be a yellow supremacist? The Chinese have absolutely no problem discussing race, and more importantly, have no moral or regulatory roadblocks for genetic studies related to intelligence, with the goal of course being to raise the intelligence of their future generations.

        In the West, the birth of universalism, and our deeply rooted individualism has mutated in the last century into an absurd obsession with erasing all group differences if they stem from the brain. If we would instead acknowledge them, we would be able to create solutions adapted to each group. Our current level of Western democracy and individualism would never work in Africa. No matter how many billions of aid you pour into it, they won’t “see the light” in 100 years, or maybe even 500. They need to follow their own path, at their own pace. They certainly don’t need to grow to 4 billion in less than 100 years with the help of our guilt-ridden generosity.

        As for blacks in the US, what needs to be done first of all is to end the dependence on the welfare state which has utterly destroyed the black family and their motivation for self-improvement. Or maybe Thomas Sowell, or Larry Elder are racists too if they say this? If you continue to give them handouts and give them pointless access to very demanding universities by lowering the entry standards for them, all you will continue to do is to keep them as your favorite exotic pets, as long as there aren’t too many of them in the primary school your kids go to. And I’m the racist…

        • cacambo says

          Not saying you’re a white supremacist. Just saying that you have no clue about the literature on race and genetics and that you are making hard and fast policy recommendations based on the most speculative of research, e.g. the effect of climate on intelligence. Here’s a good discussion of how dubious this is:

          This article may be of interest as well:

          • Mork says

            Especially that last article is the typical slight of hand of the post-modernists, of playing with the definitions of words until any observed phenomenon we can clearly see (without a PhD in the matter), and to which we give a name in order to be able to have a conversation about it, is rendered impossible.

            I don’t see the point of going into every erroneous conclusion in those articles, but I’d just like to ask you: if the genetics of intelligence is something completely different from the genetics of race (how utterly ridiculous this concept is…), why then would an entire sub-continent (black Africa), if not for colonization, still have remained in what can be essentially described as the beginning of the Iron Age?

            The fact that when we group a bunch of people by race (a concept which apparently has been completely debunked and is still used only by white nationalist troglodytes), and we evaluate their *average* IQ, time after time we get the same results (Asians > Whites > Blacks) apparently is a strange coincidence. When, according to the hypothesis of the complete separation of the genetics of race from genetics of intelligence, we should get random results for these arbitrary groups that a bunch of racists came up with. But this never happens. But the hypothesis is still true…because…race doesn’t exist. Because slavery. Because poverty. Because discrimination. Because police arrest blacks more.

            It is also a strange coincidence that below a certain level of the *average* IQ of a certain “group of people” (no matter where that same group of people is found), building and maintaining an advanced civilization becomes impossible. I foresee this as the next step in the abyss of absurdity that is postmodernism: average IQ of a population and level of civilization are completely unrelated.

      • K says

        I guess I’m going to point out the obvious: Yours is the kind of conversation-killing comment the article is talking about.

    • Jay Salhi says

      The study in question found a mobility gap between white men and black men but no such gap between white women and black women. How would IQ differences between races explain that any better than the (weak) explanation of structural racism?

      • Mork says

        Simple: Crime levels. The combination of lower IQ and higher testosterone levels in blacks gives the unfortunate result of WAY higher levels of violent crime in young black men, compared to black women, white men, white women. When we talk about black crime, we should really be talking about *young black male* crime. Black women commit very little violent crime. Now you could of course also argue that this is not all about IQ and it isn’t, it’s also cultural, lets blame gangsta rap culture too, lets blame the disintegration of the black family because of welfare. Sure, why not, but culture doesn’t take shape out of thin air. Different cultures are created by people of different IQ, different temperaments, different mentalities.

        When you’re a poor white or black woman, or even middle class, but you stay out of jail, the fact that there is only a marginal difference in the mobility gap should be a good argument against the systemic racism explanation should it not?

        But as a young black male, if you commit WAY more crime than young white males, you spend much more time in jail and thus have much lower chances of stepping up on the income ladder. We blame poverty for crime, but we should really look at it the other way around: it’s crime that creates poverty. Destroys neighborhoods, destroys the family.

        This study even notes a great disparity in crime levels between white/black males, even among equal income categories:


        “The gender difference in racial disparities is perhaps most stark in incarceration. Figures VIIe shows that 21% of black males born to parents in the lowest-income (bottom 1%) families were incarcerated on April 1, 2010 (when they are between ages 27-32). In contrast, 6.4% of white males born to parents with comparable income were incarcerated. As parental income rises, the incarceration rates decline for both white and black males. But there are substantial disparities even at the top of the parental income distribution. Among children with parents in the top 1%,only 0.2% of white males were incarcerated, whereas 2.2% of black males were incarcerated”


        The amount of violent crime that young black males commit is astounding. It’s difficult to believe the numbers. Considering that it’s not black children, black women, or old black men that commit crime, young black males represent around 4% of the population, but commit over 50% of homicides. FIFTY percent.

        When you look at the distribution in major cities it becomes even more catastrophic. Lets use the NYPD stats for 2017 ( )

        Murder and non-negligent manslaughter, suspects:

        Black: 61.7%
        Hispanic: 27%
        White: 7.7%

        Young black/hispanic males commit 90% of murders in NY.

        Rape suspect:

        Black: 49.5%
        Hispanic: 33.4%
        White: 11.2%

        Young black/hispanic males commit 83% of rapes in NY.

        Robbery suspect:

        Black: 67%
        Hispanic: 26.5%
        White: 4.4%

        Young black/hispanic males commit 93.5% of robberies in NY.

        It goes on and on….and in yet another strange coincidence it also correlates with average IQ levels of these populations.

        Can you imagine if it weren’t for young black/hispanic males, you would almost not need a police force in a city of 9 million people? Look into what percentage of the NY population are young black/hispanic males and cry.

        • Nixak says

          FBI US Nat’l Crime Stats 2017: % of Perps by Race

          Violent Crimes: 59% of perps white 59% vs Black 37.5%
          Property Crimes: 68.7% of perps white vs 28% Black
          Homicide: white 45.% – Black 52.5% [see special note below]
          Rape: white 67.5% – Black 29%
          Other Serious Sex Crimes [excludes prostitution]: white 71.5% – Black 24.5%
          – Aggravated Assault: white 63% – Black 33.3%
          Robbery: white 43.5% – Black 54.5%
          Burglary: white 68.5% – Black 29%
          Car Theft / Car Jacking: white 66% – Black 30.5%
          Arson: white 72% – Black 23%
          Drug Beefs: white: 71% – Black 26.5%
          Drunk Driving Offenses: white 82% – Black 13.5% [Hold Stop]

          Note: Adjusted Homicide rate when DUI vehicular homicide is factored in: There’re approx 13,000 DUI vehicular homicides in the US each yr. Based on the FBI stats likely 82.2% were committed by white drunk drivers vs 13.5% committed by Black drunk drivers- So 0.822*13000 = 10800 DUI-VH perps were white -vs- 0.13.5*13000 = 1755 DUI-VH perps were Black. 10800 + 4192 = 14,992 total homicides committed by whites vs 1755 + 4935 = 6690 total homicides committed by Blacks. Thus the final tru tally for US Natl homicides stats when DUI Vehicular Homicides are included: whites commit 67% of all US homicides -vs- 30% are committed by Blacks.

          PS: Murders in Russia where the numbers of Russians of African Ancestry is virtually ZERO- By far most Russians are white Europeans… – For 2015 the total number of homicides in Russia: 16,232 vs for the US: 15,696 [Pop of Russia: 144,526,000 vs Pop of USA approx 320 million]. Russia’s murder rate: 11.31/100K vs the US’ murder rate: 4.88/100K. So if Blacks are really more ‘genetically predisposed’ to crime & murder, Pray Tell explain [white] Russia??

          • Nixak says

            PS: FBI 2017 Stats for Domestic VIOLENCE: 67% of peps were white vs 29% were Black

          • Nixak says

            FBI Crime Stats Note: Arrests, by Race and Ethnicity, 2016

            In 2016, 69.6% of all individuals arrested were White, 26.9% were Black or African American, and 3.6% were of other races.
            – Of arrestees for whom ethnicity was reported, 18.4% were Hispanic.
            – Of all juveniles (persons under the age of 18) arrested in 2016, 62.1% were White, 34.7% were Black / African American, and 3.2% were of other races.
            – Of juvenile arrestees for whom ethnicity was reported, 22.8% were Hispanic.
            – Of all adults arrested in 2016, 70.2% were White, 26.2% were Black / African American, and 3.6% were of other races.
            – Of adult arrestees for whom ethnicity was reported, 18.0% were Hispanic.
            – White individuals were arrested MORE Often for VIOLENT Crimes than individuals of any other race and accounted for 59% of those arrests.
            – Of adults arrested for murder, 52% were Black / African American, 45.4% were White, and 2.6% were of other races.
            – Black / African American juveniles comprised 52% of all juveniles arrested for violent crimes. White juveniles accounted for 58.4% of all juveniles arrested for property crimes.
            – Of juveniles arrested for DRUG abuse Violations, 74.8% were White.
            – White juveniles comprised 64.7% of juveniles arrested for RAPE and 60.2% of juveniles arrested for larceny-theft.

      • Maybe a woman’s social status is more dependent on that of her husband than a man’s is on that of his wife? Combined with men select mates on other factors that have nothing to do with social status. This would give women social mobility through marrying up when the reverse isn’t observed.

  8. Caligula says

    Debate? What debate?

    If the merit of one’s argument depends more on the identity of the speaker than on the content of the argument then what is there to talk about?

    When someone says “Speaking as a …” and you’re not a member of the “as a” group, does the argument still apply to you? If so, why preface it with “Speaking as a …”? If not, are we to assume your status as a member of this group is at least as important as anything you might say when determining the validity and strength of your argument?

  9. Emblem14 says

    “some plausible alternative explanations for the disparities between white and black men that deserve to be given a hearing”

    This piece is incessant in its whining about the unfairness and mean spiritedness of the ideological “bullying” being perpetrated by biased anti-racist researchers. Thats they’re doing a disservice to social science by treating alternative explanations for racial disparities “out of bounds”. The anti-racists are very clear in their reasoning – disparity is evidence of systemic racism, with the premise being that no non-racist explanation for disparities between racial groups is possible.

    Enough with the vague, ambiguous appeals to ideological diversity – what exactly are the alternative explanations, where are they best articulated and by whom? If you think the anti-racists are wrong in their analysis, or their prescriptions for addressing inequalities (or even their basic concern for inequality) where is the argument?

    This pussy-footing around is very annoying, and only serves to reinforce the general suspicion that the reasons these “alternatives” aren’t voiced is because they’re ultimately indefensible. Researchers who have already made their mind up on how the world works and what to do about it aren’t going to magnanimously lend credibility to those they see as their ideological opponents to undermine their preferred policy proposals.

    If there’s a case to be made, put up or shut up.

    • Jay Salhi says

      Some prominent black conservative commentators explain this in terms of (i) cultural values which encourage black men to reject middle class norms (such norms being “too white”) and label those who espouse them as sellouts, race traitors and Uncle Toms; (ii) the negative long-term impact on black males caused by growing up in fatherless households.

      In the name of anti-racism, the “anti-racists” (whose livelihood depends on racism being responsible for the lion’s share of the country’s social ills), shut down any line of inquiry that looks at culture, family structure or individual responsibility. Plenty of people have “put up”. People like you are telling them to “shut up” because their explanations offend your ideological sensibilities.

    • Emmanuel says

      Structural racial disparities in the USA are a fact. Racism is one explanation among many others to explain them. Therefore, it should be treated as an hypothesis which needs to be proved, rather than as an “explanation by default”.
      A good example of non-racism possible explanation was given by economist Thomas Sowell : it is the adoption by many American Blacks of cultural values with negative consequences for them, such as anti-intellectualism (while doing fieldwork research, Sowell encountered many Black children who were bullied by other Black children because they had good grades at school), low valorization of work… Modern Black culture, which is actually fairly recent among Blacks and used to characterize other groups in the past, keeps them at the bottom of American society.
      Economist Walter E. Williams has provided another interesting hypothesis : the destruction of the Black family. A very high percentage of Black children are now raised by single mothers. Statistically, children raised by single parents do much worse in life than children raised by their two parents (sociologists have been writing about that since the 1920’s). That phenomenon may contribute to explain the racial disparities everyone can witness.

      Racism exists. It is a fact. But it does not mean that racism explains everything. A very good way to check that would be to take the statistics about racial disparities and subdivise racial groups in smaller non racial categories (such as wether a person was raised by a single parent). If you do that, you are likely to see important disparities within each racial group and patterns shared by all the different racial groups, such as kids raised by both parents doing much better than kids raised by a single parent.

      If you are interested by that topic, you should read Thomas Sowell who has written extensively about it.

      • Emblem14 says

        Didn’t the big study referenced in the main piece control for variables like the presence of a father in the household/% of households with fathers/male role models present? Even then, didn’t black males have worse outcomes than their counterparts with similar rates of father absenteeism?

        As for cultural dysfunction, I don’t see how that’s really an alternative explanation – If black people have self-undermining cultural habits or attitudes that lead them to reject the lifestyle choices conducive to upward mobility, it still begs the question “why”, and you wind up right back at the racism/inferiority crossroads again. And why would black men raised in middle/upper class households, surrounded by the culture habits that make that standard of living possible, have a higher propensity to fall down the income ladder?

        It would help defuse bad faith arguments if people pre-registered their moral and policy commitments when talking about a subject like this. If, for example, the implication of a given explanation for racial disparities is cause for massive social intervention, or not, or white moral culpability, or not, it’s useful to know where one stands on the validity of “social justice” in general, or whether support for certain policies is conditional on crossing some moral threshold. After all, there are very self-serving motives, on either side, to concluding that broader society (specifically white majorities) are either “on the hook” or “off the hook” for fixing these disparities.

        • Emmanuel says

          Answering to the question “why do Black people have cultural habits with negative consequences” might not be very difficult : cultures are shaped by the past.
          Thus, it is common all over the world to see that in places were hard work was done by slaves, hard work is despised by everybody, by the descendants of slaveowners and the descendants of slaves, generations after slavery disappears. Thomas Sowell has given a lot of examples of that trend in the chapter Race and Slavery of his book Race and Culture.
          The same way, American Blacks used to have very good reason not to trust the police or similar authorities (I am not saying that there aren’t any racist cop in the US in 2018, only that open racism among the police would no longer be tolerated and that Blacks could legally protest or defend themselves against it).

          American history, that is slavery and racism, has shaped Black culture which influences the choices made by Black people. This is not the same as saying that modern racism is the only explanation for racial disparities or that Black people have willingly adopted a culture that harms them.

          Regarding the case of Black men from “good families” who are more likely to go downward on the socio-economic ladder than White men, all I can say is the following hypothesis : people are exposed to cultural influence coming from outside their own environment, perhaps Black men are more likely to be influenced by such negative influences than white men, such as rappers whose claims about what it means to be “really Black” could influence a young man for the worse.

  10. Sean Wood says

    The Chetty study found that income gaps persisted even when black and white boys grew up in families with the same income, similar family structures, similar education levels and even similar levels of accumulated wealth. One of Chetty’s conclusions was that racism must have been responsible.

    The problem is that the Chetty study did not address the work of Ogbu, described here. Ogbu tried to account for differences in achievement levels between black and white students who came from the same upper middle class community. One finding was that African-Americans’ own cultural attitudes were a serious problem that was too often neglected, including a denigration of “acting white,” and also that black parents’ school participation and involvement were dismal among working-class, middle-class, and even professional parents. This would point to factors other than racism.

  11. Bill Haywood says

    There’s a significant omission in this article. It notes, but does not accommodate, the fact that black women have much better social mobility than men. The author suggests that poor character and single parenthood explain black males’ economic failures. If so, then why don’t these factor’s similarly hold back black women? It is fine to say in theory that all explanations should be considered, but the data the article cites suggests that fear of black men needs addressing more than anything. This point was made early in discussion over the EOP data, so the present author could have addressed it.

    • Sean Wood says

      The author suggests that poor character and single parenthood explain black males’ economic failures. If so, then why don’t these factor’s similarly hold back black women?

      The author also pointed out that the problem with black fathers not being around, along with the critiques of the conclusion that the Chetty study successfully demonstrated that family structure doesn’t explain the mobility gap. It wouldn’t be difficult to suppose that this circumstance with the fathers might affect boys and girls differently. But if institutional racism were the primary cause one would not expect to see such a big difference between the males and the females.

      • Nick Ender says

        The study shows that areas oh high racial bias show a downward effect on both black girls and boys AND white boys. Which would prove that it’s not the largest factor in income inequality. If it were you couldn’t possibly have black girls and white girls performing on par with each other. You would also expect a closer relationship between black boys and white boys if systemic racism were the cause considering they effect both. They found that racism may account for a 4 percentile difference. The total differenc is 10 percentiles. Also they controlled for marital status but included two parent families that were not married. While the status of marriage only slightly effects income potential, they found the presence of fathers in the community greatly effected potential income. Of course they do not provide a percentile number and say this is an issue worth further investigation. But when poverty is bellow 10% and more then 50% of fathers are present (regardless of marital status), and of course including low levels of racial bias, there’s almost no gap. What would be interesting is to see them control out racial bias and see what low poverty and high presence of fathers was. I didn’t see that permutation in the study. They also didn’t factor in incarceration rates from what I read. They factored them in as an effect of their control, but not as a control. I imagine that incarceration is the number 1 indicator of future earnings. This would explain the gap between black girls and black boys, as boys are much more likely to be incarcerated in general. And we know the presences of fathers reduces incarceration rates. This has been well documented. So again, we’re back at fathers. This also places racism as a cause and not an effect of the income gap. As if racism just drops out of the sky but does not effect Asians or Hispanics or black girls all that much. It seems plausible that low income neighborhoods, with few fathers, and high incarceration rates, may be the type of environment that generates increased racial bias. After reading the study I’m convinced the researchers do not show what the NYT says they show. And to some extent, it doesn’t show enough, which the researchs seem to gloss over.

    • Nick Ender says

      Because the difference between black girl and boys is the result of incarceration rates. Which no one seems to mention in ether the study, this article, or the NYT. And those rates are the results of the abscess of fathers. So we’re still back at fathers.

    • Nixak says

      Here’s a couple of stats that this article has failed to even consider [let alone account for] their full implications: Up until circa 1980 over +60% of the US’ prison population were white men [today about 2/3s of US prisoners are Black & Hispanic men & women], -&- about 2/3s – 3/4s of Black households were 2 parent families [now 2/3s to 3/4s of Black families are headed by single moms]. That was ‘just’ 35 – 40yrs ago. So in just 40yrs the US prison population went from over +60% white men to now it’s 65% – 70% people of color & Black families went from 2/3s – 3/4s being 2 parent families to now it’s 2/3s – 3/4s are headed by single moms. So exactly WTF happened over the last 40 yrs to cause such a dramatically devastating shift??! – The article implies racism has little to do w it [then explain the rise of ‘birther’ Trump & why so many unarmed Blacks {both men, women, Children & Elders} are still being gunned-down by cops {even on CAMERA} w near impunity], & hints that Blacks are just more [genetically] predisposed to crime & bad social behavior. Yet he apparently can’t account for [& FAILED to even try] the fact of such dramatic ill effects that have devastated the Black family & community in less than 50yrs!!

      PS: One thing that accounts for the dramatic rise in Black [& Brown] prisoners or the last 40yrs [& thus the dramatic rise in Black households head by single moms] is the so-called ‘War on Drugs’. Yet all one has to do is look at the FBI national crime stats for drug offenses, which IMO is telling: 71% of US drug beefs are committed by whites vs just 28.5% are committed by Blacks. But then a top ‘Trick Dick’ Nixon regime official has admitted ole ‘Tricky Dick’s’ [phony] ‘War on Crime & Drugs’ was really just a ploy for an increased War on Black People!! But according to this author race has got little to do w it- Humm…

  12. Bill Haywood says

    “if institutional racism were the primary cause one would not expect to see such a big difference between the males and the females.”

    Why? The racial fear of black males is far stronger. How many black women are killed reaching for eye liner in traffic stops?

    • Sean Wood says

      Why? The racial fear of black males is far stronger. How many black women are killed reaching for eye liner in traffic stops?

      Well, in that case the issue with the men would be a result of both racial and gender bias. Perhaps the gender component would be the difference between the results for black men and black women? At the very least, knowing that the cause is not exclusively racial would be useful.

      But would a fear of physical violence be an important part of a refusal to hire a black man but a willingness to hire a black woman? I usually think of hiring decisions as being based on either a perception of ability and reliability or on a more visceral dislike of a particular race, not on fear of physical violence.

  13. Pamela Claire says

    Can you substantiate the claim “There is little evidence that training programs to reduce prejudice are effective, and some suggesting that certain kinds of training can actually exacerbate problems.”?

    • Sean Wood says

      Can you substantiate the claim “There is little evidence that training programs to reduce prejudice are effective, and some suggesting that certain kinds of training can actually exacerbate problems.”?

      The problem is that these programs rely on tests that purport to measure “implicit bias,” but there is much reason to believe that (a) these tests really do not measure bias, and that (b) these programs do not result in any real positive change in how people behave or in their attitudes. For example, see this, this, this, this, and this.

      If it is true that these programs accuse people of bias when none has actually been found, and then require them to engage in ineffective activities in order to cleanse or purify themselves, and if people are aware of these findings, it wouldn’t be surprising for negative attitudes to develop toward the whole notion of racism as a significant societal problem that needs to be addressed. If implicit bias is actually something that needs to be addressed then let’s first find a way to accurately detect it, as well as a way to actually reduce it.

      • Sean Wood says

        However, California does have the De Havilland Law, which says that a contract to render personal services cannot be enforced beyond seven years from the commencement of service under it.

  14. David says

    Such a well rounded and written article.

    From reading this the study only showed that their “is” a difference in income between white and black men. What causes that difference is a completely different question.

    Given other studies already tell us black boys/men tend to have lower education, come from broken familiars and a higher crime rate it’s not surprising to see a disparity in income.

  15. Mazzakim says

    I am not a social scientist nor do I play one on the Internet, but I am the single white father of a black son and I can anecdotally attest to both the challenges of single-parent households and the anti-education peer pressure of “acting white” within black male teen groups. But I am also witness to the almost non-stop daily acts of institutional racism my 16-year-old son has to navigate. When we talk about causes, perhaps “all of the above” is the complicated, interconnecting answer.

    Except for Mork’s bullshit “racial IQ” theory.

    I did take the time to research this, and there are no valid population studies “proving” the low IQ of sub-Saharan or Aboriginal populations. The pseudo-science he spouts is Nazism. And it’s all over the white nationalist websites. I urge anyone reading him comments to dismiss him. And if possibly swayed by his use of big words, just trust me (or what me prove as he responds) that I am much better at the use of the English language than he is.

    • Mazzakim says

      Even though I make hasty mistakes, such as “what ‘me’ prove.” I also edit and revise. LOL.

      • Mazzakim says

        And what “him” comments. Sigh.

    • erh says

      I too have seen the anti-education peer pressure. Lived for 3 years in an apt complex with my wife and son (white). Coached youth football. Hung out daily (after work) with mostly black boys ages 8-16. They lived in section 8 housing next door. They were all good kids. Good looking, charismatic, respectful to me. They were all smart and on the same level as my 2-parent (upper middle) white son. I saw no achievement or potential achievement differences. ALL boys are drawn to mischief at some point. I noticed that the draw was stronger with these boys. At some point, usually, a boy is ‘yanked’ from that mischief seeking, either by himself, a friend, or a father figure. These boys lacked that ‘yanking’ mechanism. It was almost expected, that at a certain age, they must get into trouble. To me, in my naive and limited experience, that was the only inherent/internal difference.

  16. Mazzakim says

    Why isn’t there a fucking edit feature on this site? Heh.

  17. Greg H says

    One factor that hasn’t been discussed in the article/study on income and upward/downward mobility is HOW the parents in particular came to be wealthy in the earlier generation.

    If we’re currently measuring 39 year olds and assume people becoming parents at 25, that means we’re talking about people who are around 65 now, and started their working career in and around say 1975 or a bit earlier.

    Today, I believe that African Americans actually have an advantage when it comes to employment with large firms, but I strongly believe that was NOT the case in 1975 when they would have started their careers.

    As such, there may be an overweighted number of entrepreneurs in the black-top-10% of the parents’ generation relative to whites. The route to building a successful business is infinitely more varied than the route to become a generic public accountant.

    If you’re modeling becoming a plug in upper-middle management at a big company, there’s a clear pathway and high likelihood of achieving that, and it would look identical now and 40 years ago – go to college, get a boring job, work 50 hours per week until retirement, and collect pay raises along the way.

    On the other hand, the path to building a successful business on your own has a lot to do with timing and market fit, has no requirement for any kind of education, and can generally be a lot harder to replicate than becoming the aforementioned corporate plug. I’ve also seen plenty of white friends rely on the certainty of a family business in deciding to skip college, only to see a family business go down, which happens frequently now that the internet rules commerce. With no degree, good luck being too 10% without again going to back to entrepreneurship, which can be hard and random.

    This is all speculation, but if it’s partially true, then you end up with one set of people following a much more certain path to maintaining their parents’ standard of living than the other. But even in this explanation, the echo of hard racism from 40 years ago is still present.

  18. Eric says

    From what I read, it sound like they don’t actually care about black outcomes as much as making sure that everyone sucks equally. If whites benefit from this invisible “system,” yoke them so they also do poorly. That’s the only way forward I can see from their “findings.” They have no solutions, because all they have a feelings and fuzzy data.

  19. Nick Ender says

    Did anyone read the actual study? I mean did the NYT read it? Because I just read it. I’m not sure it says what they think it says. Racial bias is most strongly correlated to outcomes in low income neighborhoods. Those results also include poorer outcomes for black girls AND white boys. Which means that racial bias can not account for the greatest portion of the difference. They’re findings show that black girls are doing about as well as white girls, all things being equal. So it’s not possible that racial bias represents the largest percentage of the income disparities because if that were true black girls could not be on par with white girls. The study states that the presence of fathers is the strongest indicator of future success. I can solve this problem easily. End the war on drugs. Pardon and expunge all non violent drug offenders. I’ve solved racism. You’re welcome

  20. Ginger Hayes says

    An alternative NYTimes headline: “Extensive Data Shows Racism Doesn’t Exist For Most Minorities.”

    With these social-justice-biased newspapers, I always notice how evidence only bends in one direction. If differences in income mobility are an important indicator of racism, can’t we then conclude from this study that, for the most part, Americans aren’t racist? Because, of all the racial minority groups in the US, only black men seem to suffer this difference.

    In some ways, these conclusions are already baked in to the studies, because they group people by the race marker, and then search about for differences. Imagine how much more robust, informative, and productive the social science conversation would be, if they always ran their data twice– the second time removing race as a marker and searching for some other corollaries in the data to explain different outcomes (i.e., geography, family structure, age, gender…).

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