Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Three NY Times Articles Explore the Intersection of Race and Class and Class Comes in 2nd

The worst places for poor white children are almost all better than the best places for poor black children.... Poor white children struggle in parts of the Southeast and Appalachia. But they still fare better there than poor black children do in most of America. In effect, the worst places for whites produce outcomes that are about as good as the best places for blacks.... Extensive Data Shows Punishing Reach of Racism for Black Boys..... 
......NY Times, March 19
Monday was a beautiful sunny day out here in Rockaway and I managed to spend 3 hours sitting in the backyard reading the NY Times and getting some much needed sun - and a jolt of vitamin D. That it took me so long to read the paper was due to some intriguing articles, three of which connected some dots.

The major article was the front page one I quoted above with some important data about the impact of racism. I would bet that many people feel that if a black boy grows up in a high income family there would not be much difference in long time outcomes from white boys. But that seems so not true.
White boys who grow up rich are likely to remain that way. Black boys raised at the top, however, are more likely to become poor than to stay wealthy in their own adult households. Most white boys raised in wealthy families will stay rich or upper middle class as adults, but black boys raised in similarly rich households will not.
Even when children grow up next to each other with parents who earn similar incomes, black boys fare worse than white boys in 99 percent of America. And the gaps only worsen in the kind of neighborhoods that promise low poverty and good schools.
The numbers are very different for black girls. And from my own experience with black kids I could see the different gender trajectories in elementary school.

I often issue a challenge to people who say race is not a factor. "A black guy dressed in a suit and carrying a brief case and a white guy dressed in fatigues and carrying an AK-47 walk down a street. Which one is more likely to get stopped by cops?" I've never had one white male answer that it would be the white guy. Reminds me of the great 1970 film, Where's Poppa, where a well dressed black couple have cab after cab pass them by but George Segal dressed in a gorilla suit is picked up immediately.

I remember a story told to me by a white high school teacher who had a deep understanding of racial issues - she took in kids to live with her family over the years, including one of my former 6th graders who grew up poor. A few of his relatives had apparently escaped the pull of gravity of poverty and had middle class jobs. The teacher pointed out that the escapees never quite escape the pull of poverty gravity because the rest of the poor family was always pulling on them for help.

At any rate, the article is a must read, especially for educators though some of the charts gave me a headache. Read it here - and I have a bunch of excepts below the break - but no charts.

Article 2 is this one about discipline. It is a complex article addressing issues that come up often here in NYC about punishing kids, suspensions, etc. I won't print any of it but leave those interested to read it at the link

Why Are Black Students Punished So Often? Minnesota Confronts a National Quandary


As I often say I learned a lot from my students, especially about racism. Here are a few stories that sort of fit into the framework of the article above.

I once had my class(roughly 65% Hispanic and 35% black) lined up ready to go back up after lunch and told them we weren't moving until everyone was quiet and in line. Some kids were still rambunctious and pulled one after another off the line into a separate line. Then I noticed that every single one of the kids I pulled was black. It made me stop and think about whether I was being objective or exhibiting some prejudice. I thought I was objective but it was a wake-up call for me to be sensitive.

Another story about race has to do with a black boy in my 6th grade class who gave me a hell of a lot of trouble the first month of school -- I had moved up with my 5th grade class and they were attuned to my teaching and happy to be in my class again - but he was an addition - his also problem brother had been in the 5th grade and was not in this class - than goodness. It was a known problem family with all the kids having been problems. Did this prejudice me? Well, I got pretty exasperated with him and finally said I was coming to his house after school to talk to his mother. He didn't seem to care -- so I decided to go. The projects were pretty rough at that time so I had some butterflies. When I knocked on the door he answered. His eyes were disbelieving. I sat down in the living room waiting for his mom to appear. He sat there looking scared when she came in. I can't explain why I did what I did - I had no plan - but the first words out of my mouth was how funny he was (he was) - but I think at that moment it was the first time I thought of him that way --he looked so relieved. I did lodge some complaints about his behavior but said with her help we could work things out.

From them on he and I were pals and had the most fun in class. My attitude towards him totally changed. I began to laugh at his antics instead of punishing him and we often entertained the rest of the class. He did have some very rough years - or decades - ahead but now I see him on facebook and am delighted at the way his life seems to have turned out. What was my lesson here? That sometimes we as teachers can change our views of certain kids.

In retrospect, I found that I often connected with most of the black boys I had in my class and later on when I began to hang out with one of my former students and his friends when he was on the high school basketball team years later I learned a lot about black teenage boys - a view I wish everyone had a chance to be part of. They were poor urban kids - but so interesting and delightful - I at times took a bunch to my house after school to play video games. A few slept over once or twice. It was my honor to be invited into their world.

The final article ties is about Testilying by police - part 1 -- Tuesday was part 2.
A Stubborn Problem:
Police lying persists, even amid an explosion of video
evidence that has allowed the public to test officers’ credibility.

How does this tie in? Well think of the disciplining and arrests of so many black boys and men. Do all cops lie? Obviously not. But if a cop is even subconsciously racist - or views black teen boys very differently than the view I had of them -- always a menace -- and certainly some are -- then they are more likely to overreact. And shade the truth to match their point of view.

All of the above, a complex problem with mo easy solutions.

Extensive Data Shows Punishing Reach of Racism for Black Boys


Black boys raised in America, even in the wealthiest families and living in some of the most well-to-do neighborhoods, still earn less in adulthood than white boys with similar backgrounds, according to a sweeping new study that traced the lives of millions of children.

White boys who grow up rich are likely to remain that way. Black boys raised at the top, however, are more likely to become poor than to stay wealthy in their own adult households.

Most white boys raised in wealthy families will stay rich or upper middle class as adults, but black boys raised in similarly rich households will not.

Even when children grow up next to each other with parents who earn similar incomes, black boys fare worse than white boys in 99 percent of America. And the gaps only worsen in the kind of neighborhoods that promise low poverty and good schools.

According to the study, led by researchers at Stanford, Harvard and the Census Bureau, income inequality between blacks and whites is driven entirely by what is happening among these boys and the men they become. Though black girls and women face deep inequality on many measures, black and white girls from families with comparable earnings attain similar individual incomes as adults.

Large income gaps persist between men — but not women.
“You would have thought at some point you escape the poverty trap,” said Nathaniel Hendren, a Harvard economist and an author of the study.

Black boys — even rich black boys — can seemingly never assume that.

The study, based on anonymous earnings and demographic data for virtually all Americans now in their late 30s, debunks a number of other widely held hypotheses about income inequality. 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.

The disparities that remain also can’t be explained by differences in cognitive ability, an argument made by people who cite racial gaps in test scores that appear for both black boys and girls. If such inherent differences existed by race, “you’ve got to explain to me why these putative ability differences aren’t handicapping women,” said David Grusky, a Stanford sociologist who has reviewed the research.

A more likely possibility, the authors suggest, is that test scores don’t accurately measure the abilities of black children in the first place.

If this inequality can’t be explained by individual or household traits, much of what matters probably lies outside the home — in surrounding neighborhoods, in the economy and in a society that views black boys differently from white boys, and even from black girls.

“One of the most popular liberal post-racial ideas is the idea that the fundamental problem is class and not race, and clearly this study explodes that idea,” said Ibram Kendi, a professor and director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University. “But for whatever reason, we’re unwilling to stare racism in the face.”

The authors, including the Stanford economist Raj Chetty and two census researchers, Maggie R. Jones and Sonya R. Porter, tried to identify neighborhoods where poor black boys do well, and as well as whites.

“The problem,” Mr. Chetty said, “is that there are essentially no such neighborhoods in America.”

The few neighborhoods that met this standard were in areas that showed less discrimination in surveys and tests of racial bias. They mostly had low poverty rates. And, intriguingly, these pockets — including parts of the Maryland suburbs of Washington, and corners of Queens and the Bronx — were the places where many lower-income black children had fathers at home. Poor black boys did well in such places, whether their own fathers were present or not.
“That is a pathbreaking finding,” said William Julius Wilson, a Harvard sociologist whose books have chronicled the economic struggles of black men. “They’re not talking about the direct effects of a boy’s own parents’ marital status. They’re talking about the presence of fathers in a given census tract.”

Other fathers in the community can provide boys with role models and mentors, researchers say, and their presence may indicate other neighborhood factors that benefit families, like lower incarceration rates and better job opportunities.

The research makes clear that there is something unique about the obstacles black males face. The gap between Hispanics and whites is narrower, and their incomes will converge within a couple of generations if mobility stays the same. Asian-Americans earn more than whites raised at the same income level, or about the same when first-generation immigrants are excluded. Only Native Americans have an income gap comparable to African-Americans. But the disparities are widest for black boys.

“This crystallizes and puts data behind this thing that we always knew was there because we either felt it ourselves or we’ve seen it over time,” said Will Jawando, 35, who worked in the Obama White House on My Brother’s Keeper, a mentoring initiative for black boys. Even without this data, the people who worked on that project, he said, believed that individual and structural racism targeted black men in ways that required policies devised specifically for them.

Mr. Jawando, the son of a Nigerian father and a white mother, grew up poor in Silver Spring, Md. The Washington suburb contains some of the rare neighborhoods where black and white boys appear to do equally well. Mr. Jawando, who identifies as black, is now a married lawyer with three daughters. He is among the black boys who climbed from the bottom to the top.
He was one of the 20 million children born between 1978 and 1983 whose lives are reflected in the study. Using census data that included tax files, the researchers were able to link the adult fortunes of those children to their parents’ incomes. Names and addresses were hidden from the researchers.

Previous research suggests some reasons there may be a large income gap between black and white men, but not between women, even though women of color face both sexism and racism.

Other studies show that boys, across races, are more sensitive than girls to disadvantages like growing up in poverty or facing discrimination. While black women also face negative effects of racism, black men often experience racial discrimination differently. As early as preschool, they are more likely to be disciplined in school. They are pulled over or detained and searched by police officers more often.

“It’s not just being black but being male that has been hyper-stereotyped in this negative way, in which we’ve made black men scary, intimidating, with a propensity toward violence,” said Noelle Hurd, a psychology professor at the University of Virginia.

She said this racist stereotype particularly hurts black men economically, now that service-sector jobs, requiring interaction with customers, have replaced the manufacturing jobs that previously employed men with less education.

The new data shows that 21 percent of black men raised at the very bottom were incarcerated, according to a snapshot of a single day during the 2010 census. Black men raised in the top 1 percent — by millionaires — were as likely to be incarcerated as white men raised in households earning about $36,000.

The sons of black families from the top 1 percent had about the same chance of being incarcerated on a given day as the sons of white families earning $36,000.

At the same time, boys benefit more than girls from adult attention and resources, as do low-income and nonwhite children, a variety of studies have found. Mentors who aren’t children’s parents, but who share those children’s gender and race, serve a particularly important role for black children, Ms. Hurd has found. That helps explain why the presence of black fathers in a neighborhood, even if not in a child’s home, appears to make a difference.

Some of the widest black-white income gaps in this study appear in wealthy communities. This fits with previous research that has shown that the effects of racial discrimination cross class lines. Although all children benefit from growing up in places with higher incomes and more resources, black children do not benefit nearly as much as white children do. Moving black boys to opportunity is no guarantee they can tap into it.

“Simply because you’re in an area that is more affluent, it’s still hard for black boys to present themselves as independent from the stereotype of black criminality,” said Khiara Bridges, a professor of law and anthropology at Boston University who has written a coming paper on discrimination against affluent black people.

This dynamic still weighs on Mr. Jawando. He has a good income, multiple degrees and political aspirations — he is running for county council in Montgomery County, where he grew up. But in his own community, he is careful to dress like a professional.

“I think if I’m putting on a sweatsuit, if I go somewhere, will I be seen as just kind of a hood black guy?” he said. “Or will people recognize me at all?” Those small daily decisions — to wear a blazer or not — follow him despite his success. “I don’t think you escape those things,” he said.


This study makes it possible to look in greater detail at interrelated disparities that researchers have long studied around income, marriage rates and incarceration. Here are some of the other findings.

There’s a large gap in the marriage rates of white and black Americans, even after accounting for income.

One reason income gaps between whites and blacks appear so large at the household level is that black men and women are less likely to be married. That means their households are more likely to have a single income — not two. For this reason and others, many point to differences in family structure as a primary driver of racial income inequality. If black children don’t have married parents, the argument goes, they’re more likely to grow up with fewer resources and less adult attention at home.

This study found, however, that broad income disparities still exist between black and white men even when they’re raised in homes with the same incomes and the same family structure.

The income gap exists for black and white boys if they had one parent in the house or two... More


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