Taughannock Falls

Taughannock Falls
from: althouse.blogspot.com

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Disgraceful Disparity

Princeton sociologist Devah Pager shares the disturbing results of her recent investigation:

In these experiments, which took place in Milwaukee and New York City, I hired young men to pose as job applicants, assigning them resumes with equal levels of education and experience, and sending them to apply for real entry-level job openings all over the city. Team members also alternated presenting information about a fictitious criminal record (a drug felony), which they “fessed up to” on the application form. During nearly a year of fieldwork, teams of testers audited hundreds of employers, applying for a wide range of entry level jobs such as waiters, sales assistants, laborers, warehouse workers, couriers, and customer service representatives.
The results of these studies were startling. Among those with no criminal record, white applicants were more than twice as likely to receive a callback relative to equally qualified black applicants. Even more troubling, whites with a felony conviction fared just as well, if not better, than a black applicant with a clean background.
Racial disparities have been documented in many contexts, but here, comparing the two job applicants side by side, we are confronted with a troubling reality: Being black in America today is just about the same as having a felony conviction in terms of one’s chances of finding a job.
The young black men posing as job applicants in this study were bright college kids, models of discipline and hard work; and yet, even in this best case scenario, these applicants were routinely overlooked simply on the basis of the color of their skin. The results of this study suggest that black men must work at least twice as hard as equally qualified whites simply to overcome the stigma of their skin color.

This study was conducted just before the great financial meltdown of 2008. I highly doubt that the situation has improved in this time of very high unemployment. I can remember my disgust as a young man when I saw overt displays of racism. In the following decades we have made some progress, yet there is still so much to do. I'm sure a lot of these hiring managers don't think of themselves as racist. They would be quick to denounce the KKK or other hate groups. Yet the impact of their prejudice is as harmful as shouting vulgar epithets. Many African Americans have overcome great obstacles to finding employment and to advancing in their careers. It is horribly unfair that anyone should have to start out with such an oppressive disadvantage.


Motivated In Ohio said...

I naively thought we were past this sad point. Unfortunately, When I campaigned for the President, I found that racism is alive and well in the United States. Many of the States with Republican Governors are trying to enact new versions of "Jim Crow" and poll taxes.

Ulysses said...

That's right, Motivated. Some of these GOP closet Klansmen openly pine for the good ol' days before the "war of northern aggression!!"