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What Explains Racial Disparities? (6368 hits)

By Dom Apollon:

“In the United States, people who work hard generally succeed in life.”

You could argue that those 12 simple words sum up the theory of American life since the nation’s founding, and studies show wide agreement across demographics with this statement—even if the realities in most of our communities are far different. In a society and culture unparalleled in its ability to dramatically celebrate personal success stories—whether they be in business, entertainment, sports or education—support is firm for the abstract principle that hard work equals success.

But the data on racial, ethnic, and class-based disparities in fact suggest a more complex explanation for who makes it in America. Unemployment among African Americans is nearly twice that of the national rate. The wealth gap between whites and blacks and Latinos is larger than ever. In education, job advancement and even personal health, people of color lag behind whites on a wide range of measures. Unless our nation’s egalitarian creed—that all human beings are created equal—is a lie, the vast majority of the poor and working-class and huge swaths of communities of color clearly have not had equal access to the American Dream.

So what do Americans believe explain those disparities? In a national survey conducted by Colorlines.com’s publisher, the Applied Research Center, we found that a widespread agreement with the abstract ideal of an American Dream doesn’t extend to a consensus about what causes different levels of success or failure between races. The majority of all races point to multiple causes, and large majorities include class an explanation. But while whites were more likely to blame individual initiative alone, African Americans in particular were more likely to point to race as at least part of the problem.

More: http://colorlines.com/archives/2011/08/pol...
Posted By: Stacie Coulter
Wednesday, August 17th 2011 at 3:25PM
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