Tuesday, March 29, 2011

All the news that's fit to print.

Several months ago, my faithful reader JD made a comment on this post that said that I should make a post about all the various inequities that exist between black people and white people in different aspects of life. I always thought that was a good idea, but thought it would require me to spend some time on the internet gathering my facts. And since it's hard enough as it is for me to just sit down and write stuff on the blog, I really didn't know when making a post that required actual research would ever happen.

But then I read a book called The Covenant With Black America. It's a collection of essays written by black scholars that talks about problems facing the black community, and what can be done to solve these problems.

Each chapter outlines a problem, and also has several statistics that help to illustrate the disparities that exist. This means that I no longer have to do research on the internet, I can just pass the statistics onto you all. Voila: blog post written.

I'm not going to change the writing that much. I don't think that's plagarism since I'm not hiding my source, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's some sort of copyright infringement since I'm sharing a fair amount of the material from the book. Hopefully, I won't get sued.


-- 33% of black students in 7th through 12th grade have been suspended or expelled from school at some point vs. 15% of white students.

--for black people ages 16-24, 13% do not have a high school diploma or GED vs.7% of white people from the same age group.

--the nationwide college graduation rate for black students who enroll in college is 40%, compared to 61% for white students.

--46% of black adults scored in the lowest category of proficiency in the National Adult Literacy survey, vs. 14% of white adults.
(Click on the link to get an idea of the skills that the survey seeks to assess.)

Criminal Justice System

--13% of black men have permanently lost their right to vote as a result of being convicted of a felony. The same is true for about 2% of men of other races.

--Black people are about 12% of the U.S. population, and about 44%(!) of the prison population.

--The black prison population grew by 300% between 1954 and 1984, and from 1954 until the early 2000's has increased 900%(!) [Sidenote: What era of time in U.S. history does the mid-1950's roughly coincide with?]

--Young people of all ages use drugs at similar rates, but black youth represent 60-75% of all drug arrests.

--Black youthful offenders are twice as likely to be transferred to adult court than their white counterparts.


--Nationwide, 10% of black drivers pulled over were likely to be searched or have their vehicles searched, vs. 3.5% of white drivers.

--A study on the New Jersey turnpike found that while only 13.5% of cars
on the turnpike had a black driver or passenger, 73% of motorists stopped and then arrested were black.

--57% of black police officers believe that officers are more likely to use violence against African-American people than white people, while only 5% of white police officers agree.


--49% of the homeless population is black.

--Black renters are 20 times more likely to get less information than white renters of similar economic backgrounds when inquiring about advertised housing. Landlords tell them about fewer apartments and don't show them everything that is available.

--Homeownership rates: 49% for black people compared to 76% for white people.

-- Black and Latino people make up 62% of bus riders. Only 12% of the Department of Transportation's budget is spent on public transit, compared to 60% spent on highways, which serve primarily white suburban commuters.


--Black people own/have 1.2% of the wealth in the United States. This figure has not changed since the end of the Civil War in 1865.

Just a couple of things I want to say...

There are other areas of life/additional statistics that are talked about in the book that I don't mention here.

If your first inclination is to question the validity of the information presented, you should read this post.

You might find the stats on prisons/arrests/etc. on a white supremacist website. This helps to illustrate the idea that so much of how we process information depends on our perspective.

This book was written five years ago. I don't think long enough for things to change significantly in one direction or the other.

I think we should all just marinate on what we've just read, and perhaps ponder these questions:

--What feelings came up for you as you were reading?

--How much of this did you already know? The things that you did already know, where/when did you learn them?

--What statistics are most surprising? Least?

If you'd like to read the book, you can buy it on Amazon,or see if they have it at your local library.

And if you have anything that you'd like to share, feel free to leave me a comment.


  1. Yourwhitefriend3:10 PM

    Wow. I think I suspected some of this imbalance, but not to this extent, and in virtually every aspect of life. 1.2% of the nation's wealth?! And what percentage of that is Oprah's alone?

    For more on race in the US prison system, and how effed up it is, read Michelle Alexander's disturbing and eye-opening book, The New Jim Crow (http://www.newjimcrow.com/).

    Do you think, now that it's 2011, it might be time for some progress, maybe?


  2. Not surprised at all. This coming from a Black woman in her mid-50s who remembers standing in the Bi-Rite parking lot asking Mama who IS this "DoctorMarfaLufarKing" guy? She kept shushing me and listening to his speech. We were close to him! And in less than a year, he was gone.
    Not much has changed statistically for Blacks. The adjectives for crimes perpetrated by people of color will always be heinous, savage, ghastly, atrotious, etc. Crimes by people of non-color are characterized with more subdued adjectives such as: incomprehensible, shocking, and scandalous... you kin to my meaning, right? Changes are slow in coming, and I don't see any acceleration in the future either. It's a shame, but such is the way of the majority in the good ole U.S.A. Like it, or leave it... But leaving requires a fair amount of capital, huh? Oh well, we'll have to make do - and sidestep becoming another subject of harsh adjectives on the evening news.

    And I was not ever suspended! After Dr. King's murder, my 6th grade teacher impressed upon us the crucial importance of our rising above the negative statistics and pulling ourselves out of the ghettos of Cleveland. She assured us if we formulated a plan and adhered to it without distraction, it was possible. It was. Ask my former classmate: you know him as Steve Harvey. Ive managed to rise above while giving back as well; I'm no Broderick Harvey, though. I'm comfortable being a mentor to public school children in my suburb. We all should pass on the benefit of our knowledge to our younguns. Some will actually listen.

  3. Anonymous4:58 AM

    Very sobering statistics. The one about the percentage of wealth being unchanged since the Civil War was the most surprising to me.


  4. I think the break down of the family unit and the lack of positive man role models has played a large part in those lousy statistics. I think Bill Cosby was on to many of these issues and was ridiculed and not treated so well. Snoop Dog embracing the weed culture, Gangster Rap, Professional Athletes not giving back, Forced Busing, black on black crime, The homifobic and anti women lyrics the calling women Bitches and Hoes. A lack of moral clarity and the decay of religon in the home. The education of our school systems being run by mainly white progressives. Liberal ideolgy has been running our education system for decades and for what? According to those figures not so good. Why do the teacher unions block vouchers school choice alternatives? Blacks have higher death rates and shorter life spans and are less likely to recieve their fair share of social securty. benefits. ouch!!! Good post can go on for days you get my drift.