Extensive Data Shows Punishing Reach of Racism for Black Boys (NYT article)

I saw this study earlier, and while it does make an awfully good case, I can see at least two ways that “race realists” and bell curve fans could argue around it:

(1) I suppose that if you’re willing to argue that blacks are genetically intellectually inferior, you might also be willing to argue that black MEN are genetically intellectually inferior. I mean, maybe whatever genes are causing black intellectual inferiority are on the Y chromosome. [sarcasm]Because, that’s how it works, right?[/sarcasm] (I’m curious to see whether anyone actually puts this argument forward…)

(2) Less offensive but more it’s-not-our-fault, I suppose one could argue that this doesn’t prove that there is still racism, because the disparity could be entirely due to social pressures within the black community. So it’s not white people keeping black people down, it’s black people not encouraging their own sons to excel academically, and not providing positive male role models.

Do they explain why Asian boys make more than white boys?

No? Hmmph. Maybe it isn’t due to racism? Or is their racism against white folks in regard to Asian boys?

I’m not saying it doesn’t or hasn’t played a part but your article leaves a lot out.

This isn’t intended as snark, but I am genuinely confused. I thought you supported Affirmative Action programs. This portion makes me wonder if I’ve gotten the wrong impression. I see a few possibilities:

  1. HD’s earlier impression was wrong, you’ve never actually supported AA
  2. You’ve changed your views on AA recently
  3. You don’t consider AA to be a discriminatory policy / practice

Is it one of those? Something else?

What is your evidence that it is racism that has a disparate impact on black boys, and not some factor like being raised in a female-headed household that has a disparate impact on black boys?

Most black children grow up in a single-parent household (cite) and most single parents in the US are women (cite). It seems at least plausible that having an absent father is going to impact boys more than girls in terms of learning how a man behaves when he grows up, than that racists think “I hate black people, except for women”.


Actually the article does talk about Asian Americans. According to the chart about 2/3rds down the page, Asians with US-born mothers have income distributions/attainments as compared to their parents roughly close to white Americans. But Asians with foreign-born mothers have income distribution/attainments much, much higher, on average.

According to the article, whether 1 or 2 parents are in the household doesn’t affect this disparity:

There’s a graphical representation of this, too. So according to this data, your hypothesis fails, since black boys raised by two parents at income X are no more likely to be financially successful (as compared to white boys) than black boys raised by a single mother at income X. Of course, with two parents in the home, incomes are likely to be higher, but this is no different for white or black boys. Whatever is affecting black boys and men is separate from this phenomenon, according to this data.

In other words, whatever is holding back black boys is holding back black boys who are raised by two parents in the home in about the same amount as it’s holding back those black boys raised by a single parent.

I’m not interested in discussing AA in this thread with you.

I am digging thru the article, but I can’t find the graph that says how big the gap is between black boys whose parents are married and everybody else. The study talks about black boys raised in communities where black fathers are more present, but that is slightly different.

If this is the same study, it says -

The trouble being, as the study says, such communities are rare.


The graph is about 2/3rds of the way down, titled “The income gap exists for black and white boys if they had one parent in the house or two”

The disparity isn’t exactly the same, but it’s close, between black boys in 1 parent vice 2 parent homes and white boys in 1 parent vice 2 parent homes. And thus whatever is dragging down black boys is significantly more than just the greater likelihood of being raised by a single parent.

Yes, that’s the same study ( http://www.equality-of-opportunity.org/assets/documents/race_summary.pdf ). Regarding this part that you quoted: “Black men who grow up in tracts with less racial bias among whites – measured by testing for implicit bias or explicit racial animus in Google searches— earn more and are less likely to be incarcerated.” Do you agree with the conclusion that racial bias among whites plays some non-trivial role in how financially successful, and likely to be incarcerated, black boys end up? And thus racial bias among whites is a least a piece of this puzzle of disparate outcomes?

Could you PM me a one-digit response then? I imagine you don’t want your thread sidetracked with a discussion about AA. That’s fine. Just PM me a “1”, “2”, or “3”, and I won’t mention it here again.

I am not sure that study shows that racism is the primary cause of Black men earning less. Because if racism was the primary cause, then wouldnt black women also earn less?

Perhaps instead of racism being the primary* cause, maybe it is Social dynamics? or even the media? After all, when rich successful Black men are shown, they are almost always in show business, sports or drug dealers. And it’s very hard to make it in show business or sports.

  • I think we call agree racism is a cause, of course.

I don’t think the article is arguing that. Just that some form of discrimination/inequality/etc. is very strongly harming the chances of black boys and men to reach financial success, but this factor or factors are not affecting black girls and women (though there are other forms of discrimination/inequality/etc. that affect both – such as whatever factors are responsible for black children of both genders being far less likely to be born into wealth or the upper middle class).

"*Extensive Data Shows Punishing Reach of Racism for Black Boys "

““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…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.”*

I think the article does argue that racism is the primary cause. After all, it is right there in the title.

Semantics – we both agree racism is involved – whether it’s “primary” or “fundamental” or “punishing” or some other descriptor might vary depending on what’s meant exactly, and who’s talking. I won’t argue with you that other factors may well be involved as well.

I must be doing something wrong - I don’t see the chart itself. I want to be sure they aren’t talking about what was mentioned earlier - neighborhoods or communities with present black fathers rather than the households themselves.

I don’t know yet. How did they test for implicit bias, and what kind of analysis of Google searches did they do? And it is still kind of a jump to “it isn’t family structure (if that is what they are saying) and it isn’t income, therefore it’s racism”.

As well as the question as to why racial bias would affect black boys, but not black girls. Did the implicit bias tests and the Google search analysis reflect this?

It’s an interesting study, don’t mistake me.


Here’s the link to the article again (which references the study): https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/03/19/upshot/race-class-white-and-black-men.html

The chart is about 2/3rds or 3/4ths towards the bottom of the article. You can do a text search for the following, and you’ll find it right below this text: “The income gap exists for black and white boys if they had one parent in the house or two.”

It’s a graph with two axes – income rank of parents, and income rank of kids. There are two sets of two lines – dark and light blue for black men raised by 2 parents and black men raised by 1 parent, and dark and light orange for white men raised by 2 and 1 parents.

Those are all reasonable questions. Some of the method questions may be answered in the link to the study.

Doesn’t that seem to be evidence that household culture might be a bigger determiner of success than external racism? I would expect asians born to foreign born mothers and asians born to American mothers to face similar levels of external racism, but their culture and attitudes may be different.

A quote from the reader Q&A from a follow-up article here:

I would say that the same culture can definitely push boys and girls in different directions. Consider many cultures where women are urged to become mothers and take care of the household and family, while men are expected to earn money for the family. It also doesn’t seem implausible to me to suggest that there could be cultural influences that resonate more with black boys, and hence have a disproportionate affect on them compared to other demographics (eg. how likely are rappers to be seen as a role model by black boys vs black girls vs white boys vs white girls?).

Unfortunately I believe there could be a feedback loop at work which causes differences in the average behaviour between these demographics to be magnified through systemic racism. It may be true that black males are more likely to be criminals than other demographics, and it may also be true that they are disproportionately arrested/shot/frisked above and beyond their increased criminality rates. Perhaps 1 out of 5 black males are criminals, vs 1 in 10 for white males, but those 4 out of 5 non-criminal black males will face unfair discrimination because of this disparity. On top of that, if everyone treats you like a criminal, wouldn’t it be easier to succumb to pressure and turn to criminal ways, vs. if it was not expected of you?

Perhaps you should consider that 80% of black males don’t turn to criminal ways?

And I wonder why no one is picking up on the graph showing that black women do better than white women?

What I think people have picked up on – and rightly – is that the lines for black and white women are just about coincident; all the action is in the differences between males. It’s true that the line for black women is slightly higher, but they’re so close that they would likely have entirely overlapping confidence intervals.

First, let’s dispose of the myth of the absentee Black father. While it’s true that Black fathers are statistically more likely to live apart from their children, the CDC says these dads spend MORE time with their children than do their white or Asian counterparts.

But it turns out the number of parents in the household isn’t the answer anyway, according to the study, itself. Bolding mine:

And finally, and most important, there’s this from the study:

The article is great. The original study is even better.