Racism vs low Social Mobility

A lot of debates about the effects of racism get fairly muddied by the fact that ethnic minorities tend to be disproportionately in lower income brackets and poor people tend to get it worse regardless of race.

The topic of debate is; to what degree are poor ethnic minorities kept in lower social classes by the effects of systematic racism rather than low social mobility and the general difficulties of raising yourself & family out of poverty.

If racism were completely eliminated (along with all affirmitive action type programs) would it take, through the normal rate of intra-racial social mobility, for the distribution of all races to be proportional in all social strata?

My guess would be on the order of 100 years

Aren’t you pre-judging the matter? Experience says that minorities can rise. Look at the Rothschild family - Jews - for instance. Some Hispanics even became emperors of Rome.

Perhaps, Rothschilds and emperors are probably statistical outliers though, I’m thinking about population level trends.

I think it’s a valid question, and I think I have no way of coming up with a valid answer.

How about a controlled experiment in which racism is only cancelled against certain individuals, while other members of the same group must be treated in a racist way because they’re the control group? The group not experiencing racist treatment could all wear special little hats… Hmmmm, too difficult to ensure they actually wear the hats.

Oh! I know! Make sure that some poor people (but not all - control group you know) have enough money to buy a decent house in their town, plus the social stability to remain there, and a 100% level of trust (judged from their point of view) that no future government can ever overturn the program that they’re a part of.
Dang. These experiments are hard.

Hey, how about bypassing the studies and making a permanent irrevocable financial and legal commitment to fixing both problems, thereby rendering my stupid experiments moot?

When it comes to black Americans, there is an intersection between race and class. Like, it has been my experience that lot of white people assume that predominately black neighborhoods are bad. The idea of a safe middle-class, tree-lined neighborhood full of black people does not exist to them because they are only aware of “bad” black neighborhoods full of crime and poverty. The same with predominately black schools. So it is damn near impossible to separate racism and classicism from the stigma of blackness. Hence, the value of intersectionality theory.

So what this means is that classicism is an issue that black people in general are affected by-even black people who are not poor. For instance, throw out some Yiddish in conversation and people will likely find it entertaining and charming. But if you do the same with AAVE, and people will likely think you’re “ghetto”. Our cultural practices are marked as low-brow and “ghetto”, even though there is nothing objectively low brow or ghetto about them.

Really? Even after the likes of the Cosby Show and the Lethal Weapon series of films?

But over here that’s nothing to do with race; if you speak as if you’re uneducated then people will initially assume you are.

Uneducated, they’ll think you are, if Yiddish word order you use?

There really is a different view of African-American Vernacular English and of other non-prestige dialects of English.

And the fact that the poor have it harder, but blacks are disproportionately poor, is in itself a form of racism. It’s a tough form of racism to address, because it’s continuing effects of racist acts from a century or more ago, so we can’t fix it (at least, not quickly) just by changing the current generation’s racist practices. But it still has an effect.

Often, when someone’s poor, it’s because they didn’t learn good life skills. And they probably didn’t learn good life skills because their parents were also poor and didn’t know good life skills, and so on. But for many poor black folks, if you trace it back, the ultimate reason they’re poor is because their parents’ parents’ parent’s… parents were poor, and those ancestors were poor because they were dragged from their cultures and families, abused, and treated like animals. We’ve stopped doing that, of course, which is good, but it’s not enough, because the effects still linger. And it’s hard, then, to say that that modern poor black person isn’t a victim of racism.

I think there are too many factors to say simply eliminating racism will be the determining factor.

Last week I happened to drive through a part of Appalachia, on a non-Interstate highway route that took me through numerous small towns. It was a classic example of rural poverty and it was 100% white.

Those people are starting so far behind what we consider a middle-class upbringing that I doubt two or even three generations will be enough to overcome their disadvantages. I’d say the same thing is working against people who grew up in multiple generations of urban poverty. The problem is not simply lack of money, it’s an entire social system that’s different in many fundamental ways than what the rest of us are living in.

Why does African-American Vernacular equate with uneducated?

Does a strong Yorkshire vernacular, or strong Scottish vernacular accent equate with uneducated?

The first and middle (edited) parts make a lot of sense. But the last sentence kind of ignores the logic of the part before.

We know there’s a history of racism, don’t need to debate that. But as the impact of racism per se on social mobility now, and the argued decline in social mobility separately from race (in US society for example) that tends to get measured by simply looking at income (and other social indicator) disparities and then assuming they would quickly disappear with some ‘irrevocable financial and legal commitment’.

But as you said correctly IMO at first there’s actually no way to determine what causes social disparities, because it’s really not science, with reproducible experimental results. This is especially true in case of (argued) reductions in social mobility separate from race, where emotions run lower and it’s easier to have a logical discussion. Incomes have tended to become more stratified. Being in higher income groups appears to now correlate more with whether one’s parents are than it used to. But exactly what caused that and how to fix that in a productive way (not a counter productive anti-meritocratic way that won’t fly in a competitive world) is not at all clear.

As I understand it, Africans who come to the US to work, do about as well as your average white American or at least fairly close to it.

Now, granted, Africans probably don’t usually move to Alabama, but the indication would seem to be that “racism” isn’t a notable factor in at least part of the country and in those places there’s nothing to stop a black person from doing well, and yet many African Americans will not see the same success as an African would.

My personal take on the subject is that African American culture is bad for African Americans. I mean, it’s one thing to say that people should embrace their heritage and be proud of it and so on, but you have to consider what the actual cultural heritage is.

If we look at Native American culture for example, there’s no reason that the people shouldn’t continue to practice the dances, tell the stories, etc. that their ancestors told. But at the same time, it’s notable that the war bonnet that’s a famous tradition among the Plains natives can only be earned by men, no matter how hard a woman tries. Does it really make sense to say that culture is good if it means being sexist?

Areas of Afghanistan have a tradition of teaching young boys to be sexy dancers that can be sold off to wealthy men. Again, just because this is cultural heritage doesn’t mean that it’s de facto “good”.

Whatever you think of African American culture, I will say that these Asian parent jokes would not resonate with your average African American:


But some of those jokes might work just fine with some Africans. Not believing in education is not an issue of skin color, it’s an issue of a culture that was crafted by a people who were beaten and broken into holding beliefs that were counter to their own interests. And so to now go in and say, “you should embrace that”, is stupid and harmful.

How long it takes for African Americans to fully join the regular success rate of other ethnicities really depends on how long it takes to separate innocuous things like Kwanzaa away from the harmful things like misogyny and lack of interest in schools in African American culture.

And, personally, I fear that if African American culture is all bling and hos for too long, racism will come back just as strong as before.

The OP is correct in that the US, for example, has very low social mobility; how wealthy your parents are is a much more significant predictive factor than in most other developed countries.
And furthermore, can we not just use that as a comparison? I would expect that the chance of a white person escaping poverty would be higher than a black person and that difference is probably due to differences in opportunity.

Are you sure you’re comparing like-for-like? A disproportionate number of immigrants from Africa either have a higher degree or are coming to the US to obtain one.
It’s like how here in China, most african americans I meet are either wealthy or students (or both), despite the “hindrance” of african american culture.

I am aware and was ready for the response.

41% of Africans who come to the US have a bachelor’s degree or higher.

53.9% of Asian Americans do.

The 41% is pretty similar to the 36.2% that non-Hispanic whites are at.

That is to say, Africans who come to the US are, on average, within the realm of the average and there’s nothing about genetics nor the law that prevents anyone from competing with the Asian Americans.

I don’t follow you.

You were comparing African immigrants to African Americans, saying that the former seem to do “as well as your average white American or at least fairly close to it” (which, incidentally, I think is an understatement), and proposing that the difference is because of african american culture having a negative effect on blacks who grow up in america.

I pointed out that a high proportion of immigrants from Africa have higher degrees, higher than the proportion of blacks in America. You’re comparing the people who have the money and/or skills to emigrate to the US to a general population there. It’s apples to oranges.

And now you say that African immigrants have a higher proportion of graduates than whites in America. Sure, that’s what I’d expect.
And that Chinese americans have an even higher proportion of graduates. What’s the relevance of that?

Where did you get Chinese immigrant from?

(missed edit window): I meant Asian americans, not “chinese americans”

  1. If there is racism, then we would expect any black-skinned person to do poor, in terms of economic attainment, compared to their educational attainment.
  2. Black skinned people from Africa have about equivalent educational attainment as white Americans.
  3. Black skinned people from Africa perform about equivalent to white Americans, economically.
  4. Ergo, racism does not seem to play any part in economic attainment - at least in the regions of the country that African immigrants move to. Economic attainment is directly linear to educational attainment and is unaffected by skin color.

Not necessarily, because for one thing we need all else being equal.
For an example of a factor that may not be the same: what’s the wealth distribution between the two groups? That’s a very important factor in the US, where social mobility is very low.

And secondly I don’t expect the relationship to be linear. What I mean by that is, in highly-skilled professions perhaps racism is less: people’s resumes speak for themselves, and you’re hardly going to think a person who spent 6 years getting their PhD is going to steal lab equipment because of their race.
Someone at a lower rung of society though, trying to get their first break, maybe then it matters how their race is perceived.

Higher educational attainment. I don’t agree to call it “about equivalent”.

Was that in the census you linked? It doesn’t open for me. I’ll assume you are correct.

While Asian Americans did not start out as slaves, it’s fair to say that they did not come to the US wealthy nor did they come as equals, nor were they not discriminated against. To the extent that Asian Americans may be more financially well-off now, that’s not an issue of starting high and staying on top.

Whether you do or not doesn’t change that the number sits between two large groups of native-born Americans. The ratio is not outlandish by American standards.

From the vantage of Africa, maybe we’re taking 99% of their college-educated population. But from the vantage of the USA, the ratio of college-educated to non-college educated among African immigrants is not exceptional.

African immigrants are not all PHDs. News articles cast it that way, but the numbers do not support that conclusion.

I haven’t provided a cite. At the moment, the data on the topic seems to be mostly informal.

Etc. no proper studies yet. Insufficient time for the data to fully settle out.

I dispute the “fair to say”. I would expect a disproportionate number will be from families that were wealthy and/or had a history of academic acheivement. Not all. Probably not even most. But certainly higher than the proportion among blacks in America, who were only allowed to begin climbing the social ladder around 50 years ago.

They have a disproportionately high number of postgrads, even compared to whites.
Of course not all of them are “PhDs” and I’ve never heard such a suggestion.

Yet you’re prepared to draw conclusions about culture.