On the surface it looks like we've come a long way in race equality, but in reality we have far to go
No one really knows what Martin Luther King Jr. would say about black America today if he were to look at some African American statistics. I would imagine he would say that things are better now than in his era, but with much room for improvement.
The general public is far more tolerant than it was sixty years ago. More African Americans are finishing school. There is a two-term black president in office. Black entertainers and athletes are making fortunes. If you looked at American life through a television set, you might think black men and women are doing just fine.
But that’s far from the truth. If the road to equality were a mile long, it would probably be easier to measure progress with a yard stick. The fact is, black people in America still have it really rough and I’ve collected some statistics to prove it.
People forget all too quickly that slavery might have officially ended 150 years ago, but segregation only ended a century later (if it did at all). Black people only gained civil rights at around that same time with the help of MLK. That was only a generation or two ago and a lot of the racist mentality that existed then is still around today. To be sure, racial equality is taking way too long in this country, but we need to keep moving forward.
– People of color make up about 30 percent of the American population, but account for 60 percent of those imprisoned. The incarceration rates disproportionately impact men of color, particularly blacks: one in every 15 black men and one in every 36 Hispanic men are imprisoned compared to one in every 106 white men.
– According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, one in three black men can expect to go to prison in their lifetime. A report by the Department of Justice found that blacks and Hispanics were roughly three times more likely to be searched during a traffic stop. African Americans were twice as likely to be arrested and almost four times as likely to experience the use of force by police.
– Black offenders receive longer sentences. The U.S. Sentencing Commission stated that in the federal system black offenders receive sentences that are 10 percent longer than white offenders for the same crimes. African Americans are 21 percent more likely to receive mandatory-minimum sentences and are 20 percent more likely to be sentenced to prison.
– The wealth gap between minorities and whites has not improved over the past three decades. From 1983 to 2010, average family wealth for whites has been about six times that of blacks and Hispanics. In addition, wealth disparity between whites and blacks grew even wider during the Great Recession.
– It is true that more black students are graduation high school and moving on to higher education today than twenty years ago. But according to the US Department of Education, nearly half of the nation’s African American students still attend high schools in low-income areas with dropout rates that hover in the 40-50% range. These “Dropout factories” are estimated to produce 73% of African American, 66% of Latino, and 34% of White dropouts, respectively.
– According to US Census Bureau data, in 2012, 28.1% of all African-American live in poverty, up from 25.5% in 2005. Compare that to the 11.8% of all non-Hispanic white people who live in poverty.
– The black unemployment rate has consistently been twice as high as the white unemployment rate for 50 years. A report from the Economic Policy Institute notes that this gap hasn’t closed at all since 1963. Back then, the unemployment rate was 5 percent for whites and 10.9 percent for blacks. Today, it’s 6.6 percent for whites and 12.6 percent for blacks.
-The Census recently reported that 52.1 percent of black children are living in single-parent homes, versus just 19.9 percent of white children.