Saturday, July 7, 2018
Electronic Urban Report

*At first glance, the recently published article by CNN entitled “Black Men Are Succeeding In America”, sounds like a positive statement about the racial progress of America. Who does not want to hear that black males are progressing in a country that has so clearly made their advancement not only difficult, but in some cases, by law, impossible?

But the reality is that the study which underlies the report—which was issued by conservative think tank, American Enterprise Institute (AEI)—is flawed in myriad ways, and does more to complicate our understanding of race in America than to provide an accurate depiction of the present condition of black men in America.

The report, entitled “Black Men Making it in America”, depends on two main points to prove their assertion of black male progress. First, the progress of black males ages 54-61 throughout their life span, and secondly, an analysis of black male incomes relative to the poverty line over time. Neither of these assessments are an honest nor helpful way of determining whether or not black men are actually succeeding in today’s America.

1)      Using the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY79) the authors W. Bradford Wilcox, Wendy Wang, and Ronald B. Mincy argue,Tracking black men from young adulthood through their 50s…we identified three factors that are associated with their success: education, work, and marriage.”  The issue, however, is that their review of black males who are among the youngest baby boomers does not support an assessment of working-age black males today; men who are struggling through an economy that has turned against them. One cannot track the stages of life for someone 61 in America today to review the prospects of any group—particularly black males—because the economic landscape is not static. In fact, when looking at the economics of the moment, it is highly erratic. Economist Thomas Piketty, the author of Capital in the Twenty-First Century, recently observedthat the level of inequality in the United States—for those who work for a living—“is probably higher than in any other society, at any time in the past, anywhere in the world.”  In other words, wealth has calcified in the hands of the rich, wages have stagnated, and incarceration has boomed, a set of conditions which—in their data—go unaccounted for. As Professor Sandy Darity of Duke University stated it, “Late baby boomers probably had the most access to new opportunities than any black cohort in America, coming of age in the 1960s and 1970s, before Reagan.”

2)      Secondly the study’s use of the poverty line creates an artificially low barometer to determine progress. Since the creation of the poverty line in 1960, it has not been adjusted consistently to make any accurate determination of what it means as a threshold in contemporary society. As shown in article “The Federal Poverty Line Is Too Damn Low,”

Read the full article here