Progress Is Being Made on Race, Racism, and Economic Success

In today’s climate of uncertainty and cynicism, it’s easy to forget that just 18 months ago our nation’s first African-American president left office. After his historic victory in the 2008 presidential election, Barack Obama addressed the nation saying, “At this defining moment change has come to America.”

A decade later, with hate groups, police brutality and our nation’s disproportionately high black murder, incarceration and poverty rates rightly making headlines, one might think everything is heading in the wrong direction.

Yet a recent report by the American Enterprise Institute called “Black Men: Making It in America” provides some much-needed positive news. The report sought to answer two important questions: 1) “What share of black men have reached the middle class or higher as adults? What share are in poverty?” And 2) “What are the key institutional and cultural engines of economic success for black men in America today?”

The answers, while by no means a cure-all for deep-seated biases that impede black economic progress, offer cause for hope. The report defines middle class as the one-third of Americans whose total family income last year, adjusted by family size, represented the middle third of all incomes. After an in-depth analysis of Census data, the report found that 57 percent of black men earn middle income or higher. That’s up from 38 percent in 1960, four years before Congress passed the Civil Rights Act ending segregation in public places and banning employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, gender or national origin. (Similarly, just 55 percent of Hispanic men — 2 percentage points less than black men — have risen to middle income or higher.)

As the AEI report shows, much of that progress came between 1960 and 1980, when longstanding institutional barriers to progress were being torn down. And as we wrote last month, one of the problems keeping African-American families from joining the middle class is a persistent wage gap between whites and blacks.

Yet the fact that the share of black men below the poverty line has fallen to 18 percent in 2016 from 41 percent in 1960 shows progress is being made.

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Source: Christian Post