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The Pawns of Politics: Where Is My Patronage?

The Pawns of Politics: Where Is My Patronage?

Peter Grear

Educate, organize and mobilize -- For more than a year leading up to the recently completed General Elections, I’ve written about Voter Suppression, gerrymandering, the Black vote and voters.  

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Thurgood Marshall College Fund Focuses on Developing Black CEOs

Thurgood Marshall College Fund Focuses on Developing Black CEOs

Developing Black CEOs

According to research conducted by Richard Zweigenhaft, a psychology professor at Guilford College in Greensboro, N.C., though Blacks account for more than 13 percent of the U.S. population, 

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Verbal Abuse in the Workplace: Are Men or Women Most at Risk?

Verbal Abuse in the Workplace: Are Men or Women Most at Risk?

Abuse in the Workplace

There is no significant difference in the prevalence of verbal abuse in the workplace between men and women, according to a systematic review of the literature conducted by researchers at the Institut universitaire de santé mentale de Montréal

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The Decision to Handle Rejection

The Decision to Handle Rejection

Rev. Manson B. Johnson

The Big Idea: Endurance is the key to achieving challenging goals in life.“Man’s rejection can be God’s direction.  God sometimes uses the rejection of hateful people to move us to a new place or assignment–where we wouldn’t have thought of going on our own.  

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How to Turn Personal Obstacles into Triumphs

How to Turn Personal Obstacles into Triumphs

(StatePoint) Everyone faces setbacks in life.

While those personal obstacles can lead to disappointing outcomes, they can also be harnessed into personal motivators, say experts. 

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Subscribe to Get GDN Print Edition

Subscribe to Get GDN Print Edition

Print Subscription

 Greater Diversity News (GDN) is a statewide publication with national reach and relevance.  We are a chosen news source for underrepresented and underserved communities in North Carolina.  

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Standard Surveys Overestimate Black Progress in Education, Earnings

Written by University of Washington on 02 July 2012.

By many counts, the lives of African-Americans in the United States have progressed since the Civil Rights era. National surveys show narrowing over the past few decades of gaps between blacks and whites in education and employment. There’s a growing black middle class and a black president. The surveys also suggest a smaller racial gap in voting, and many credit a large turnout of black voters for President Barack Obama’s 2008 election.

But when Becky Pettit, a sociology professor at the University of Washington, took a closer look at the numbers, she found that most measures exclude 2.3 million Americans in prisons and jails.

“A disproportionate number of these individuals are black men with little education, whose exclusion from social surveys gives the illusion that black people in America have achieved more than they actually have,” Pettit said.

She describes her findings and their social consequences in “Invisible Men: Mass Incarceration and the Myth of Black Progress,” a book published this month by Russell Sage Foundation. The title is a nod to Ralph Ellison’s 1952 novel, “Invisible Man.”

Federal surveys such as the monthly Current Population Survey rely on data collected from individuals living in households, which does not include those who are incarcerated, on parole, in the military or in mental hospitals.

When Pettit factored in inmates, she found that young black men without a high school diploma are more likely to be in prison or jail than have a job, and that nearly 70 percent of young black men without a high school diploma will be imprisoned at some point in their lives.

Standard surveys underestimate high school dropout rates for young black men by 40 percent, Pettit found.

“Including inmates, we find little improvement in the black-white gap in high school completion for the last 20 years,” she wrote in “Invisible Men.”

When inmates are included, employment rates for young, black men with less than a high school degree have decreased by half since 1980. In 2008, 25 percent of all jobless black men under 35 were in prison or jail, compared with 9 percent of young white men.

With more young black men unemployed due to incarceration, the black-white gap in earnings grew too. Pettit calculates that in 2008, average earnings by blacks were 30 cents for every dollar earned by whites.

Since most inmates are ineligible to vote, mass incarceration of black men has affected their participation in democracy. Pettit found that 48.6 percent of all young black men, including inmates, voted in the 2008 presidential election. Without including inmates, it appeared that 55 percent of young, black men voted – a statistic that led many to attribute Obama’s victory to a large turnout of black voters.

“Although blacks who voted in the 2008 presidential election supported President Obama by wide margins, a large fraction of black men were ineligible to vote because they were incarcerated. It is likely that even more will be ineligible for the 2012 election,” Pettit said.

Other consequences of incarceration, such as higher divorce rates, greater economic hardship for families of inmates and poor health status, are also obscured by omitting prison inmates from social surveys.

Pettit argues that shifts in criminal justice policy over the past few decades – not increases in crime – have led to greater incarceration of young black men.

“In any single case it is easy to point to crimes committed and the need to lock a person up,” she said. “But after decades of doing just that, when we step back and look at the criminal justice system as a whole, we can see that very clearly that it has become an institution that increasingly houses American’s most disadvantaged.” •

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