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Statistics suggest America is not ‘post-racial,’ speaker says

Published: Thu, February 13, 2014 @ 12:08 a.m.



By Ed Runyan



Many people have started to question whether we are “post-racial America” now that a black president has been elected, and some wonder whether Black History Month is still needed.

But Idris K. Syed, a lecturer in the Kent State University Department of Pan-African Studies, says the economic conditions of black Americans indicate little improvement in the past 50 years.

“When we look at the society, we can hope that it’s post-racial, but we have to look at the realities that exist on the ground and recognize that just having one black face as the head of our country does not make things better for the multitude of black faces that exist in our communities,” Syed said during a Black History Month presentation Wednesday at Kent State at Trumbull.

On the White House website, President Barack Obama’s administration suggests that conditions have gotten better for blacks since he took office. It says the administration has “made strides in restoring opportunity for all Americans” and will celebrate Black History Month in February by highlighting factors such as health care and economic mobility “as creating pathways of success and security for African Americans.”

But in the 50 years since the March on Washington, “economic mobility for blacks has “remained relatively stagnant,” Syed said.

Black Americans are “on the bottom rung of economic mobility in society [and] have a median income of $32,068,” which he said is “relatively flat.”

The unemployment rate for blacks “has also remained relatively flat and relatively stable ... about double the amount of unemployment [of] their white counterparts.”

In 1960, blacks earned about 55 cents for every dollar earned by whites doing the same job.

“Today, they make 66 cents to the dollar, so we’ve improved about 11 cents on that dollar in the past 50 years,” he said.

More problematic is the incarceration rate for black males, he said. It has risen 2.3 times since 1960, while the incarceration rate of white males has increased 1.6 times. The rate of incarceration of black males is 4,347 per 100,000 black males; for white males, it’s 1,313 per 100,000, he said, citing the Washington Post.

In fact, the odds of a white male with a felony record being employed are greater than the odds of a black male being employed who has no felony record, he said.

Black History Month began in 1976, endorsed by President Gerald Ford.

James M. Ritter, director of enrollment management and student services at the Trumbull campus, participated in a question-and answer session at the end of Syed’s talk, adding that education affects one prison-related statistic — the rate at which convicts return to prison.

Of those who go to prison, 80 percent who get a college degree do not return to prison. But of those who do not get an education, 90 percent return to prison, he said.

Ritter visits inmates at the Trumbull Correctional Institution in Leavittsburg, some of whom are receiving a college education while in prison, he said.


1mouse(112 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

. It breaks my heart when all races take the name of the Lord my God in vain & no one says any thing.
So I say people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.
Clean up your own back yard before you start cleaning up some one else's.....

these people who keep bringing this race stuff up are only wanting to use you to bring America down

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2walter_sobchak(2625 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

While this may be the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, it is also the same for some other occurrence in the US. Any idea, Mr. Syed? Slavery is slavery whether it is by means of chains or by means of a government check! Once again, the victim mentality rears its ugly head.

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3Bevan(7 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

Unfortunately, Professor Syed's well researched statistics do not persuade Americans with deeply ingrained "beliefs"(really only camouflaged prejudices) about the myths of equality, equal opportunity, and the end of slavery in this country.

As an educator, I have long been troubled that students at all levels of learning do not in fact LEARN. Of course my statement is itself a sweeping generalization, but 40 years of teaching in public schools and universities convince me of the sad state of 'education' in America. We have turned 'education' into 'obtaining a diploma/degree; getting a "good" job--aka high pay with lots of perks--so to buy a home away from crime and poverty,' then believe you've built the American dream by your own hard work. The reality of white privilege and "rights" to a mythical superiority persist throughout America. The most ignorant tout it blatantly as "white supremacy"; those with a modicum of learning rationalize their acquisitions and status as "achievement. "

And did I mention that, like the South African apartheid supporters, we often do so in the name of God, as if God actually condones our myopic preservation of privilege while people of color bleed, starve, and die around us, in disproportionate numbers to their percentage of the population. "Slavery" may now be illegal, but the mindset that crafted that institution has deep, deep, roots not yet eradicated. On no other "enlightened," "advanced" and endowed culture on earth is there SUCH persist obsession with the color of one's skin contributing to one's access to or restriction from social standing, the benefits of the social order, or, often, simply personal respect. I fear that God has given up on US, because of our hard-heartedness.

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4billdog1(5602 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

eivo, there is no other occupation more connected to the communities they work in than educators. It is sad to think that rather than attack a person based on ones lack of experiences anybody wouldn't take the time to at minimum listen. These are the people that see the best and the worst in our population and communities. They are forced to adjust to the tides of social norms whether they agree with the idea or not. If our communities would take more time to get involved in children's lives and education many of our social ills may turn for the better. Teachers don't make policy, your school boards do. Like your job, educators are forced to abide by policy. Unlike your job, when a broken product crosses you it is repaired or replaced. Educators are unable to choose the kids they work with. They are given a product of a families beliefs, behaviors and acceptance or lack of social norms. Be the change you want to see, don't set back and blame others for what you have never done or been involved in.

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5billdog1(5602 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

Although it has been a while, I recall my higher education being presented as evidence based, not opinion based. I do believe that even after education the ability to not see what one denies still exist.

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6dontbeafool(1942 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

as soon as I seen the title of this article, I knew eivo would be the first one on her. And bingo, I was correct. Not surprising, since he doesn't believe racism even exists. Or what was the stats.... 98% of racism is all imagined?

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7billdog1(5602 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

College educators are not teachers, they are leaders in their field of study. Few ever take a class that has anything to do with teaching. Most believe that higher education be as it was hundreds of years ago. Students work under researchers at institutions, and come to conclusions on their own. This is also no so great, many would never advance do to not always agreeing with their mentor. Because a few get media attention doesn't mean they are all liberals. However, it would seem to me that the most educated would know more than those with less education.

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8dontbeafool(1942 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

nope, just pointing out the obvious....

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9mondaymoon(2 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

Wow! Reading some of your comments is amazing. You get bits and pieces of a lecture and you think you have a grasp on what was said. I was at the lecture and I was amazed at many of the things I learned that day.

Eivo - I would have thought the same thing about racism not being as prevalent as it once was. I was wrong, as are you. I have friends from every part of the world, I know that many, living in the US, still get a lot of grief because of what they look like and where their ancestors are from.

Also, instead of going online and blasting each other, you may want to take a few classes and educate yourselves. It may help with the grammar and spelling issues I am reading. It may also enlighten you with a little bit of knowledge.
Just saying....

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1076Ytown(1326 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

"President Barack Obama’s administration suggests that conditions have gotten better for blacks since he took office"

Unemployment for black young to age 16 - 19 is 38%. That's improvement? http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsi...

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