Beyond Discrimination: Understanding African American Inequality in the Twenty-First Century

Source: Michael B. Katz and Mark J. Stern, Dissent, Winter, 2008

In November 2007, two reports by distinguished research centers turned African American inequality into national news. Their startling and discomfiting data highlighted both the fragility of African American success and the widening fault lines that divide African Americans from each other. Impressive and authoritative as the reports are, they nonetheless remain incomplete because they do not explain how and why African American inequality has changed during the last several decades or the place of gender and publicly supported work in the new black inequality. … Public and state-related employment, thus, have proved the most powerful vehicles for African American economic mobility and the most effective antipoverty legacy of the Great Society. This dependence on publicly funded work also left African Americans vulnerable. Reductions in public employment and spending strike them with special ferocity and undermine their often fragile achievements.

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