A new study comparing the earnings of white men to black men who all grew up rich shatters theories that class is more of a fundamental problem for black men than race. The research revealed that black men who grew up rich still earned less in adulthood than white men, The New York Times reported.
According to the study, led by researchers at Stanford, Harvard and the Census Bureau, black boys who grew up rich were more likely to become poor as an adult than rich. As part of the study, researchers compared 10,000 American men now in their late 30s– half were black and half were white – to track their earnings as adults. The research revealed that about 20 percent of black men who grew up rich became poor as an adult. Only 17 percent of black men who grew up rich remained rich. Conversely, 39 percent of white men who grew up rich remained rich, and only 10 percent became poor.
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The findings for the black men in the study were more evenly spread. About 20 percent of the black men became a lower-middle class adult and 22 percent became a middle-class adult. For white men, only 10 percent of them became a lower-middle class adult with much higher percentages of them either becoming an upper-middle class adult or rich.
Ibram Kendi, a professor and director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University, told The Times that the research proves that race is more of a fundamental problem for black men than class.
"One of the most popular liberal post-racial ideas is the idea that the fundamental problem is class and not race, and clearly this study explodes that idea,” Kendi said. “But for whatever reason, we’re unwilling to stare racism in the face.”
Researchers in the study also found that for children who were raised poor, black boys were more likely to remain poor than white boys. The findings, which analyzed 10,000 men who grew up in poor families, revealed that 48 percent of black men who were raised poor remained poor, compared to 31 percent of white men who remained poor. White men who were raised poor were more likely to become rich – 10 percent of those white men became rich compared to 2 percent of the black men in the study.
In comparison to boys, the study revealed that for girls, black girls and white girls who grew up in households with similar earnings reached similar incomes as adults. David Grusky, a Stanford sociologist, told The Times that these findings further dispel beliefs that disparities in earning potential across racial groups are caused by cognitive abilities.
"…you’ve got to explain to me why these putative ability differences aren’t handicapping women," he said.
The research suggests that while young black girls face their own unique discrimination, societal factors cause black boys to face unique obstacles as it relates to racial discrimination, education and income, The Times reported.
In one example of unique obstacles young black children face, Vox previously reported on a 2014 report from the Education Department which revealed that black students were three times more likely than white students to be suspended or expelled. The report revealed that 20 percent of black boys were reportedly suspended in the 2011-'12 school year, and 12 percent of black girls were suspended.
Noelle Hurd, a psychology professor at the University of Virginia, told The Times that being black and male has been "hyper-stereotyped."
"It’s not just being black but being male that has been hyper-stereotyped in this negative way, in which we’ve made black men scary, intimidating, with a propensity toward violence,” Hurd said.