Remember when Papa Pope channeled what every black parent across the U.S. has said since, well, the beginning of our history in this country in the Scandal episode: “It’s Handled?”   

Rowan: Did I not raise you for better? How many times have I told you? You have to be what?

Olivia: Twice as good.

Rowan: You have to be twice as good as them to get half of what they have.

It turns out Rowan (and all of our parents), weren’t so far off target. 

According to a study done by the National Bureau of Economic Research, white workers are hired and retained indefinitely without monitoring, while black workers are monitored and fired if a negative signal is received. These fired black workers are thrown back into the large pool of unemployment, and on average they subsequently continue the cycle of lower wages and discriminatory monitoring. According to the model, discrimination can persist even if blacks are more productive than whites in the workplace. 

To the average black worker or student, none of this is surprising. We spent our childhood days being told, “now don’t act up in front of those white people,” or were excessively chastised when our grades fell below an acceptable area, because our parents knew the struggle. They knew that whether your dreams were to climb a corporate ladder, become a respected athlete or run your own business, the time and dedication to such goals would take a lot more than meeting the minimum standards. But when the Atlantic ran a piece on blacks workers needing to be twice as good, addressing workplace stereotypes and the effects of cyclical unemployment, it was very clear that many non-black Americans were obliviously, and unsurprisingly, skeptical of the findings.  

RandomCriticalAnalysis said: The article completely mischaracterizes what it actually “found”. It was nothing more than a mathematical model to attempt to explain why blacks have persistently higher unemployment, longer unemployment durations, and shorter employment durations. No new empirical evidence was brought to light. They also ignore a lot of evidence that argues against their assumptions and fail to meaningfully test their model.

Another reader was even more frustrated with finding out the truth.

Urbanologist said: In my work experience the exact opposite is true. White supervisors treat blacks workers with kid gloves because they’re scared of being called racist and don’t want accusations of discrimination against them and the company.

As per usual, the evidence is laid out for our nation to see, and white Americans still have issues owning up to systematic injustice. The Atlantic pointed out that discrimination in the workplace is a reality that’s persisted for years. Historically, blacks have an unemployment rate about two points higher than their white counterparts. Currently, the gap is even higher, with white Americans being unemployed at 4.5 percent, just below the national average of a little over 5 percent. Unemployment amongst blacks is at a startling 9.4 percent, which is a slight but almost nill improvement from the 10 percent average at the beginning of 2015.


So although some readers might be disgruntled that the rigged system is finally being called out, the reality is that black unemployment is an unsolved issue and too many employers have no intent the break the cycle.    

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