• Mar 19, 2018

Extensive Data Shows Punishing Reach of Racism for Black Boys

By Emily Badger, Claire Cain Miller, Adam Pearce and Kevin Quealy
New York Times, March 19, 2018

This article includes powerful graphics to underscore the different life trajectories of “20 million children born between 1978 and 1983.” According to the study, conducted “by researchers at Stanford, Harvard and the Census Bureau,” black and white boys showed startlingly disparate trajectories, regardless of their initial starting point. With animated graphics, the article captures the different downward trajectories of black boys born to affluence and “For poor children, the pattern is reversed. Most poor black boys will remain poor as adults. White boys raised in poor families fare far better.”

Buried in this otherwise gloomy research is what William Julius Wilson describes as “a pathbreaking finding” that the presence of fathers in a neigbhorhood can moderate these negative trajectories. According to Wilson,“They’re not talking about the direct effects of a boy’s own parents’ marital status. They’re talking about the presence of fathers in a given census tract.”

Other fathers in the community can provide boys with role models and mentors, researchers say, and their presence may indicate other neighborhood factors that benefit families, like lower incarceration rates and better job opportunities.

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