New research confirms the persistent income gap between blacks and whites. The troubling twist is that today’s lack of mobility makes closing it harder than ever.
We approach Labor Day at a fraught moment in the American experiment.
Although the economy has finally made up all the jobs lost from the Great Recession, and those that would have been created had it not happened, few are celebrating. Inequality is worse. Entire vocations and professions have become obsolete. Most wages are rising slowly if at all.
This is especially true of the persistent gap between whites and most minorities, especially blacks. An extensive new study indicates that it has worsened since the turn of the century, cuts across all skill and education levels, and has hardened into severe economic immobility.
We’re not merely economic actors, of course. The nation seems more divided than any moment since the eve of the Civil War. The Trump presidency has broken norms. And race relations, despite two terms of the first African-American president, appear to be at lows not seen in some time.
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White supremacists are on the rise. White identity likely played a much larger role in Donald Trump’s election than simply the white working class “left behind” by neoliberal economics. Even many whites who disavow the overt racism of the Charlottesville riot bridle at the notion that they are monolithic and have unearned “white privilege.”
We’re all unique individuals, burdened by history. If we split into exclusive and hostile tribes, e pluribus unum will never succeed. “We must learn to live together as brothers or we will all perish together as fools,” Martin Luther King Jr. said.
Still, the economic divide between most whites and African Americans is undeniable. It ultimately hurts the entire nation.
Before getting to that, it’s incumbent on any writer in this age of instant social-media-driven “knowledge” to emphasize how far we’ve come. Many young people, understandably concerned about police shootings of black citizens, don’t know the progress.
Slavery, Jim Crow, lynchings, legalized segregation, keeping African Americans out of the best-paying jobs and the mainstream — all this was overcome.
As of 2015, some 23 percent of black adults had bachelor’s degrees or higher, compared with 4 percent in 1964, according to the Pew Research Center. Almost 89…