Even if a black man is never called a nigger in the job application process, racism is alive and well in today's competitive marketplace. In a powerful editorial for the NY Times, it's made clear that the deck is stacked firmly against African Americans in ways that are incredibly destructive.
The sociologist Devah Pager, a Harvard professor who has meticulously researched the effect of race on hiring policies, has also shown that stereotypes have a powerful effect on job possibilities. In one widely cited study, she sent carefully selected test applicants with equivalent résumés to apply for low-level jobs with hundreds of employers. Ms. Pager found that criminal convictions for black men seeking employment were virtually impossible to overcome in many contexts, partly because convictions reinforced powerful, longstanding stereotypes.
The stigma of a criminal record was less damaging for white testers. In fact, those who said that they were just out of prison were as likely to be called back for a second interview as black men who had no criminal history at all. “Being black in America today is just about the same as having a felony conviction in terms of one’s chances of finding a job,” she wrote in her book, “Marked: Race, Crime and Finding Work in an Era of Mass Incarceration.”
Are you getting that?
A black man with no criminal history or record whatsoever is as likely to get called back for a second interview as a white man fresh out of prison! Damn, that's ugly. So ugly.
I won't even get into the vicious cycle that is created when any one segment of the American population is consistently discriminated against in the job market. What's clear is this - racism is alive and well in America and must be confronted head on.
What are your best ideas for how racism in the job market can be addressed?
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