Race Disparity Statistics

To understand systemic racism in our country you have to understand the racial disparities in most aspects of lives.  Below are selected highlights from multiple sources on racial inequality.

While reading through the disparities, keep these numbers from the Census in your head

  • 62: the percentage of this country that is White American (not Latinx)
  • 13: the percentage of this country that is Black American

And keep current racial bias in mind

According to Everyday Feminist: Here’s Your Proof That White Americans Don’t Face Systemic Racism

For one, a startling number of Americans – 49% – think that “discrimination against whites” is “as big a problem as discrimination against” black people and other people of color. Research by The Washington Post corroborates this poll: “Whites now think bias against white people is more of a problem than bias against black people.”

Before you start blaming Trump supporters for these results, a recent poll of 16,000 Americans revealed that Clinton supporters, too, have some serious work to do. For example, 20% of Clinton supporters described Black Americans as “less intelligent” than White Americans. And, not so long ago, two Black women exposed the racism of “progressives” when they dared interrupt Bernie Sanders at a rally in Seattle.

This is a problem all across the board.”


Inequality Begins at Birth

“What is the system that keeps people of color at the lower echelons of the socio-economic hierarchy? It begins at birth. Most of those who happen to be born on the wrong side of the tracks are trapped. So many of them eventually end up on the wrong side of the law or disappear in gang violence. That is why there are 1.5 million missing black men in this country today. We have to realize that children are not responsible for the schools in the neighborhood in which they happened to be born. They chose neither their skin pigment nor their parents. So they can hardly be held responsible for the poverty of their parents or for their dysfunctional neighborhoods. Although they deserve better, they will not get the proper education for a knowledge economy and once they become adults they join the ranks of the have-nots, because there will not be any jobs for them. The employers are not responsible for not hiring those who are unqualified, unskilled, uneducated and without diplomas. So that is the real existing system of Capitalism with a poverty trap. It is against that system that people were throwing rocks. But how do you throw rocks against a system?

This inhumane system will not change until the American people realize that this system is fundamentally and deeply unfair and elect representatives in Congress with a vision to create a capitalism with a human face. All we have to do is to clean up the slums, provide top notch schools capable of competing with those in Finland, bring some jobs back that have been exported to distant shores, and we should be in good shape. No more food stamps, no more welfare payments, no more Medicaid, no more expenditures on incarceration and lower expenditures on the police force! It will be an America in which the determining factor of the life chances of newborns will not depend on the happenstance of the zip code of their birth.”


The Maven:  How To Do Intersectionality

“intersectionality is an analysis related to identity, not an identity in itself. Everyone has multiple identities. Systems of hierarchy have been created around our identities, and the combinations (or intersections) of those systems affect how life goes for us. Some of these identities give us a leg up, while others push us a rung down the ladder. The combination of identities can compound (or diminish) advantage or compound (or relieve) harm, and there are perhaps endless variations. The point of intersectional practice is to look at all these possible combinations of privilege and vulnerability, rather than just stopping with the ones that apply to us, whoever we are.”

As you read about race disparities below please understand that these disparities can be exponentially worst depending on what combination of identities someone has.  For example people of color often have worst racial disparities than white people.  But a person of color who has other identities such as a women, LGBTQ, Muslim, low income or homeless, often will have much worst disparities that what is recorded below.

Table of Contents

Police Interactions
Criminal Justice/Courts
Prison (Mass Incarceration)
War on Drugs
Modern School Segregation
Retail Shopping

Media Representation
The Kerner Report: differences between 1968 and 2016
Learn More
Follow Campaigns

Police Interactions

  • Young black boys/men, ages 15-19, are 21 times more likely to be to be shot and killed by the police than young white boys/men.
  • Blacks are less than 13% of the U.S. population, and yet they are 31% of all fatal police shooting victims, and 39% of those killed by police even though they weren’t attacking.
  • A 2007 U.S. Department of Justice report on racial profiling found that blacks and Latinos were 3 times as likely to be stopped as whites, and that blacks were twice as likely to be arrested and 4 times as likely “to experience the threat or use of force during interactions with the police.”

Source: The New Progressive: The Ultimate White Privilege Statistics & Data Post

  • The top situations where African Americans most frequently say racial discrimination “often” happens where they live are when interacting with police, being paid or promoted equally, and applying to jobs.
  • In the context of institutional forms of discrimination, half or more of African Americans say they have personally been discriminated against because they are Black when:
    • interacting with Police (50%)
      • 60% of African Americans say they or a family member have been unfairly stopped or treated by the police because they are Black
      • 45% say the court system has treated them unfairly because they are Black
      • Blacks living in suburban areas are more likely than those in urban areas to report being unfairly stopped or treated by police and being threatened or harassed because they are Black
    • when applying to jobs (56%)
    • when it comes to being paid equally or considered for promotion (57%)
  • In the context of individual discrimination
    • 51% personally experienced racial slurs
    • 52% experienced people making negative assumptions or insensitive or offensive comments about their race
    • 40% experienced people acting afraid of them because of their race
    • 42% have experienced racial violence.
  • African Americans also report efforts to avoid potential discrimination
    • 31%) say they have avoided calling the police
    • 22% say they have avoided medical care, even when in need
    • 27% of Black Americans say they have avoided doing things they might normally, such as using a car or participating in social events, to avoid potentially interacting with police
  • Overall, 92% of African Americans believe that discrimination against African Americans exists in America today.
  • 49%say that discrimination based on the prejudice of individual people is the bigger problem
  • 25% who say the bigger problem is discrimination based in laws and government policies.
  • 25% say both are equally problematic.

Source: Discrimination in America: Experiences and Views of African Americans

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Criminal Justice/Courts

  • Blacks are 21% more likely to receive mandatory minimum sentences.
  • Blacks are 20% more likely to be sentenced to prison than whites.
  • Once convicted, black offenders receive sentences that are 10% longer than white offenders for the same crimes.

Source: The New Progressive: The Ultimate White Privilege Statistics & Data Post

  • A black person and a white person each commit a crime, the black person has a better chance of being arrested. Once arrested, black people are convicted more often than white people. And for many years, laws assigned much harsher sentences for using or possessing crack, for example, compared to cocaine. Finally, when black people are convicted, they are more likely to be sent to jail. And their sentences tend to be both harsher and longer than those for whites who were convicted of similar crimes. And as we know, a felony conviction means, in many states, that you lose your right to vote. Right now in America, as many as 13% of black men are not allowed to vote.

Source: 7 Ways We Know Systemic Racism Is Real

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Stand Your Ground Law Stats

“Stand Your Ground” laws allow defendants to “stand their ground”, instead of retreating when possible, and use force without retreating, in order to protect and defend themselves or others against threats or perceived threats.  For a person to be justified in using deadly force, the person must not be ‘engaged in unlawful activity”.  The law was based on a legal precept called the “castle doctrine,” which does not require a person with a gun to retreat in the face of danger.

  • Whites who kill blacks in Stand Your Ground states are far more likely to be found justified in their killings.
    • In non-Stand Your Ground states, whites are 250 percent more likely to be found justified in killing a black person than a white person who kills another white person
    • in Stand Your Ground states, that number jumps to 354 percent.
  • when the shooter is black, the homicide is justified in about 1 percent of cases in “Stand your ground” states.
    • When a white person kills a black person in a “Stand your ground” state, the murder is justified 17 percent of the time (versus 11 percent in states without such laws)
    • the odds that a white-on-black homicide is ruled to have been justified is more than 11 times the odds a black-on-white shooting is ruled justified.

Source: 2012 John Roman of the Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center conducted a study of “Stand your ground” data

  • Between 2005 and 2013, Florida juries were twice as likely to convict the perpetrator of a crime against a white person as they were to convict in a crime against a person of color.
  • These results are similar to pre-civil rights era statistics, with strict enforcement for crimes when the victim was white and less-rigorous enforcement with the victim is non-white

Source: Race, law, and health: Examination of ‘Stand Your Ground’ and defendant convictions in Florida

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Prison (Mass Incarceration)

  • 1 in every 15 black men (and 1 in every 36 Latino men) are currently incarcerated, while for white men the statistic is 1 in 106.
  • Minorities are less than 28% of the U.S. population, but they are nearly 60% of the prison population. Blacks in specific are less than 13% of the U.S. population, but they are 38% of the American prison population.
  • Black boys are five times as likely to go to jail as white boys; Latino boys are 3 times as likely.

Source: The New Progressive: The Ultimate White Privilege Statistics & Data Post

  • Blacks make up 13% of the population, they represent about 40% of the prison population.

Source: 7 Ways We Know Systemic Racism Is Real


Ta-Nehisi Coates: The Enduring Myth of Black Criminality

Mass Incarceration, Visualized

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War on Drugs

  • Blacks are less than 13% of the U.S. population, and they make up only 14% of regular drug users, but they are 37% of those arrested for drug offenses, and 56% of those in state prisons for drug offenses.
  • Black kids are 10 times more likely to be arrested for drug crimes than white kids —even though white kids are more likely to abuse drugs
  • What the War on Drugs has done is trap millions of people, especially black men, in poverty, and push them toward a life of crime. With black boys arrested 10 times more frequently than white boys, for a non-violent crime that they commit less frequently than white boys, black men are funneled into the criminal justice system from a young age. With felonies on their records, it is incredibly difficult for black men to get work. As a result, they are trapped in low-paying jobs, or worse, turning to crime. Finally, once they have a felony on their record, most states prohibit them from voting.

Source: The New Progressive: The Ultimate White Privilege Statistics & Data Post

  • In our federal prisons, 46% are incarcerated because of drug offenses. Yet a 2013 government survey of 67,500 people revealed that White and Black Americans use drugs at similar rates (9.5% and 10.5%, respectively).
    • Isolate heroin use, and the picture shifts dramatically. The New York Times reports that “nearly 90% of those who tried heroin for the first time in the last decade were White.”

Source: Everyday Feminism: Here’s Your Proof That White Americans Don’t Face Systemic Racism

Opioid Vs. Crack Addiction: A Racial Double Standard?

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Source: 7 Ways We Know Systemic Racism Is Real

  • Whites are 78% more likely to be accepted to the same university as equally qualified people of color.
  • The U.S. is one of only 3 of the 34 O.E.C.D. nations to give fewer resources and have lower teacher/student ratios in poorer communities than in more privileged communities.
  • A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that young black boys were viewed differently than their white peers. “Children in most societies are considered to be in a distinct group with characteristics such as innocence and the need for protection. Our research found that black boys can be seen as responsible for their actions at an age when white boys still benefit from the assumption that children are essentially innocent.” Children of color are more likely to be perceived of as guilty, problem children, young criminals, and funneled into the justice system early. This is referred to as the school-to-prison pipeline.

Source: The New Progressive: The Ultimate White Privilege Statistics & Data Post


  • The US Department of Education recently found that Black preschoolers are 3.6 times more likely to be suspended than White preschoolers. Preschoolers. Representing 19% of preschoolers, Black children make up half of all preschool suspensions.
  • Given these disparities that begin so early, it’s no surprise that large gaps in achievement and representation in advanced classes for Black and White students persist.
  • And the predominately White teaching force plays a role. The Washington Post reports that “Black students are half as likely as white students to be assigned to gifted programs, even when they have comparably high test scores.” That disparity disappears when the teacher is Black.
  • According to the Pew Research Center, 69% of all bachelor degrees are held by White Americans. While Black enrollment in universities has “skyrocketed” in the past twenty years – despite the bleak disparities of public education – Black Americans make up only 6% of enrollment at “top-tier” universities.

    • Census reminder #1: It should be 62% and 13% – not 69% and 6%.

Source: Everyday Feminism: Here’s Your Proof That White Americans Don’t Face Systemic Racism

For The Record: How The SATs Perpetuate Racial Inequality


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Modern School Segregation

  • School segregation for black students is worse today than it was in 1968
  • Classrooms were the most diverse from the 1970s through the early 1990s. At peak integration, four out of 10 black southern students attended a white school, while less than a third of all black students attended black schools.
  • Experts say the backslide was the consequence of a series of judicial decisions, beginning with Milliken vs. Bradley in 1974, a relatively unheard of but seminal case in the desegregation saga. Criticized by some as “one of the worst Supreme Court decisions” ever, Milliken dealt with Detroit’s plan to integrate students by busing them from the intercity to the suburbs. The court ruled that such a plan was unconstitutional, arguing that black students had the right to attend integrated schools within their own school district, but were not protected from de facto segregation.”That decision … said the racial disparities across districts would remain outside the reach of policymakers,” Clotfelter wrote in piece exploring the impact of Milliken.
  • Court-mandated desegregation was dealt its own deadly blow by three rulings from the Supreme Court between 1991 and 1995. According to the court, integration was only a temporary federal policy and after the historical imbalance was righted, school districts should reclaim local control and were released from desegregation orders.
  • Since then, school segregation has been intrinsically tied to the racial gaps in housing and income, leading to the re-emergence of the color line. Economic segregation, which disproportionately affects black and Latino students, is increasing. In California, Asian and white students are 10 times more likely to go to a high-quality school than Latinos and therefore dramatically more likely to attend college.

Source: Politifact: American schools are ‘more segregated than they were in the 1960s,’ says Hillary Clinton

  • In the wake of the Brown decision, the percentage of black students in majority white southern schools went from zero to a peak of 43.5 percent in 1988. But those changes have reversed in recent years, with data from UCLA’s Civil Rights Project showing that by 2011 that figure was back to 23.2 percent, just below where it stood in 1968.
  • Today’s typical white student attends a school that is nearly 75 percent white, but only one-eighth Latino and one-twelfth black. Put another way, in a classroom of 30 students, the average white student has 21 white classmates, two black classmates, four Latinos, one Asian and one “other.” Conversely, the typical black or Latino student would have eight white classmates and at least 20 minority classmates.
  • The UCLA research also found strong connections between poverty and segregation, with blacks and Latinos representing more than half of children in schools with the most poverty, and just 11 percent of students in the least impoverished schools. For many black and Latino children, this can often mean less qualified teachers, as well as shoddier facilities and materials. “In many respects, the schools serving white and Asian students and those serving black and Latino students represent two different worlds,” say the researchers.

Source: Frontline: The Return of School Segregation in Eight Charts

  • Brown v. Board happens, and the way that we’re taught it or the myth about it is immediately our nation repented and went into an integrated future together. That’s not what happened. There was massive resistance, and we don’t see real desegregation occurring in this country until 1964, and really most rapidly from 1968 on. Then you see pretty rapid desegregation particularly in the South, but then that changes, and in 1988 we start to go backwards. So we reach kind of the peak of schools integrating, of black students attending majority white schools at the highest rates that they ever have in the country, and then we start to see school districts re-segregating, which means black students are starting to go to schools that are more and more segregated. And school districts that had had a degree of integration are losing that integration.

Source: NPR:  How The Systemic Segregation Of Schools Is Maintained By ‘Individual Choices’

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  • A black college student has the same chances of getting a job as a white high school dropout.
  • Meanwhile, a white male with a criminal record is 5% more likely to get a job than an equally qualified person of color with a clean record.
  • Blacks need to complete not one but two more levels of education just to have the same probability of getting a job as a white guy.

Source: The New Progressive: The Ultimate White Privilege Statistics & Data Post

  • The New York Times has compiled multiple studies over the past twenty years that all confirm that White Americans’ race benefits them in the process of gaining employment – like the study from 2009 that found Black applicants without criminal records fared as well in getting hired as White applicants with criminal records.

  • The Washington Post asserts that Black Americans are twice as likely to be unemployed as White Americans – a statistic that was true back in 1954. If you include incarcerated Americans, Black Americans are nearly three times as likely to be unemployed.

Source: Everyday Feminism: Here’s Your Proof That White Americans Don’t Face Systemic Racism

Source: 7 Ways We Know Systemic Racism Is Real

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  • Although white women make 78¢ for every dollar a white man makes, black men make even less: 72¢ for every dollar a white man makes.
  • Black women make 64¢ for every white male dollar, and Latina women make 53¢ for every white male dollar.
  • According to CNN, the average household income for White Americans is $71,300. For Black Americans? Just $43,300.

Source: The New Progressive: The Ultimate White Privilege Statistics & Data Post

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  • The average net worth of black households is $6,314, compared to $110,500 for the average white household.
  • While a college-educated white American has an average net worth of $75,000, a college-educated black American has an average net worth of less than $17,500.
  • The black-white wealth gap is greater in the United States today than it was in South Africa in 1970, at the height of apartheid.

Source: The New Progressive: The Ultimate White Privilege Statistics & Data Post

Source: 7 Ways We Know Systemic Racism Is Real

  • Not only is the poverty rate of Black Americans (26.2%) more than 2.5 times that of White Americans (10.1%), Black Americans are “much more likely” to live in concentrated poverty, which means they have less access to the coveted schools that drive housing purchases.

  • One study found that, in 2010, Black families were seven times more likely to stay in a homeless shelter than White families.

Image source: The Atlantic

  • According to Forbes, a typical White household has sixteen times the wealth of a Black household.

  • CNN reports that, based on current trends, “it will take 228 years for black families to accumulate the same amount of wealth” that White Americans have today.

  • According to The New York Times, from 1992-2013, “the median net worth of blacks who finished college dropped nearly 56%.” In contrast, the net worth of White Americans who finished college climbed nearly 86%.

Source: Everyday Feminism: Here’s Your Proof That White Americans Don’t Face Systemic Racism

Splinter: Definition of Racism and Racial Wealth Gap

Why is the 1% So White? | Decoded | MTV News

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  • 11% of the American population do not have the kind of government ID required by the strictest state voter ID laws—including 18% of Americans over 65 and 25% of blacks.
  • Voter laws that prevent felons former felons from voting disenfranchise 5.85 million Americans with felony charges in their past. Because of racial disparities in incarceration, these laws disproportionately disenfranchise people of color. As a result, felony-disenfranchisement policies currently deny more than 10% of the black population the right to vote.

Source: The New Progressive: The Ultimate White Privilege Statistics & Data Post

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  • Blacks and Latinos face housing discrimination an estimated 4 million times each year.
    • Housing discrimination can include such things as landlords refusing to rent to black people, or charging higher rent; real estate agents failing to show black people houses in white neighborhoods; banks funneling black people into higher-priced loans; and much more, all on the basis of skin color.
  • Practices such as redlining, in which banks designate certain low-income neighborhoods where they won’t lend for home purchases or where they charge higher interest rates than similarly priced homes in non-redlined neighborhoods, and pricing discrimination, in which lenders charge minorities higher loan prices than to comparable white buyers, made the 2007 housing crash and the financial crisis worse overall, and particularly bad for black families, who were twice as likely to enter foreclosure during the recession than whites.
  • In 2009, bailed-out banks such as Wells Fargo and many other large banks were found to have pushed minority borrowers who qualified for prime loans into subprime loans, which can add as more than $100,000 in interest payments to a mortgage over the life of the loan.  Subprime loans were given to 41.5% of blacks and 30.9% of Latinos, but only 17.8% of whites.
  • Among high-income borrowers in 2006, African Americans were three times as likely as whites to pay higher prices for mortgages—32.1 percent compared to 10.5 percent. Latinos were nearly as likely as African Americans to pay higher prices for their mortgages at 29.1 percent.”  Washington Mutual was the worst: 56.9% of blacks and 42.3% of Latinos paid higher prices, compared to 16.9% of whites

Source: The New Progressive: The Ultimate White Privilege Statistics & Data Post

  • When the government sought to make mortgages more affordable back in the 1930s, thereby jumpstarting the epoch of suburban living, the Home Owner’s Loan Corporation (and thereafter private banks) ranked neighborhoods all around the country, giving high marks to all-white neighborhoods and marking those with minorities in red as risky investments.
  • Redlining, which essentially barred blacks and other minorities from sharing in the American Dream and building wealth like their white counterparts, was officially outlawed in the 60s, but the practice really never went away. In fact, during the Great Recession, banks routinely and purposely guided black home buyers toward subprime loans.
  • A recent study demonstrated that people of color are told about and shown fewer homes and apartments than whites.

Source: 7 Ways We Know Systemic Racism Is Real

  • The rate of home ownership for White Americans is 73% and for Black Americans is 45%, and is explained in part by the video above. Like with the criminal “justice” system, bias is documented in many of the steps in the home-buying process.

  • Forbes uncovers that Black people tend to receive higher interest rates and that Wells Fargo admitted to pushing Black households into subprime mortgages.

  • The New York Times reports that, when applying for conventional mortgages, one in four Black Americans are denied, compared to one in ten for White Americans.

  • And for those who actually make it to the house hunt, a $9 million study of 28 metropolitan areas found that “[c]ompared with white homebuyers, blacks who inquire about homes listed for sale are made aware of about 17% fewer homes and are shown 18% fewer units.”

  • Here’s a two-minute crash course on the discriminatory housing practices that played a large role in today’s wealth disparities, giving White Americans a head start and only allowing Black Americans into the race when real estate had appreciated beyond an affordable cost for too many: 

Source: Everyday Feminism: Here’s Your Proof That White Americans Don’t Face Systemic Racism

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Retail Shopping

Based on interviews with 55 middle-class African-American shoppers in the New York City area:

  • 80 percent reported experiencing racial stigma and stereotypes when shopping;
  • 59 percent reported being perceived as a shoplifter;
  • 52 percent said they received poor or no service;
  • 52 percent reported being perceived as poor.

Common treatment reported by study participants included:

  • Being followed around the store;
  • Told the location of the store’s sale section unprompted;
  • Ignored, made to wait and skipped over for non-minority customers;
  • Told the price of expensive clothing items before asking or trying them on.

The annual buying power of African-American consumers was expected to reach $1.3 trillion by 2017, according to a 2013 Nielsen Co. study.

Source: Journal of Consumer Culture: “Shopping while Black”: Black consumers’ management of racial stigma and racial profiling in retail settings

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Source: 7 Ways We Know Systemic Racism Is Real

  • In 2011 the NYPD was exposed for targeting their surveillance specifically at what they called “ancestries of  interest” (Indian, Banglasdesh, Pakistani, Guyanese, Egyptian, Lebanese).

Source: Race Forward: What is Systemic Racism

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  • According to the CDC, black mothers in the U.S. die at three to four times the rate of white mothers, one of the widest of all racial disparities in women’s health.

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    • A black woman is:
      • 22 percent more likely to die from heart disease than a white woman
      • 71 percent more likely to perish from cervical cancer
      • 243 percent more likely to die from pregnancy- or childbirth-related causes.
    • In a national study of five medical complications that are common causes of maternal death and injury, black women were two to three times more likely to die than white women who had the same condition.
    • In New York City, for example, black mothers are 12 times more likely to die than white mothers, according to the most recent data; in 2001-2005, their risk of death was seven times higher. Researchers say that widening gap reflects a dramatic improvement for white women but not for blacks.
    • The disproportionate toll on African-Americans is the main reason the U.S. maternal mortality rate is so much higher than that of other affluent countries. Black expectant and new mothers in the U.S. die at about the same rate as women in countries such as Mexico and Uzbekistan, the World Health Organization estimates.
    • A 2016 analysis of five years of data found that black, college-educated mothers who gave birth in local hospitals were more likely to suffer severe complications of pregnancy or childbirth than white women who never graduated from high school.
    • For much of American history, these types of disparities were largely blamed on blacks’ supposed susceptibility to illness — their “mass of imperfections,” as one doctor wrote in 1903 — and their own behavior. But now many social scientists and medical researchers agree, the problem isn’t race but racism.
      • There was the new mother in Nebraska with a history of hypertension who couldn’t get her doctors to believe she was having a heart attack until she had another one. The young Florida mother-to-be whose breathing problems were blamed on obesity when in fact her lungs were filling with fluid and her heart was failing. The Arizona mother whose anesthesiologist assumed she smoked marijuana because of the way she did her hair. The Chicago-area businesswoman with a high-risk pregnancy who was so upset at her doctor’s attitude that she changed OB/GYNs in her seventh month, only to suffer a fatal postpartum stroke.
      • The systemic problems start with types of social inequities that include differing access to healthy food and safe drinking water, safe neighborhoods and good schools, decent jobs and reliable transportation.
      • Black women are more likely to be uninsured outside of pregnancy, when Medicaid kicks in, and thus more likely to start prenatal care later and to lose coverage in the postpartum period. They are more likely to have chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes and hypertension that make having a baby more dangerous. The hospitals where they give birth are often the products of historical segregation, lower in quality than those where white mothers deliver, with significantly higher rates of life-threatening complications.
      • Those problems are amplified by unconscious biases that are embedded in the medical system, affecting quality of care in stark and subtle ways. In the more than 200 stories of African-American mothers that ProPublica and NPR have collected over the past year, the feeling of being devalued and disrespected by medical providers was a constant theme.
      • In a survey conducted this year by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, 33 percent of black women said that they personally had been discriminated against because of their race when going to a doctor or health clinic, and 21 percent said they have avoided going to a doctor or seeking health care out of concern they would be racially discriminated against.
    • An expanding field of research shows that the stress of being a black woman in American society can take a physical toll during pregnancy and childbirth.

Source:  Black Mothers Keep Dying After Giving Birth. Shalon Irving’s Story Explains Why

  • Limited diversity in the medical profession contributes to the black mothers’ sense of alienation. Blacks make up
    • 6 percent of doctors (though 11 percent of OB-GYNs)
    • 3 percent of medical school faculty
    • less than 2 percent of National Institutes of Health-funded principal investigators.

Source: ProPublica: Nothing Protects Black Women From Dying in Pregnancy and Childbirth

Racist History of American Medicine | Racist American History

  • A 2012 study found that Black Americans report “experiencing discrimination at significantly higher rates” than other racial or ethnic groups, leading to PTSD-like symptoms – not from war, but from living in the United States.

  • The Washington Post recently compiled several studies that document racial bias in health care – including a recent one that found “whites are more likely to be prescribed strong pain medications for equivalent ailments.” NPR attributes many of these disparities to the “unconscious biases” of the doctors.

Source: Everyday Feminism: Here’s Your Proof That White Americans Don’t Face Systemic Racism

  • A 2012 study found that a majority of doctors have “unconscious racial biases” when it comes to their black patients.
  • Black Americans are far more likely than whites to lack access to emergency medical care.
  • The hospitals they go to tend to be less well funded, and staffed by practitioners with less experience.
  • Black doctors are less likely than their similarly credentialed white peers to receive government grants for research projects.

Source: 7 Ways We Know Systemic Racism Is Real

Black Mamas Matter Toolkit:  Talking Points for Advocates

  • Black women’s lives and families are at stake. Black women in the U.S. suffer from life-threatening pregnancy complications twice as often as White women, and they die frompregnancy-related complications four times as often as White women. When mothers die, it breaks apart families and can lead to negative health consequences for their children.
  • Preventable maternal mortality is a human rights crisis in the United States.  The U.S. is one of only 13 countries in the world where pregnancy-related deaths are on the rise. Women in the U.S. are more likely to die from pregnancy complications than women in 45 other countries, including the United Kingdom, Libya, and Kazakhstan.
  • Poor maternal health outcomes are getting worse. Both the likelihood of experiencing a severe pregnancy complication and dying from it are on the rise in the United States. Although the U.S. spends more on health care per capita than any other country, maternal health outcomes are deteriorating overall and racial disparities are as wide as they were in the 1930’s.
  • The risk of dying from a pregnancy complication should not depend on one’s race or zip code. But the reality is that women in the South are at much higher risk than women in other areas of the country. A Black woman in Mississippi is almost twice as likely to die as a White woman in Mississippi or a Black woman in California.
  • Maternal mortality affects Black women of all socio-economic backgrounds. Racial disparities in pregnancy-related deaths show that across all income and education levels, Black women in the U.S. are at higher risk for poor outcomes than White women.
  • To tackle the problem of maternal mortality, we need to address racial discrimination and structural racism. Poor maternal health outcomes expose inequalities in U.S. society that go beyond the health system. Improving those outcomes will require more equitable access to health care and the social determinants of health.
Articulate Solutions
To improve U.S. maternal health outcomes we must prioritize Black women’s health and lives and commit to taking meaningful action. Every state must take steps to ensure safe and respectful maternal care for all women At a minimum, these steps include policy measures that address the following areas:
  • Respect: States must trust Black women with the decisions and resources that empower them and their families. Health care providers and systems must approach every woman with respect and compassion, build her capacity to engage in informed health care decision-making, and honor her autonomy to make decisions about her body and care.
  • Education: States must ensure that women are equipped with the knowledge, tools, and power to determine if and when they want to become pregnant and have a child. At a minimum, this requires: comprehensive, evidence-based information about sexual, reproductive, and maternal health.
  • Access: Every woman must have access to health care before, during, and after childbirth. States must ensure health coverage for low-income women before they get pregnant, promote continuity of care and insurance coverage as women’s life circumstances change, address barriers to prenatal and postpartum care, and reach women in the communities where they live.
  • Prevention: Every state must take action to address and prevent risk factors for poor maternal health outcomes such as obesity, chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes, and underlying determinants of health. Policymakers influence the structural conditions in which women live, work, and grow, and in turn, these conditions influence maternal health.
  • Quality: States must ensure that every pregnant woman has access to facilities, health care providers, and support persons that are capable of safely and respectfully managing chronic conditions, identifying, monitoring, and appropriately addressing obstetric emergencies, and providing unbiased care.
  • Equity: To prevent pregnancy-related deaths and sustainably improve maternal health, states must make transformative investments in the health and well-being of Black women and girls throughout the life course, including in the areas of housing, nutrition, transportation, violence, environmental health, and economic justice.
  • Data: Every state must have a process in place to collect and disaggregate data about maternal health in a timely manner. Data collection should include both quantitative and qualitative methods, including community-based participatory data, in order to understand the impact of race and socio-economic inequality on Black women’s health.
  • Accountability: States must create systems to design and implement recommendations, and hold institutions accountable when they fail women. These include independent and fully funded maternal mortality review boards, supportive maternal health programs that implement review findings, and attention to social determinants of health.

Now This: How the Health Care System Has Racial Biases

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Media Representation


  • Black families represent 59 percent of the poor portrayed in the media, according to the analysis, but account for just 27 percent of Americans in poverty.
  • Whites families make up 17 percent of the poor depicted in news media, but make up 66 percent of the American poor
  • Black people are also nearly three times more likely than whites to be portrayed as dependent on welfare
  • Black fathers were shown spending time with their kids almost half as often as white fathers.
  • Blacks represent 37 percent of criminals shown in the news, but constitute 26 percent of those arrested on criminal charges
  • In contrast, news media portray whites as criminals 28 percent of the time, when FBI crime reports show they make up 77 percent of crime suspects.

Source: Washington Post: News media offers consistently warped portrayals of black families, study finds

Children’s Books



  • Vanity Fair writes that, of the top grossing films of 2014, 73.1% of the speaking roles went to White Americans, while just 12.5% went to Black Americans.
    • This overrepresentation of White people in Hollywood has led to two straight years of the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag.
  • Media representation is a category where other groups of Color can fare worse than Black Americans. For example, Latinx Americans – 17.6% of the population (some of whom are Black) – make up just 4.9% of speaking roles.
  • Even though diverse casts translate to box-office success, according to NPR, representation in our media remain stubbornly White – from the cast to the creators: 
  • But numbers are only part of the issue. The types of roles available also matter, and many groups of Color find the menu of opportunity quite limited (with color-coded, lower paychecks to match), which might explain Viola Davis’s 2015 Emmy acceptance speech: “The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity.”


Source: Everyday Feminism: Here’s Your Proof That White Americans Don’t Face Systemic Racism

Color of Change: Race in the Writers’ Room: How Hollywood Whitewashes the Stories that Shape America

“This study considered 1,678 first-run episodes from all 234 of the original, scripted comedy and drama series airing or streaming on 18 broadcast, cable, and digital platforms during the 2016-17 television season. The report demonstrates that the executives running television platforms today—both traditional networks and emerging streaming sites—are not hiring Black showrunners, which results in excluding or isolating Black writers in writers’ rooms and in the creative process.

Over 90% of showrunners are white, two-thirds of shows had no Black writers at all, and another 17% of shows had just one Black writer. The ultimate result of this exclusion is the widespread reliance on Black stereotypes to drive Black character portrayals, where Black characters even exist at all—at best, “cardboard” characters, at worst, unfair, inaccurate and dehumanizing portrayals. Many other studies have shown how dangerous inaccurate portrayals can be—resulting in warped perceptions about Black people and Black communities that perversely inform the decisions of doctors, teachers, voters, police, judges and more.

The report also highlights a pattern of excluding women and people of color in hiring showrunners and writers, and clearly suggests that current industry “diversity” programs are not working to either create success tracks for talented people of color in the industry, or create the range of authentic representations and stories on television that we need to sustain a healthy society.


While the report presents many striking findings, a few stand out, providing an overall picture of the problem of Hollywood executives excluding people of color and women. For additional findings (e.g., the severe lack of Black writers on crime procedural shows), read the full report.

1. While two-thirds of all shows across 18 networks did not have any Black writers, and another 17% had just one Black writer, not all networks are the same with respect to exclusion.

AMC stands out as having the worst inclusion problem overall: both women and people of color, both showrunners and writers. Eight networks excluded Black showrunners and writers the most, while CW and CBS were notable for generally including women and people of color, while excluding Black talent specifically.

2 On the whole, the industry does not include people of color—91% of showrunners are white, and 86% of writers are white. 80% of showrunners are men.

3. Showrunner exclusion is particularly troubling because it leads to writer exclusion—while all Black showrunners include white writers in their rooms, white showrunners tend to exclude Black writers, with 69% of white showrunner shows having no Black writers at all.

4. As part of this first-of-its-kind study, we have created a definitive chart that breaks down inclusion and exclusion practices across 18 individual networks that have tremendous influence over the television landscape and the thoughts, feelings and perceptions of millions of viewers.

Writers Room Project Full Report

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The Kerner Report: Differences between 1968 and 2016

Economic Policy Institute: 50 years after the Kerner Commission African Americans are better off in many ways but are still disadvantaged by racial inequality

“The year 1968 was a watershed in American history and black America’s ongoing fight for equality. In April of that year, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis and riots broke out in cities around the country. Rising against this tragedy, the Civil Rights Act of 1968 outlawing housing discrimination was signed into law. Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their fists in a black power salute as they received their medals at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. Arthur Ashe became the first African American to win the U.S. Open singles title, and Shirley Chisholm became the first African American woman elected to the House of Representatives.

The same year, the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, better known as the Kerner Commission, delivered a report to President Johnson examining the causes of civil unrest in African American communities. The report named “white racism”—leading to “pervasive discrimination in employment, education and housing”—as the culprit, and the report’s authors called for a commitment to “the realization of common opportunities for all within a single [racially undivided] society.” The Kerner Commission report pulled together a comprehensive array of data to assess the specific economic and social inequities confronting African Americans in 1968.

Where do we stand as a society today? In this brief report, we compare the state of black workers and their families in 1968 with the circumstances of their descendants today, 50 years after the Kerner report was released. We find both good news and bad news. While African Americans are in many ways better off in absolute terms than they were in 1968, they are still disadvantaged in important ways relative to whites. In several important respects, African Americans have actually lost ground relative to whites, and, in a few cases, even relative to African Americans in 1968.

Following are some of the key findings:

  • African Americans today are much better educated than they were in 1968 but still lag behind whites in overall educational attainment. More than 90 percent of younger African Americans (ages 25 to 29) have graduated from high school, compared with just over half in 1968—which means they’ve nearly closed the gap with white high school graduation rates. They are also more than twice as likely to have a college degree as in 1968 but are still half as likely as young whites to have a college degree.
  • The substantial progress in educational attainment of African Americans has been accompanied by significant absolute improvements in wages, incomes, wealth, and health since 1968. But black workers still make only 82.5 cents on every dollar earned by white workers, African Americans are 2.5 times as likely to be in poverty as whites, and the median white family has almost 10 times as much wealth as the median black family.
  • With respect to homeownership, unemployment, and incarceration, America has failed to deliver any progress for African Americans over the last five decades. In these areas, their situation has either failed to improve relative to whites or has worsened. In 2017 the black unemployment rate was 7.5 percent, up from 6.7 percent in 1968, and is still roughly twice the white unemployment rate. In 2015, the black homeownership rate was just over 40 percent, virtually unchanged since 1968, and trailing a full 30 points behind the white homeownership rate, which saw modest gains over the same period. And the share of African Americans in prison or jail almost tripled between 1968 and 2016 and is currently more than six times the white incarceration rate.

Educational attainment

The most important development since 1968 is that African Americans today are much better educated than they were in 1968. These absolute improvements in educational attainment—including substantial increases in both high school and college completion rates—have opened important doors for black workers compared with their counterparts 50 years ago. In relative terms, African Americans today are almost as likely as whites to have completed high school. But even though the share of younger African Americans with a college degree has more than doubled, African Americans today are still only about half as likely to have a college degree as whites of the same age.

High school graduation rates. Over the last five decades, African Americans have seen substantial gains in high school completion rates. In 1968, just over half (54.4 percent) of 25- to 29-year-old African Americans had a high school diploma. Today, more than nine out of 10 African Americans (92.3 percent) in the same age range had a high school diploma. (See Table 1 for all data presented in this report.)

The large increase in high school completion rates helped to close the gap relative to whites. In 1968, African Americans trailed whites by more than 20 percentage points (75.0 percent of whites had completed high school, compared with 54.4 percent of blacks). In the most recent data, the gap is just 3.3 percentage points (95.6 percent for whites versus 92.3 percent for African Americans).

College graduation rates. College graduation rates have also improved for African Americans. Among 25- to 29-year-olds, less than one in 10 (9.1 percent) had a college degree in 1968, a figure that has climbed to almost one in four (22.8 percent) today.

Over the same period, however, college completion expanded for whites at a similar pace, rising from 16.2 percent in 1968 to 42.1 percent today, leaving the relative situation of African Americans basically unchanged: in 1968 blacks were just over half (56.0 percent) as likely as whites to have a college degree, a situation that is essentially the same today (54.2 percent).2

We would expect that these kinds of increases in the absolute levels of formal education would translate into large improvements in economic and related outcomes for African Americans. The rest of our indicators test the validity of this assumption.


The unemployment rate for African Americans in 2017 (the last full year of data) was 7.5 percent, 0.8 percentage points higher than it was in 1968 (6.7 percent). The unemployment rate for whites was 3.8 percent in 2017 and 3.2 percent in 1968.3

The unemployment data for these two years, almost 50 years apart, demonstrate a longstanding and unfortunate economic regularity: the unemployment rate for black workers is consistently about twice as high as it is for white workers.

Wages and income

Hourly wages. The inflation-adjusted hourly wage of the typical black worker rose 30.5 percent between 1968 and 2016, or about 0.6 percent per year. This slow rate of growth is particularly disappointing given the large increase in educational attainment among African Americans over these decades.

Even slower real wage growth (about 0.2 percent per year) for the typical white worker—albeit starting from a higher initial wage—meant that African Americans did modestly close the racial wage gap over the last five decades. But, in 2016, by the hourly wage measure used here, the typical black worker still only made 82.5 cents on every dollar earned by the typical white worker.4

Household income. The inflation-adjusted annual income of the typical African American household increased 42.8 percent between 1968 and 2016, slightly outpacing income growth for the typical white household (36.7 percent). But the typical black household today still receives only 61.6 percent of the annual income received by the typical white household.5

Poverty rates. The share of African Americans living in poverty has declined substantially in the last five decades. Using the official federal poverty measure as a benchmark, over one-third (34.7 percent) of African Americans were in poverty in 1968. Today, the share in poverty is just over one in five (21.4 percent). For whites, the decline in the poverty rate was much smaller, from 10.0 percent in 1968 to 8.8 percent in 2016. In the most recent data, African Americans are about 2.5 times as likely to be in poverty as whites. (In 1968, they were 3.5 times as likely to be in poverty.)6

Family wealth

The typical black family had almost no wealth in 1968 ($2,467; data refer to 19637). Today, that figure is about six times larger ($17,409), but it is still not that far from zero when you consider that families typically draw on their wealth for larger expenses, such as meeting basic needs over the course of retirement, paying for their children’s college education, putting a down payment on a house, or coping with a job loss or medical crisis.

Over the same period, the wealth of the typical white family almost tripled, from a much higher initial level. In 2016, the median African American family had only 10.2 percent of the wealth of the median white family ($17,409 versus $171,000).8

Homeownership. One of the most important forms of wealth for working and middle-class families is home equity. Yet, the share of black households that owned their own home remained virtually unchanged between 1968 (41.1 percent) and today (41.2 percent). Over the same period, homeownership for white households increased 5.2 percentage points to 71.1 percent, about 30 percentage points higher than the ownership rate for black households.9


Infant mortality. Over the last five decades, African Americans have experienced enormous improvements in infant mortality rates. The number of deaths per 1,000 live births has fallen from 34.9 in 1968 to 11.4 in the most recent data. Over the same period, whites have also seen dramatic reductions in infant mortality, with rates falling from 18.8 to 4.9 by the same measure.

In relative terms, however, African Americans have fallen behind. In 1968, black infants were about 1.9 times as likely to die as white infants. Today, the rate is 2.3 times higher for African Americans.10

Life expectancy. African Americans’ life expectancy at birth has also increased substantially (up 11.5 years) between 1968 and today, outpacing the increase for whites (up 7.5 years). But an African American born today can, on average, still expect to live about 3.5 fewer years than a white person born on the same day.11


The share of African Americans in prison or jail almost tripled between 1968 (604 of every 100,000 in the total population) and 2016 (1,730 per 100,000).

The share of whites in prison or jail has also increased dramatically, but from a much lower base. In 1968, about 111 of every 100,000 whites were incarcerated. In the most recent data, the share has increased to 270 per 100,000.

In 1968, African Americans were about 5.4 times as likely as whites to be in prison or jail. Today, African Americans are 6.4 times as likely as whites to be incarcerated, which is especially troubling given that whites are also much more likely to be incarcerated now than they were in 1968.

Washington Post: Report: No progress for African Americans on homeownership, unemployment and incarceration in 50 years

“Convened to examine the causes of civil unrest in black communities, the presidential commission issued a 1968 report with a stark conclusion: America was moving toward two societies, “one black, one white — separate and unequal.”

Fifty years after the historic Kerner Commission identified “white racism” as the key cause of “pervasive discrimination in employment, education and housing,” there has been no progress in how African Americans fare in comparison to whites when it comes to homeownership, unemployment and incarceration, according to a report released Monday by the Economic Policy Institute.

In some cases, African Americans are worse off today than they were before the civil rights movement culminated in laws barring housing and voter discrimination, as well as racial segregation.

  • 7.5 percent of African Americans were unemployed in 2017, compared with 6.7 percent in 1968 — still roughly twice the white unemployment rate.
  • The rate of homeownership, one of the most important ways for working- and middle-class families to build wealth, has remained virtually unchanged for African Americans in the past 50 years. Black homeownership remains just over 40 percent, trailing 30 points behind the rate for whites, who have seen modest gains during that time.
  • The share of incarcerated African Americans has nearly tripled between 1968 and 2016 — one of the largest and most depressing developments in the past 50 years, especially for black men, researchers said. African Americans are 6.4 times as likely than whites to be jailed or imprisoned, compared with 5.4 times as likely in 1968.

“We have not seen progress because we still have not addressed the issue of racial inequality in this country,” said John Schmitt, an economist and vice president of the Economic Policy Institute, citing the racial wealth gap and continuing racial discrimination in the labor and housing markets. “One of the key issues is the disadvantages so many African Americans face, right from the very beginning as children.”

The wealth gap between white and black Americans has more than tripled in the past 50 years, according to Federal Reserve data. The typical black family had zero wealth in 1968. Today the median net worth of white families — $171,000 — is 10 times that of black families.

The wealth black families have accumulated is negligible when it comes to the amount of money needed to meet basic needs during retirement, pay for children’s college education, put a down payment on a house, or cope with a job loss or medical crisis, Schmitt said.

The lack of economic progress is especially startling, given that black educational attainment has improved significantly in the past five decades, Schmitt said. African Americans are almost as likely as whites to have completed high school. In 1968, 54 percent of blacks graduated from high school, compared with 75 percent of whites. Today, more than 90 percent of African Americans have a high school diploma, 3.3 percentage points shy of the high school completion rate for whites.

The share of young African Americans with a college degree has more than doubled, to 23 percent, since 1968, although blacks are still half as likely as whites to have completed college.

Yet the hourly wage of a typical black worker grew by just 0.6 percent a year since 1968. African Americans make 82.5 cents of every dollar earned by the typical white worker, the report said. And the typical black household earns 61.6 percent of the annual income of white households, with black college graduates continuing to make less than white college graduates.

Despite the poverty rate dropping from more than a third of black households in 1968 to about a fifth of black households, African Americans are 2½ times as likely to be in poverty than whites.

“We would have expected to see much more of a narrowing of the gap, given the big increase in educational attainment among African Americans,” Schmitt said.

A book, “Healing Our Divided Society,” to be released Tuesday at a D.C. forum, also examines how little progress has been made in the past 50 years.

Housing and schools have become resegregated, “locking too many African Americans into slums and their children into inferior schools.” White supremacists have become emboldened. And there is too much excessive use of force — often deadly — by police, especially against African Americans, notes the book, co-edited by Fred Harris, a former U.S. senator and sole surviving member of the Kerner Commission.

“Whereas the Kerner Commission called for ‘massive and sustained’ investment in economic, employment and education initiatives, over the last 50 years America has pursued ‘massive and sustained’ incarceration framed as ‘law and order,’ ” the book says. “Mass incarceration has become a kind of housing policy for the poor.”

The 1968 Kerner Commission report ended on a note of deja vu, citing a witness who recalled similar analyses, recommendations and, ultimately, inaction following a government investigation nearly 50 years earlier after the 1919 Chicago riot.

“The destruction and the bitterness of racial disorder, the harsh polemics of black revolt and white repression have been seen and heard before in this country,” the report concluded.”

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Learn More

Duke: Income inequality begins at birth and these are the stats that prove it

The New Progressive: The Ultimate White Privilege Statistics & Data Post

Ben & Jerry: 7 Ways We Know Systemic Racism Is Real

Source: Everyday Feminism: Here’s Your Proof That White Americans Don’t Face Systemic Racism

Propublica: Deadly Force, in Black and White

NY Times: When Whites Get a Free Pass

Sentencing Project: Racial Disparity


The Sentencing Project: Black Live Matter – Eliminating Racial Inequality in the Criminal Justice System

Fusion: The operating definition of racism needs an overhaul.

Mic: The Police Are Killing One Group at a Staggering Rate, and Nobody Is Talking About It

Mic: Black Women Are Getting Killed by Police Too — So Why Aren’t More People Discussing It?


Black Stats: African Americans by the Numbers in the Twenty-First Century

Follow Campaigns

Sentencing Project

Color of Change

Black Lives Matters

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