The Friday List-down: Six Important Problems Blacks (And Others) Still Face
February is black history month and at Campus Progress we will be producing a serious of feature stories, lists, and interesting facts about blacks in America to celebrate their history. Blacks have overcome many obstacles and made many accomplishments in America. Although there are a lot of really great things to recognize black Americans for, there are still several important issues they face today as a race. Here is a look at some of the struggles that black Americans—as well as other ethnic groups—face today in the United States.
- Too-high infant mortality and too many premature birth rates: Compared to women of other ethnic groups, black women have the highest percentage of low birth rate and preterm births. According to the Centers for Disease Control [PDF], in 2006, infant mortality rates among black women occurred at a rate of 13.5 deaths per 1,000 live births compared with 5.7 per 1,000 live birth for whites. Approximately one in every 5 children born to black mothers are born prematurely.
- A bigger gender pay gap and too low wages: A pay gap has continued to persist between blacks and whites. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research finds that there’s a gender pay gap in women’s earnings compared to men’s of 77 percent, but for black women, that gap is 61.9 percent [PDF]. And blacks overall are making less than whites. According to the U.S. Census Bureau in 2008 blacks made $18,054 per capita compared to $28,502 per capita for white Americans—a gap of 57.9 percent. Much of the gap may be attributed to education differences, discrimination, and family wealth.
- Unemployment: When the United States economy was thriving, blacks had higher levels of unemployment than white Americans. But now, in the economic recession and subsequent sluggish recovery, an even larger number of blacks are unemployed. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the national rate of unemployed blacks is 15.7 percent, with rates exceeding 20 percent in five states.
- Prison and incarceration: The United States has seen an increase in the incarceration of blacks from 1990 through 2008, especially in regards to black men. Blacks make up only 12 percent of the population; however, there are 308,000 black prisoners [PDF] and they make up 39.2 percent of the overall prison population.
- Education: These days,more blacks are graduating from high school and attending college than ever before. Fifty-five percent of black seniors are attending college. but only 43 percent actually graduate from college. As for black men, the statistics are even more startling: only 36 percent who enter college actually graduate.
- Poverty: One of the longest standing and more serious issues within the black community, poverty can be directly correlated with stress, health problems, low levels of education attainment, and crime. In 2004, approximately 24.7 percent [PDF]of blacks lived below the poverty line.
To check out lour last list, click here.
Ashley R. Hunter is an editorial intern for Campus Progress.