TIME Race

How Minority Job Seekers Battle Bias in the Hiring Process

The job search process plays an important role in shaping, reinforcing and sometimes counteracting inequality in the labor market

Discrimination in the hiring process has limited the opportunities available to both racial minorities – such as African Americans – and women, with important consequences for their well-being and careers.

For example, research has shown that white job applicants receive 50% more callbacks for interviews than equally qualified African American applicants. And, in the low-wage labor market, scholars have found that African American men without criminal records receive similar callback rates for interviews as white men just released from prison. Researchers have also documented discrimination in hiring against women, with particularly strong penalties against mothers.

But how does this reality affect these groups – African Americans and women – as they hunt for jobs? Do they tailor their searches narrowly to help them avoid discrimination, sticking to job opportunities deemed “appropriate” for them? Or do they cast a wider net with the hopes of maximizing their chances of finding a job that does not discriminate?

Until now, we have known little about this issue, largely because no existing data source has closely followed individuals through their job search.

New research that we recently published in the American Journal of Sociology attempts to address this limitation by drawing on two original datasets that track job seekers and the positions to which they apply.

The results of our study point to three general conclusions about the job search process:

  1. African Americans cast a wider net than whites while searching for work.
  2. Women tend to apply to a narrower set of job types than men, often targeting roles that have historically been dominated by women.
  3. Past experiences of discrimination appear to drive, at least in part, the broader job search patterns of African Americans.

On an important side note, these racial differences exist for both men and women and these gender differences exist for both whites and African Americans.

Let’s go into a little more detail on these three main findings.

Casting a wide net

Our analysis shows that African Americans apply to a greater range of job types with a broader range of occupational characteristics than similar whites.

For example, one of our survey respondents was previously employed as a “material moving worker.” Over the course of the survey, this respondent applied for jobs consistent with his prior work experience, such as “material handler” and “warehouse worker.”

However, the respondent also reported applying for jobs in retail sales, as an IT technician, a delivery driver, a security guard, a mail-room clerk and a short order cook. This respondent applied to jobs in a total of seven distinct occupations over the course of the survey, which represents a fairly broad approach to job search.

While this is just one example, it was typical. In both of the datasets we examined, African Americans systematically applied to a larger number of distinct job types than whites with similar levels of education and work experience.

Women and self-selection

Our study demonstrates that women pursued a search strategy very different than that of African Americans.

Women appeared to self-select into distinctive occupational categories consistent with historically gendered job types, such as office and administrative support positions.

During their job search, women also applied to a narrower range of occupations than men with similar education and work experience.

For example, women wanting to work in retail sales were more likely to apply strictly for that type of position during their job search. Men with similar aspirations, on the other hand, were more likely to branch out and apply to adjacent job types, such as wholesale, advertising or insurance sales.

Past discrimination drives blacks’ behavior

So what accounts for these race and gender differences in how people search for a job?

For African American job seekers, we found that perceptions of or experiences with racial discrimination played an important role in explaining their greater search breadth.

In one of the surveys we conducted, we asked job seekers about their experiences with racial discrimination at work. In our analysis, we found that individuals who reported that they had previously observed or experienced racial discrimination in the workplace were more likely to cast a wide net in their job search compared with those without such experience.

A gender-segregated workforce

But if discrimination, in part, drives the search behavior of African Americans, why do we not see similar adaptations by women, who also undoubtedly face employment discrimination?

We suspect the answer is related to the deeper and more explicit nature of gender inequality in the labor market. Occupations remain highly segregated by gender, and individuals from an early age can identify male- and female-typed jobs.

This reality affects women’s occupational aspirations as well as perceptions of the constraints they may encounter when deviating from gendered patterns. In either scenario, women’s self-selection into female-typed occupations may allow them to avoid jobs where they are more likely to experience discrimination. At the same time, this strategy likely reproduces gender segregation at work, which is an important source of gender inequality.

For African Americans, things are quite different. There are far fewer readily identifiable “black” or “white” jobs. The barriers facing African American job seekers can pop up across the labor market. Thus, it is more difficult for African Americans to target jobs where they will be able to avoid discrimination.

But a broad job search allows black job seekers to reach otherwise difficult-to-identify job opportunities in which racial discrimination is less prevalent. Given the challenges of anticipating where and when discrimination is likely to occur, applying to a broad set of job types raises the probability that an African American job seeker will apply to a job that does not discriminate.

Key consequences and takeaways

Job search strategies matter and can make a big difference in everything from lifetime earnings to potential career opportunities.

We find that broad search is associated with being more likely to receive a job offer, but also with receiving lower wage offers. Thus, job seekers appear to face a trade-off between the goals of finding any job and finding a good job. The broader search patterns among African Americans, therefore, may reduce some of the employment gap but contribute to the long-standing racial disparity in wages.

Second, to the extent that broad search leads job seekers to occupations that are different from their past work experiences, this strategy may limit African Americans’ ability to build coherent careers that are consistent with their experience and aspirations. Given significant racial differences in search breadth, these dynamics are likely to contribute to persistent racial inequalities in labor market outcomes.

In the case of women, limiting the scope of their search likely reinforces existing patterns of occupational segregation, which has consequences for the gender earnings gap and implications for other forms of persistent gender inequality.

Where does this leave us?

Together, the findings from our study suggest that the job search process plays an important role in shaping, reinforcing and sometimes counteracting inequality in the labor market.

At the same time, discrimination and other barriers to employment must be considered to fully understand how labor market inequality is generated.

And, as the comparison of race and gender suggests, how individuals adapt to workplace barriers can take different forms and have distinct consequences.

Our research points to the importance of systematically examining both job search processes as well as discriminatory behavior and other constraints in the workplace if we hope to fully understand and rectify persistent racial and gender inequalities in the labor market.

This article originally appeared on The ConversationThe Conversation

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME U.S.

Watch This KKK March Get Trolled By a Man and His Tuba

"I didn't really know how to show my opposition, so that was my way of doing it," Matt Buck says

South Carolina has long been a crucible of racial friction, a truth tragically brought to light last month when 21-year-old Dylann Roof murdered nine African-Americans at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. In the weeks since, these muted tensions have amplified, with a number of Confederate apologists loudly and defiantly standing by a heritage marred if not defined by prejudice.

The great thing about America, though, is that for every pack of cringeworthy contrarians, you have someone able and eager to call their bluff. In this case, the contrarians are members of a contemporary incarnation of the Ku Klux Klan, and their most vocal opponent is a sousaphone-playing young man named Matt Buck.

Last week, as the Klan revival group waved their Confederate flags through Columbia, South Carolina, Buck marched alongside them, huffing into his sousaphone (a version of the tuba modified for the marching band).

“I didn’t really know how to show my opposition, so that was my way of doing it,” he told the Charleston City Paper. “My goal was to embarrass them, and I think I did a little bit.”

TIME Education

I Use Star Trek in My Classroom to Have Difficult Conversations About Race and Gender

A scene from "Star Trek: The Motion Picture."
Paramount A scene from "Star Trek: The Motion Picture."

Star Trek has stories and characters that give meaning and purpose to our collective sense of identity and existence

The television series Star Trek: The Original Series (1966–1969) debuted one year after my immediate family and I relocated from the Harlem district of New York City to an area of South Central Los Angeles in 1965. This was also the year in which that latter metropolis erupted into riots that became known collectively as the Watts Rebellion. The television series became a form of escape from the surroundings of a depressing urban reality and envisioning a more tolerant future.

As it turned out, however, TV was not to be the key to that future. Rather, that entrée would be provided by many subsequent years of formal education that would spark in me an intellectual curiosity about the inner workings of the trek of life—engaging the tangibles of this world as well as the intangibles I imagined to exist beyond the stars.

It was through the arts and humanities that I attempted to grapple with the many intersecting questions I had about things that mattered most to me, such as race, gender and sexuality, as well as technology of the past, present and future.

Fast forward half a century—to where I help my students attempt to make sense of exactly those same relevant, complex questions.

Teaching complex, contemporary issues

After earning a doctoral degree in art history and teaching at the university level for 25 of those intervening years, I have observed a contradiction in the majority of students of this Generation Y: They seem connected and yet very distanced from the overwhelming complexities of the world around them.

The point of connection appears strongest in the area of popular culture. The disconnect, ironically, seems vested in a contemporary (sometimes blind) obsession with technology.

As a historian of art and visual culture by training, I wrestled with how popular culture and technology might be combined in a thought-provoking fashion with difficult and uncomfortable social and personal matters. How might these issues be made important to a student’s contemporary situation, to her or his daily experiences and encounters?

I found part of the answer by traveling back to the 1960s, when difficult social change movements around race (civil rights, black power), gender (the women’s movement) and sexuality (the gay and lesbian movement) were in full swing and paralleled the national obsession with technology, the space race and indulgence in popular culture as a way to both escape and liberate ourselves.

The result of my time travel was the creation of a new course for the 21st century entitled “Roaming the Star Trek Universe: Race, Gender, and Alien Sexualities.” The course explores the Star Trek universe of science fiction television as one way to probe critical issues of race, gender and alternate forms of sexuality. The response to the course offering was overwhelming.

But why would students be interested, and why teach such a course in today’s complex world?

Why does it matter?

Certainly, this is not the first nor last course to be taught on Star Trek. However, what makes it different, or at least unusual, is its open-ended interest in the intersecting dynamics of race, gender and varying forms of sexuality.

As a persuasive tool in imagining the possibilities of the future, Star Trek has the power and pull to immerse the individual completely through stories and characters that give meaning and purpose to our collective sense of identity and existence.

For instance, in the original series episode, called “Let that be your last battlefield” (1969), the conflict between two bi-colored humanoids named Lokai and Bele leads to questions of racial and political friction, assigning racial designations and bringing out the tensions of identity politics.

As with real life, there are no pat solutions but many consequences.

The science fiction genre, as part of popular culture, provides a seductive means of examining the intersections of the concerns of race, gender and sexuality in exciting and daring new ways such as, for instance, using Klingons as metaphors for Muslims and Vulcans for Jews.

The linking of past, present and future through subjects such as slavery, racism, colonization, feminism, reproductive technologies, homosexuality/homophobia, spirituality and religious fundamentalism, just to name a few, stimulates critical reexamination of today’s very real problems.

One way to do this, for example, is to ask probing questions so to get students thinking about ways in which interspecies conflicts among humans, Vulcans, Romulans, Klingons, Andorians, Betazoids, Cardassians and Bajorans, to name a few, are portrayed and how they mirror or parallel disagreements between today’s nations, races, genders, religions and classes.

The idea of creating futuristic spaces, places and experiences that are modeled on past and contemporary situations poses questions about the possibility of achieving optimistic futures and the inevitability of being left with pessimistic ones.

Science fiction is about everything

Counter to stereotype, science fiction is not only about the future of technology and science, but encompasses what the writer and educator Thomas Lombardo calls “the future of everything” – the future of society, culture, ethics, the environment, the human mind, races, genders, sex and sexuality.

It is in respect to the complex narratives about thoughts on the future of everything from a variety of perspectives that the Star Trek universe presents a challenge and is overwhelming even when restricted to the intersecting matters of race, gender and sexuality.

Of these three concerns, race is perhaps the most difficult to figure out. There is a constant struggle over what race means, and, in most instances, its definition and significance remain unresolved.

There are a host of characters from the Star Trek universe that speak to the logic and illogic of race, signaling the importance and timeliness of racial matters today.

Characters in the television series who are readily identified by the color of their skin include Uhura, Worf, Geordie Laforge, Guinan, Captain Benjamin Sisko and Tuvok. All of them can teach us something about contrived racial (and gender) categories that also go beyond skin color.

However, in order to think more deeply about race, we also have to look at what the series says about the power of whiteness and its tendency to reinforce racial as well as gender stereotypes.

Captain Kirk of the original series, the Prime Directive, and the United Federation of Planets all come to mind here. Characters such as Mr Spock, B’Elanna Torres, Odo and even Commander Data reference the complexity of ethnicity and racial mixtures disguised as hybrid alien species struggling for identity and a sense of belonging in an extended humanoid and technological universe.

Relevance to our lives today

These issues and the struggles they impose are important because they continue to resonate with us today and have direct bearing on the quality of our lives.

The process of teaching and learning about race, gender and sexuality through science fiction stories and technology in television and film can be challenging and even daunting.

But Star Trek may well be one of the more significant ways (even boldly so) through which to not only teach and learn about the past, the present and the future, but to willfully shape the contours of the latter.

This article originally appeared on The ConversationThe Conversation

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME society

Denying Hate Crimes Doesn’t Make Them Disappear

Fourteen years ago I tried to protect an undergraduate from hate—I shouldn’t have

In the summer of 2001, I began graduate school in Philadelphia, in the hopes that it would lead to a nice paycheck and some job stability. I lived in a dorm, as a graduate assistant, and was responsible for helping 60 freshmen transition to college. I was one of those over-eager GAs, drumming on residents’ doors early on a Saturday, wanting to go to the dining hall en masse.

If you’d asked me that August, I would have told you I was in school to write a dissertation on outsourcing or marketing or something business-y like that.

But then the September 11 attacks happened, and changed everything for me.

September 11 was a singular moment in my life that led almost immediately to a rare sort of clarity. It’s a focus that I think only disaster can bring: a sudden understanding of what is important, and needs to be protected in the world.

I remember the night of 9/11, most of all: how I had propped my door open, and the kids had trickled in, all 60 of them. How we had huddled around my tiny television set: bewildered, hugging each other, watching the footage of the planes hitting the towers over and over again.

Some of the students had parents who worked in the Financial District, or even in the Towers themselves, and we had taken turns trying to call in, to get through when the lines were jammed.

I don’t remember falling asleep that night, but when I woke up the following morning, I found the front of my door had been vandalized. I was stunned and embarrassed. “Go home, you f—ing sand-n—-” was perhaps the most illuminating of the messages, in that it offered a directive, while simultaneously pointing the finger.

This is your fault, it seemed to say, and you need to be sent home for it.

There were many problems with this, not the least of which was the fact that I consider the United States my home. There is no other place I want to be. Then there was the issue of blame by proxy. Was this my fault somehow? Was I guilty, because I was born Turkish? Muslim?

I certainly felt guilty that morning. I felt responsible.

I walked down the hallway, feeling foggy, and stopped when I got to the other end. Another door had been chosen, too. Same handwriting, similar missives. That door belonged to an international student. He was 18. Just a week before, his family had asked me to take care of him. “It’s his first time away from home,” his dad had explained, his eyes soft and vulnerable and aging, and I had promised him his son was in good hands.

Of course he was.

And so on September 12, while the floor was still quiet, and the day freshly broken, I took a sponge and, with those good hands, I scrubbed that door clean.

Then, I went back to my room, shut my own door, and began to cry.

Later that week, I decided that if this had happened here, it was also probably happening elsewhere. So I approached my house dean who encouraged me to reach out across campus, to gather the students who might be impacted in the aftermath.

I didn’t know what I was doing at the time, but it was my first attempt at community organizing. I had free pizza, and a member of the counseling center on hand to answer questions, except nobody showed up.

No one.

I had to give the pizza away, entire boxes.

So I tried again. And again. And again.

For two years, I chipped away at the fear that had silenced so many.

Eventually I learned about the Sikh kid who had his head cracked against a giant flowerpot by a group of strangers. There was the sophomore whose life had been threatened by a middle-aged man in a car. There was the mosque that had been vandalized, and a nearby Gurudwara that had been torched.

“Go home” was always the refrain.

In times of violence and uncertainty, it’s perhaps a human impulse to look for someone to blame, someone to hit and strangle and spit at. It’s perhaps also instinctive, in response to trauma like this, to pull away — to hide inside your shell, to wait out the storm in solitude.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

In February, my Twitter feed flooded with news of a shooting in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Three Muslim American students, all under the age of 25, had been shot, execution-style, by a man who may or may not have carried out a hate crime. They were killed near the University of North Carolina campus, after an apparent dispute over a parking spot.

There was history here, according to the victims’ parents. In previous instances the man had come to their door, armed with a rifle, threatening them. It’s unclear whether or not any of this was reported to the police.

Perhaps the students were scared to draw attention to what was happening to them. Perhaps they didn’t want to rock the boat. Perhaps they’d grown accustomed to living life in a state of apology for something they hadn’t done. The youngest victim would have been about five years old when the Twin Towers fell.

We know we have a choice, when faced with hate. Either we can stay where we are — small and angry and scared — or we can take a path that goes beyond that. We can talk. Not about each other, not at each other, but to each other. We can see that burying feelings, or stuffing them down the barrel of a rifle, doesn’t solve anything at all.

In fact, it only makes things worse.

To this day, the kid, the one down the hall, doesn’t know what happened to his door the night after September 11.

And that’s my fault.

I did that.

I denied him a chance to see, to explain, to confront, and ultimately to understand what was happening around him, and to him. By denying those words, scrubbing at the surface of them, by erasing the hurt that had found its way to his front door, I was denying the wounds that put them there in the first place. But denying hurt doesn’t make it disappear. It only makes the hurt grow stronger.

Sometimes, even strong enough to pull the trigger.

An early version of this piece has run in the Pennsylvania Gazette. This article originally appeared on Medium.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Race

A New Satirical Ad Goes Viral With a Controversial Jab at White Privilege

It was released by "Look Different," an MTV campaign that seeks to undermine prejudice

“Are you tired of systemic prejudice?” a new television commercial asks. The ad offers a solution: White Squad, a “professional white-advantage service.” If you’re, say, a black American, or an American of Arabic descent, and need to hail a cab, or appear in front of a judge, or get through airport security without a lengthy pat-down by a suspicious TSA agent, the company will send a preppy, peppy white representative to stand in as your proxy. After all, white people enjoy a systemic benefit of the doubt that allows them to pass through life relatively hassle-free. It’s called white privilege, and White Squad is here to help even the playing field.

The commercial is a work of satire, as you may have suspected.

A year ago, MTV launched “Look Different,” an online and on-air campaign to expose, elucidate and eradicate the insidious prejudices that can escape the glow of the radar when there are more glaring examples of bigotry at hand. The campaign loaded the faux advertisement to YouTube on Wednesday evening. The con goes deep — there’s an accompanying website, which is meticulously well-done — but click around a bit and you’ll find yourself at a portal page to the Look Different site, which offers a series of essays, data sets, and interactive features to explain the realities compelling the satire.

The video’s thesis echoes the point Louis C.K. was trying to make in that one tongue-in-cheek bit from “Chewed Up,” the 2008 standup special that propelled him to stardom. “I’m not saying white people are better,” he panned. “I’m saying being white is clearly better. Who could even argue with that?” In short, the argument goes, acknowledging the inequities of white privilege is not the same as endorsing them; on the contrary, frankly discussing these imbalances is the first step in diffusing them.

The problem with good satire is that the line between it and reality is often precariously thin. After the video went up on Wednesday night, a number of online commentators grimly noted that their first instinct was that White Squad was a real firm. Many who saw it as a joke took issue with its apparent glibness and levity — “It kind of came off as though it was making fun of the issue,” one person wrote, “as opposed to actually putting it in a way that says this needs to stop.”

 

TIME South Carolina

South Carolina’s Confederate Flag Comes Down

The flag was removed from the Statehouse where it has flown for more than a half-century

(COLUMBIA, S.C.) — The Confederate flag was lowered from the grounds of the South Carolina Statehouse to the cheers of thousands on Friday, ending its 54-year presence there and marking a stunning political reversal in a state where many thought the rebel banner would fly indefinitely.

The turnabout seemed unthinkable before the June 17 massacre of nine black parishioners — including a state senator — at a Charleston church during a Bible study. Dylann Roof, a white man who was photographed with the Confederate flag, is charged in the shooting deaths, and authorities have called the killings a hate crime.

The massacre reignited calls to remove Confederate flags and symbols across the South and around the nation.

The crowd chanted “USA” and “hey, hey, hey, goodbye” as the flag was lowered by an honor guard of South Carolina troopers during a 6-minute ceremony. Gov. Nikki Haley stood on the Statehouse steps and did not speak, though she nodded in the direction of the crowd after someone shouted: “Thank you governor.”

Two troopers rolled the flag and tied it up with a string and handed it to a black trooper who brought it to the Statehouse steps. When the trooper handed it to a state archivist, the governor clapped.

President Barack Obama tweeted minutes after the flag was down, saying it was “a sign of good will and healing and a meaningful step towards a better future.” Obama delivered a eulogy at one of the funerals, for state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, who was also pastor of the church where the killings took place.

A van was to take the flag to the nearby Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum. There, it eventually will be housed in a multimillion-dollar shrine lawmakers promised to build as part of a deal to get a bill passed removing the flag.

South Carolina’s leaders first flew the battle flag over the Statehouse dome in 1961 to mark the 100th anniversary of the Civil War. It remained there to represent official opposition to the civil rights movement.

Decades later, mass protests against the flag by those who said it was a symbol of racism and white supremacy led to a compromise in 2000 with lawmakers who insisted that it symbolized Southern heritage and states’ rights. The two sides came to an agreement to move the flag from the dome to a 30-foot pole next to a Confederate monument in front of the Statehouse.

Many thought it would stay there. Now, even that flagpole will be torn down, but no timetable is set on that.

People who supported removing the flag chanted “take it down” before the ceremony and vastly outnumbered those who were upset about the move.

“It feels so good to be out here and be happy about it,” said Ronald D. Barton, 52, a pastor who also was at the ceremony in 2000.

Haley did not answer questions about the upcoming ceremony, but earlier Friday on NBC’s “Today” show, she said: “No one should ever drive by the Statehouse and feel pain. No one should ever drive by the Statehouse and feel like they don’t belong.”

The flag came down 23 days after the massacre at Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Haley signed the bill with 13 pens. Nine of them went to the families of the victims.

On Friday, artist Ernest Lee came to the Statehouse with a framed portrait of all nine victims. He said he’s been invited to the Charleston church on Sunday to present his artwork. He said he wished more people would turn to art for inspiration.

“If they did, there wouldn’t be so much hate and violence,” he said.

It's as good as down, folks. #OneSC #ConfederateFlag #ColumbiaSC

A video posted by CJ Lake (@cjlake) on

TIME Race

Why Millennials Can’t Afford to Be Colorblind

Protestors Gather Against Confederate Flag
Andrew Renneisen—The Washington Post/Getty Images People gather to protest the confederate flag which flies in front of the South Carolina Statehouse in Columbia, SC on June 20, 2015. The protest comes after the racially motivated killings of nine people at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC.

Victor Luckerson is a reporter covering tech and business for Time.

'Not seeing race' allows young people to avoid dealing with the racial rancor that still surrounds us

Because we have been taught to believe in happy endings, it’s easy for young people to view racism as a problem that will inevitably be solved, or perhaps already has been. In the history books, racial progress for African Americans occurs on a comforting positive slope, evolving from slavery to Jim Crow discrimination to the post-Civil Rights era of equality under the law. And in our own lifetimes, we reached a new racial milestone when Barack Obama became the United States’ first black president, thanks in a large part to a groundswell of support from young voters of all races who were optimistic about the future.

What the history books miss is that change rarely happens in orderly progression. There are fits and starts. There are retrenchments. There are debates. Change occurs not only on the macro level, in soaring proclamations by presidents and civic leaders, but also on the micro level, through a shift in the thinking of everyday people. And big racial progress is always met with a measure of resistance–some of it passive, some of it active, some of it horrifically violent. That is what we are experiencing right now in America. That is what happened in Charleston, S.C. last month. And it isn’t going to stop just because an older generation passes away.

Dylann Roof, the man charged with murdering nine black people after being welcomed into their church service, was only 21. He was a Millennial, and while his actions don’t reflect the feelings in the hearts of most young people, it’s now our collective responsibility to address head-on the problems in our society that allow such hate to flourish.

Millennials claim to be racially progressive but are often ill-equipped to have frank discussions about race. In a 2014 survey by MTV, 91% of young people between the ages of 18 and 24 said they believed in racial equality, and 72% said their generation believes more in equality than older Americans. Many of these young people see “colorblindness” as valuable measure of racial progress, with 68% saying that focusing on race “prevents society from becoming colorblind.” But only 37% of respondents were raised in households that talked about race, and just 20% of those surveyed said they felt comfortable talking about biases against specific groups.

This is the crux of the problem. Many young people take “not seeing race” as badge of honor that proves their progressivism and absolves them from engaging in discussions on the topic. Colorblindness allows you to escape the racial rancor that is playing out in our streets, on social media and now even in our churches.

But America is still a country riddled with systemic racial inequalities, and many are are becoming more pronounced, not less. Whites are now 13 times wealthier than blacks, the largest gap since 1989. Blacks are 2.5 times more likely than whites to be arrested for drug possession, even though about the same percentage of blacks and whites use drugs. Despite the promise of equal education enshrined by Brown v. Board 60 years ago, more than a third of black students in the South now attend schools that are almost fully minority and are often doubly segregated by poverty. Their issues are literally invisible to many of their mostly white peers who would never see these schools.

(MORE: Selma High School 50 Years After Bloody Sunday)

It’s not enough to assume that these problems will disappear when younger, more open minds rise to power. A recent survey by NORC at University of Chicago showed that 31% of white Millennials surveyed rated blacks lazier the whites, just one percentage point less than Gen X’ers and 4 points less than Baby Boomers. Twenty-three percent of white Millennials surveyed rated blacks less intelligent than whites, compared to 19 % of Gen X’ers. At the same time, even in 2015, the never-ending litany of racist incidents at college campuses continues, from the vulgar chant on the fraternity bus at the University of Oklahoma to the students who hung a noose on the statue of the University of Mississippi’s first black enrollee. More evidence that even among the most well-educated young people, individual racial cruelty is far too common.

There’s no one solution to these problems—but they are problems all of today’s young Americans will have to work to solve in the years ahead. As of 2014, most children under 5 in the United States are non-white. By 2043, most Americans will be. There are obvious financial and political dangers for people who ignore these demographic shifts, like presidential candidate/entrepreneur/television personality Donald Trump. He stands to lose millions of dollars worth of deals and sponsorships for calling Mexicans “rapists,” even as he draws large crowds. But there’s a collective cost as well. A world where all minorities are not granted the same opportunities and protections as white people–while attending school, while interacting with police, while praying at church–will be a world of even higher incarceration rates, health care expenses and education inequality than the one we live in today. These are economic costs, in addition to the more obvious moral ones, that will ultimately burden everyone.

It’s possible that the racial strife of the past year will change young people’s views on America’s racial challenges in a very permanent way. The Confederate flag, which Roof adopted as his own, is suddenly being removed from major retailers and sporting events, and South Carolina’s senate passed a bill to remove the flag from statehouse grounds on Monday.

Even before the Charleston shooting, a group of high schoolers I interviewed for a feature about teenage life in 2015 already seemed to have been made more racially conscious by protests in Ferguson, New York and elsewhere. “Within these last few years, you’re definitely seeing that there’s some stuff that’s still lingering, especially with the justice system,” said Lonnie Hancock, a 16-year-old at East Side Community High School in Manhattan. “Before I was kind of aloof to it. Now I feel like it kind of is more in your face that things aren’t exactly OK.”

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Race

Jackie Robinson’s Life Was No Home Run for Racial Progress

The Brooklyn Dodgers' infielder Jackie Robinson in uniform, circa 1945.
Hulton Archive/Getty Images The Brooklyn Dodgers' infielder Jackie Robinson in uniform, circa 1945.

Zocalo Public Square is a not-for-profit Ideas Exchange that blends live events and humanities journalism.

America loved the baseball star on the field, not off it

Jackie Robinson’s story brings together two American obsessions: sports and freedom. This is why we never tire of his tale. Yet in the way that the story has been handed down, it masks as much about our national identity as it illuminates.

The story of Robinson’s breakthrough often comes in the language and rhythms of baseball – the stuff of hits and runs, stolen bases and brushback pitches. He wrought havoc on the basepaths, demolished a racial barrier, and opened up our society.

The popular tale emphasizes Robinson’s moral courage, and rightly so. It has shaped him into a folk hero who belongs to the ages. But Robinson’s story becomes most instructive when we bring it down from the realm of the timeless epic, and connect it to the time and place in which it occurred.

The larger history – of racial struggle in Brooklyn and America after World War II – is often ugly and painful. When Robinson’s saga is placed in this context, it does not represent just a feel-good triumph for racial equality. It also reveals how the quest for freedom and democracy has coexisted with our country’s commitment to segregation and racism.

To be American is to know that we strive for freedom and at the same time we practice its opposite. We are capable of great leaps forward in terms of racial progress, including the election and re-election of the nation’s first black president. Yet our streets are not yet safe enough for unarmed black men to walk in peace. This remains our unresolved conflict: high-achieving African Americans have been welcomed into specific realms of American life, yet such individual accomplishments have done nothing to alter the deeper patterns of black poverty, police brutality, and spatial segregation. The conflict between racial progress and racial inequality was as clear in Jackie Robinson’s day as in our own.

For many Brooklynites, an afternoon at Ebbets Field was the definition of bliss.

The aroma hit them first. The smell of bread rising from the Taystee factory, and cakes baking at the Ebingers plant, greeted the fans when they stepped out of the train station. As the throng pressed closer to the stadium, that scent mixed with roasted peanuts and hot dogs, sweat, and grass. Then came the sounds: the excited yells of children, the vendors hawking scorecards or newspapers. Many Brooklyn natives, like Joel Berger, recalled Ebbets Field as “a total sensory experience.” Nighttime made the stadium a palace, transfixing the eyes. Joe Flaherty remembered the decadent feel “of walking through Prospect Park to see a rare night game.” On a balmy evening in mid-summer, “all of a sudden the sky would be lit up,” transforming Flatbush into “the Emerald City, and as you got closer, you’d pick up your pace, and you’d give your tickets and go charging inside.” A Dodger game was the quintessential Brooklyn experience. In the age of Jackie Robinson, it became more than that. Ebbets Field was not only the borough’s cultural heart but the very seat of American democracy.

Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier in 1947, almost nine years before anyone had heard of Martin Luther King, Jr., or Rosa Parks. His achievement armed postwar Brooklynites with a distinctive claim to progress. Dodger fans had long detected something special in their baseball team and their borough; Robinson deepened that sense. He “added another dimension to being a Dodger fan,” reflected journalist and Brooklyn native Pete Hamill. “It was about right and wrong…we became the most American place in the country.” A moral element at once mingled with the magnificent smells and sounds and sights.

If white fans looked further down the street, they would have come to entirely different conclusions about the extent of racial progress. On the same Bedford Avenue that housed Ebbets Field, they would have witnessed the grim reality of housing segregation. Discriminatory federal policies had combined with block-busting realtors and fearful white homeowners to create racially homogeneous neighborhoods. Brooklyn’s African Americans were corralled into a few select areas. Poor blacks had little choice but to pay high rents for dilapidated apartments. In neighborhoods like Crown Heights, Brownsville, and particularly Bedford-Stuyvesant, residents found basic services sorely lacking. Their garbage was collected only sporadically in Bedford-Stuyvesant, and in such areas, the city built few recreation centers, parks, or pools. In the very same years when Robinson played for the Dodgers – 1947 to 1957 – black ghettoes solidified.

This is what the rhetoric about Robinson and interracial democracy so brazenly missed. Even if Robinson’s heroics in the stadium pushed baseball fans to rethink their racial attitudes, even if Ebbets Field became a crucible of integration, very little of that feeling spilled over into the city – or country – at large.

Robinson’s own family experienced the inequities first-hand. Jackie Robinson learned that it was one thing to integrate the national pastime, and quite another to desegregate white towns and neighborhoods. The Robinsons ended up enjoying polyglot Brooklyn. But white homeowners had tried to prevent African Americans from buying property in Flatbush. The Robinsons’ black landlord had endured such discrimination. Moreover, after the Dodgers integrated, some white fans had renounced their allegiance to the team. The borough was no interracial oasis, and even for the Robinsons it was not always welcoming.

In 1953, Jackie and Rachel Robinson began to search for a house in the suburbs of Fairfield County, Connecticut, and Westchester County, New York. It was a humiliating experience.

The Robinsons attempted to buy land in New Canaan but were rebuffed. Rachel called about one house in Greenwich and, after giving her name, the owners refused to show it. The couple settled for a property just across the state line in New York. Jackie recalled that in autumn 1953, “we finally found a piece of land in New York’s Westchester County that was just what we wanted.” The Robinsons offered the asking price, waited for weeks, and were told that the price would be raised by $5,000. This was standard practice in housing discrimination, a sure-fire way for whites in exclusive towns to claim that they had nothing against African Americans – it was just that blacks could not meet the asking price. This was purely the market at work, they would say, not racism. So the Robinsons promptly kicked in the extra $5,000. “There was another period of confused silence,” Jackie recalled. “At last, we were told that the land had been sold to somebody else. It was this way everywhere we went.” Suburban whites did not want an African American for a neighbor, even if it was Jackie Robinson.

After the Bridgeport Herald printed an article about the Robinsons’ experience, the citizens of North Stamford, Connecticut, were moved to action. Ministers circulated non-discrimination petitions. The Robinsons finally bought a home on Cascade Road. Rachel Robinson recalled that moment: “I don’t know that I ever have felt closer to being a real American, closer to having lifted from my shoulders the nagging doubts and insecurities that are the heritage of the American Negro.” For her, the ability to buy a home was the true test of American freedom.

Their story serves as a sobering reminder about the meaning of racial progress in America. That progress isn’t really about whether we embrace famous black athletes or cultural icons, or even whether we elect an African-American as president. The true test of our progress is whether we can enact policies that combat racial inequality – to stop the rising tide of mass incarceration and police brutality – and whether we can eradicate racial inequality from our private realms, much closer to home, as well. Only then can we begin to build a country in which African-Americans are truly welcome in every neighborhood, every school, and on every street.

Jason Sokol is an assistant professor of history at the University of New Hampshire. His latest book is All Eyes Are Upon Us: Race and Politics from Boston to Brooklyn. He wrote this for What It Means to Be American a national conversation hosted by the Smithsonian and Zocalo Public Square.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Race

Flo Rida, Emmitt Smith Back Out of Miss USA

2015 BET Awards - Arrivals
Vincent Sandoval—WireImage/Getty Images Rapper Flo Rida attends the 2015 BET Awards on June 28, 2015 in Los Angeles, Calif.

Donald Trump must be feeling pretty lonely right about now

Shortly after co-hosts Cheryl Burke and Thomas Roberts pulled out of the Miss USA pageant following Donald Trump’s offensive comments about Mexican immigrants, Miss USA performer Flo Rida and pageant judge Emmitt Smith have reportedly followed suit on Wednesday by bowing out of their duties as well.

Flo Rida had been scheduled to perform at the upcoming Miss USA pageant, scheduled to take place on July 12 in Baton Rouge, La, but decided to withdraw, reports the Associated Press. The “GDFR” musician had been scheduled to headline the event alongside “The Voice” winner Craig Wayne Boyd, “Somebody” singer Natalie La Rose and reggaeton artist J. Balvin, all of whom had dropped out prior to Flo Rida’s announcement.

Football star Emmitt Smith has also dropped out from his duties as Miss USA judge. In a press release issued last month, the former Dallas Cowboys running back had been named one of fives judges including HGTV “Property Brothers” personality Jonathan Scott, country crooner Jessie James Decker, E! News anchor Terrence Jenkins and former Miss Universe winner Zuleyka Rivera. Of those five names, only Decker’s remains listed as a telecast judge on the Miss USA website.

A spokesperson for the pageant could not confirm the news about the event’s judges and performers.

And Trump’s derogatory comments about Mexican immigrants has hurt more than just his Miss USA/Miss Universe pageant organization. In a statement released Wednesday, Macy’s announced its decision to end its business relationship with Trump, a move which follows NBC’s decision earlier this week to cut its ties with the real estate developer and his Miss USA/Miss Universe pageants.

“We are disappointed and distressed by recent remarks about immigrants from Mexico. We do not believe the disparaging characterizations portray an accurate picture of the many Mexicans, Mexican Americans and Latinos who have made so many valuable contributions to the success of our nation,” Macy’s said. “In light of statements made by Donald Trump, which are inconsistent with Macy’s values, we have decided to discontinue our business relationship with Mr. Trump and will phase-out the Trump menswear collection, which has been sold at Macy’s since 2004.”

Trump reacted to the news by releasing his own statement, declaring the end of the business agreement was his decision.

“I have decided to terminate my relationship with Macy’s because of the pressure being put on them by outside sources. While selling Trump ties and shirts at Macy’s is a small business in terms of dollar volume, my principles are far more important and therefore much more valuable. I have never been happy about the fact that the ties and shirts are made in China, and should I start a new product line somewhere in the future, I would insist that they are made in America.”

Miss USA/Miss Universe pageant president Paula Shugart told EW that the Miss USA pageant will proceed as scheduled for July 12, and that plans are being made to live stream the event online. Under her direction, the organization has also begun talks with prospective broadcasters. “We’re doing many, many different things at once,” Shugart said. “I kind of liken it to when the Golden Globes aired during the writer’s strike [in 2008]. Obviously, they couldn’t do their typical Golden Globes show, but that event went on and it was different the year of the strike. That’s kind of the approach I’m taking to this.

This article originally appeared on EW.com

TIME Racism

These 5 Facts Explain America’s Enduring Racial Divide

***BESTPIX*** Charleston In Mourning After 9 Killed In Church Massacre
Joe Raedle—Getty Images Monte Talmadge walks past the memorial on the sidewalk in front the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church after a mass shooting at the church killed nine people in Charleston, S.C., on June 20, 2015.

Decades of racism have badly hurt black America

Baltimore was two months ago. Ferguson was eight months before that. And now Charleston. For many black Americans, there really are two Americas. As a thought experiment, we looked at the health, wealth and other stats on black America, and compared it internationally. The results show that America—all of America—needs to do much, much better.

1. Education

Education is supposed to be the great equalizer. The world may not be fair, but it’s supposed to be a lot fairer within the four walls of a classroom. But the numbers tell a different story. African Americans are twice as likely as whites not to finish high school. If white America were a country, its high school graduation rates would rank with the likes of the U.K. and Finland; black America would be on par with Chile and Poland. Black students are suspended and expelled at roughly three times the rate of their white counterparts. Of students who receive multiple suspensions, 42 percent are black; and 34 percent of students expelled are black. And the world they are sent out to isn’t much kinder.

(US News, OECD, US News)

2. Wealth

What happens after high school? 21% of whites end up successfully completing a college degree, compared to only 13% of blacks. But even if they achieve that milestone, the payoff is nowhere near the same. A white family at the median sees a return of approximately $56,000 after completing a four-year degree; a black family sees a return of around $4,900. In fact, “black household wealth is just over the median wealth of an adult” in the Palestinian territories, which is not a comparison you want to see made about any group living in America in 2015. Looking at GDP per capita, blacks make $23,000 compared to the U.S. national average of $53,000. If black America really were its own country, it would be ranked 44th globally on that figure—between crisis-hit Portugal and post-Communist Lithuania. The most damning statistic? The median black household has just 6 percent of the total wealth ($7,113) that the median white household has ($111,146).

(US News, Forbes, Atlantic, Politifact, Forbes, Washington Post)

3. Health

No surprise, a less wealthy lifetime means a less healthy lifetime—and it starts from the beginning. Infant mortality for blacks in America is 11.5 for every 1,000 births; the figure for whites is 5.2. Black Americans’ rates put them with the likes of Mexico (12.58) and Thailand (9.86), whereas white Americans are much closer to Switzerland (3.73) and Japan (2.13). That’s how the racial disparity starts, but how does it end? Black Americans can expect to live a full four years less on average than whites, who on average make it to 79. A life expectancy of 75 years places black Americans below Tunisia, Panama, Costa Rica and Cuba.

(US News, Economist)

4. Incarceration

From bad to worse: 1 in 3 black males will go to prison at some point in their life if current trends continue, compared to 1 in 17 white males. Women fare better, but not much—black women are incarcerated at (only) twice the rate that white women are across the country. Overall, blacks only make up some 14 percent of the national population, but are 38 percent of the total prison population. If black America were its own country, it would rank No. 3 on the world list of absolute prison incarceration, ahead of Russia, Brazil, India and Thailand. And once in prison, it gets worse; 60 percent of all prisoners sent to solitary confinement are black.

(Huffington Post, US Department of Justice, Salon, International Center for Prison Studies, Salon)

5. Violence

America’s homicide rate is a national tragedy—but it’s much worse if you’re black. White America’s rate of 2.5 deaths per 100,000 is just somewhat higher than Finland (2.0), Belgium (1.7) and Greece (1.7). But at 19.4 deaths per 100,000 people, black America’s homicide rate puts it above Burma (15.2) and just below Nigeria (20.0). But it’s fatal police shootings where the figures become truly tragic. If you are a young black male in America today, you are 21 times more likely to be shot and killed by a police officer than if you are a young white male. If you’re black, you’re also more than twice as likely to be shot and killed by a police officer while unarmed. Over the past year, 41 percent of all unarmed people killed by police were black.

America is better than this. It’s about time we show it.

(FiveThirtyEight, ProPublica, Guardian, Salon)

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