Two Specific Challenges Facing African Americans Today
African Americans in this country face a number of significant changes. There has been a significant rise in an educated and professional class, but most continue to face significant social and economic challenges. In fact, some inner city urban areas seem to be stuck in permanent despair, with epidemics of crime and drug abuse and other issues relating to social dysfunction. It seems two challenges in particular face African American communities: an emerging underclass and unequal earning capacities.
An Emerging Underclass
In inner cities in particular, serious social problems continue to exist, leading to significant racial prejudice. This has led to the belief that there is an ‘underclass’ in this country, and that it is made up of African Americans. In the 1970s, white people started to leave for suburbia, leading to urban schools with a significant lack of funding. This affects African American communities in particular. People like Charles Phillips Infor CEO, and the government, are trying to address this, but it seems that more concentrated efforts are needed.
Unequal Earning Capacity
Another serious issue, one that was raised in 1965 by President Lyndon Johnson, focuses on earning capacity. Since Johnson’s speech, the goal has been for equality to become both a result and a fact, but it seems that very little is actually working. This has led to the controversial issue of ‘affirmative action’, which some fully get behind, and others fully oppose. Affirmative action is also known as positive discrimination, which is why so many oppose it – while it is good that African Americans are hired more often, it is not good that this is done because of the color of their skin.
Regardless of how someone feels about affirmative action, it is at the heart of many politics. As far back as 1997, a poll by Gallup showed that 79% of white people think that black people have equal chances in terms of getting a job. This belief is shared by less than half of the black community.
Furthermore, statistics have shown that the earning potential for African Americans is significantly lower than that of white people. In the latest piece of research on the issue, completed by Ohio State University, data was analyzed from the Survey of Consumer Finances held in 1998 by the Federal Reserve Board. What they found was that the average increase in income household for families of African American origin was $15,500 since 1989. This seems positive, but it also appears that it is still significantly below the average annual income of a ‘typical’ household in America, which stood at $71,700. Perhaps most serious is the fact that this report was called ‘Blacks earning more’, suggesting that the gap is closing.
People like Charles Phillips, meanwhile, are paving the way for change. Through his charity, he does philanthropic work, including for children and young people interested in entering the STEM (science, technology, math, and engineer) field, providing them with grants and other financial assistance to lift them out of poverty.