Magazine article USA TODAY

The "Blame Whitey" Media

Magazine article USA TODAY

The "Blame Whitey" Media

Article excerpt

THE WASHINGTON POST marked Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Jan. 18, 1993, with a front-page article headlined "Few Blacks Reach Top in Private Sector, Census Finds." The story said that "recently released census figures document only a tiny African-American presence in prestigious jobs, most of them in the private sector: Blacks make up 10 percent of the nation's work force but only 4 percent of doctors, 3 percent of lawyers and architects and 2 percent of airline pilots." In the Washington, D.C., area, where they were said to make up 25% of the workforce, just 10% of doctors, eight percent of electrical engineers, and seven percent of attorneys were found to be black. African-Americans were reported to be surging into public jobs in large numbers, and Marc Bendick, a labor economist, was quoted as asking, "If [the government] can do it, why can't the private sector?"

The Post reporters provided an answer to that question, quoting Keith Watters, a black Washington lawyer who heads his own law firm, as saying, "People tend to hire people who look like them." In other words, racial discrimination explains why there are not more black doctors, attorneys, engineers, architects, and airline pilots. This was spelled out more specifically by unnamed "analysts" and "specialists," who reportedly indicated that "a complex interplay of factors, from restrictions on college financial aid to the restructuring of the economy" and "a stubborn problem of continued discrimination" explained the fact that blacks were not getting their share of top echelon jobs. They cited studies that concluded that "minority workers are paid less than whites to do the same job, even if factors such as experience and education are equal." This supported the headline.

Not until the 27th paragraph of this 33-paragraph story were readers told that Asians had made gains in skilled, professional, and technical fields and were holding jobs in these areas "in numbers far greater than their share of the population." It was pointed out that, while Asians are only three percent of the national workforce, they comprise seven percent of college professors, natural scientists, architects, and engineers. In the Washington, D.C., area, Asians make up 20% of medical scientists even though they are five percent of the labor force. No analysts' explanations were provided for why these different-looking people, many of them recent immigrants, have enjoyed greater success than native-born blacks.

If the Washington Post reporters had read a recent book by Jared Taylor, Paved with Good Intentions: The Failure of Race Relations in Contemporary America, they might have decided against writing yet another story about how blacks are victimized by white racism. Taylor maintains that the Post's interpretation of the census data is ludicrous. What is worse, it is dangerous. He points out that articles falsely blaming black failures on racial discrimination are feeding racial passions and encouraging the dangerous buildup of racial animosity that leads to such tragedies as the Los Angeles riots.

The fact is, blacks have made great strides in breaking into the white-collar ranks and increasing their incomes. Taylor cites research by Harvard economist Richard Freeman revealing that blacks and whites "who grew up under the same circumstances and went on to get similar educations show no difference in their average incomes." This parity had been achieved by 1969. For women, the change was even more remarkable. In 1950, black female college graduates were making 91% as much as white women with the same education. By 1960, before the 1964 Civil Rights Act was passed, black women were earning two percent more than the whites, and, by 1979, "all black women, whatever their qualifications, were earning 8 percent more than white women with equal qualifications." Taylor quotes black economist Walter Williams of George Mason University that the comparative earnings of black and white women is "one of the best kept secrets of all time and virtually totally ignored in the literature on racial differences. …

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