Black Economists: An 'Elite Clan of Warrior Intellectuals.'

By Ruffins, Paul | Black Issues in Higher Education, November 14, 1996 | Go to article overview

Black Economists: An 'Elite Clan of Warrior Intellectuals.'


Ruffins, Paul, Black Issues in Higher Education


"Once upon a time

there was a little girl who wanted to

know why some people had jobs

and others didn't, so she took a

course in economics. The textbook

said that if you went to school and

did the right things, you'd get a job.

But she said, `that can't be right. I

have four cousins in Chicago who

finished school, who finished training

programs, and who still don't

have jobs.' So she studied some

more."

That little girl is now Dr. Cecilia Conrad. She told

this story as part of her 1993 presidential address

to the National Economic Association (NEA).

Conrad's story captures the visceral life

experience expressed by most of the Black

economists interviewed for this story. Like

Conrad, they too suspected that economics had the

tools to explain important questions about Black

life. But as they pursued it and developed a love

for it, they were continually confronted with the

fact that the theories they were being taught were

contradicted by their everyday experience.

Although they kept studying, the established

theories never stopped contradicting their

beliefs--and mainstream economists refused to

change the theories,

even when contradicted with hard data.

Perhaps this is why so many Black men and

women proudly describe earning a Ph.D. in

economics as less like joining a profession than

surviving a gauntlet. Surviving that gauntlet earns

them induction into an elite clan of warrior

intellectuals battling over the most profound issues

facing Black America.

"We simply have better answers to many of

the questions of poverty and racism in the post

civil rights era," notes Dr. William Spriggs, an

economist for the House/Senate Joint Economic

Committee. "For example, I believe that Black

economists can make much more powerful

arguments for the need for affirmative action than

political scientists. However, we are often ignored

by both white and Black policy makers."

Many African-American academics and Ph.D.s

sometimes feel isolated and frustrated. But for

Black economists, several things combine to make

these feelings more extreme. Dr. Margaret C.

Simms, research director of the Joint Center for

Political and Economic Studies, estimates that no

more than a maximum of 400, or 1.2 percent, of all

Ph.D.s in economics are held by Blacks.

"In 1980, there were approximately 150 in the

entire country," Simms points out. "For each of

the past ten years the number of Black Ph.D.s

produced has ranged from three to eleven--to

possibly even none."

There is probably no other field where the

numbers of Black Ph.D.s is so low relative to the

number of undergraduates who take courses in the

discipline especially in light of the number of

African Americans with related professional

degrees such master's of business administration or

Certified Public Accountancy.

In economic terms, the supply

to Black Ph.D.s doesn't

seem to be keeping up with

either the demand or the

rewards of working in the

field.

"There are so few of us,

that I have actually had students

come to my office just

to see if I was real," laughs

Dr. Edward Montgomery, of

the University of Maryland.

Dr. Debra Lindsey of

Howard University notes that

there was seldom, if every, another

Black economist at any of

the government or private agencies

where she worked. However,

the situation became

particularly acute when she

worked in defense economics. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Black Economists: An 'Elite Clan of Warrior Intellectuals.'
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.