Racism in the United States: By the Numbers

Friday, November 6, 2015

In which John talks about racism in the United States.

The playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLMs_JcuNozJb-5TJ3uuvqPzQVjO_XarED If you have suggestions for additions, let me know!


On average, black men’s prison sentences are 20% longer than white men’s for comparable crimes: http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887324432004578304463789858002

Black people and white people use illegal drugs at similar rates, but black people are far more likely to be arrested for drug use: http://www.vox.com/2014/7/1/5850830/war-on-drugs-racist-minorities

African Americans are far more likely to be stopped and searched (although the contraband hit rate is higher among white people) in California: http://articles.latimes.com/2008/oct/23/opinion/oe-ayres23

And in New York (where the data isn’t quite as good but appears to be comparable to CA): http://www.nyclu.org/content/nypd-quarterly-reports

Those wrongfully convicted and later exonerated by DNA are disproportionately African American: http://www.innocenceproject.org/Content/DNA_Exonerations_Nationwide.php

Black kids are far more likely to be tried as adults and more likely to receive life sentences: http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/06/05/when-to-punish-a-young-offender-and-when-to-rehabilitate/the-race-factor-in-trying-juveniles-as-adults

Black former convicts get fewer employer callbacks than white former convicts: http://www.irp.wisc.edu/publications/focus/pdfs/foc232i.pdf

Emily and Brendan are more hirable than Lakisha and Jamal: http://www.chicagobooth.edu/capideas/spring03/racialbias.html

On that front, this study is also interesting: http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/apl/90/3/553/ and similar results have been found in the UK: http://www.theguardian.com/money/2009/oct/18/racism-discrimination-employment-undercover and also in Australia: http://ftp.iza.org/dp4947.pdf

Also, this news story has some great analysis: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/25/business/for-recent-black-college-graduates-a-tougher-road-to-employment.html?smid=pl-share

High schools with mostly African American and Latino students are less likely to offer courses in Algebra II or Chemistry than high schools with mostly white students: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1382484-ocr-letter-disparities.html

This article explores many of the other ways that increasingly segregated schools have negatively affected African American students: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/21/sunday-review/why-are-our-schools-still-segregated.html?smid=pl-share

And this story discusses the fact that African American students are more than twice as likely to be suspended as white students–even in preschool. http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2014/03/21/292456211/black-preschoolers-far-more-likely-to-be-suspended

The ACP report on racial disparities in U.S. health care: http://www.acponline.org/advocacy/current_policy_papers/assets/racial_disparities.pdf
This (dated) study is also damning: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3695664 and there’s lot of good info here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_and_health

More info on increasing disparities in life expectancy between black and white people in the US: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1497364/

The most recent polls show fewer white people thinking racism is not a problem than the ones I used in this video (although still a huge divide): http://www.cnn.com/2014/12/22/politics/cnn-poll-racial-divide-justice/ and http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/on-racial-issues-america-is-divided-both-black-and-white-and-red-and-blue/2014/12/26/3d2964c8-8d12-11e4-a085-34e9b9f09a58_story.html and http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/2014/12/28/New-Poll-Shows-Racial-Divide-Crosses-Party-Lines

Racial wealth disparity and the role that inheritance plays: http://iasp.brandeis.edu/pdfs/Author/shapiro-thomas-m/racialwealthgapbrief.pdf
Related wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racial_inequality_in_the_United_States

The widening of the wealth gap: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/12/12/racial-wealth-gaps-great-recession/

Nonvideo recommendations: I really like Roxane Gay’s work in Slate and The Butter; this story in the NYT http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/25/business/for-recent-black-college-graduates-a-tougher-road-to-employment.html?smid=pl-share; Chris Rock’s recent interview at http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/top-five-filmmaker-chris-rock-753223, and Ashley Ford’s commentary and analysis: https://twitter.com/ismashfizzle. Also Kiese Laymon’s wriitng is great, including http://gawker.com/my-vassar-college-faculty-id-makes-everything-ok-1664133077

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Video Rating: / 5

This video is a part of a series produced by Race Forward to highlight the impact of systemic racism on our everyday lives. And Yes, it’s really a thing. For more information visit RaceForward.org

Video stars Jay Smooth and is directed & edited by Kat Lazo.

Have you ever wondered why, even though undocumented people come to the US from all over the world, the face of undocumented persons is always assumed to be from Central America or South America? And our heavy-handed enforcement policies, that ruin lives and tear families apart every day, are focused almost entirely on the Southern US border, and the Hispanic people of color who cross that border?



Race Forward advances racial justice through research, media and practice. Founded in 1981, Race Forward brings systematic analysis and an innovative approach to complex race issues to help people take effective action toward racial equity. Race Forward publishes the daily news site Colorlines and presents Facing Race, the country’s largest multiracial conference on racial justice.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RaceForward
Facebook: www.facebook.com/RaceForward



  1. Sheryl Hosler says:

    It's really upsetting to see how many racist and intolerant comments there are on this video… Where's the thoughtful, polite Nerdfighter community we know and love?

  2. joel quinn says:

    yay more liberal bullshit that has been debunked


    Ever since that black lives matter bullshit, those thugs and hood rats think they can get away with anything, no respect for anyone, or anything, Officer Ben Fields for President


    You can take the thug out of the ghetto, but you can't take the ghetto out of the thug, once a darkie, always a darkie

  5. Randy Pullman says:

    A) the word black is a racist term. they are African.
    B) most voyage to America as our friends seeking a better life. the african voyaged here to pick cotton and to have their babies sold like livestock.
    C) your stats skip over the fact africans are around 10% of the population and compose 90% of the revolving door crime and as a group are the first to proclaim that their crimes are part of their heritage and should receive the legendary slap on the hand.

  6. Ben Zombie says:

    It's painfully frustrating to see people who aren't even willing to consider the world isn't the perfect equal fairytale they say it is, stop living in an echo chamber, once you're willing to learn about our society's flaws you might actually become a useful person who can help fix them.

  7. Stephen Malacaria says:

    I understand that there are issues sometimes but I do NOT think it's as big a problem as the media makes it out to be. (Racism talk gets ratings/views which equal money.) I live in New England and I've never seen actual racism except for on the (untruthful) news. And you can pull up all the stats that you want but there are SO many other factors to bring into it. Minorities are generally poorer. Not because we're racquet but because their families are less established in the country and have had less time to right the ship. Black people are poorer because their parents were because of slavery. Anyone who says this is a problem totally misses the point. Some white people (believe it or not) are actually born just as bad off as the worst off blacks. If we want to start treating INDIVIDUALS equally without regard for the GROUP that they belong too, we need to stop GROUPING THEM TO PROVE OUR POINTS. The goal is not to get society 1/3 white 1/3 Latino 1/3 black. It's to make sure race (1)

  8. Denisha Johnson says:

    I've been affected by racism. It hurts.

  9. Lucy Hunt says:

    Is there study with a comparison of races compared with people of the same class?

  10. Zach McCoy says:

    most people in america moan and cry about rascism and wealth inequality instead of fixing actual problems like heart disease and cancer or uneducated people the us isnt rascist its ignorant the people dont want to learn history which in turn is ignoring other peoples culture and identity and its everyone of all races secondly doesnt the us have a black president , black senators , black supreme court judges , congressman etc that is not rascism at all its just that some people are uneducated and dont want to learn anything. Now a group of people that the US doesnt care about is the native Americans who most live in poverty but we dont care bout them there not white enough or dark enough I swear america is full of fucking retards

  11. funstuff81girl says:

    "Thank you" – black people

  12. Zahir Haddad says:

    That's the damn truth. good job men

  13. David Shepler says:

    Systematic racism is a myth and is an excuse use to lower the confidence of minorities. I have been with alot of African Americans to know that is plain bullshit. From my experience, most of what I heard that have done crime had went to jail and came out with drop charges for drug related crime and robbery. No they didn't go back to doing the same crime either they had change. There are more black people with degrees and without criminal background than those who do have one and have no college degree. I remember I had a hard time getting a job at for a year while my friend name Brittany who is black got one in a week. Life is really what you make it and it is called bullshit. Instead of watching the news and looking up negative things, focus on being prosperous and look up financial, spiritual, and mental growth because in reality, life is what you make it and everything you are going through now is the result of what you spoke,thought, and felt in the past.

  14. Robert Whitley says:

    White people are racist,white people are bad,if you're white you should hate yourself.Your race has nothing to be proud of.All white people should be ashamed for even existing.You white people are guilty of being white and for the wrong doing of every white person to ever exist throughout history.You know why?Because you're racist!You judge people by their skin color and judge their entire race for the wrong doing of some of them.Typical white people,isn't that just like a white,cracker!You racists you!

  15. cathy2000 says:

    proof that percentages lie.

    i mean who in their right mind says they are racist?
    if no one then how create a page on it?

  16. Donatello NaBotti says:

    Racism is evolutionary baggage. While stating plainly through statistics that its existence is calculable we have not reached the idiots that are cognitively dissonant. The humans that can understand AND care about what these figures represent are not the humans that are perpetuating the disparity. In general we are just saying "look at that poor people, they lost 20 dollars and no one is doing anything about it". I'm not implying that the purpose of this video was an attempt at assuaging white guilt. Just that it only reinforces what discerning minds already comprehend, and that's not really progress. We have established the symptoms and have yet to discuss the root of the illness, which as I said at the beginning of this comment is "racism is evolutionary baggage". Watch my video about it and tear me apart over it, Or tell me how to improve it.

  17. Kimberly Morales says:

    I can't even describe how much I appreciate you John. Like thank you.

  18. AC SpecOps says:

    Black peoples are less inteligent than white peoples- they have an IQ of 70 while whites have 100

  19. Scott Wolfe says:

    using big words dont make you smart. idiot

  20. Diane Boyd says:

    The Painful Ugly Truth!!!

  21. Joe Haas says:

    Is this a parody? Serious question. 

  22. realitities2 says:

    americans have always been racist against the most recent wave of immigrants; central and south americans just happen to have means to come illegally, making it more of a logistical problem

  23. Dragon1717 says:

    Not so. It's because about 75% of all illegals in the US are from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatamala, Honduras, and Ecuasor. So of course they will feel the impacts of law enforcement more than other groups.

  24. Matt Biden says:

    USA: lets in more immigrants than the rest of the world combined

    called racist and is not doing enough.     ><

  25. travixo100 says:

    Quelle petite mouche qui a piqué l'Europe à donner l’indépendance aux africains dans les années 60 ?
    L'Europe encourt une lourde responsabilité sous sa conscience des morts dans la mer méditerranéenne. L'Europe doit reprendre le destin des africains en main comme à la conférence de Berlin du 15 novembre 1884 au 26 février 1885 pour le travail inachevé par les colons.
    Les africains sont incapables parce qu'ils ne font pas le poids malgré leurs diplômes acquis.
    55 ans après l’ère de l’indépendance en Afrique Noire, toute la jeunesse africaine brave la mort en mer pour aller travailler en Europe car les politiciens ont rendu la misère en Afrique noire et ils envoient tous leurs enfants en Europe, aux USA, au Canada…
    Que la RECOLONISATION en Afrique noire par l' EUROPE reprennent vite pour mettre fin à ce phénomène catastrophique et meurtrière  !

  26. Arachnoscribe says:

    Considering that humans are prone to conformity, everything with a social component is systemic. (We can shelve such useless qualifications.)

    America's policies regarding our southernmost border have been almost unimaginably lenient, due in no small part to rampant corruption. Since political solutions have been elusive, our private sector (including militia personnel, journalists and activists) have seized the subject like so much fresh meat.

    The festivities are just beginning.

  27. catothewiser says:

    How does our immigration policy tear apart families?  Aren't the "immigrants" doing that themselves?  Maybe the focus is on the Southern border is because that is where a majority of ILLEGAL immigration (but properly it is an invasion) is coming from.   Ever notice that those who whine about "racism" have a SEETHING HATRED of Whites?    Yeah, your age of getting a pass for this is over.

  28. Gabby Paryani says:


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