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California's Proposition 54: Connerly's Unreal World

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  • Robert V. Schmidt
    From the LA Times, 10/4/03: ***** EDITORIAL Connerly s Unreal World Maybe in Ward Connerly s world, race is merely what he calls a sociopolitical phenomenon.
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 6, 2003
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      From the LA Times, 10/4/03:


      Connerly's Unreal World

      Maybe in Ward Connerly's world, race is merely what he calls a
      "sociopolitical phenomenon." In that world, we can do away with the
      relevance of race by ordering government agencies to stop racial
      cataloging, as his brainchild, Proposition 54, would require. His vision
      has won nationwide advocates who suggest that if government stopped
      officially taking note of race, its influence on lives would end.

      That optimism is blind to a flurry of recent research documenting the
      unyielding disadvantage black skin carries in the job market.

      The latest study, by Northwestern University sociologist Devah Pager, found
      that employers would rather hire a white man just out of prison than a
      black man with an unstained record. Pager had college students pose as job
      seekers at 350 Milwaukee-area companies advertising entry-level positions.
      The young men were assigned similar backgrounds, with one exception: The
      white candidates told employers they'd served 18 months in prison for
      possession of cocaine with intent to sell. The black applicants had no
      criminal record. Still, the white "ex-cons" were called back for interviews
      17% of the time, whereas the crime-free black applicants were called back
      in only 14% of cases.

      The results confirm an earlier study demonstrating that job seekers with
      names like Brendan and Emily were 50% more likely to generate calls from
      employers than those with so-called African American names like Tyrone or
      Tamika, even when their resumés were identical. A "white" name on a resumé
      was as valuable as eight years of work experience.

      Both studies mirror results from an 8-year-old project that found blacks
      24% less likely to be offered a job than equivalent white candidates, when
      both made it through the interview process.

      Researcher Pager suggests that Americans' "strong and persistent negative
      stereotypes" about blacks account for the disheartening findings. Others
      blame strained race relations in Milwaukee — America's
      second-most-segregated city — for skewing the results. But if the "why" of
      the results is open to debate, the "what" seems unambiguous.

      In the real world, bias still exists, and the effect of race cannot be
      diminished by denying it exists. The effect of race on employment
      opportunity is painfully clear. You'd have to be more than colorblind to
      miss it.
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