Political scientist Dom Apollon, in a news-analysis piece for ColorLines, says that racial, ethnic and class-based disparities revealed in a survey conducted by the Applied Research Center underscore a more complex explanation for who makes it in America and who doesn't — and how we assess the reasons for those differences.
"In the United States, people who work hard generally succeed in life."
You could argue that those 12 simple words sum up the theory of American life since the nation's founding, and studies show wide agreement across demographics with this statement — even if the realities in most of our communities are far different. In a society and culture unparalleled in its ability to dramatically celebrate personal success stories — whether they be in business, entertainment, sports or education — support is firm for the abstract principle that hard work equals success.
But the data on racial, ethnic, and class-based disparities in fact suggest a more complex explanation for who makes it in America. Unemployment among African Americans is nearly twice that of the national rate. The wealth gap between whites and blacks and Latinos is larger than ever. In education, job advancement and even personal health, people of color lag behind whites on a wide range of measures.
Read Dom Apollon's entire column at ColorLines.com.