Black Women Doing Better, But There’s a Long Road Ahead

Black Women Doing Better, But There’s a Long Road Ahead

The future is promising for educated African-American women, according to a new White House report.

Published March 3, 2011

According to new White House data, Black women’s lives are improving, but they’re still lagging far behind their white counterparts.

The White House’s new report Women in America: Indicators of Social and Economic Well-Being, released to coincide with Women's History Month, is out, and its findings on how African-American females are faring are sometimes optimistic, sometimes troubling.

To be sure, in many areas, including violence and incarceration, the rates of Black women in bad scenarios have dropped significantly. That said, American white women are still outpacing American Black women in practically every category.

To begin with, poverty is still far more prevalent among Black women than white women. In 2009, 28 percent of African-American females (and 27 percent of Latino females) lived below the poverty line, as opposed to just 11 percent of white females. This is upsetting for a number of reasons, the primary one being that poverty is at the root of a whole host of other problems afflicting the Black community, including poor education, a lack of job opportunities and poor health. So it’s no wonder Black women are hurting in those areas as well.

Where education is concerned, women in general are doing better than their male counterparts. Women drop out of high school less than men, and they graduate from college more often, too. That said, Black college students graduate significantly less than whites—42 percent compared to 62 percent.

After college, Black women are, once again, in more trouble. Though labor force participation has increased for both white and Latino women, Black women are now less involved in the job market than they once were. As you undoubtedly already know, Black unemployment is at an almost unprecedented high, and Black women are feeling that burden.

What’s worse, fewer jobs means less money, and, as discussed above, less money means other difficulties.

This is the cycle that’s led to rampant imprisonment for Black women. Although the rate of incarceration for Black women dropped by 30 percent between 1999 and 2008—a remarkable decrease—the fact remains that more than 2 percent of Black women will enter federal prison by the time they’re 30, compared to 1.1 percent of Latinos and 0.4 percent of whites.

None of this is to say, of course, that things aren’t getting better. Indeed, while they’re lagging in many areas, the future looks promising for African-American women, who are getting educations and jobs at rates higher than their white and Latino sisters. The goal now is to not give up.



Image:  Kris Connor/Getty Images

Written by Cord Jefferson


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