A dream deferred?;
Affirmative action—and other efforts—have certainly failed to rid America of sharp inequalities. Past oppression probably counts for much of the persistence of black poverty: in 1967, according to the census, the average black person had an income that was just 54% of the average white one. By 2005 the gap had only closed to 64%. And lingering prejudice makes life harder for many black job applicants. Social experiments have repeatedly shown that employers who are offered two otherwise identical résumés prefer one that carries a typically white name to one with a typically black name. Increasingly it is poorer and less educated black Americans who use “typically black” names, according to research by Steven Levitt, an economist at the University of Chicago.
With educational and economic opportunities skewed, no wonder that health and welfare indicators are too: the Justice Department estimates that one in three black men will go to jail at some point. An astounding 68% of blacks are overweight or obese, compared with (a still high) 58% of whites. Black people get cancer slightly more often than whites (despite smoking the same amount), and are more than twice as likely to be shot dead. Overall, black lives are five years shorter than white ones.