The Cut: What a massive new study on income inequality misses about black women

The Cut, March 26, 2018: What a massive new study on income inequality misses about black women

Last week, the New York Times published an effusive summary of a brand new working paper — meaning it is not yet peer-reviewed — from a team led by researchers at Stanford, Harvard, and the Census Bureau. It’s a massive study, one that tracked 20 million children born between 1978 and 1983, with a focus on income inequality. The headline-grabbing finding: Black boys from wealthy families tend to be poorer in adulthood than their white counterparts. It reads as definitive evidence of the cost of racism.

And yet how definitive can this report really be when it is so narrowly focused on black boys and men, effectively ignoring the story of income equality for black girls and women? What does this paper really say? And, perhaps more importantly, what does it overlook?

This new report, and much of the media coverage around it, has implicitly suggested that black women are less valuable than men and that queer partnerships are less valuable than straight ones. Focusing on improving workplace opportunities for black men cannot be the only solution to socioeconomic disparities between black people and white people. Black women, too, must have equal pay — not to white women, but to white men.

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