William Julius Wilson's The Declining Significance Of Race In America

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In the United States, perhaps no ethnicity has dealt with more racial discrimination than African Americans. In the past laws were constructed that made social mobility for African Americans close to impossible and kept them as second class citizens. The system of slavery, forced Blacks to be exploited for the economic gain of white plantation owners, and after slavery, Jim Crow Laws discriminated against Blacks and solidified their economic racial inferiority. In the 1970’s this was a huge topic of debate. William Julius Wilson argues in his publication, “The Declining Significance of Race” that African American’s socioeconomic status has a lot more to do with class rather than race. Charles Vert Willie opposes Wilson’s assertion and argues…show more content…
Educated African Americans tend to be better off economically than uneducated African Americans. African Americans that are educated are getting well-paying middle class jobs while African Americans with no education are sticking with low wage jobs and poverty. Middle class Americans that have a high level of education are eligible for higher paying jobs in the private and government job market while poor African Americans with little education are stuck with labor jobs that pay low wages, keeping them on government assistance, and keeping them in a cycle of poverty. William Julius Wilson pointed out this occurrence when he published a book called “The Declining Significance of Race” that asserted the shift in the economy and the law had led to a change in the importance of race and class in society. In his publication one of his arguments is that the success of Middle-class African Americans was clear evidence of the declining relevance of race in this country, “talented and educated blacks are experiencing unprecedented job opportunities in the growing government and corporate sectors” (753). If being educated and being middle class can lead to a high socio-economic status, clearly class is a much more important determinant of success in this country than race. In Willie’s publication he counters Wilson’s argument by…show more content…
African Americans that are college educated are not only eligible for the same jobs as college educated White Americans, but are earning similar wages, and in some cases higher. In fact, in Wilson’s publican he cites statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau to prove this point, “Data from the 1970 Census of Population show that in 1969 black male graduates age 22 to 24 received a slightly higher average income than comparable to whites”. This statistic debunks any theory that race is a primary determinant of success in this country, since in some cases educated black people are better off economically than privileged educated white people. If educated African Americans are able the same or higher wages in professional jobs as their white counterparts than it is clear that the main determinant of socio-economic status is class rather than race. Wilson noted the change in this occurrence between the current times and in the past. He states that in the discriminatory tendencies of the past black college graduates would receive significantly lower wages than white graduates (764). The statistics that he cites clearly show that times have changed and that ethnicity is less and less holding African American back, which proves that socio-economic status is determined by class. Willie does acknowledge that overall college educated whites have significantly higher incomes than
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