Blacks and the Quest for Economic Equality

Blacks and the Quest for Economic Equality: The Political Economy of Employment in Southern Communities in the United States

James W. Button
Barbara A. Rienzo
Sheila L. Croucher
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    Blacks and the Quest for Economic Equality
    Book Description:

    The civil rights movement of the 1960s improved the political and legal status of African Americans, but the quest for equality in employment and economic well-being has lagged behind. Blacks are more than twice as likely as whites to be employed in lower-paying service jobs or to be unemployed, are three times as likely to live in poverty, and have a median household income barely half of that for white households. What accounts for these disparities, and what possibilities are there for overcoming obstacles to black economic progress? This book seeks answers to these questions through a combined quantitative and qualitative study of six municipalities in Florida. Factors impeding the quest for equality include employer discrimination, inadequate education, increasing competition for jobs from white females and Latinos, and a lack of transportation, job training, affordable childcare, and other sources of support, which makes it difficult for blacks to compete effectively. Among factors aiding in the quest is the impact of black political power in enhancing opportunities for African Americans in municipal employment. The authors conclude by proposing a variety of ameliorative measures: strict enforcement of antidiscrimination laws; public policies to provide disadvantaged people with a good education, adequate shelter and food, and decent jobs; and self-help efforts by blacks to counter self-destructive attitudes and activities.

    eISBN: 978-0-271-05511-4
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xii)
    Jim Button
  5. 1 Race Relations and Economic Progress
    (pp. 1-9)

    as the united states enters the new millennium, race in the South continues to be the distinctively American Dilemma that Gunnar Myrdal (1944) identified sixty years ago. While African Americans have made substantial progress in politics in the South since the 1960s civil rights movement, particularly following the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, similar advancements in economic have lagged behind. As historian Harvard Sitkoff (1981, 237) concluded in his investigation of the black struggle for equality since theBrowndecision of 1954, “A Third Reconstruction, aiming for economic justice, is imperative if civil rights are to be...

  6. 2 The Economic, Racial, and Political Contexts of the Cities
    (pp. 10-42)

    the political and economic environments in which African Americans seek employment are important to understand. We have posited that two major contextual factors that influence black progress are political culture and relative size of the black population. Political culture, as exemplified in our Deep South–Border South dichotomy, includes the history and basic traditions of a community, particularly those that have contributed to the current racial climate. The northern counties of the panhandle region of Florida are representative of the rural, predominantly agricultural Old, or Deep, South. With relatively large numbers of African Americans, this region was developed before the...

  7. 3 Blacks and Business Sector Employment
    (pp. 43-74)

    The most important institutional force affecting the economic well-being of African Americans is private sector employment. One’s job largely defines one’s status in society and contributes to feelings of self-esteem and self-worth. In addition, we know that employment often provides an effective deterrent to crime, youth delinquency, welfare dependency, and other social ills (Cherry and Rodgers 2000).

    Nationally, the prosperity of the latter 1990s improved the economic condition of most black Americans. Between 1993 and 2000, 22 million new jobs were created, and with inflation under control, productivity gains resulted in increases in earnings for all income groups. During this...

  8. 4 African Americans in the Municipal Workforces
    (pp. 75-102)

    the employment of blacks in municipal service jobs is a good indicator of racial equity at the local level. Public employment not only provides a valuable source of income, but it also confers a degree of status or prestige not found in low-paying, service-oriented jobs held by many blacks in the private sector. Within city employment, police and fire forces are among the largest and best-funded departments. Moreover, as these human-safety services have become increasingly technical and professionalized, police and firefighters have attained higher pay, benefits, and social status. This has been true for many other city personnel as well....

  9. 5 Race, Gender, and Ethnicity: Competition for Employment Opportunities
    (pp. 103-120)

    the increasing presence of race/ethnic minorities in urban areas has provided the potential for intergroup competition for scarce community resources, especially jobs. Such competition is an issue when two or more groups strive for the same goals, so that the success of one group may result in lesser achievements by others (McClain 1993). The rivalry for jobs is thought to be greatest between blacks and Hispanics because of their large numbers in many cities and their similar socioeconomic profiles. In addition, the influx of non-Latino immigrants, particularly Asians, may be leading to the displacement of black and other low-skilled native...

  10. 6 Affirmative Action and Black Employment
    (pp. 121-152)

    affirmative action in employment and education has been one of the most controversial social policies of the past forty years. The term ignites culture war debates over equal opportunity, reverse discrimination, unfair competition, quotas, racism, sexism, and diversity (Reskin 1998). A product of the civil rights movement and liberal white elites, affirmative action (AA) has focused a great deal of attention on expanding African American opportunities, particularly in employment. Yet AA has been an extremely politicized policy, maligned by some as an unfair system of reverse discrimination while supported by others as an equitable and effective solution to race (and...

  11. 7 Promoting Progress in Black Employment
    (pp. 153-176)

    the quest for economic equality for blacks in the South remains an elusive goal. The civil rights laws of the 1960s provided African Americans with significant political and legal powers, and as a result, the walls of racial discrimination began to crumble. Blacks gained elected offices, schools desegregated, and white racial hostility became less severe. There were economic advances for southern blacks due to increased urbanization, industrialization, federal aid, and antidiscrimination efforts. Yet the Reagan era of the early to mid-1980s signaled a change in the march toward racial equality. Federal assistance and affirmative action programs were scaled back, and...

  12. Appendixes
    (pp. 177-188)
  13. References
    (pp. 189-202)
  14. Index
    (pp. 203-210)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 211-211)