Color Line and the Quality of Life in America, The

Color Line and the Quality of Life in America, The

Reynolds Farley
Walter R. Allen
Copyright Date: 1987
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 520
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7758/9781610448338
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  • Book Info
    Color Line and the Quality of Life in America, The
    Book Description:

    Is the United States a nation divided by the "color line," as W.E.B. Dubois declared? What is the impact of race on the lives of Americans today? In this powerful new assessment of the social reality of race, Reynolds Farley and Walter Allen compare demographic, social, and economic characteristics of blacks and whites to discover how and to what extent racial identity influences opportunities and outcomes in our society. They conclude that despite areas of considerable gain, black Americans continue to be substantially disadvantaged relative to whites.

    A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation Census Series

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-833-8
    Subjects: Sociology, Population Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Foreword
    (pp. vii-xii)
    Charles F. Westoff

    The Color Line and the Quality of Life in Americais one of an ambitious series of volumes aimed at converting the vast statistical yield of the 1980 census into authoritative analyses of major changes and trends in American life. This series, “The Population of the United States in the 1980s,” represents an important episode in social science research and revives a long tradition of independent census analysis. First in 1930, and then again in 1950 and 1960, teams of social scientists worked with the U.S. Bureau of the Census to investigate significant social, economic, and demographic developments revealed by...

  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  4. List of Tables
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  5. List of Figures
    (pp. xix-xxii)
  6. List of Appendix Tables
    (pp. xxiii-xxvi)
  7. 1 RACE IN AMERICA: THE DILEMMA CONTINUES
    (pp. 1-6)

    Twenty years ago the United States was a country in flames. Fires flickered from Paterson, New Jersey, to Detroit, Michigan, to Harlem in New York City. Racial conflict was at the heart of this national conflagration; over 50 cities burned. The powder keg that touched off a year of “Burn, Baby, Burn” was a police incident in a black community—Watts, Los Angeles—on a hot, muggy night, August 11, 1965. However, the fuse leading to the eventual explosion had been lit and burning for generations.

    The 1960s provided a frightening glimpse of a dismal American future. That future was...

  8. 2 BLACK POPULATION GROWTH FROM COLONIAL TIMES TO WORLD WAR II
    (pp. 7-31)

    In the mid-1980s the black population of the United States approached 30 million.¹ Approximately one resident in eight was black. This chapter describes the history of black population growth to 1940. From the founding of the colonies in the 1600s through the mid-nineteenth century, the black population grew rapidly. Indeed, its growth rate exceeded that of whites for much of the pre-Revolutionary era, and in 1790 about one American in five was either an enslaved or free black.² During the late nineteenth century and into the twentieth century, the growth rate of the black population slackened, while the white population...

  9. 3 AN ANALYSIS OF MORTALITY: 1940 TO THE PRESENT
    (pp. 32-57)

    Throughout the twentieth century, death rates declined in developed nations. Four reasons are cited for these reductions.¹ First, there were improvements in standards of living. As incomes went up, people could afford better food, clothing, and shelter, and, if ill, they were able to secure medical assistance. Second, there were improvements in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases. The use of antibiotics and chemotherapy drastically reduced death rates from infections and contagious diseases. In recent years, changes in the treatment of high blood pressure and improved therapy for the victims of strokes have lowered cerebrovascular death rates.² Third, in many...

  10. 4 FERTILITY TRENDS: 1940 TO THE PRESENT
    (pp. 58-102)

    The birthrates of blacks have traditionally exceeded those of whites. In 1940, for example, the total fertility rate—which is the number of children a woman would bear in her lifetime if the rates of a given year remained fixed—was 2.9 for blacks and 2.2 for whites.¹ Since 1940 there have been four major changes that would be expected to reduce the birthrates of blacks and bring them close to those of whites. First, the population became more urbanized and more extensively educated, which, presumably, leads to smaller family size. The proportion of black women of childbearing age who...

  11. 5 THE REDISTRIBUTION OF THE BLACK POPULATION AND RESIDENTIAL SEGREGATION
    (pp. 103-159)

    When this nation conducted its first census two hundred years ago, nine out of ten blacks lived in southern states along the Atlantic Coast. Forty percent of the country’s 750,000 blacks lived in Virginia.¹ During the era of slavery, blacks migrated into the Gulf Coast states but not toward the North, and between the Civil War and World War I there was a continuing shift of blacks within the South but only a small movement to the North.

    The most substantial demographic change to affect blacks occurred in the fifty years following the outbreak of World War I. The out-migration...

  12. 6 BLACK FAMILY, WHITE FAMILY: A COMPARISON OF FAMILY ORGANIZATION
    (pp. 160-187)

    In the span of 150 years, or five generations, black Americans were emancipated, enfranchised, and empowered politically; engaged in a massive migration from the rural South to the urban North; realized dramatic economic gains; and moved from caste segregation to social desegregation in the society. These massive changes in black community and individual life, although ultimately to the better, had disruptive consequences for many institutions in black society—black families being only one of them.

    The last 20 years have seen an explosion in the research literature on black family life. During the 1970s over 50 books and 500 articles...

  13. 7 THE SCHOOLING OF AMERICA: BLACK-WHITE DIFFERENCES IN EDUCATION
    (pp. 188-208)

    Education is accorded a special status in this country. Decisions of where to buy a home, which politician to vote for, and how income is allocated are routinely based on educational considerations. Americans view education as the route to upward mobility. As a society, we firmly believe that any citizen, no matter how humble his or her beginnings, can with sufficient industry and intelligence climb the educational ladder to a better life.

    It is against this backdrop of beliefs about education that we compare the relative educational statuses of black and white Americans. Historically, blacks have lagged behind their white...

  14. 8 EMPLOYMENT
    (pp. 209-255)

    The first census to gather data about work activity was that of 1850, when census marshals recorded the occupation of all free males aged 16 and over.¹ Leonard Curry, a historian who analyzed these data concluded, “The most obvious point demonstrated by the census figures is the extent to which legal and societal restrictions and prohibitions were effective in limiting the employment opportunities of urban free blacks.”²

    After acquainting himself with the conditions of blacks living in Philadelphia in the 1890s, W. E. B. DuBois observed:

    For a group of freedmen the question of economic survival is the most pressing...

  15. 9 RACIAL DIFFERENCES IN OCCUPATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT
    (pp. 256-282)

    Given that the unemployment situation for blacks was as bleak in the 1980s as it had been in the 1950s, we might expect that blacks made no progress in moving into those prestigious jobs traditionally reserved for whites. This is not the case. During the last several decades barriers have been removed and racial differences in the occupations of employed men have substantially decreased, and among women, a continuation of recent trends implies an elimination of racial differences in occupations.

    The census of 1940 was the first to include a question about what a person did while he or she...

  16. 10 PERSONAL INCOME
    (pp. 283-315)

    Black men who received income in 1985 reported an average of $10,400 while white men reported $16,500, which means blacks had incomes only 63 percent of those of whites.¹ Black women, on the other hand, had incomes 85 percent of those of white women: $6,100 versus $7,100.² This chapter describes personal income and seeks to determine if racial differences have declined over time. There has been a trend toward a racial convergence in educational attainment, the attitudes of whites regarding the employment of blacks have changed, and federal laws now prohibit discrimination in pay rates and promotions. In addition, black...

  17. 11 THE EARNINGS OF EMPLOYED WORKERS
    (pp. 316-361)

    Income trends describe the overall economic status of blacks, but because income includes monies from rents, dividends, and transfer programs, these trends do not tell us how blacks are doing in the job market. Both the Fair Employment Practices Commission in the 1940s and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 sought to ensure that blacks and whites who perform the same jobs earn the same amount. In this chapter we examine earnings so that we can determine how blacks are faring and how their status has changed since 1960. Recall that earnings are the wages or salary a person receives...

  18. 12 RACE, ANCESTRY, AND SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS: ARE WEST INDIAN BLACKS MORE SUCCESSFUL?
    (pp. 362-407)

    The rich diversity that has historically characterized the black American population is clearly revealed in the 1980 census. Distinct subgroups within the black population are identifiable on the basis of regional location, urbanization, migratory patterns, socioeconomic status, and ancestry. However, the latter two categories have attracted most attention. The general hypothesis has been that foreign-born blacks (specifically those of West Indian ancestry) have achievements which distinguish them from native blacks. According to this argument, foreign-born blacks are economically more successful because of their more stable family life, greater educational attainments, higher achievement motivation, and stronger work ethic. Despite the wide...

  19. 13 A WORLD WITH NO COLOR LINE: RACE AND CLASS IN TWENTY-FIRST-CENTURY AMERICA
    (pp. 408-419)

    With these words, W. E. B. DuBois concluded his autobiography. His was a remarkable life, distinguished by prolific contributions to the scholarship on race and culture in America. Fortunately, he lived long enough to see the profound transitions black people experienced during the 95 years from his birth to his death. He was born February 23, 1868, a mere five years after the Emancipation Proclamation abolished this “peculiar institution.” He died August 27, 1963, a day before the Great March on Washington for black civil rights, led by the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    DuBois’ concept of the place...

  20. APPENDIX: THE QUALITY OF CENSUS DATA
    (pp. 420-438)
  21. Bibliography
    (pp. 439-468)
  22. Name Index
    (pp. 469-476)
  23. Subject Index
    (pp. 477-493)