§ In 2003 the median family income for blacks was approximately $29,250 versus $53,100 for whites.
§ Today, black farmers own less than one million acres of land and blacks continue to suffer from disproportionately high unemployment and poverty. Presently, only 52% of black males are employed. In addition, studies have found that African American workers “are more likely to be in jobs with pay too low to lift a family of four above the poverty line.”
§ With the color stigma deeply ingrained in today’s generation, including African Americans, facts and perceptions “assign human worth and social status, using whites as the paradigm [or standard].” Throughout the world, “society is prejudiced against those with dark skin… [As a result], the desire for lighter skin is nearly universal. [Accordingly] for light-skinned blacks, it simply remains easier to get ahead.” In research conducted by sociologists Veran M. Keith and Cedric Herring (1991), it was found that “compared to light-skinned blacks, those with dark skin had less income and a lower standing [including] in the black community.” In addition, a 1990 study by sociologists Michael Hughes and Bradley Hertel found that for every dollar earned by a light-skinned black, a dark-skinned black earned only 72 cents. Taken together, both studies demonstrate that “those who are light-skinned have a better chance at succeeding in politics and business, achieving a higher education, and gaining social status than those who are dark.” This is clearly evident in the film, music, and performing arts industries, in which the top stars, especially among women, when it comes to African Americans, are overwhelmingly light-skinned. Media coverage and the advertising industry further reinforce the “white paradigm” with their absence of stories and portfolios featuring dark-skinned blacks. Tragically dark-skinned blacks receive the most exposure only when it comes to sports and criminal justice stories.
§ Research by sociologist Ozzie Edwards indicates that dark-skinned blacks are significantly more likely to report being victims of race discrimination. This is not surprising due to the low self-esteem that plagues them, which are reinforced by today’s social structures (e.g. dark-skinned blacks have been confined to projects, slums, and other poor neighborhoods, been incarcerated, and/or lived existences of un-or-underemployment in disportionate numbers). Therefore, even when not the victims of overt racial discrimination, they still perceive themselves as victims, magnifying feelings of hopelessness and despair (e.g. when a dark-skinned black was turned down for a supervisory role at a major security firm in 2006, he reasoned, “they wanted a white supervisor” when unbeknownst to him, another dark-skinned candidate was selected) as echoed by the despondent high school junior above.