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The Racial Wealth Gap: Why Policy Matters

Introduction and key findings

❶For those shown the stereotypical African-American character, there was a significantly higher guilt rating for black alleged offender in the subsequent vignette, in comparison to the other conditions.

Wages, wage growth, and wage inequality since 1979

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The Racial Wealth Gap: Why Policy Matters
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A detailed description of the methodology used in our analysis is included in the appendix. Change in gaps are of adjusted average hourly wages. Labels on top of bars indicate net change in the black-white wage gap.

Total unobservables include factors such as racial discrimination, unobservable skills, and wage inequality. Total observables include education, experience, region of residence, and metro status. Figure J shows that the largest expansion of the wage gap since has occurred among African American women.

This is especially troubling because black women also experience lower earnings associated with gender. The black-white wage gap for new-entrant women has grown Over this same period, the wage gap among more experienced women has grown For new-entrant women, growing racial gaps in observables—education, experience, region, and metro status—account for most of the expansion.

We provide a more detailed discussion of how each of these components has affected wage gap trends in a later section, but first we describe these top-line decomposition patterns by educational attainment and over distinct periods of time. These graphs show that some of the largest erosions of wages relative to whites are among blacks with the highest levels of educational attainment.

Even worse, when we include African American men and women with advanced degrees i. New-entrant college-educated African American women are the exception to this pattern. Compared with college graduates, high school graduates generally experienced slower growth experienced men or narrowing in their gaps new-entrant men and women. The exception was experienced black women with only a high school diploma, whose wages deteriorated 8.

If they do get employed, they are paid at lower rates. This disproportionate exit from the labor force and larger wage penalties improves the relative skill composition of less-educated blacks in the labor force Holzer ; Neal and Rick This sample selection truncates the black wage distribution from below, thus raising the average wage of African Americans.

If this occurred, it would explain why the new-entrant high school wage gaps did not expand. Solely focusing on the trend covering the period from to neglects describing or glosses over three distinct periods of change: We use as the dividing line for the post years because it is the peak of the last business cycle, separating the years leading up to and following the Great Recession.

Comparing Figures M through P, we see that, regardless of demographic characteristics e. This suggests an important conclusion: While economic growth and unemployment improved during the second half of the s, the effect on black-white wage gaps was limited by the fact that policies like failure to raise the minimum wage and lax enforcement of anti-discrimination laws were less conducive to closing these gaps.

In each period, new-entrant blacks faced the greatest fluctuations or swings in their relative earnings. This is to be expected, as they have the least skills and experience that typically insulate an individual from changes in the macroeconomy.

Unobservable factors contributed to more of the change among new entrants in both of these periods, while observable factors explain more of the growing gaps among experienced workers.

Between and , black-white wage gaps quietly trended upward, but, after , the patterns are much less discernable such that a consistent explanation emerges. We now describe our decomposition results in greater detail.

Table 2 presents these results for new entrants by gender and educational attainment for each of the subperiods as well as the entire year period from to The first row in Table 2 presents the total percent change in the wage gap over each period of time. The rows labeled total observable and total unobservable sum to the total percent change in the wage gap. Under each of these rows, the respective quantity and price contributions sum to the total observable and total unobservable components.

The observable attributes are further disaggregated into contributions from each characteristic that sum to their respective quantity and price totals. Negative numbers indicate a shrinking gap, while positive numbers indicate a growing gap. From to , new-entrant African American men and women saw their relative earnings fall by 5. For young black men, those six years were the period of the most rapid relative wage deterioration.

Similar to the results for the full year period, the loss in relative earnings was largest among black college graduates. The losses for black male and black female high school graduates were 5. For example, some cite the erosion in affirmative action and anti-discrimination laws during this period that lessened pressure on employers to maintain fair workplaces.

Another factor driving the expansion of racial wage gaps during this period was the decline in relatively good-paying jobs for workers with less than a college degree, as measured by the contribution of education prices among all new entrants.

Most young African American workers experienced a reversal of fortune in the s. From to , the relative earnings of new-entrant black men and women narrowed by 3. All wage gaps among the various education sub-groups that we analyze narrowed as well.

This reduction accounted for 60 percent From to , the gaps among new-entrant men expanded by 2. For both groups, these increases are statistically insignificant, but larger and more precisely measured increases emerged between and The same factors that dominated prior to continue to generate the expansion and narrowing in the wage gaps.

A worsening in the unobservable skills and attributes or an increase in labor market discrimination is the primary source of the erosion. Interestingly, the effect of growing earnings inequality has been greatest among African American new-entrant college graduates and advanced-degree holders, accounting for 65 percent 1.

Shifting to experienced workers, Table 3 presents decomposition results by gender and educational attainment for each of the sub-periods as well as the entire year period from to Between and , the average wage gaps of experienced workers expanded, ranging from 2. Although losses were greatest for college graduates in this experience category as well, their wage gaps expanded by less than those of college-educated new entrants.

Similar to the results for new entrants, the other major contributor to widening wage gaps among more experienced workers was the decline in relatively good-paying jobs for workers with less than a college degree, as measured by the contribution of education prices. This effect was 52 percent of the total increase among all experienced women 1. Total observables include education, experience, region of residence and metro status.

During the s, some narrowing in the average wage gap occurs, but it is less pronounced than in the expansion of the s, especially among women.

Among all experienced women, racial wage gaps closed by less than 1. The corresponding change among all experienced men was a 1.

Among experienced women, the greatest improvements were among high school graduates 1. Finally, the period since is also suggestive of a worsening in African American progress for experienced men and women without a college degree. Experienced men with only a high school diploma saw their relative wages deteriorate more in the years leading up to the Great Recession 3 percent between and , while for women in this category most of the deterioration has happened since the Great Recession 3.

Since , wage gaps among experienced college graduates are characterized by modest increases or stagnation. Next, we examine whether less educated African Americans living in certain regions of the country or in metro areas were more adversely impacted by changes in the wage gap.

Differences in regional economies and labor market institutions have a lot to do with variations in wage gap trends in different parts of the country. Our results reveal that the Midwest and the South represent opposite ends of the pole with respect to expansion of the black-white wage gap among high school graduates. In other words, racial wage gaps have increased most in the Midwest and least in the South. The significance of this trend is further emphasized by the fact that in the Midwest had the smallest black-white wage gaps and the South had the largest.

These two regions were home to over three-fourths of African American workers in , with The South and Midwest also have distinct regional economies and labor market institutions.

Therefore, understanding how these dynamics have influenced racial wage gap trends in the Midwest and South is critical to understanding the national picture. Figures Q and R , which show three-year moving averages of black-white wage gap trends by region for men and women, respectively, illustrate that racial wage gaps were clearly larger in the South than other regions of the country throughout most of the s, but, since then, wage gaps in other regions of the country have risen to levels more consistent with the long-term pattern of the South.

This convergence is largely due to the rapid expansion of black-white wage gaps in non-Southern states throughout the s and s. Still, there are notable differences in the experiences of black men and women in the South. Regional specific factors such as collective bargaining and manufacturing that once helped less educated African Americans no longer protect them. Gaps are of adjusted hourly wages. Right-to-work and minimum-wage laws are both major wage-influencing labor market policies that vary considerably across states and regions of the country.

Right-to-work laws prohibit a group of unionized workers from negotiating a contract that requires each employee who enjoys the benefits of the contract terms to pay his or her share of costs for negotiating and policing the contract. As a result, this provision directly limits the financial viability and strength of unions. Minimum-wage laws, which vary by state and region, also have a disproportionate effect on black workers because they are overrepresented in low-wage jobs.

We do not explicitly test the impact of these policies in this analysis, but note some of the facts that may be influencing observed trends in the data. Prior to , few Southern or Midwestern states set a minimum wage above the federal minimum, and few states in any region of the country raised the state minimum wage independent of increases in the federal minimum wage.

After a small increase in , the federal minimum wage and most state minimum wages remained unchanged until the end of the decade. This likely contributes to the common trend of growing racial wage gaps across all regions during that period of time. The federal minimum wage was increased in and and then again in and Along with strong economic growth and an extended period of low unemployment, these policy changes are consistent with the timing of narrowing of racial wage gaps in all regions during the late s.

Since , there has been increased variation in minimum-wage policy across states and localities as racial wage gaps across the country have continued to grow, but at a slower pace than they did during the s. Currently, 29 states and the District of Columbia have a minimum wage higher than the federal minimum wage, and 29 localities have adopted minimum wages above their state minimum wage EPI Minimum Wage Tracker, Most of these changes have taken place in non-Southern states.

Next, we turn to the effects of regional macroeconomic trends. Bound and Freeman found that less-educated African Americans in the Midwest were hurt the most during the s mostly because of the loss of manufacturing jobs, which also coincided with declining unionization.

We examine whether these losses have continued, or if government assistance during the Great Recession and recovery have helped to reduce inequality in the Midwest. On the other hand, the South was viewed as a rapidly growing economy during the s, with cities like Atlanta or the research triangle in Raleigh-Durham, NC, providing greater opportunity for African Americans.

We explore this hypothesis and look at what has happened to racial wage gaps in the South during the s. In order to test these theories about how wage gap trends are related to variations in regional economies, we focus on high school graduates who, as less-skilled workers, are most susceptible to regional fluctuations in the economy.

Tables 4 and 5 present decomposition results for new-entrant and experienced high school graduates in the four major U. Northeast, Midwest, South, and West. Table 4 shows that between and the black-white wage gap among male new entrants in the Midwest grew by The second largest period of expansion was —, when the gaps grew 8. Our findings also show that wage deterioration of black high school graduates in the Midwest was not limited to young black males but also included experienced black women.

As shown in Table 5, between and racial wage gaps widened The second largest period of growth has been during the years since the Great Recession: Tables 4 and 5 also support the trends shown in Figures Q and R, indicating big improvements in black-white earnings inequality among all groups in the South during the late s economic boom. Table 4 further indicates that the largest gains for Southern workers were among new-entrant black women. Between and , the new-entrant wage gap among women with only a high school diploma closed 8.

Division and metro quantities account for 15 percent of the improvement in relative wages of new-entrant black women with only a high school education 1. The Bureau of Labor Statistics began publishing metro area unemployment rates in , and we use these local rates to further examine the impact of differences in local economic conditions on wage gaps.

For the subset of metro areas for which unemployment rates are available, we found that differences in metro area unemployment rates explain little of the changes in wage gaps since The erosion of collective bargaining is another factor that has caused wages to decline, especially among middle-wage workers and workers in the Midwest. On average, the hourly wages of union members are For African Americans, this union wage premium is even greater— However, as the share of workers represented by a union contract has declined, fewer workers—both union and non-union—have been able to reap the benefits of collective bargaining.

As shown in Figure S , although African American men and women remain more likely to be union members than their white counterparts, rates of union membership have declined more sharply among blacks since , the earliest year for which we have union membership data by race.

At the same time, union density, or the percentage of people within a state who are represented by a union, has also been declining. Figure T shows how the decline in unionization has impacted black-white wage gaps since Between and , the years for which data on union membership by race are available, the black-white wage gap grew 1.

The decline in unionization membership and state union density accounts for about one-fifth of this growth, regardless of experience. Racial wage gaps among women expanded by much more between and , growing 7. Declining unionization accounts for less than one-tenth of the growth in the racial wage gap among women—1. A diminishing union wage premium accounts for The proportionately larger effect of deunionization on the wages of new-entrant black men and more experienced black women is also consistent with large wage losses for these groups in the Midwest.

African American union membership in the Midwest declined The results of our decompositions with the addition of union density and union membership variables are available in the appendix. Next, we compare black-white wage gap trends in selected industries that are highly segregated by gender.

For men, we focus on the manufacturing and construction industries Table 6. For women, we focus on the education and health industries Table 7. The share of women employed in these industries has increased from 30 percent in to 41 percent in As shown in Table 6, since black-white wage gaps have narrowed among men in the construction industry, with new-entrant racial wage gaps improving 10 percent between and That improvement has been the combined result of the education levels of black and white men in the construction industry becoming more similar over time, and the fact that these men are less segregated across regions and metro areas.

While the deterioration of relative earnings of new-entrant black men within the manufacturing industry was similar to what was observed nationally between and , there was a much larger decline in manufacturing during the s. Between and , new-entrant racial wage gaps in the manufacturing industry grew Among more experienced workers in the manufacturing industry, these same factors account for 36 percent of relative wage deterioration 2.

On the other hand, new-entrant black men made considerable wage gains in the manufacturing industry between and , benefiting from increased education and experience age. But over the entire period from to , more experienced black men in the manufacturing industry lost ground in spite of narrowing education gaps.

Growing overall wage inequality and increased representation in lower-paying jobs in the industry outweighed the impact of increased education nearly 2-to The wage gap expanded less for new-entrant women in the education and health industries than in the broader workforce, but for more experienced black women in these industries the magnitude of the expansion was similar to that in the overall workforce.

Growing overall inequality and widening differences in the returns to education are the primary reasons for the expansion among new-entrant women. For more experienced women, widening differences in the returns to education and increased discrimination were the largest factors.

Patterns of expansion and improvement over different periods of time mirror those observed in the larger samples. The above analysis shows how wage gaps changed within major industry sectors. Next, we examine how much of the change in racial wage gaps can be explained by changing patterns of employment across sectors and occupations based on the percent of blacks employed in each industry and occupation each year.

Industry and occupation classification codes changed several times over the course of our data series, making it difficult to produce comparable estimates over the entire — period. As a way of working around this inconsistency in the data, we proceed by using broad single-digit industry and occupation codes to produce one set of estimates for the years — based on older codes and another set of estimates for the years — based on the new codes.

While the broad, single-digit industry and occupation categories may be picking up less of the changing racial composition and wage structure of occupations than more detailed three-digit categories, they still allow us to identify periods of time when the impact of these changes has been most significant.

The employment of black men in more racially segregated jobs accounted for While the effects of changing patterns of employment on black-white wage gaps among women are minor in most periods, changing occupational patterns have had the largest effect in more recent years. Between and , the employment of black women in more racially segregated jobs accounts for Otherwise, controlling for changing patterns of employment across industries and occupations offers little additional explanation for the growth and narrowing of racial wage gaps over time.

The results of our decompositions with the addition of industry and occupation variables are available in the appendix. This study revisits the trend and decomposition analyses that dominated the literature from the s through the s. We update and extend previous studies by examining what has happened to the black-white wage gap since the late s.

While black-white wage gaps are larger today than they were in , we identify three distinct periods of change. The gaps expanded during the s and narrowed significantly during the late s, both among men and women. Since , wage gaps among men and women have widened only slightly, even in the years surrounding the Great Recession. The magnitude of these changes varies by gender, experience, educational attainment, and region of the country, leading us to conclude that there is no single African American labor market narrative.

This has been increasingly the case in the years since Though the African American experience is not monolithic, our decomposition results reveal that the primary driver of the expansion and narrowing of these gaps has been changes in discrimination, unobservable skills, or some combination of the two.

This term is likely capturing the ebb and flow of government enforcement in anti-discrimination and civil rights laws, or the growing importance of other unmeasured factors.

In the post period, these forces have been even greater than the effects of the Great Recession, as the political and financial support necessary to fight labor market discrimination has continued to wane. Although for most groups wage gaps changed modestly in the years following the Great Recession, discrimination was the primary factor driving those changes.

The other factor consistently contributing to the expansion of these wage gaps has been growing earnings inequality in general. While it was not directly addressed in this paper, future analysis of wage gaps for less-educated workers should incorporate the nonrandom selection associated with the rising trend in mass incarceration during the s and s.

Patterns of imprisonment might suggest that the truncation in the wage scale associated with the departure of these potential workers may not have worsened since The ability to make these adjustments is currently limited by the scope of available data. Linking information on incarceration to individual records in the CPS and American Community Survey ACS files would be a major step toward generating estimates of the wage gap adjusted for past incarceration both in terms of labor force participation and the penalty on wages.

The evidence we present here has major implications for addressing racial inequality. In many ways, identifying wage gap trends and the factors contributing to them is the easy part. Actually taking the steps necessary to close and eliminate the gaps will require intentional and direct action. At a minimum, there must be consistently strong enforcement of anti-discrimination laws in the hiring, promotion, and pay of women and minority workers.

This includes greater transparency in the ways decisions in these areas are made and ensuring that the processes available for workers to pursue violations of their rights are effective. Next, we discuss recommendations for supporting and strengthening these goals. The first recommendation involves the returns to education. Black college graduates have higher wages than African American high school graduates, but significant wage gaps between black and white college graduates have grown and persisted.

It is wrong that as a society we send a message that you must get a college degree to obtain economic security, yet even then you will experience a sizeable earnings disadvantage. This erosion in opportunity started in the s, but little has been done to address it. We speculate that part of the answer lies with challenges that all young college graduates face, but these challenges are more acute for African Americans and the communities in which they live.

Our first recommendation, then, is that the Obama administration and the next president hold summits on minority college graduates. The purpose would be to convene policymakers, researchers, practitioners, current high school students, current college students, and recent graduates to identify and recommend ways to narrow the black-white wage gap among college graduates. For example, it would be useful to have more information about college graduate choices and experiences in the regular CPS and ACS or increase the wage sample in the October education supplement.

It may also be time to consider funding a new NLS youth ages 14 to 22 cohort. Third, we urge the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to work with experts to develop metropolitan area measures of discrimination that could be linked to individual records in the ACS or CPS. The goal is to allow researchers to directly assess the role that local area discrimination plays in the wage setting of African Americans and whites. Firm-specific pay data by race, ethnicity, and gender are essential to such an undertaking, but are not currently available.

During the Clinton administration the Department of Labor implemented a pilot equal employment opportunity survey to provide regulators in the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs with wage and promotion data for employers by race, ethnicity, and gender. The objective of the survey was to enable the agency to better target its resources in addressing racial and gender wage discrimination.

After commissioning several studies of the data collected through the pilot, the office concluded that the survey failed to provide the utility anticipated and eliminated it. Although the data were not an effective tool for targeting enforcement at specific firms, the information did reveal evidence of racial and gender pay inequities among workers in the same occupations and with the same work experience at the same firms Rawlston and Spriggs We recommend that the Department of Labor reinstate the survey or a similar instrument for the purpose of collecting detailed pay data at the firm level.

Fourth, since growing earnings inequality overall has consistently contributed to the expansion of racial wage gaps, we have to address the broader problem of stagnant wages by raising the federal minimum wage , creating new work scheduling standards, and rigorously enforcing wage laws aimed at preventing wage theft. Both are major steps in this direction.

We need to push back against the proliferation of forced arbitration clauses that require workers, as a condition of employment, to give up their right to sue in public court. To this end, in New York the Freelancers Collective secured the introduction of legislation that would provide independent workers the same legal recourse as employees in traditional employment situations.

And the recent agreement between Uber and the International Association of Machinists may begin to shift the nexus of power from gig companies to their employees. Finally, we must engage macroeconomic policy to reduce these disparities. Wilson finds that, on average, the wages of black workers are more responsive than those of white workers to aggregate labor market changes.

A doubling of the national unemployment rate is estimated to reduce real hourly wages by at least 8 percent for the median black worker compared with 3 percent for the median white worker. Carpenter and Rodgers and Rodgers show that the employment-population ratio of minorities is more sensitive than that of whites to contractionary monetary policy.

Thus, the Federal Reserve should pursue monetary policy that targets full employment, with wage growth that matches productivity gains. As former National Urban League President Hugh Price has said, we as a society know what we need to do to address persistent racial wage and employment inequality.

We just need the political courage. She has written extensively on various issues impacting economic inequality in the United States—including employment and training, income and wealth disparities, access to higher education, and social insurance—and has also appeared in print, television, and radio media. She has a Ph. He is also chief economist at the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development. Prior to coming to Rutgers, in , Rodgers served as chief economist at the U.

Department of Labor, appointed by Alexis Herman, U. His research interests include income inequality, with a focus on labor and workforce development issues. He has a Ph. D from Harvard University. Through a technique called wage decomposition, we can identify whether changes in the black-white wage gap are due to changes in the attributes of blacks and whites or the economic returns to their attributes.

The black-white wage gap can then be constructed by differencing the equations for whites and blacks. Doing so leads to the following expression:. The third term measures the residual gap, which depends on the residual prices and the error terms.

To describe the trend over time, we need to add a time dimension. The rate of change in the racial wage gap before and after the structural change can be described as:. This manipulation yields the following trend decomposition equation. The first and second terms on the right-hand side are measured quantities associated with educational attainment, experience, metro status, and region.

The terms represent changes across time in observed racial-specific attributes, holding market returns fixed. The wage gap may narrow across time because the educational attainment and experience of blacks relative to whites narrows.

The wage gap may also narrow because blacks are advantaged by working in faster-growing regions, such as the South. The third and fourth terms, labeled measured prices, capture changes in market returns, holding observed characteristics fixed. Such unmeasured characteristics can include racial differences in labor force attachment due to incarceration, differences in unobserved skills, and wage discrimination by race.

As an example, reduced racial differences in these attributes could cause the ranking of the average black residual wage to rise from the 35th percentile to the 40th percentile of the white residual wage distribution, all else equal.

The final term, considered the residual prices, reflects changes in white residual wage inequality. One can think of the last term as changes in the wage penalty for having a position below the mean of the white residual wage distribution. Also see Grogger For a trend analysis of employment of black-white differences in employment, see Holzer and Offner The young men in the NLSY survey were 14 to 22 years old in This allows us to account for the fact that wages are typically higher in urban or metro areas than in rural areas.

Since , educational attainment is measured in degree attained rather than years of schooling. To construct an estimate of years of schooling to use in the calculation of potential experience, we compute the average years of schooling for a given degree attained and assign that value to respondents who report that degree. For years prior to , we follow this same conversion pattern to make the two periods fully comparable.

In June-August , the format of the CPS household identifier was changed, resulting in suppression of geographic identifiers for those three months and affecting roughly 17, observations. In order to retain these observations, we also include a dummy variable for missing metro status. While the CPS does not allow us to follow the same individuals over time, the cohort representative of new entrants beginning in would be the same age as the cohort representative of more experienced workers by The wage gaps within experience categories should be interpreted with caution because of the well-known biases associated with using potential experience versus actual experience and changes in the measurement of educational attainment, beginning with the CPS see note 6 for an explanation.

The technique used in this paper attributed to Juhn, Murphy, and Pierce has its origins to Oaxaca and Blinder Self-employed individuals are excluded. We also estimated decompositions using business cycle peak years and the late s economic boom to delineate sub-periods: Since some of these break points intersected trends in the expansion and narrowing of wage gaps, we opted to present decompositions based on break points that were more consistent with clear periods of change.

In addition to this variation, we used , coinciding with the end of the Great Recession, as a post break point. All of these estimates are available from the authors upon request. Between and , the median new-entrant black male wage fell from the 35th percentile of the new-entrant white residual wage distribution to the 32nd percentile.

The median new-entrant black female wage fell from the 41st percentile to the 40th. Estimates of white wage percentile positions of black workers available from the authors upon request.

Between and , the median new-entrant black male wage rose from the 32nd percentile of the white residual wage distribution to the 38th percentile and the median black female wage rose from the 39th to the 46th percentile.

After peaking at the 38th percentile of the white wage distribution in , the median new-entrant black male wage fell to the 35th percentile in Gould and Shierholz find that wages in right-to-work states are 3. Given that the majority of the 25 right-to-work states are in the South, this finding is consistent with the existence of larger black-white wage gaps there than other regions of the country.

While right-to-work laws have long been typical of Southern labor market policy nearly all laws were passed in the s and s , these laws have begun to creep more into states outside the South.

Perhaps for this reason, the broad and general prohibition of discrimination in section 9 of the RDA is accompanied by specific prohibitions of discrimination in a number of areas of public life:. In practice most complaints have been made by reference to these more specific provisions.

But the general prohibition of racial discrimination affecting any human right remains both an important legal safety net and an immensely important statement of principle, reflecting the indivisibility of all human rights.

The RDA is also distinctive among Australian anti-discrimination and equality laws in its general provision for equality before the law, in section Unlike most other provisions of the RDA, section 10 is enforced directly through the courts rather than through complaints to the Commission. Importantly, the RDA was amended in to incorporate specific provisions that relate to actions which are likely to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate a person or group of people. Mr Lavarch is particularly familiar with these provisions, having been the Commonwealth Attorney-General at the time.

These provisions are important in providing additional protections against, for example, race hate. In , the position of Race Discrimination Commissioner was again filled in a full time capacity.

The role of the Commissioner includes leading the work of the Commission in promoting an understanding and acceptance of, and compliance with, the RDA; developing and conducting research and educational programs and other programs for the purpose of combating racial discrimination; promoting understanding, tolerance and friendship among racial and ethnic groups; and supporting the purposes and principles of the International Convention.

It is interesting how little most Australians know about our Constitution. This is in contrast with countries like South Africa, where every person was given a copy of the Constitution when it was adopted in In late the Prime Minister established an Expert Panel to look at possible Constitutional reform to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people formally in the constitution. This racism was not addressed at the time of the referendum that changed our Constitution to give the federal parliament the power to make laws in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and to allow for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to be included in the census.

Nor can it been addressed through the passage of domestic laws. Section 25 allows State laws to disqualify people of a particular race from voting at State elections. Such a provision has no place in a modern democracy like Australia.

Section 51 xxvi allows the Commonwealth Parliament to make special laws for people of a particular race. There are examples where this has been relied upon in order to introduce laws that negatively discriminate against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The Panel has recommended that a new section 51A be inserted in the Constitution that explicitly respects and acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and promotes the advancement of those peoples.

The Expert Panel has also recommended the insertion of a new section A, prohibiting the Commonwealth, and States and Territories, from making laws that discriminate on the basis of race, colour or ethnic or national origin, but permitting laws or measures which aim to overcome disadvantage, ameliorate the effects of past discrimination, or protect the cultures, languages or heritage of any group. My Commission has supported these recommendations. But it is incumbent on us all to think about these issues, to know what they really mean, to raise them in our dinner party discussions, in our sporting activities, at our work, to dispel the myths that will inevitably fly around in the media and be promoted by people who do not understand or accept how important it is to ensure racial equality and recognition of our First Nations peoples.

For example, one of the strengths of the RDA — its broad human rights based approach to the areas of public life it covers in section 9 — has been recommended as a preferred approach for a general human rights or equality based test, in any area of public life, in the new draft legislation — rather than placing sole reliance on the more specific regimes in the Sex Discrimination, Disability Discrimination and Age Discrimination Acts.

Similarly, the Commission has recommended the inclusion of an equivalent to RDA section 10 within a consolidated Commonwealth equality law: The consolidation process offers an opportunity to not only embrace the stronger features of the RDA, but also address some of its deficiencies.

If we were to ask what would improve the current legislative regime, there are two key responses: To take the first issue: The Commission views complaints as an important part of a compliance framework directed to achieving the objectives of the legislation, in addition to providing a means of access to justice.

The Commission considers that the consolidation process offers opportunities to consider measures for improved access to justice for people and organisations seeking to assert rights, and for increased certainty for people and organisations seeking to comply with their responsibilities. A complaint to the Commission can be made by any person or organisation on behalf of a person aggrieved by discrimination — and the Commission itself has power to launch its own inquiries into human rights and discrimination issues.

But at the court stage, complaints can only be made by a person or persons aggrieved — not by representative or advocacy organisations in their own right or by the Commission or other bodies seeking to enforce the law. There are of course issues to consider about how and how far a body which provides an impartial complaint handling service could have an advocacy role, and we look forward to further discussion of those issues.

The present review of these Acts provides an opportunity for consideration of possible improvements in the compliance framework for Commonwealth discrimination law to ensure that it meets, or better meets, the goals of efficiency and effectiveness in promoting the objectives of the legislation.

I want to emphasise that even the best anti-discrimination law will in itself only be part of an effective and comprehensive strategy to eliminate racial discrimination and promote equality. Parties to the ICERD undertake a much wider range of obligations than simply enacting legislative prohibitions against racial discrimination. Before moving on from the consolidation process, though, I want to refer very briefly to the race hate provisions in the RDA.

The Commission is looking to see what comes out of the submissions and further steps in the process in relation to these provisions. These provisions have recently been tested of course in the Bolt case.

Justice Bromberg found that the imputations conveyed by articles written by Mr Bolt and published by the Herald and Weekly Times included that:. There are fair-skinned people in Australia with essentially European ancestry but with some Aboriginal descent, of which the individuals identified in the articles are examples, who are not genuinely Aboriginal persons but who, motivated by career opportunities available to Aboriginal people or by political activism, have chosen to falsely identify as Aboriginal.

I am satisfied that fair-skinned Aboriginal people or some of them were reasonably likely, in all the circumstances, to have been offended, insulted, humiliated or intimidated by the imputations conveyed by the newspaper articles. There will no doubt be continuing debate about these provisions.

The issue of balancing the right to equality on the basis of race and the right to freedom of expression will often incite dramatic commentary of one sort or another. The balance is important. At times, one is tempted to ask — how would you feel??? I can tell you that if someone said to me — you are only pretending to be part Hungarian so you could get the job as Race Discrimination Commissioner, I might find that offensive!!!

The project was based on random phone interviews with 12, people. An overview , note Discussion paper series No. Markus, A, Mapping Social Cohesion A review of human rights and social inclusion issues, A compendium detailing the outcomes of the community and stakeholder consultations and interviews and public submissions, Western Sydney and Perth Roundtables, Skip to the content Skip to navigation Skip to search.

Racism exists in Australia — are we doing enough to address it? I pay my respects to their elders past and present. This is my first opportunity to speak publicly in Queensland, and I must say as a Victorian, I am always astonished at the breadth and diversity of this state, the richness of its beauty but also the challenges of its proximity to the more tropical rigours of climate fickleness!

I am sorry to see that yet again parts of your beautiful state have been impacted by natural elements, as floods ravage communities in the south. One of the unexpected realisations in taking on the role of national Race Discrimination Commissioner has in fact been the diversity of what makes up Australia. This diversity is of landscape as much as climate, of distance as much as density and of ways of life as well as hardship in life.

It is a sunburnt country in part and a snow capped island in others. We have the variable terrains, and the variable challenges that come with that, as numerous other countries have in conglomerate. And so this makes it all the more astonishing that we, mainly, comfortably and easily define ourselves as Australians.

Australia Day this year will be remembered for many different reasons. Sadly it may be remembered for the images of the protests associated with the Tent Embassy that flicked around the world, depicting a most un-Australian image of a head of country being bundled into a car.

It will be remembered because yet again the actions of a few people are used to attack our First Nations people. It will be remembered for the debate about whether we should have flags flying from cars — is this triumphalism, is it patriotic, is it just popular? The diversity of who we are in all of our aspects as a country came together around these events.

The views may have differed, but the interest, the connection, and the extent of the dialogue demonstrated that we are keenly interested in the Australia that is made up of many parts and many cultures. We are part of a small club of countries that has both an indigenous population and a multicultural population that defines who we are. And inherent in all of this complexity, there is inevitably a history of dispossession, a fear of difference and a damage that appears in different ways, at different times and with different impacts that we call racism.

In order to continue to promote the positives of who we are as a country, we must ensure we address the negatives, and that is the focus of my presentation tonight. Racism exists in Australia In my opening comments tonight, I took the time to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land and to pay my respects to elders past and present.

This acknowledgement is a relatively recent feature of our history as a country, as we know that colonisation and white settlement paid little respect or acknowledgement that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders were the original and first inhabitants of this land.

It is worth remembering how breathtakingly audacious that was, particular when we know that the First Nations people of this country were here just a little bit longer, by tens of thousands of years.

Our history as a country of predominately white settlers has not been good in this regard.

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In human social affairs, discrimination is treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction towards, a person based on the group, class, or category to which the person is perceived to belong. These include age, colour, convictions for which a pardon has been granted or a record suspended, disability, ethnicity, family status, gender identity, . I Introduction Racial disparities are among the most visible and persistent features of American society. For example, in , the median household income of black Americans was $39,, compared with.

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Racism in the United States has been widespread since the colonial ct4uc3541.cfy or socially sanctioned privileges and rights were given to white Americans but denied to all other races. European Americans (particularly affluent white Anglo-Saxon Protestants) were granted exclusive privileges in matters of education, immigration, voting rights, . Machine Bias There’s software used across the country to predict future criminals. And it’s biased against blacks. by Julia Angwin, Jeff Larson, Surya Mattu and Lauren Kirchner, ProPublica May.