Employers Treat Black Men With Degrees Like Criminals


By Victor O

It is a given that having a criminal record makes it harder for someone to land a job, but it has also been shown that a convicted man stands better chances of securing employment if he is white– same level of employment chances as a black man without a criminal past.

Racism is a very serious issue in the United States, and in some other parts of the world, although most of those involved have perpetually denied such tendency. This problem has pervaded every aspect of the society life, including the job market.

It has been proven that an African-American man with no criminal record has equal chances of being offered a job as a white man who has just been released from prison. Devah Pager, a Harvard sociology professor, has especially helped to shed more light on the fact that stereotypes about race play a significant role on the possibility of being hired.

In a popular study carried out by Pager, she directed male testers taking part in a matched-pair experiment to send in applications for similar entry-level jobs advertised in some newspapers in Milwaukee. The sociology professor provided her assistants, comprising half white and half black men, with bogus credentials making them equal in terms of education and job experience, among others, except race.

Pager also asked one tester in each pair to disclose that he had a non-violent drug possession offence on his record. She then monitored the number of invitations that were received for the submitted applications.

Expectedly, observed callback rates show that having a criminal record makes it hard for someone to land a job. But while it was extremely difficult to find employers willing to employ a black tester with criminal past, white testers supposedly fresh out of prison have equal probability of being called for a second interview as black men with clean records – even slightly more so.

“Being black in America today is just about the same as having a felony conviction in terms of one’s chances of finding a job,” Pager wrote in her book, “Marked: Race, Crime and Finding Work in an Era of Mass Incarceration.”

Shaun King of DailyKos.com finds it hard to believe that whites fresh out of the prison gets the same treatment as black men with no criminal history in the job market, and that is understandable.

“I won’t even get into the vicious cycle that is created when any one segment of the American population is consistently discriminated against in the job market,” he writes. “What’s clear is this – racism is alive and well in America and must be confronted head on.”


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