Tim Wise, arguably the most highly respected antiracist educator in the U.S. (Molefi Kete Asante, known as the Father of Afrocentrism, calls Mr. Wise “One of the brilliant voices of our time”), defines ‘white privilege’ in the following way:

“White privilege refers to any advantage, opportunity, benefit, head start, or general protection from negative societal mistreatment, which persons deemed white will typically enjoy, but which others will generally not enjoy. These benefits can be material (such as greater opportunity in the labor market, or greater net worth, due to a history in which whites had the ability to accumulate wealth to a greater extent than persons of color), social (such as presumptions of competence, creditworthiness, law-abidingness, intelligence, etc.) or psychological (such as not having to worry about triggering negative stereotypes, rarely having to feel out of place, not having to worry about racial profiling, etc.).

Operationally, white privilege is simply the flipside of discrimination against people of color. The concept is rooted in the common-sense observation that there can be no down without an up, so that if people of color are the targets of discrimination, in housing, employment, the justice system, or elsewhere, then whites, by definition, are being elevated above those persons of color. Whites are receiving a benefit, vis-a-vis those persons of color: more opportunity because those persons of color are receiving less. Although I believe all persons are harmed in the long run by racism and racial inequity — and thus, white privilege comes at an immense social cost — it still exists as a daily reality throughout the social, political and economic structure of the United States.” (http://www.timwise.org/f-a-q-s/)

For this first of four blog entries on the topic of white privilege, I have decided to provide quantifiable data to support its existence. I’m doing this for two reasons: 1) There are still a number of individuals in this country who are not familiar with this concept; and 2) Many who are, indeed, familiar with ‘white privilege’ deny its existence. Thus, after first defining it, I thought that the best way to begin this blog post was to provide just some of the statistics that demonstrate the existence of white privilege in the U.S. The stats given are divided among thematic lines.

 

LAW ENFORCEMENT

  • While being arrested by law enforcement, young African American boys/men, ages 15-19, are 21 times more likely to be shot and killed by the police than young white boys/men, ages 15-19 (http://www.propublica.org/article/deadly-force-in-black-and-white).
  • Police stop, search, and frisk African Americans and Latinos at much higher rates than whites—even though whites consistently have higher rates of contraband possession, often much higher (Unless otherwise noted, all of the statistics that follow come from the same source: http://www.civilrights.org/publications/reports/racial-profiling2011/the-reality-of-racial.html).
  • In New York City, whites comprise 44% of the population; African Americans and Latinos, 53% (http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/36/3651000.html).
    • Between 2005 and 2008, 80% of NYPD stops were of African Americans and Latinos. Only 10% of stops were of whites.
    • 85% of those frisked were African American; only 8% were white. (African Americans and Latinos were frisked 50% of the time; whites, only 34%.)
    • Under the NYPD’s controversial “stop-and-frisk” program, in every year since 2009, 87% of those stopped-and-frisked were African American or Latino. 10% were white (http://www.nyclu.org/content/stop-and-frisk-data).
    • 24% of African Americans and Latinos had force used against them by the NYPD, compared to only 17% of whites.
    • Only 2.6% of all stops (1.6 million stops over 3.5 years) resulted in the discovery of contraband or a weapon. Whites were more likely to be found with contraband or a weapon.
  • Similar trends are seen in Department of Justice data from Los Angeles between July 2003 and June 2004.
    • The stop rate for African Americans was 3,400 stops per 10,000 residents higher than the white stop rate. The Latino stop rate was 360 stops higher.
    • African Americans were 127% more likely to get frisked and 76% more likely to get searched than whites; Latinos, 43% more likely to get frisked and 16% more likely to get searched.
    • And yet, frisked African Americans were 42% less likely to be found with a weapon than frisked whites; Latinos, 32% less likely.
    • Consensual searches of African Americans were “37 percent less likely to uncover weapons, 23.7 percent less likely to uncover drugs, and 25.4 percent less likely to uncover any other type of contraband, than consensual searches of whites.”
    • Consensual searches of Latinos were “32.8 percent less likely to uncover weapons, 34.3 percent less likely to uncover drugs, and 12.3 percent less likely to uncover any other type of contraband than consensual searches of whites.”
  • Similar statistics can be seen across the U.S.
    • A study in Arizona found state highway patrol 3.5 times more likely to search a stopped Native American, and 2.5 times more likely to search a stopped African American or Latino, than a white person. And yet, whites who were searched were more likely than all other groups to be transporting drugs, guns, or other contraband.
    • A study in West Virginia showed African American drivers were 1.64 times more likely, and Latinos 1.48 times more likely, to be stopped than white drivers. After being stopped, non-whites were more likely to get arrested, even though police “obtained a significantly higher contraband hit rate for white drivers than minorities.”
    • In Illinois, data showed the number of consent searches after traffic stops, for African Americans and Latinos, to be “more than double that of whites”—even though “white motorists were twice as likely to have contraband.”
    • Studies in Minnesota and Texas have yielded the same results, with African Americans and Latinos being stopped more often, even though whites were more likely to have contraband.
  • A 2007 U.S. Department of Justice report on racial profiling found that African Americans and Latinos were 3 times as likely to be stopped as whites, and that African Americans were twice as likely to be arrested and 4 times as likely “to experience the threat or use of force during interactions with the police” (http://www.aclu.org/racial-justice/department-justice-statistics-show-clear-pattern-racial-profiling).
  • African Americans make up less than 13% of the U.S. population, and they make up only 14% of regular drug users. However, they are 37% of those arrested for drug offenses, and comprise 56% of those in state prisons for drug offenses (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bill-quigley/fourteen-examples-of-raci_b_658947.html).
  • African American kids are 10 times more likely to be arrested for drug crimes than white kids, even though white kids are more likely to abuse drugs (http://healthland.time.com/2011/11/07/study-whites-more-likely-to-abuse-drugs-than-blacks/).

 

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

  • Once arrested, African Americans are more likely to remain in prison awaiting trial than whites; in some places, they are 33% more likely to be detained while awaiting trial than whites (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bill-quigley/fourteen-examples-of-raci_b_658947.html).
  • People of color are routinely arraigned under stiffer, harsher charges than white offenders (for the same crimes). While more than 90% of cases end in a plea bargain, African Americans and Latinos are less successful at getting their sentences reduced via plea bargain (http://www.urban.org/uploadedpdf/412693-the-growth-and-increasing-cost-of-the-federal-prison-system.pdf).
  • According to a University of Michigan study: “[B]lack defendants face significantly more severe charges than whites even after controlling for criminal behavior (arrest offense, multiple-defendant case structure, and criminal history), observed defendant characteristics (e.g., age, education), defense counsel type, district, county economic characteristics, and crime rates. Unexplained racial disparities exist across the charge-severity distribution, especially at the high end. The most striking disparities are found in the use of charges that carry non-zero statutory minimum sentences.” (Rehavi, M. Marit and Starr, Sonja B., Racial Disparity in Federal Criminal Charging and Its Sentencing Consequences [May 7, 2012]. U of Michigan Law & Econ, Empirical Legal Studies Center Paper No. 12-002. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1985377)
  • African American men are nearly twice as likely to be arraigned on charges that carry a mandatory minimum (Rehavi, M. Marit and Starr, Sonja B., Racial Disparity in Federal Criminal Charging and Its Sentencing Consequences [May 7, 2012]. U of Michigan Law & Econ, Empirical Legal Studies Center Paper No. 12-002. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1985377).
  • A study in Georgia in the 1980s found that more than 20% of African American defendants convicted of murdering white victims received the death penalty. However, only 8% of whites who killed whites and 1% of blacks who killed other blacks received the death penalty. (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/07/weekinreview/07glater.html)
  • African Americans are 21% more likely to receive mandatory minimum sentences (http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/race/news/2012/03/13/11351/the-top-10-most-startling-facts-about-people-of-color-and-criminal-justice-in-the-united-states/).
  • African Americans are 20% more likely to be sentenced to prison than whites (http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/race/news/2012/03/13/11351/the-top-10-most-startling-facts-about-people-of-color-and-criminal-justice-in-the-united-states/).
  • Once convicted, African American offenders receive sentences that are 10% longer than white offenders for the same crimes (http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/race/news/2012/03/13/11351/the-top-10-most-startling-facts-about-people-of-color-and-criminal-justice-in-the-united-states/).
    • That sentencing gap has widened in recent years; since judicial discretion was returned by the Supreme Court in 2005, “Prison sentences of black men were nearly 20% longer than those of white men for similar crimes in recent years.” (http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB100014241278873244320044578304463789858002)
  • 2/3 of criminals receiving life sentences are non-whites; in the state of New York, it’s 83% (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bill-quigley/fourteen-examples-of-raci_b_658947.html).

 

PRISON

  • 1 in every 15 African American men (and 1 in every 36 Latino men) are currently incarcerated, while for white men the statistic is 1 in 106 (http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/piusp01.pdf).
  • 1 in 3 African American men can expect to go to jail at some point in their lifetimes (http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/piusp01.pdf).
  • Non-whites make up less than 28% of the U.S. population (http://www.census.gov/prod/cen2010/briefs/c2010br-05.pdf), but they comprise nearly 60% of the prison population (http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/p10.pdf).
  • African Americans specifically make up less than 13% of the U.S. population,  but they comprise 38% of the American prison population (http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/p10/pdf).
  • African American juvenile youth make up 16% of the U.S. population, but they comprise 28% of juvenile arrests, 37% of the youth in juvenile jails, and 58% of the youth sent to adult prisons (http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/race/news/2012/03/13/11351/the-top-10-most-startling-facts-about-people-of-color-and-criminal-justice-in-the-united-states/).
  • African American boys are 5 times as likely to go to jail as white boys; Latino boys are 3 times as likely (http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/race/news/2012/03/13/11351/the-top-10-most-startling-facts-about-people-of-color-and-criminal-justice-in-the-united-states/).

 

EDUCATION

  • Whites are 78% more likely to be accepted to the same university as equally qualified people of color. Emphasis on “equally qualified” (http://jamietheignorantamerican.tumblr.com/post/72154890106/go-forth-and-educate-yourselves).
  • Once admitted, 71% of white students receive degrees, compared to only 29% of people of color (http://jamietheignorantamerican.tumblr.com/post/72154890106/go-forth-and-educate-yourselves).
  • When they do graduate, African American college graduates have significantly more debt than white graduates (http://www.gallup.com/poll/176051/black-college-graduates-likely-graduate-debt.aspx).
  • A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that young black boys were viewed differently than their white peers. “Children in most societies are considered to be in a distinct group with characteristics such as innocence and the need for protection. Our research found that black boys can be seen as responsible for their actions at an age when white boys still benefit from the assumption that children are essentially innocent.” (http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/03/11/americans-see-innocent-black-kids-as-guilty-adults.html) 
  • African American and Latino students are far more likely than white students to repeat a grade, especially in elementary and middle school (http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2012/03/07/23data_ep.h31.html).
  • African American and Latino students represent more than 70 percent of those involved in school-related arrests or referrals to law enforcement (http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2012/03/07/23data_ep.h31.html).
  • African American students are 3.5 times more likely to be expelled than their white peers (http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2012/03/07/23data_ep.h31.html).
  • African American and Latino students make up 60% of confined youth today (http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/race/news/2012/03/13/11351/the-top-10-most-startling-facts-about-people-of-color-and-criminal-justice-in-the-united-states/).
  • African and Latino students also make up more than 70% of students involved in school-related arrests or referred to law enforcement (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/06/education/black-students-face-more-harsh-discipline-data-shows.html?_r=1&ref=education).
  • While African American students make up only 18% of the U.S. student population, 35% of those are suspended once, 46% of those are suspended more than once, and 39% of those expelled (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/06/education/black-students-face-more-harsh-discipline-data-shows.html?_r=1&ref=education).

 

EMPLOYMENT

  • An African American college student has the same chances of getting a job as a white high school dropout (http://thinkprogress.org/education/2014/06/25/3452887/education-race-gap/).
  • Meanwhile, a white male with a criminal record is 5% more likely to get a job than an equally qualified person of color with a clean record (Pager, Devah, Bruce Western, and Bart Bonikowski. “Discrimination in a Low-Wage Labor Market: A Field Experiment.” American sociological review 74.5 [2009]: 777-799. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2915472/)
  • African Americans need to complete not one but two more levels of education just to have the same probability of getting a job as a white male (http://thinkprogress.org/education/2014/06/25/3452887/education-race-gap/).
  • Researchers from the University of Chicago and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology released the results of a 2014 study which revealed that “white sounding” names were 50 percent more likely to get a call back on a job application than “African American sounding” or “Latino sounding” names. That’s with the same résumé and same qualifications, which indicates that just the sound of an applicant’s name can trigger racial biases.

 

WEALTH

  • The average net worth of African American households is $6,314, compared to $110,500 for the average white household (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/31/opinion/sunday/nicholas-kristof-after-ferguson-race-deserves-more-attention-not-less.html).
  • While a college-educated white American has an average net worth of $75,000, a college-educated African American American has an average net worth of less than $17,500 (http://thinkprogress.org/education/2014/06/25/3452887/education-race-gap/).
  • The African American-white wealth gap is greater in the United States today than it was in South Africa in 1970, at the height of apartheid. We also incarcerate a higher percentage of African Americans today than apartheid South Africa did. (http://jonjeter.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/worse-than-apartheid-back-in-obamas-america-3/)

 

WORKPLACE

  • African American men make 72¢ for every dollar a white man makes (http://www.aauw.org/2014/04/03/race-and-the-gender-wage-gap/).
  • African American women make 64¢ for every white male dollar, and Latina women make 53¢ for every white male dollar (http://www.aauw.org/2014/04/03/race-and-the-gender-wage-gap/).
  • Once released from prison, if they can get a job at all, the wages of African American ex-convicts grow at a 21% slower rate than white ex-convicts (http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/race/news/2012/03/13/11351/the-top-10-most-startling-facts-about-people-of-color-and-criminal-justice-in-the-united-states/).

 

HOUSING

  • Practices such as redlining, in which banks designate certain low-income neighborhoods where they won’t lend for home purchases or where they charge higher interest rates than similarly priced homes in non-redlined neighborhoods, and pricing discrimination, in which lenders charge minorities higher loan prices than to comparable white buyers, made the 2007 housing crash and the financial crisis worse overall (http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/11/16/1203241/bernanke-discriminatory-lending/) and particularly bad for  African American families, who were twice as likely to enter foreclosure during the recession than whites (http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2011/11/18/372517/latinos-african-americans-housing-crisis/).
  • “African American families making $100,000 typically live in the kinds of neighborhoods inhabited by white families making $30,000″ (http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/05/the-case-for-reparations/361631/).
  • In 2009, bailed-out banks such as Wells Fargo and many other large banks were found to have pushed minority borrowers who qualified for prime loans into subprime loans, which can add more than $100,000 in interest payments to a mortgage over the life of the loan (http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2009/09/15/172933/racial-disparities-tarp-banks/).
  • Subprime loans were given to 41.5% of African Americans and 30.9% of Latinos, but only 17.8% of whites (http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2009/09/15/172933/racial-disparities-tarp-banks/).
  • “Among high-income borrowers in 2006, African Americans were three times as likely as whites to pay higher prices for mortgages—32.1 percent compared to 10.5 percent. Latinos were nearly as likely as African Americans to pay higher prices for their mortgages at 29.1 percent.” (http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2009/09/15/172933/racial-disparities-tarp-banks/)
  • Washington Mutual was the worst: 56.9% of African Americans and 42.3% of Latinos paid higher prices, compared to 16.9% of whites (http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2009/09/15/172933/racial-disparities-tarp-banks/).

 

MEDIA

  • According to a study in Canada, non-white women who go missing receive 27 times less media coverage than white women who go missing (http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/what-missing-white-woman-syndrome-1441153).
  • While African American children comprise 33.2% of missing children cases, only 19.5% of cases are reported in the media (http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/what-missing-white-woman-syndrome-1441153).

 

The aforementioned statistics clearly indicate that ‘white privilege,’ which again is the simply the flipside of discrimination against people of color, is all too real in the U.S. One of my dad’s favorite expressions is “Don’t confuse me with the facts!,” and it definitely applies here. However, in the next blog post I will provide more evidence of the phenomenon in order to solidify my point.