When the topic of African-American’s socioeconomic status arises, most people elaborate on the facts of impoverished black people. The misconception is that most Black people live in drug and prostitute infested neighborhoods that consists of public housing projects and ghettos. Those with this mindset typically believe that welfare is the primary source of income for Black women and crime for Black men.
Furthermore, many of those same individuals might argue that most Black children drop out of high school, end up roaming aimlessly throughout the streets, and breeding new generations to maintain the poor black social structure. What’s most interesting is that polls have revealed that these grossly exaggerated notions are more commonly believed by Black people than other racial groups.
In a recent Gallup Poll, 7% more blacks than whites indicated that they believe that there are more poor African-Americans than not. The poll also shows that poverty is more of an issue to Blacks than whites. Moreover, results revealed that 61% of Blacks, most of whom are poor with lower education, believe that poor and middle class African-Americans possess “more different” values–things that are viewed as important.
It’s understandable why these stereotypes may appear to be fact, considering that little acknowledgment seems to ever be given to Blacks in middle class. The perception of Blacks mostly belonging to the impoverished class is primarily the result of the major racial disproportion of Blacks that are actually poor. But what isn’t being highlighted is that only 26.2% of African-Americans live in poverty. On the other hand, merely 1.4% of the country’s top 1 percent are black (Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, Jay-Z, etc).
So who are the remaining 72.4% of Black people?
Blacks in middle class, of course, but even this class of people are broken into lower and upper classes. Still on the bright side, Blacks in middle class are evolving and their significant progress is attributable to the following:
BLACK HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATES
According to the Department of Education, in 2014 70.7% of Black students graduated from high school. The rate that Black students are acquiring their high school diplomas have increased by 3.7%, unlike their white peers with only a 2.6% increase from 2013. African-American students aren’t just graduating from high school, but also attending some of the best colleges.
BLACKS ACCEPTED INTO ELITE UNIVERSITIES
Between the years 2012-2013, roughly 7% of African-Americans were accepted into the top 6 elite universities.
This graph lists America’s 6 most elite universities by rank and the percentage of Blacks that were accepted into them. Pomona College, located in Claremont, California, is the country’s top ranked college, and is known to be possibly the most difficult to get accepted into. I’m sure the 6% of African-Americans that were actually admitted might beg to differ. But, of the 6 elite universities, Harvard University admitted the most blacks, which comprised of 10.6% of the student population.
BACHELOR’S DEGREES CONFERRED TO BLACKS
Between the years 2012-2013, most African-Americans that attended college graduated with a degree in business. Of the 214,545 business degrees that were conferred, 20% were black people. Furthermore, there were more Black women that acquired business degrees than black men.
Second to business, 17% of African-Americans acquired a Bachelor’s degree in the legal professions and studies. On the other hand, only 3%, the least amount of Blacks, obtained a degree in biological and biomedical sciences.
As a Black woman with an electrical engineering degree, I wasn’t surprised that only 5% of all engineering degrees were conferred to African-American women. There weren’t more than a couple of us at a time in any of the fortune 500 companies that I’ve ever worked for.
Finally, 13.4% of African-Americans went on to obtain Master’s degrees.
A racial group’s wealth (net worth) is the value of all their assets minus their debt. These assets are typically divided up into 2 groups: private (bank accounts, home, land, stocks, bonds, life insurance, pensions, personal savings, retirement (401K) and public (social security, medicare, and unemployment).
According to the Census Bureau, the annual income for blacks was $35,398 overall in 2014, and $50,000 for the 45% of the black homeowners. Furthermore, African-Americans possess 6% of America’s wealth, and this includes the 7% of black business owners.
Overall, the Black upper middle class is growing incrementally. However, despite the prospective future that lies ahead for us, we must keep in mind that we still rank at the bottom of the socioeconomic spectrum compared to other racial groups. Nevertheless, if we and our future generations continue to prioritize education, we will be able to flourish in the labor force, establish financial stability, and ultimately build wealth.
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