Skip to main content Skip to secondary navigation
Main content start

In the News: Scholars Show Racism's Role in the Poverty Trap

New Stanford research in The New York Times makes it harder than ever for the U.S. to avoid confronting the role of racism in economic inequality, particularly for Black men.

Some people have tried to explain economic inequality between Black and other Americans by pointing to social class. But new Stanford research in The New York Times makes it harder than ever for the United States to avoid confronting racism as the real culprit, particularly when it comes to Black males.

Ralph Richard Banks, a law professor at Stanford, writes about the study in an op-ed:

"Whether born to a rich family or a poor one, in an impoverished neighborhood or wealthy one, black boys lag behind their white peers as adults. Black boys who grow up rich are twice as likely as their white counterparts to end up poor. And of those black boys who start life poor, nearly half will remain so in adulthood, while more than 2 in 3 of their white peers will escape the poverty of their youth."

The research looked at data on 20 million children and their parents to "show how race currently shapes opportunity in the U.S. and how we can reduce racial disparities going forward," according to the study's authors, who include Stanford economics professor Raj Chetty.

The findings undermine "one of the most popular liberal post-racial ideas ... that the fundamental problem is class and not race," said Ibram Kendi, a professor and director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University. "But for whatever reason, we’re unwilling to stare racism in the face."

For people who want not only to "stare racism in the face" but also to erase it, SPARQ will soon release social psychology-driven toolkits for promoting diversity and inclusion. The SPARQ Solutions Catalog also presents research showing that:

If you'd like to learn more about how SPARQ can help your organization play its part to reduce racism, please contact us at