Meet Steve and Kwame, two fictional guys who just graduated from the University of Maryland. Almost everything about them is weirdly identical—they majored in the same subject, they got the same grades in college, they have the same bullet points on their resumes—but Kwame is African American and Steve is white. Now, they’re both spending their post-pomp-and-circumstance summer looking for jobs. Do they have the same employment prospects?
A recent report from the advocacy group Young Invincibles suggests not: African American millennial men need two or more levels of education to have the same employment prospects as their white peers. White male college graduates have a 97.6% employment rate. Black male college graduates have a 92.8% employment rate—which correlates more closely with the job prospects for white men who have some college education but no degree (92.5%).
The 19th century reformer Horace Mann may have called education the great equalizer, but 150 years later, the numbers suggest otherwise. The reason for this is obvious—as the report points out, “the legacy of racial discrimination across centuries continues to impact economic disparities, and so young African Americans start on an uneven playing field.”