Poll: Half of black youth face job dis­crim­i­na­tion

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - NEWS - By Jesse J. Hol­land and Emily Swanson

WASH­ING­TON >> Qy­mana Botts saw white col­leagues with the same amount of ex­pe­ri­ence get­ting pro­moted to cashier ahead of her at the Indiana dis­count store where she worked. When she asked her su­per­vi­sors why, they told her she didn’t project the im­age that they wanted from their cashiers: straight hair — not her nat­u­ral Afro — and more makeup.

“When it came time for pro­mo­tions and raises and things like that, I was told I need to fit into a more European kind of ap­pear­ance,” Botts said of her 2010 ex­pe­ri­ence. “They wanted me to straighten my hair, but I wasn’t will­ing to do that.” Botts, 25, is not alone. Al­most half of young African-Amer­i­cans say they’ve ex­pe­ri­enced ra­cial dis­crim­i­na­tion while look­ing for a job and while on the job, and one-third of young women of all races and eth­nic­i­ties say they’ve faced em­ploy­men­tre­lated gen­der dis­crim­i­na­tion.

This in­for­ma­tion comes from a GenFor­ward sur­vey of young adults con­ducted by the Black Youth Project at the Univer­sity of Chicago with The As­so­ci­ated PressNORC Cen­ter for Pub­lic Af­fairs Re­search. The first-ofits-kind poll pays spe­cial at­ten­tion to the voices of young adults of color, high­light­ing how race and eth­nic­ity shape the opin­ions of the coun­try’s most di­verse gen­er­a­tion.

The poll, taken in Septem­ber, showed that 48 per­cent of blacks age 18-30 say they’ve ex­pe­ri­enced dis­crim­i­na­tion while look­ing for a job or at work, which was higher than all other races and eth­nic­i­ties. About onethird of Asian-Amer­i­cans and Lati­nos also said they ex­pe­ri­enced dis­crim­i­na­tion at work or while look­ing for a job.

Just 10 per­cent of whites say they ex­pe­ri­enced em­ploy­ment-re­lated racism.

Joy Hol­loway, 24, of Durham, North Carolina, said she clearly has seen racism dur­ing job in­ter­views. Hol­loway, who is bira­cial and iden­ti­fies as black, said she usu­ally does well get­ting through the ap­pli­ca­tion phase and the phone in­ter­view phase.

“I can get called in for an in­ter­view, and ev­ery­thing will be per­fect but as soon as they see me, I can see it in their face: ‘Oh, no, she isn’t who I thought she was.’ And then I never get a call back,” Hol­loway said.

On top of fac­ing dis­crim­i­na­tion, young blacks are more likely to think their race has made it more dif­fi­cult to get ahead eco­nom­i­cally. Fifty-four per­cent say be­ing black makes it harder, the high­est among those polled. Thirty-nine per­cent of Asian-Amer­i­cans and 34 per­cent of Lati­nos say their race or eth­nic­ity has made life harder.

Young whites are the only group more likely to say their race has made life eas­ier at 31 per­cent. But more than half, or 53 per­cent, say their race has made no dif­fer­ence. Still, most young peo­ple across ra­cial and eth­nic lines say whites in gen­eral have at least some ad­van­tage get­ting ahead eco­nom­i­cally.

Ac­cord­ing to the Eco­nomic Pol­icy In­sti­tute, black men’s av­er­age hourly wages were 31 per­cent lower than white men in 2015, and black women’s av­er­age hourly wages were 19 per­cent lower than white women that same year.

In ad­di­tion to racism, the GenFor­ward poll also showed that 31 per­cent of young women say they’ve ex­pe­ri­enced gen­der dis­crim­i­na­tion in look­ing for a job and in the work­place it­self.

In 2015, women made about 80 cents for ev­ery dol­lar made by men, ac­cord­ing to the In­sti­tute for Women’s Pol­icy Re­search.

Holly Berkey, 18, of Lin­coln, Nebraska, said she ex­pe­ri­enced it first­hand while work­ing in an ice cream shop. Her male co-work­ers would make sex­ist, dis­parag­ing re­marks in her pres­ence, she said — for ex­am­ple, that Berkey should be the one do­ing the wash­ing and the clean­ing in­stead of them be­cause she’s a woman.

Berkey said when she com­plained to a man­ager, she was told, “it’s just boys be­ing boys.” The fi­nal straw, Berkey said, came when she com­plained about a male co­worker she had trained, who then be­gan act­ing rudely to­ward her af­ter a leave. “I was told to just tough it out,” she said. So she quit.

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