Stats on Stats on Stats

So I just came across a recent report in news outlets and the blogosphere that showed how poorly Blacks and Hispanics did in the last recession. It was pretty damn bad. Hispanic wealth fell by about 66% and Black wealth fell about 53%. Hell, even Asians felt the bite, losing about 54% of their wealth. Whites (predictably) fared better, losing only about 16%. As it stands, the median wealth of Whites is about 20 times higher than that of Blacks, indicating the largest wealth disparities in decades and also indicating wealth structures more similar to sharecropping than to this “post-racial” society we so often love to claim. But what does all this really tell us?


I mean, yeah we know we’re fucked. We’ve been fucked six ways to Sunday for like 400 years. Black people have been shafted since we landed here, and I’m starting to wonder what the purpose is in all of these highly published and disseminated reports saying essentially how much it sucks to be Black. We know, we know.

We fucking KNOW

We know how bad the HIV rates are, how our life expectancy is so low, how we have less wealth and assets, how we die more from preventable diseases, how we get married less and have children early, and other stats that are repeated ad nauseam. And we KEEP getting that (kinda bullshit) stat about how so many more Black men are in prison than in college. We get it.

Try comparing just college-aged black men next time, assholes

We get these statistics all the time. I understand how important they are. They really help paint the picture of how bad things are. But really, what purpose do they serve if they don’t really move anyone to do anything? If people were doing this poorly 20 years ago, why weren’t they assisted then back when the original statistics were made? I’m kind of sick of finding new ways to tell the same story that has been in play since the 1600s, and I’m starting to doubt the intentions and usefulness of all these “studies.”

Essentially, I think the cult of “racial statistics” is really becoming as exploitative and counterproductive as the actual racial setbacks that it is ostensibly designed to fight against. You have a bunch of (mostly) White, (mostly) well-funded researchers and scientists who dig through all these data and studies and find something to prove their point of how terrible things are for people they most likely have no experience dealing with. It gets them more funding and gets them published depending on how provocative and “shocking” their revelations are. Then they are free to go about their business and do more studies. But when do all of the mountains of data we have actually translate to results? If anything, the recent studies are showing that as we know more, we are doing less and less. So my point and challenge is to all of the researchers and all of you who so enjoy posting these results and stats on your twitters and such when new studies come in (as they undoubtedly will).

Just what the hell are you gonna do about it?

2 Responses to “Stats on Stats on Stats”
  1. Adolph Reed says:

    Look for Merlin Chowkwanyun and Adolph Reed Jr, “Race, Class, Crisis: The Discourse of Racial Disparity and its Analytical Discontents” forthcoming in the Socialist Register 2012 which you may find congenial based on your comments here. We certainly share your frustration with this burgeoning industry.

    Adolph Reed

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