August 9th, 2008
09:02 AM ET

Study: Black man and white felon – same chances for hire

Program Note: In the next installment of CNN's Black in America series, Soledad O'Brien examines the successes, struggles and complex issues faced by black men, women and families, 40 years after the death of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Watch encore presentation Saturday & Sunday, 8 p.m. ET

We devote several days on the blog to smart insight and commentary related to the special.

Editor's Note: Devah Pager is Associate Professor of Sociology and Faculty Associate of the Office of Population Research at Princeton University.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/23/art.bia.pedestrian.jpg]
Devah Pager
Princeton University

Is racial discrimination a thing of the past?

Debates about the relevance of discrimination in today's society have been difficult to resolve, in part because of the challenges in identifying, measuring, and documenting its presence or absence in all but extreme cases. Discrimination is rarely something that can be observed explicitly.

To address these issues, I recently conducted a series of experiments investigating employment discrimination. In these experiments, which took place in Milwaukee and New York City, I hired young men to pose as job applicants, assigning them resumes with equal levels of education and experience, and sending them to apply for real entry-level job openings all over the city.

Team members also alternated presenting information about a fictitious criminal record (a drug felony), which they “fessed up to” on the application form. During nearly a year of fieldwork, teams of testers audited hundreds of employers, applying for a wide range of entry level jobs such as waiters, sales assistants, laborers, warehouse workers, couriers, and customer service representatives.

The results of these studies were startling. Among those with no criminal record, white applicants were more than twice as likely to receive a callback relative to equally qualified black applicants. Even more troubling, whites with a felony conviction fared just as well, if not better, than a black applicant with a clean background.

Racial disparities have been documented in many contexts, but here, comparing the two job applicants side by side, we are confronted with a troubling reality: Being black in America today is just about the same as having a felony conviction in terms of one’s chances of finding a job.

The young black men posing as job applicants in this study were bright college kids, models of discipline and hard work; and yet, even in this best case scenario, these applicants were routinely overlooked simply on the basis of the color of their skin. The results of this study suggest that black men must work at least twice as hard as equally qualified whites simply to overcome the stigma of their skin color.

What is being done to combat discrimination? Unfortunately, very little enforcement exists for acts of discrimination at the point of hire. The adequate enforcement of antidiscrimination laws represents an vital priority.

At the same time, it is important to remember that the problems of discrimination cannot be eliminated through enforcement alone. Racial stereotypes, though often exaggerated distortions of reality, are fueled in part by real associations between race, crime, and incarceration. Tackling these social problems at their root—including inadequate schools, neighborhood instability, and a lack of employment opportunities—are likely to represent among the most far-reaching interventions.

Discrimination is not the only cause of contemporary racial discrimination, nor even the most important factor. But because it is usually so difficult to observe, it is easy to forget about altogether. It is important that we remain mindful of the realities of direct discrimination, so that those who are working hard to get ahead are given a fair break.

Filed under: Black in America • Devah Pager
soundoff (158 Responses)
  1. Kevin

    If every black person thinks for one minute that most whites are going to just stop and change how they treat us is living in a fantasy world!!! It's completely up to us to make the required changes in our lives to be able to live in a brighter future. We've all heard the "We need to come together" speech but it's a fact that we all need to change our way of thinking and start living as truly free men and women instead of modern day slaves!!! Whoever has the wealth has the power so we need to think about ownership and self-preservation in everything that we do. We also need to create our own jobs in our communities and stop relying on the government to help us. I look at the actions of other races and it's just not white people who treat us unfairly because how do we expect for other races to respect us when we don't even show respect for ourselves. It's 2008 and it time to WAKE UP and stop waiting for white Americans or anybody else to acknowledge us and take matters into our own hand while building a brighter future for ourselves and our children.

    July 24, 2008 at 7:09 pm |
  2. Brenda

    Until black people own the company and are in a position to hire their own, this type of job discrimination will always be a factor. We, as blacks, will have to carve out our own small oasis in America and set down stake then proceed to build our own legacy. Whether it's within the education system or the job markets, blacks are often discriminated against and even if we do make good grades or work harder than our lighter brethen we are often sabotaged. A student who makes a 90 or 87 on a paper, the teacher may still record a failing grade of 67 or 70 in his/her grade book. So when the grades are later averaged out the student might still receive a poor or failing grade. This happened to my son I suspect when he was still in school in the '90s. I had to fight light HELL! for him, because the pred. white school he attended seem to be set on failing him and other black students. All America has done is taken down the signs, "NO Blacks Allowed" and "White Only." Otherwise, the mindset still remains the same. In fact, things were much better when I was growing up and the signs were still in place. At least then you knew who your enemies were. Today, it's more institutionalized racism.

    July 24, 2008 at 7:05 pm |
  3. LT

    Anne from Brooklyn I agree with you, that awareness is needed from all parties involved in order for this program to be more effective. However, I don't agree with your comment to discourage anyone from keeping dialouge going on this matter. This program is bringing to the forefront the hugh epidemics that a growing in our communities and it must be addressed. Those of us who are educated can do more by being less selfish and more active towards a common goal which is to life every voice. We need to be more proactive in our community and less reactive. Bill Cosby has been calling attention to the state of Black communities for the last several years and no one appears to be listening. Hopefully this program will inspire those African American's that have the resources to help turn this situation around do more than just talk but take action. When whites want to start a private school to educate their kids they put their plan into action and make it happen. Why do we look to them to help turn our situations around. It is time for us to come together and do what is right for everyone.

    July 24, 2008 at 6:42 pm |
  4. GF, Los Angeles

    My boss is a black woman running her own department in a company that use to be dominated predominantly by white men. She grew up in the projects yet put herself through school, raised a child by herself (husband turned out to be abusive) and moved up the ranks in this company and yes experienced racism but through her own perseverance she now owns her own house and 2 cars (one is a Jag) and has garnered respect by both colleagues and clients alike. The road wasn't easy and nothing was handed to her but her hard work has brought her great rewards. I wish the complainers will realize that success is possible but it does require hard work i.e. an education and perserverance. You can only be a victim if you allow yourself to be one.

    July 24, 2008 at 6:23 pm |
  5. Paul Sida-Miccio

    Without a dialogue, without an honest and open forum to properly address these painful truths and sad inequities, REAL CHANGE and POSITIVE CHANGE is impossible! BIG UPS, KUDOS, and YEAH for CNN for doing just that! It is AWESOME to be an American during these great times of obvious CHANGE! Clearly by the public responses to this CNN Documentary, on-line, here at the office, on my drive this morning to the office listening to the radio, and seemingly everywhere today, a nerve has been HIT! Hit it some more and let's make America THE GREATEST again, treating all our people EQUAL, black, white, brown, yellow, EVERY COLOR, Jews, Protestants, Catholics, Muslims, non-believers, all faiths, the wealthy, the poor – ESPECIALLY the under-privileged – all sexual orientations, who really cares with whom we're having sex with anyway? Provided of course that it is consensual. I will be watching Part II tonight. God Bless Texas and The USA!

    July 24, 2008 at 6:13 pm |
  6. Trish

    I know it for a fact,I'm one of the ladies who have been going out on the streets for years talking to people dealing with drugs in all areas and homeless, and other problems ,because of what my sons went through,I know the system holds the black man's past,this is why drugs .stealing ,killing still is going on, the white man always look out for they own people,but the black man will not once he gets a good job and can hire people with a prison past he will not he begins to act like a white man and look down on a black man ,but he will help a white man with the same problem to get the same job.(The system when a person is in prison he/she spends so much of their money or family send money to take training for a good job when they get release,when they walk out the probation officer gives them 24 hrs. to pay restitution ,money and a place with an address ,so they try to look for a job )SORRY you are a ex offender most of all a black person . the only company helps blacks is the GOODWILL.com ,God gives a second chance and he never looks at color,when will the Gov. take the past of these people life so they can take care of the children it is not all about the white it is about life.Please do not get angry with me just see what I am saying and some of you please help if you can give a black man a good job a new life .LOVE FOREVER!

    July 24, 2008 at 6:01 pm |
  7. Kevin

    Ross, you took the words right out of my mouth when you responded to Mr. Sean’s comments!!! He has no idea what he's talking about when it comes to being Black in America!!! As soon as a white person like Sean feels like he is being discriminated against then it's the end of the world. If employers would hire based on merit or job qualification instead of race, affirmative action wouldn't even exist!!! Sean, maybe you didn’t receive the job because YOU didn't interview well or maybe the person conducting the interview just didn't like YOU!!! I feel sorry for that brother that got YOUR job because now his co-workers are probably looking at him like he doesn’t deserve to be there. Sean, I bet you ended up getting a good job anyways and if you decide to quit that job, you'll only end up getting another good job because that is how it is for white people especially white men. I'm a black man and I've lived in various countries around the world throughout my life and I can tell you that I was treated with more respect overseas than here in the United States. It blows my mind that most white Americans feel things are equal among blacks and whites when the statistics clearly show African Americans in the negative!!! NEWSFLASH!!! Things are not equal and they will never be unless we ALL come together as HUMANS and treat each other with love and respect!!!

    July 24, 2008 at 5:56 pm |
  8. ShaunE

    I just can't believe "Whitey"'s comment. I guess there's one (or more) in every crowd.

    July 24, 2008 at 5:20 pm |
  9. annie from Brooklyn New York

    As great as this discussion is, I find it more like preaching to the choir. Black people know racism and inequality exist. As much as I'd like to think that white people could learn from this they don't want to be faced with their own shortcomings. No one does. So they'll read this first few articles on the subject but they're generally not going to go the distance in reading everything that CNN is going to report on for this topic. The only way this works (and by works I mean NOT confirming to black people that they are being denied basics) is to show that the vast majority of people reading this are white! Every black person can write a massive amount about how much they feel they've been shortchanged, have needed to work harder and have been denied and called names. It's a book we all have within us. Articles like this only confirm what we've suspected. Just because it's being confirmed will not help. White people checking their assumptions about blacks will. This can happen but only if there's an interest coming from that side. I've seen a profound lack of interest on behalf of all whites to share the wealth....and that's what it comes down to. Fear of an easily labeled group of people that you've grown accustomed to cheating and putting down all in the name of preserving your power and growing your empire so that you can make sure you stay on top.

    July 24, 2008 at 4:54 pm |
  10. Ross

    It's so funny that previous posters would automatically assume that the black candidates interviewed poorly. That is so typical for people to grasp at any straw they can to justify or deny that racism against black people exists.

    To Sean, what was your purpose for posting? You think you've been discriminated against because of secondhand information? Are you trying to say you know what it feels like to be black in America? Are you serious? What color is your long time friend? How do you know your long time friend wasn't just lying to you? Did it ever occur to you maybe your long time friend lied to you to make you feel better about not getting the job? Did it ever cross your mind that the black candidate was actually better qualified than you? Do you actually believe that a black man could be better qualified than you? You probably don't.

    To Steve, you have no argument. Back in the 50's do you think a black man would have been hired for the same job your father had even if he was just as qualified? I doubt it. Are you trying to say you know what it's like to be black in America? You are comparing apples to oranges. So typical and arrogant of white people to do this!

    It's no secret in history that a lot of white people with "ethnic" sounding names changed their last names so people wouldn't know they were Italian or Jewish... Wouldn't it be nice for blacks to just change their names? What good would that do? They'd still be black.

    July 24, 2008 at 4:28 pm |
  11. chris

    While I don't doubt racism still exist in America I question the validity of the survey.
    1. you cite not one company from the survey in the article (fortune 1000, 500, 100 etc)
    2. you never addressed the race of the hiring managers (maybe minorities are harder on their own then white males)
    3. using stats without placing them in context is grosely misleading (ex. twice as many white felons were asked to come back over black educated men. if the stat is 0 black men were asked to come back using the word twice in regards to White felons is meaningless)

    this article had the makings of an good discussion but it lacks any credibility whether you're white or black.

    July 24, 2008 at 4:27 pm |
  12. Juan Lopez Johnson

    I live in Minnesota and my experience is the exact opposite of what you have documented in Milwaukee and New York City. I have hired numerous somali and ethiopian immigrants and hispanics and rarely if ever get a job application from a Black male. I have hired three black males that applied for jobs with my Civil Engineering firm. One of the black males still works for me the othe two black males resigned to take positions with a competing firm. I would be interested in seeing a work up of your test and the findings. Please email me the results and I would like to try the same experiment here in Minnesota.

    July 24, 2008 at 4:13 pm |
  13. Tonia

    Everyone keeps questioning the results of the test. No one is looking at the fact that they used individuals with the same educational background, speach pattern, professionally dressed, etc. etc.. Let's be real, if a study was done, I'm sure they covered all basis, so that when they received the results there shouldn't be any question whether or not its racism.

    This is the very reason that I gave my daughter a very simple English name. So that when she's older and applies for a job, no one can discriminate against her before she even appears for the face to face interview.

    And for all of those who believe that african americans are just crying. Try painting your face brown for a month and lets talk then.

    July 24, 2008 at 3:57 pm |
  14. DoD

    Honestly, as a black man in America, these types of stats have never concerned me.

    I graduated from High school, finished 2 years of College and never completed. I have been in my line of work for 9 years now, progressively moving up from field labor to Regional Director/Engineering roles at multiple companies from Coast to Coast. Starting from 14/hr performing the "Most Dangerous Job in America" to $300K/yr running a Public Safety network for a "Fortune 50" Defense Contractor. Any discrimination I've experienced on the way up has made me exponentially stronger, strategic, and wiser to say the least. We are not all playing with the same "deck of cards", and we never will. That doesn't mean you can't win. The naysayers and the bigots have only made me battle-hardened, and for that I say thank you 🙂

    July 24, 2008 at 3:56 pm |
  15. woody

    Wow.. It seems the white counterparts on this forum are attempting to justify the facts that have been laid right in front of their eyes. This is amazing. Fact: Racism exists. Fact: Whites will get hired before their black counterparts. And as stated in the article, the whites at most times are not even equal counterparts. I had once assumed that 50 years was a long time ago and that we as a country had moved on beyond the turmoil that my grandfather and grandmother had been through. Also noted that they were both very successful and both had college educations but I digress. I see we have not moved on as a country and I also see that I assume too much. I am an african american in my early 30's and was always taught to work twice as hard as any other person around me due to my skin color. I thought this was an outdated concept that I was holding onto in order to thrive beyond what my parents had done until coming across this article.

    July 24, 2008 at 3:52 pm |
  16. Doohhd

    I wonder why these “Black in America” segments couldn’t have been aired back in Feb when all of the other media outlets were running their black American documentaries (and the Dem nominee was uncertain). Or, why this couldn’t have waited until next Feb to air appropriately during Black History month. I wonder if CNN had started a “Women in America” segment that we would be viewing this week if Hilary had gotten the nomination. Lastly, I wonder if a Liberal with the last name of Lopez will have to run for president before we see CNN’s "genuine" concern for the struggles that Latino’s have to face in this country. Kudu’s CNN, for pointing out race issues that educate. Conversely, shame on you for your motivation for this disguised as concern hidden agenda; trying to guilt undecided Americans to vote for your guy!

    July 24, 2008 at 3:37 pm |
  17. James

    Something else that struck a nerve was the paying kids to learn. to me, its just more fodder for those that "dont see racism at all in modern america" that its just another handout for minorites. I dont think its a good idea, but i do commend them for trying different things to fix the GAP in education/gradutation rate between african americans and whites.

    July 24, 2008 at 3:26 pm |
  18. James

    This just proves the age-old saying
    "Last to get hired, first to get fired."

    July 24, 2008 at 3:23 pm |
  19. Herman

    Shouldn' t you want to work twice as hard as your competetor? If you want to be considered for any position, promotion etc. we (Blacks) have to own something, to provide opportunity. All we own, is the feeling that we are owed something by everybody.
    Was personality, delivery, and experience, attitude a part of the interview selection process?
    It is a known fact we (Blacks) are for the most part intellectually bankrupt. We tend to lean toward athletics, entertainment. and commit ourselves to mediocrity. so what do you expect. deal with it... Have other Blacks provide for you, if they don't , or can't oh well.

    July 24, 2008 at 2:42 pm |
  20. Joyce

    I am a African-American female with a BS, MS and a Ph.D. I started my career in the South, Louisiana and Mississippi to be exact. That was in the seventies. I had to word six times as hard as my White counterpart, but I did it and was by the time I stopped working being asked for by name to take positions in my field. I knew entering college way back then my road would not be easy, but I expected things to turn around by this day and time. It is sad to say, nothing seems to have changed. Only a few of us will actually became career successes in our life times, not because we are less qualified only because we have darker skins. For this America should be ashamed!

    July 24, 2008 at 2:32 pm |
  21. marc w

    Now know why it so hard for me to find a good job....lol I knew that all ready . Could of saved u a couple month and told u all that

    July 24, 2008 at 2:30 pm |
  22. Celeste

    There is more than black v white. Did anyone have an audio tape of the interivews. In my line of work proper grammar and a clear speaking voice are important. I live in the south and many times sadly even highly educated blacks user poor grammar such as "I be going" or "she do it all the time" or " I stays on 1st Stree" Equally many whites and other races have poor grammar and we pass on them too. What I am trying to say is unless you hear the interview you can't really say "it's because I'm black"

    July 24, 2008 at 1:56 pm |
  23. Dre

    American Africans! Stop being a slave in your thinking. Whites hire whites because they are family. Begin to treat your color family like family (the same way every other ethnic group does in America) and then you can at least keep what you get and work together to improve your family from there. You are just as guilty of demonizing your own family members within the overall family of humans. Praise Jesus I'm African and I will work with those African Americans who love themselves enough to not sell me out!

    July 24, 2008 at 1:50 pm |
  24. Nat

    Wow! Here it is again. More rationalizations. More white posters practically proclaiming that racism and discrimination does not exist. Now its the "interview". I guess you fellas assume the black guy has a PhD in ebonics and he is interviewing using his best jive-speak? its anything to absolve or exonerate the bigots huh?

    July 24, 2008 at 1:31 pm |
  25. Anthony

    OK people it's like this... People tend to favor people they can relate to. So in this case most of the people who give out jobs are white so they tend to favor whites because they have similar backgrounds grew up similarlly. Whites have a lot in common with other white people... So that's why this is the way it is. Personally I think Blacks were better off before the civil rights movement and desegregation because we had our own. Our own hospitals, businesses, etc, etc. We had to have are own... Look at Durham, NC Past compared to now, Tulsa Ok.... It's like we just gave up everything to be able to spend our money with whites. My point is that we Blacks need to get our own again. Our own businesses & drive the corporate world out of our communities instead of depending on other races to provide opportunity for us.

    July 24, 2008 at 1:31 pm |
  26. Jaffar A

    how about just working on black on black crimes and killings, never mind what whites think or say, that is there problem, I think blacks in america are well capable and have all the opportunities needed to better there own communities, build chuches in poor communities, make it safe for kids to walk around with having to worry about getting shot by other black kids, form a commnity police, churches preaching jesus all the time dont help no one, preach practical things that poeple can do to help the community, most of all please stop drugs from being pourd in to black communities and just see what happens one getto at a time.
    if all blacks, rich and poor and every one inbetween put ther minds and resourses together alot can be done than most even dream of.
    comment from a none American.

    July 24, 2008 at 1:15 pm |
  27. Fay, CA

    Reports like this one make it abundantly clear why blacks can't just "get over" racism and discrimination because it's "all in the past". These are the types of incidents that still occur on a disturbingly frequent basis and yet there are still those who say that blacks are being overly sensitive about racial bias.

    July 24, 2008 at 1:12 pm |
  28. ted

    i work in jail with young men of color trying to help them get their GED; i love my job, i love trying to help these men combat the mis-education they faced. I am not white i m jewish and italian. I respect and agree with the study done here, this is a reality but what also is missing is the reality of a felony: it closes doors just by the fact that many jobs are off the list of possibility. Not only must we change how society functions towards young men of color but how the prison system functions. The american community and educators we need break the cycle if it is in a jail, a rural school or the inner city. Education is the only hope of an equalizer and this starts in the FAMILY not the school...

    July 24, 2008 at 12:57 pm |
  29. Tom

    Just wondering aloud,

    Whites are 70 % of the population, blacks about 12-15%, lationos and others 12-15%

    A ratio on the results of 7 : 1.5 : 1.5 for every 10 jobs / interviews should thus be considered normal because its a reflection of the population spread and reflects probablity. Surely you were not expecting a 50/50 spread.

    Research point – Were these employers interviewing others outside the research sample ie because they were your subjects doesnt mean the employers or recruiters were restricted to this sample and hence their numbers are probably reflective of reality – just wondering)

    The magic of America is many other complex variables come into play and skew these results eg it will depend on industry, location, population mix etc and note that other ethnicities will feature more prominently e.g high number of asians or indians in software OR the high number of blacks in pro sports teams.

    I applaud the research but i'm very cautious on any attempt to oversimplify a very complex subject.

    Remeber , a ratio of 7/ 1.5/ 1.5 should be considered normal. Isnt it magical that it isnt so.

    July 24, 2008 at 12:45 pm |
  30. Ozi Clay

    It is sad and unfortunate for all Americans that racism and racial bias still is so prevalent in so-called modern day America. I am no bible thumper, but in the first chapter in the book of Isaiah, it states about a country that thought they dwelt safely in coastlands. This particular country wanted to continue to prosper but they had turned their back against GOD and He said why sould I even punish you anymore, all you will do is revolt more and more. You have the wounds and sores of racial hatred and slavery and cruelty against your own brothers and sisters ( all are created equal from one blood) that will never heal. You will be overthrown by strangers in your very presence. Your country is sick from The Head (President) to The Toe (General Public). You are a country burdened with sin and evil doers and your cities will be burned with fire. If we continue down the paths of this negative behavior, we will literally destroy our ownselves.

    July 24, 2008 at 12:41 pm |
  31. Melissa, Los Angeles

    When a person goes in for an interview, the resume just gets you in the door – it's your personality and how you fit within the company that gives you the job.

    July 24, 2008 at 12:41 pm |
  32. Loretta from California

    Even more troubling, whites with a felony conviction fared just as well, if not better, than a black applicant with a clean background.
    Now, how do we, the members of the Black community combat this problem without the assistance of our white counterparts?

    Don't we need help from the white community when fighting this problem?

    But no...all that I have been hearing from them is denial, denial, and more denial. "There is no problem" and "blacks need only go get a job"

    "If your not part of the Solution, you are part of the problem, people."

    July 24, 2008 at 12:36 pm |
  33. Bitter Tax Payer - Ohio

    At least the facts are finally being exposed.

    This is why America is destined to fall.
    The arrogance! Although I don’t agree
    with a lot of what Jeremiah Wright said,
    he bears some truth. Those in power in
    this country rather give illegal immigrants,
    foreigners opportunity over those who
    literally slave to build this country up.
    The posers that be will allow the flooding
    of drugs into poor black neighborhoods
    over jobs. Invest in building and expanding
    prisons over education.

    July 24, 2008 at 12:35 pm |
  34. Emma in Houston TX.

    This is so sad,,,but...so true ! All we can do as Americans, is to keep the faith and work together in hopes that this ugly descrimination against anyone will be a thing of the past. I can see where alot of the younger generation looks beyond race, so hopefully, we are on our way.

    July 24, 2008 at 12:35 pm |
  35. Sean

    I truly believe news and media outlets are a stem of the problem. Too many times it is Black vs. White. That is getting very rediculous. I am a young white AMERICAN. I went to college and graduated with a highly demanded degree in the electrical field. Discrimination works in more ways then what is portrayed in the media. I applied for a job shortly after graduating college. I did not get the job and thought nothing more about it. One day I recieved a phone call from a long time friend who happened to work at the place I applied to. He told me that he was not supposed to know this but the reason I did not recieve the job was because a black man also applied for the job. His credentials were not as good as mine and he didnt have the same caliber degree I had, but since the company was "short" on black males, they felt it would PC to hire him over me. And yes that left a VERY bad taste in my mouth knowing I worked so hard to get where I was just to be looked over because of an unevenly colored work force. And just to get something off of my chest, I am tired of hearing ___ – American or _____-American. Both sides of my family are from Ireland, I am third generation American, but I call myself AMERICAN. If you are an american citizen, you are AMERICAN!!!!!!

    July 24, 2008 at 12:32 pm |
  36. Justin Brown

    I am anxiously awaiting this segment of the series tonight. I have two MBAs, will complete a PhD, and am currently serving in the Military as an Officer. It's a little humbling (and disturbing) to know my best peer competitor for employment is Clem the felon. I continue to serve in the hopes that one day this will not be the case.

    July 24, 2008 at 12:25 pm |
  37. John P-Chicago

    While I do not doubt that descrimination does occur when it comes to hiring I don't feel like what Prof. Pager describes is truly and scientific and statistical study. It sounds like there are multiple variables, as what many posters have already touched upon, such as the black candidates not doing as well in interviews. In my educational background I was schooled multiple times on making a good impression and how to perform well during an interview; is the average black male afforded the same opportunities?

    July 24, 2008 at 12:10 pm |
  38. Larry

    It should be interesting to see the interviews with the employees that met with the applicants.

    We are all looking forward to reading the thesis by Michelle Obama when she too was a student at the same university.

    July 24, 2008 at 11:47 am |
  39. Swirl

    Sad but true, this is something that my son is going through right now. He has a felon, did his time and thank God figure out that he had to get his self together for a better life. Got his GED, and went to school for HVAC. The minute an employer founds out he has a felon they no longer want to offer him the job. He has had a tough time trying to found a job within him field. We all make mistake and now he know how hard he has made he own life. I wish that there was some way to help him but this is totally out of my hands. I can really see why some of our blacks males go right back to the same thing that got them locked up in the first place. Hardly anyone wants to hire a black male with a felon. There has to be a way we as a people can help the ones who are working hard at trying to get their self on the right track..

    July 24, 2008 at 11:45 am |
  40. Bo

    To be fair, the data collected and presented in this piece should include the race of the interviewer and/or race of the hiring manager in addition to the racial profile of the company and it's customers.

    This is not just about the race of the candidate, but also the race of the individual making the hiring decisions as well as the culture of the company.

    Is it possible that black hiring managers preferred white candidates? Is it likely certain white interviewers felt black candidates were better suited for labor specific jobs? Maybe hires for customer facing opportunities were influenced by the race that predominates the company's customer community?

    As a black man I am certain racism is real and damaging. But I also know that it is also complex and transcends the tired old white vs. black discussion.

    I appreciate the effort required to collect this data, I just hope the exercise wasn't as short sighted and shallow as it appears at first blush.

    July 24, 2008 at 11:42 am |
  41. KL

    Steve, your father lost his job when they found out he was Jewish and that is simply wrong. However, the problem with your comparison is that fact that you know a Black Man is a Black Man the minute you see him...

    July 24, 2008 at 11:36 am |
  42. Chris

    Steve, you're right it not right.. At leat your father had the opportunity to GET the job before feing fired. Can you imagine not even being able to GET the job. In his case, your father wasn't immediately identified and being Jewish had they not discovered this he would probably have not lost his job. When you're black, in some instances, you aren't even afforded the chance to be hired then fired.. They simply don't hire you... I'm sure your fahter moved on to bigger and better things in life and did well for himself and his family.. That is the major difference... he at least had the opportunity.

    July 24, 2008 at 11:26 am |
  43. Whitey

    Whew! Thank god I'm white. Praise Jesus.

    July 24, 2008 at 11:17 am |
  44. mary

    Thanks to all the reporters at CNN who are addressing some of the toughest issues in our country today. I'm a African American 45 year old wife, mother and grandmother. We as African Americans are still slaves to the country that we support and love. At some point the United States as a whole has to make a choice to change our status. As a African American woman in the work place I have to be smarter and work twice as hard as my white co-workers and even then I'm not a treated fairly most of the time. When you look at the people around you don't you sometimes wonder how any of us manage to achieve our goals?

    July 24, 2008 at 11:16 am |
  45. Steve

    While this is not right, My father lost a job in the 50's just because they found out he was Jewish......

    July 24, 2008 at 11:13 am |
  46. Chris

    See, these are the types of things that happen in today's society that makes my heart ache every time I hear someone say "just let the past be the past, move on.." It is almost impossible to let go of the past when you are confronted with it in evryday life.. It has long been known that even a "black" sounding name can result in not even being considered for a position. I myself have tested employers in the small SC town I live in. I submitted the exact same resume, the only difference being on one I used my given name and on the other I used "Chris" a shortened version. Needless to say when this company called to invite me for an interview, they called for "Chris" in which coincidentally they thought was a man. Maybe my full name was too hard to pronounce, I don't really know. The bottom line is both resumes showed the same experience and education. Now was this a company that simply wanted a man for the job or did Chris just sound more like a white name than Chrisindra.. It's a shame but it happens every day.

    July 24, 2008 at 11:12 am |
  47. Brian, NY

    With sites like criminalsearches.com popping up many people who have made have merely been arrested but not convicted of any crime will be jobless, thats the real travesty of justice.....

    July 24, 2008 at 11:12 am |
  48. Julia

    While I believe this is happening I do wonder about one thing; is it possible that in some cases, certainly not all, some applicants didn't interview well? I only want to be sure that is being accounted for in drawing conclusions from the research. Overall, it is an interesting experiment and we need more research like this so taht when we are arguing for equality, we are using data and not emotion to prove the point.

    July 24, 2008 at 10:56 am |
  49. Marie K.

    See, I dont understand how people can argue with cold hard facts such as these. How can the color of your skin be more important than a felony conviction? When will people begin to see others as capable human beings, not just a white man or a black man. How does my being black or being white make me more or less of a person? And how does my being black put me on equal ground with a white man with a felony conviction?

    July 24, 2008 at 10:26 am |
  50. Clifford Robinson

    I cant wait to see this.

    July 24, 2008 at 9:38 am |
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