Today main theme focuses on the misconception society believes about African Americans and compares it to the reality backed with stories and research. The book compares myths society may have about African Americans from education, teen pregnancy, athletics, marriage, child bearing, intimate partner violence, poverty, incarceration, politics, and health. The chapters first start out with a myth: what it is, why it is important, and who is impacted by this.
Then in the chapters, the authors share stories and research to expose what the myth really is. The book also mentions the election of the first African American president and how it did not impact (or improve) African American lives in anyway. Instead, after Barack Obama’s election which some of society thought we became a “post racial society,” there actually happened to be more African Americans in poverty, incarcerated, an increase in high school dropouts, and segregation is still present today (Hattery and Smith, 2012, p. 4).
The authors of this book are Angela Hattery and Earl Smith who both have their PhD in sociology. Both authors had different, but major contributions to this book which made the book come together. Each of them seemed to focus on different topics but brought their knowledge and ideas together to create this book. Hattery’s research focuses on social stratification, gender, family, and race. She is the assistant director of the Women and Gender Studies Program at George Mason University. Smith studied ethnicity and was also a former director of an ethnic program at Wake Forest University, as well as being a former chairperson of the Department of Sociology. Both authors have written numerous books, articles, and book chapters.
Chapter seven on poverty and wealth caused great concern because it is a social issue that is hard to fix, especially within the African American community. Not only is this a huge social issue but living in poverty causes other social issues like not receiving the right education in chapter five, which is another chapter that caused great concern. First, lets focus on poverty and wealth. According to Hattery and Smith (2012) and the US Census (2010), African American families fall short with income, the median household income is $32,000 per year, compared to $52,000 a year for white family households (p. 102).
African Americans still continue to receive a lower paygrade than whites. Not only this, but they end up working in lower-wage jobs either because they do not have a high school education from dropping out, they have a criminal background history, or because they are being discriminated. The wealth gap between African Americans and whites also doubled since 2005, a quarter of African Americans also hold no assets (Hattery & Smith, 2012, p. 118)
Chapter five talks about education, which I believe is a great concern. Good education is something that everyone should be able to receive and achieve. According to Hattery & Smith (2012), society needs to understand that education is a valuable asset and is one of the only few ways to improve our lives (p. 79). I feel that when there are issues that arise at home like a family member becoming ill, and/or having to start working early to care for family causing you to drop out, there should be some sort of flexibility for those kids to be able to finish.
Instead of taking electives, just take the core subjects and instead of receiving a full high school diploma, have a certificate stating you full-filled core subjects. Then when you need to get into a college and have that certificate, you would need to take x amount of credits at the college or more testing to get accepted. I feel schools do no work with students that have family issues. Only 61% of African Americans graduate from high school which is 30% lower than white students (Hattery & Smith, 2012, p. 74).
This is not a great number. Not only do family problems cause this but they are also severely under-resourced, and schools are still segregated as they were back in the 1960s, 52 years later schools are still segregated (Hattery & Smith, 2012, p. 72). Having segregation also causes drop-outs and underachievement’s. According to Hattery & Smith (2012), African American children is school today is more likely to attend segregated schools than their parents did (p. 74). The average white student will attend a school that is over three-quarters white (Hattery & Smith, 2012, p. 74).
This not only plays a part in high-school but college as well. According to Hattery and Smith (2012), one of the least talked about forms of systematic and institutionalized discrimination is the use of “legacy” that plays a factor in determining admissions, colleges do have some sort of preference, and this could also be considered an affirmative action (p. 77). Legacies mean it is based off status than qualifications, and they are a good example in which policies may not seem discriminatory, but in reality does create barriers for African Americans (Hattery & Smith, 2012, p. 77).