This will be the first in a series of articles dealing with "White Privilege." There was a time when I thought perhaps "White Privilege" had some substance to it, but the more I read about it the more I found that it's just a re-labeling of "racial inequality" arguments. And every single one of them goes like this:
They find some way that whites have it better than blacks, and call that "White Privilege." This seems compelling if you just assume that all inequality is the product of some unfairness.
I won't bother with the more trivial and unfalsifiable "white privilege" claims, like white people touching poofy Afro hair, or how Nicki Minaj is called the "black Lady Gaga" or the existential horror of some white people wearing blackface.
I'm going to focus on things that are important and can be verified / falsified, such as police and court bias, employment opportunity, income, economic mobility and educational opportunities.
Employee competence by race and credential
One "White Privilege" argument is that blacks get fewer callbacks than whites for given credentials. This is assumed to be just bald "racism" on the part of employers, but consider that a given credential might mean less for a black person than for a white person.
From the 2002 National Adult Literacy Survey (test), on page 36 they have an interesting chart showing scores on document reading, prose (writing) and math for every level of eduction.
We can look at the result for document reading ability:
So in terms of ability to read and understand documents, a white college dropout will, on average, have an easier time understanding documents than a black person with some post-graduate degree. And the black post-grad won't be that much better than a white guy with a GED.
Next we can look at prose (writing) ability:
A similar story, white college dropouts are better writers than black post-grads.
Next we can look at quantitative ability:
Here we have whites who didn't even go to college doing almost as well as blacks with a 4-year degree.
So if you're an employer, would you rather have a black with a post-grad degree, or a white college dropout?
The white college dropout is more competent and will expect less pay and less autonomy than the black post-grad. The black post-grad is also more likely to sue you for racial discrimination if you promote a white employee with worse "credentials" over him.
These numbers are from 2002. Unfortunately later reports don't have these brilliant charts showing competence by race and education level, but this one does show competence by race and income level, which suggests that this is still true.
Callbacks for Criminals
One of the most salient "white privilege" factoids regarding employment is that white ex-cons are more likely to get a callback than black people - period. My response is, "well, who makes a better employee?"
Regarding criminality, remember that 29% of blacks go to prison at some time in their life.
A BJS study on recidivism found that whites had a 39.9% recidivism rate in the 30 states they had data for. Meaning that white ex-cons had a roughly 40% chance of going to prison.
Looking forward, a white ex-con is still more likely to go to jail than a random black person. But that higher criminality for the white ex-con may be offset by greater competence and better work ethic. This is probably the case since employers are picking white ex-cons over blacks on average.
It's not like white ex-cons are worlds more criminal than average blacks.
From an employer's point of view: who is more likely to steal from the company - a white ex-con, or a random black person?
Well the white ex-con is 4:3 more criminal than the black, BUT he probably has a higher IQ. We know this because the IQs of prisoners is around 90, while the IQ of blacks is 85. Given that black prisoners probably have an average IQ below 85, the average IQ of the white ex-con is probably around 93-94.
And so I think that the white ex-con is probably less likely to steal from his employer than the random black person, even though he's more likely to steal overall.
IQ, work performance and income
Next we can look at race, IQ and income. Now you can believe whatever you want about IQ and "intelligence." You can believe that IQ has nothing to do with intelligence if that makes you feel better. But IQ (also known as general mental ability or GMA) does predict work performance extremely well. And this is something very relevant to employers who want to hire people who can get the job done:
So IQ can basically be used as a proxy for work performance ability. If you have 50 people with an IQ of 100, and 50 people with an IQ of 85, the people with an IQ of 100 will probably have better work performance. And that's what we have with blacks and whites.
So the relevant question regarding "white privilege" is: do blacks earn less than their IQ would predict? And the second question is, if so, what does it mean?
Well, according to business insider, in 2012 Black median income was $33,321 and White median income was $57,009. Thus black median income was 58.45% of white median income.
In 1993 in The Bell Curve, Charles Murray calculated the median incomes of people of various IQs. He found that people with an IQ of 85 earn 61.9% of what people with an IQ of 100 earn on average.
The median IQ of blacks has been 85 for as long as it has been measured, while the median IQ of whites is 100 (this is by design; whatever whites score on the test in absolute numbers is called 100).
So if you take these numbers literally, blacks earn 3.5% less than whites when IQ is controlled for. But remember we're comparing data from 1993 to data from 2012. Perhaps a higher IQ was 3.5% more valuable in 2012 than it was in 1993.
But the real takeaway is that blacks and whites earn roughly what their IQs would predict, and any deviation from this for the whole populations is rather minor if it even exists at all.
Again, you don't have to think IQ means "intelligence" to recognize that it corresponds with job performance, and employers seem to be discriminating on the basis of IQ as best they can, navigating the political minefields necessary to avoid employing over-credentialed blacks—which is the real problem, not "White Privilege."