What’s going on in our nation? Though most of our systems aspire to fairness, people of color consistently experience disparate outcomes, compared to Whites. Racial disproportionality occurs across all systems – education, child welfare, health care, housing, employment, banking and finance and the justice system – to name just a few.
For example, students of color are suspended more often than Whites but not, in many cases, because they misbehave more often or commit more serious offenses. A 2011 longitudinal study in Texas by the Council of State Governments examined almost a million student records and found that mandatorily reported offenses were committed proportionately by race/ethnicity. (In other words, if Whites made up about 57 percent of a school’s enrollment, they committed about 57 percent of the mandatorily reported offenses.) Yet, for discretionary offenses, when students were matched by offense type, age, grade, type of student, income, family structure, etc., (83 distinct variables), researchers found Black students had a 31 percent higher likelihood of disciplinary action compared with otherwise identical White and Hispanic students.