The first gap is the gap between black and white children in school achievement, covered here. (I’ll likely make a pdf of it and try to remember to include it later because the link will likely dissolve within a week or two.)
The second is the earning gap between men and women covered here.
Both gaps are serious. The first gap is persistent, going back as long as data has been collected. The second is relatively recent, and is the direct result of the removal of formal and informal structures of patriarchy.
There are a couple of things that bear understanding here. The first is that these dynamics are related, but one wouldn’t really know from reading these or most other articles. I am not sure because I haven’t seen the data, but I am no longer sure that what we are looking at is a black-white achievement gap as much as we are looking at a black male-every other demographic achievement gap. The gender components of this issue are absolutely absent in favor of discussing “the racial interest.”
Similarly the dynamic that the NYT is tracing has long been the case in black communities. And I’ve written about this before. Baltimore’s top four political positions are all held by black women. Part of this is the excellent job black women have done organizing and being in networks that are easily used for the purpose of organizing. Part of this is that black men aren’t in the same corridors of power. While this story is meant to be frivolous (note that it’s in the fashion section)m, the ramifications are serious. This society is structured in such a way that it shouldn’t necessarily matter whether men or women run the show as far as the function of duties are concerned. But neither our religious institutions, our homes, our military, our businesses (our childbearing policies assume a male breadwinner), nor (interestingly enough given the article above) our schools, have prepared us for the new reality.
The second is that neither article deals with either class or politics in any depth. The differences between professional parents and welfare parents is presented as being purely cultural in the education article–as if the only real difference between a single mother working two jobs and that of a lawyer/doctor combo is the amount of words they use around their children. Note also the standard paean to black self-help (“our parents don’t seem to value education as much as [insert ethnic group here]”) that likely goes back to romantic notions of the “benefits of segregation.” Women aren’t succeeding in the workplace because of genetics or their culture–arguments that were used years ago to explain male success in fields like engineering and math. They are succeeding because of openings made possible by political organizing.
The study of these gaps bears watching because they reveal a great deal about contemporary hegemony.