"WOULDYOU HIRE AN EX-CONVICT?"
Astudy is conducted where the effects of a criminal record toemployment opportunities. To establish a baseline, the employmentchances of a noncriminal white person which is then used as the pointof reference. The study is conducted in pairs one white person witha clean criminal record and another with an “experimental”criminal record. The pair then applied for the same jobs tounsuspecting employers and the reactions of the employers withrespect to the criminal condition of the white person is recorded andcompared to the reaction to the non-criminal white person.
Thereaction of the employer to the criminal record of the white personis shown to be non-favorable in that, prospective employersdiscriminate against white people with criminal records. It is shownthat during a job application the noncriminal white person has afifty percent better chance of being called back for an interview andprobably being hiring than his counterpart with a criminal record.The study documents an incident where a white tester with an“experimental” criminal record is applying for a job in atrucking service as a dispatcher. The tester was required to fill along application that required him to also solve some complexmathematical equations that implied he was smart.
Theapplication was complicated and as he kept on seeking clarificationsfrom the supervisor on how to answer some of the questions on theapplication. Through this time however, there seemed to be no notablereaction or problem with the job the tester was applying for on thepart of the supervisor until when the tester finished theapplication. Part of the application asked about the existence of acriminal record on his part and when the filled application wasexamined by the supervisor, his reaction changed immediately and sentthe secretary to curtly inform the applicant that the position hadbeen filled.
Afterthe study shows that a criminal record reduces the chances of a whiteperson to get hired for a job by fifty percent, it goes further toexamine the impact of the same for the blacks. For the blacks, theeffect is even more severe than for the whites because there alreadyis discrimination for black people that, according to an incidentmentioned in the study, employers may even go as far as directlyasking an African-American job applicant whether they have a criminalrecord. The study shows that black people with a criminal record havea thirty percent chance of being hired for a job compared to a blackman without a criminal record which shows that the negative effectsof a criminal record for blacks is forty percent greater than forwhites.
ClarencePage laments about the racial denial perpetrated by both the blacksand the whites that he believes the racial denial do nothing but leadthe blacks only deeper into confusion loss of identity. He recountssome of his childhood experiences as a “colored person” where hecame face to face with the realities of segregation of the blacksfrom the whites that he discovered were not perceived by his whitefriends. At that young age he concludes that his white friends livedin “parallel realties” to his. He acknowledges how the blackpeople themselves, as he grew up, failed to embrace their blackidentity and instead elected to suppressing it with such expressionsas “showing my color” which meant hiding your identity, aninference that emanated from the African culture of “signifying”a combative word play.
Withcautionary expressions like “don’t show your color”, blacksdevoted themselves to hiding and suppressing their identity and theirculture, so as not to breathe life to the stereotypes that hademerged about their behaving. Page acknowledges the importance ofdiversity in the American society and recognizes the diversity of theblack community as well. He however, points out that, while there isdiversity in the black community, the diversity segregates the blacksinto classes based on how hard the work or how successful they are, afact that further alienates their shot at having a collectiveidentity in modern day America.
Whileother ethnicities in America are comfortable with their cultures,origins and identity such that they go as far as to celebrate theirheritage as holidays. This is illustrated in the yearly holidaycelebrations of the Irish-Americans during St. Patrick’s Day, theCinco de Mayo by the Mexican-Americans among other ethnics’ holidaycelebrations. The celebrations depicts their pride in their ethnicroots and races a conviction that the blacks lack. The blacks havebeen conditioned to ignore and hate their race and culture, a factthat drives the writer’s fuming displeasure about the denial oftheir heritage.
Hepoints out that the white folks trying to introduce the ideal thatAmerican society should be “color blind” is distasteful becauserace, as the first aspect of identity of a person and a significantdeterminant of the opportunities an individual gets in life shouldnot be ignored but rather proudly embraced since that is the only wayto not only have a sense of belonging but also presents thefoundation on which the evils of racism can be fought and give ablack individual the identity sturdiness that can enable them tointeract efficiently with other cultures and peoples outside theracial contexts of the modern American society.