They're twice as likely to die at birth. The survivors have shorter, harsher lives. They have twice the trouble getting jobs, are three times more likely to be poor and will endure more crime and divorces.
In an America that is far from col-orblind, the quality of life for blacks is getting worse in some areas from cradle to grave, according to recent studies detailing gaps between blacks and whites."There are still deep inequalities between the races," said Billy Tidwell, director of research for the National Urban League in Washington. "The nation cannot allow such a significant part of its citizenry to experience such disadvantages."
The cheerless picture for blacks, reinforced in a report released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, can begin before birth.
Of 1,000 black babies born in 1984, 18.4 died before they were a year old. The mortality rate for white babies was 9.4 per 1,000 births, according to the National Centers for Disease Control.
Low birth weight and lack of proper medical care were the main causes of death, the CDC said. It said the poor and undereducated are the least likely to get prenatal and follow-up care.
A black baby is three times more likely as a white one to be born to a mother who had no prenatal care, according to a 1989 study by the Urban League. A black male teenager is six times as likely as a white to be killed, the study said.
"Millions of black children today live in a desolate world where physical survival is a triumph, where fear and hopelessness reign, and where the future holds no promises and few opportunities," said Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children's Defense League.
A black child born in 1986 can expect to die six years sooner than a white child, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Life expectancy among whites rose from 75.3 years to 75.4 years between 1984 and 1986. For blacks, the number dropped from 69.7 to 69.4.
The poverty rate for blacks in 1986 was 31.1 percent, compared with the 11 percent rate for whites, the Census Bureau said. The black rate is worse than the 1969 figure of 28 percent.
The jobless rate among blacks in 1987 was 13 percent, 2.5 times the 5.3 percent rate for whites. If agencies counted blacks who were so discouraged they have quit looking for work, the rate approaches 25 percent, according to the National Committee for Full Employment.
The median black family income was $17,604 compared with $30,809 for whites, according to the Urban League. That same year, 44.2 percent of black families had incomes of less than $10,000, more than triple the rate for whites.
In black families, single women are more apt to be in charge.