When I saw on my timeline earlier that American Progress released a report entitled “The State of Women of Color in the United States,” I knew automatically that I would have to read, analyze and process the data and provide my thoughts on here. Not only because my education makes me interested in all forms of research (What was the methodology? What questions did they ask? Was it survey, interview?), but also because the lived situation of people of color is an area of interest for me. In my classes, I’ve done papers on the online natural hair community and ideas of beauty and I’ve wanted to explore the conceptualization of the “marriage issue” and Black women for some time. So when I see research like this, I jump on it.
I specifically looked at the sections for education and entrepreneurship because these areas have the most impact on my life right now. Having just finished the first of three comprehensive exams for grad school and talking with my significant other about his aspirations for graduate-level education, it’s all the more clear to me that education has shaped my life and those around me in significant ways. The cohort group to which I belong is increasingly seeking post-graduate degrees at high rates. However, this is not reflected in the data of the report, which found that Asians and Latinas are increasing graduation rates for first-time postsecondary education in cohort groups between 1996 and 2004 at 117 and 121.6 percent, respectively. For African Americans, the numbers have stagnated. This is disheartening news, though not surprising. Many news reports have shown the statistics on the lack of preparedness for students of color entering postsecondary education. According to the research report, it is estimated that up to two-thirds of jobs between 2010 and 2020 will require some kind of postsecondary education; the question becomes what are we (we the people of government and we the people of the community) truly doing to prepare the future generation?
There was encouraging news in the Entrepreneurship section, as the report indicated that the fastest-growing majority women-owned businesses are owned by African American, starting up at six times the national average. In working with the local Black chamber, there are some very driven women who are at the helm of multi-million dollar companies and corporations. This extends down also to my generation of young women who are starting a side hustle and making extra while maintaining a secure position with the goal of eventually converting to full-time entrepreneur.
I’m a fan of delving deeper than statistics, so I would love to see American Progress follow up this report with more in-depth interviews and focus groups to parse out the everyday experiences of women on color in the areas of the report. Fingers crossed for that future report. For now, I suggest you download the report for yourself. What are your thoughts on the results?