Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Rutgers Study: Protective Effect of Education on Marriage Differs Between White and African-American Women

Rutgers Study: Protective Effect of Education on Marriage Differs Between White and African-American Women.

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – Married couples who have attained higher levels of education are less likely to divorce than less-educated couples, but a new study conducted at Rutgers School of Social Work points to significant racial differences.

“African-American women don’t seem to enjoy the same degree of protection that education confers on marriage,” said Jeounghee Kim, assistant professor at the school. “For white Americans, higher education is related to a lower chance of divorce, and this protective effect of education on marriage increased consistently among the recent generations. But for African-American women, higher education is not necessarily related to a lower chance of divorce.”

In her study, published in the journal Family Relations and funded by the Silberman Fund Faculty Grant Program, Kim observed that researchers have found the overall divorce rate has leveled off since the 1980s after more than a century-long rise. But the rate has increasingly diverged by race and socioeconomic class, as measured by educational attainment. The divorce rate has remained steady for white women since 1980, while the trend has been less stable for African-American women.

Kim separately studied white and African-American women in five-year marriage cohorts starting from 1975 to 1979 and ending in 1995 to 1999. She took into account demographic characteristics including age, motherhood status and post-secondary education (associate degree at minimum) when married, and geographic region. Kim also measured marital dissolution (within nine years of first marriage) rather than by legal divorce, which many African-American women eschew in favor of a permanent separation.

Young African American womanKim’s analysis revealed that the percentage of white women with some postsecondary education continuously increased throughout the cohorts. This was not the case with African-American women, whose educational attainment peaked in the 1985-1994 cohorts before declining.

Concurrently, she found the percentage of white women having marital breakups declined throughout the study period, while African-American women experienced an increase in the 1980s’ cohort before declining in the 1990 to 1994 cohort.

Kim’s findings were consistent with much existing literature: Women with higher levels of education, and thus greater earning potential, would make more attractive marriage partners than women without in more recent marriage cohorts. Also, their marriages tend to last longer than those of their counterparts – particularly among white women – with less education.

Kim’s research raises questions as to why African-American women’s higher education does not have a strong marriage protective effect. “One possibility is that college education does not translate into the higher earnings that would help protect marriage for African Americans, she said. “Another could be that educational attainment may be insufficient to address the high levels of economic inequality that even well-educated African Americans experience. Many are the first in their families to have attained a post-secondary education and do not benefit from the cushion of intergenerational wealth possessed by some white families.”

A third possibility involves the gender gap in African Americans’ educational attainment; there are nearly twice as many African-American women college graduates as men. “We see the increasing power of education protecting marriage within the same socioeconomic class,” Kim said. “Well-educated white women may still have power to select an equally well-educated mate. Then, there may be a synergy factor – higher incomes, better and healthier lives, smarter kids – that helps sustain their marriage.

"On the other hand, the return on higher education may not be the same for many African-American women, who have less chance to marry their educational equals. Also, because they are less likely to marry outside their race, their choices are limited.”

Rutgers, The State University of New Jerse. Rutgers News, Your Source for University News. Media Contact: Steve Manas 732-932-7084, ext. 612 E-mail:


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

“Sugarcoated Arsenic.” Film Explores African-American Life at University of Virginia in the 1970s

“Sugarcoated Arsenic.” Film Explores African-American Life at University of Virginia in the 1970s

MARCH 11, 2013 ROBERT HULL. Students, faculty and other members of the University community filled the South Lawn Auditorium at Nau Hall Thursday to watch a black-and-white film, “Sugarcoated Arsenic.” In slightly more than 20 minutes, the film tells a remarkable story of African-American intellectual, social and political life at the University of Virginia in the 1970s.

“Sugarcoated Arsenic” was co-created by two College of Arts & Sciences faculty members, filmmaker Kevin Jerome Everson, a professor in the McIntire Department of Art, and Claudrena Harold, an associate professor in the Corcoran Department of History and the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies. The film conveys its message through the words and legacy of the late Vivian Verdell Gordon, director of U.Va.’s black studies program between 1975 and 1980.

The short film stars Erin Stewart, a professional actress and graduate of the U.Va. Department of Drama, as Gordon in re-enacted documentary-style footage, and utilizes an audiotape of a speech Gordon gave in 1984 at an event sponsored by the Office of African-American Affairs at the Luther P. Jackson House.

“Vivian Gordon was very much loved,” Harold said. “I think it’s safe to say that there’s never been a professor who enjoyed the kind of popularity that she had among black students.”

African-American Life at University of Virginia in the 1970s

(photo credit: Magdeldin Hamid, Roxanne Campbell and Claudrena Harold)

In more than 70 shorts and five feature-length films, Everson has often used a faux documentary technique in his award-winning work. Archival footage is re-edited or re-staged, real people perform re-enactments and historical moments interweave with contemporary narrative.

Shot on 16mm film, “Sugarcoated Arsenic” – the title is drawn from a phrase in Gordon’s taped speech – unfolds as if it were archival footage being discovered at the moment of viewing.

“It looks like the cans of film that Claudrena would find – that we, in fact, did not find – in searching through the archives,” Everson said. “It’s as if she had been in the archives somewhere, and she’d see these cans of film. For me, that’s what the film is – that’s part of the art object.”

Shot during the advent of Superstorm Sandy at the end of October, the film was made quickly and on the fly. Prior to the shoot, students were fitted for ’70s-style clothing and given hairstyles to match the era. The key was to avoid making the footage look like a fashion shoot or a nostalgia piece.

“We had the audiotape of Gordon,” Everson said, “but all the footage you see is based on photographs that were taken of African-American students here at the University in the ’70s. We just re-enacted the photographs.”

Everson and Harold applied for the Arts in Action grant in October 2011 to do a project on the history of African-Americans at U.Va. during the 1960s and the ’70s.

“It’s been 12 months of work, 12 months of digging, 12 months of discovering and 12 months of questioning,” Harold said.

“Sugarcoated Arsenic” is part of a multimedia initiative, “Black Fire,” sponsored by U.Va.’s Office of the Vice Provost for the Arts and funded by an Arts in Action grant. Featuring film, photography, lectures, performance art, a public exhibit and an online resource center, the “Black Fire” project explores the complex history of the struggle for racial equality, social justice and cultural transformation at the University between 1969 and 1985.

The project includes a wide range of research and artistic activities, including extensive interviews with former African-American faculty and alumni, as well as digitizing the files of the Black Student Alliance.

“My vision was to tell the story of African-American studies at U.Va, along with the struggle not just to integrate this place, but to transform it,” Harold said. “And I wanted to tell the story using Kevin’s aesthetic.”

As the film project progressed, Harold searched various archival collections, hoping to find footage of African-American students on Grounds at U.Va. during this key period of activism. But nothing turned up.

As an experimental filmmaker working in the space between fact and fiction, Everson’s style is to interrupt the documentary impulse by creating supposedly found archival documents. His established techniques dovetailed with the turn of events.

“Well, I thought, why don’t we just make a film as if Claudrena Harold – with all her effort, time and passion looking through the archives – had found this footage,” Everson said. “So the whole strategy was to shoot a film as if somebody shot it here at U.Va. in 1976.”

Based on the enthusiastic response to Thursday’s premiere, the strategy worked. With Gordon at the center, the film captures a vibrant community of African-American students and faculty connected by intellectual curiosity and human warmth.

Throughout the ’70s, there were numerous marches by African-American students to Carr’s Hill, including one in 1971. Inspired by these peaceful protests, the film depicts a staged protest using current U.Va. African-American students in the roles of their forerunners.

Harold was interested in seeing how current students would access the spirit of the original protest. “One of the most interesting moments that we had in the film was when the students were marching, and they had to sing,” she said.

Everson’s footage shows that the students are truly emotionally involved in the experience, touched by their own united voices as they march and sing together in re-enacted protest.

“And I told them,” Harold said, “that if you feel this way on Oct. 30, 2012, and there are 35 of you, imagine how black folks felt in Birmingham, Ala., in 1953, when there were 5,000.”

Media Contact: Robert Hull General Assignment Writer U.Va. Media Relations 434-989-1745

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Civil Rights Lawyer Michelle Alexander to Visit LSU for Discussion on Race and the Criminal Justice System

Activist and Civil Rights Lawyer Michelle Alexander to Visit LSU for Discussion on Race and the Criminal Justice System. Lecture is a part of the Critical Conversations: Cradle to Prison Pipeline series of programs examining racial inequalities and the penal system.

BATON ROUGE – Renowned advocate, activist and civil rights lawyer Michelle Alexander, the author of “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,” will visit LSU’s campus on Thursday, March 14, for a lecture at 7 p.m. in the LSU Student Union Theater. The event is free and open to the public.

Immediately following the lecture, Alexander will meet event patrons and host a book signing. Copies of “The New Jim Crow” will be available for purchase on site from Barnes & Noble at LSU.

Alexander’s visit is a part of a yearlong programming series called Critical Conversations: Cradle to Prison Pipeline. The programming is a collaboration of LSU Campus Life, LSU Black Faculty Staff Caucus, LSU African American Cultural Center, LSU African & African American Studies Program, LSU Department of Sociology and LSU Women’s Center.

Alexander will be available for a press conference prior to her lecture at 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 14, in the LSU Student Union’s Castilian Room, Room 304. No other pre-event media interviews will be accommodated.

The New Jim Crow

In “The New Jim Crow,” Alexander presents her view that the criminal justice system has recreated a caste-like system that has resulted in millions of African-Americans being imprisoned and as a result, finding themselves in significant socio-economic disadvantage upon release.
Credentials and parking permit requests for members of the media must be requested through Melissa Foley in the Office of Communications & University Relations at no later than Tuesday, March 12, at noon.

In “The New Jim Crow,” Alexander presents her view that the criminal justice system has recreated a caste-like system that has resulted in millions of African-Americans being imprisoned and as a result, finding themselves in significant socio-economic disadvantage upon release. As a civil rights lawyer and legal scholar, Alexander demonstrates that it is within the law to discriminate against convicted criminals in nearly all the ways in which it was once legal to discriminate against African-Americans. Alexander points out that once labeled a felon, old forms of discrimination are legal again through the denial of basic civil and human rights, such as the right to vote, discrimination in employment and housing, and access to education and public benefits. In her words “we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.”

Alexander has taught at a number of universities, including Stanford Law School, where she directed the Civil Rights Clinics. In 2005, she won a Soros Justice Fellowship and accepted a joint appointment at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity and the Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University. Alexander is a graduate of Stanford Law School and Vanderbilt University.

Prior to entering academia, Alexander served as the director of the Racial Justice Project for the ACLU of Northern California. She also has worked as a litigator at private law firms where she specialized in class action lawsuits alleging race and gender discrimination.

For more information on Michelle Alexander’s lecture or the Critical Conversations: Cradle to Prison Pipeline series, please contact Josh Dean, assistant director of Campus Life, at 225-578-5160 or by email at Individuals with disabilities should contact Campus Life at 225-578-5160 at least seven days in advance to address any accommodation concerns. For information about the full Critical Conversations series of programs, please visit

Melissa Foley LSU Media Relations 225-578-3869 Media Center Communications & University Relations Louisiana State University 3960 West Lakeshore Drive Baton Rouge, LA 70803 Telephone: 225-578-8654 Fax: 225-578-3860 E-mail: