Tuesday, September 3, 2013

In Black Women You, You and You Can Tru$t

Black women make a favorable impression on at least one segment of society. Archive images.

LOUD, lewd, bossy, rude.

In the crass media, sistas mainly get a bad rap, regardless of all of the evidence to the contrary. A thousand Beyonces and Halles aren't enough to undue the poor impression of one or three neck-rolling, finger waving Onomatopoeias.

Considering this sad state of affairs, any bit of good news about black womanhood that goes beyond the beloved Oprah is welcome news. It seems that sistas are considered trustworthy by lenders - just as trustworthy as white men, according to a study by University of Iowa researchers.

With respect, that is nothing to cheer about. At this moment in human history - say, the last 543 years to the present - the world is run by white men. They are doing a poor job and should be fired. Yet their half a millennium of institutional privilege makes it so. They are the ones doing the lending and/or who run the lending operation and/or who determine guidelines.

But one digresses. Titled “Status Effects in Lending Markets: The Importance of Gender and Race,” the yet-to-be-published study was presented by lead researcher Sarah Harkness at last month's 108th meeting of the American Sociological Association.

“Evidence shows that disparities in funding outcomes are partially due to the actions of lenders,” reports SH, an assistant Iowa sociology professor. “I wanted to know what borrower characteristics lenders were picking up on.”

The double-edged sword of the equation is that lenders were informed by stereotypes. They perceived black women as more likely to be single mothers with solid jobs - not work as video vixens - who would work hard to repay the loan. Of course, white men were also deemed hardworking and self-confident, but by virtue of both their ethnicity and gender.

Guess who were viewed the least trustworthy and consequently given the smallest loans? Correct, the brothas, followed by white women.

It is not clear whether the hundreds of West Coast undergrads and alums - some in the financial services - that SH pressed into service with a fictional $1,000 to review fictional loan applications for consideration were deciding the fates of Asians, Arabs, Latinos and other ethnic groups, too. Like myriad studies on "race," this one breaks it down in mostly b&w.

Still, black women - too often misunderstood and summarily categorized - have something else to feel good about:

Loyalty, fidelity, industriousness, self-possession.

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