Here’s a pretty obvious question but not one that comes up much in American discourse. In America, many ethnics group have tended to stumble into a certain number of careers in which, whether or not they have above average natural talent, they can build up some expertise and networks of connections.
For example, lots of Cambodians run donut shops. There were no donuts in Cambodia, it’s just, according to the usual story, that in 1975 a Cambodian refugee named Ted Ngoy arrived and got a job at Winchell’s and started the snowball rolling.
There are advantages to going into the donut racket if lots of your relatives are in donuts.
On the other hand, black Americans aren’t allowed to specialize very much outside of fields where they have obvious natural and cultural advantages. In sports, we see African Americans have largely lost interest in baseball, not because they are bad at it but because they’ve specialized in basketball and football.
But blacks aren’t really allowed to specialize in other careers because of the enormous insistence on Diversity.
For example, one thing that has become clear during the Amy Wax go-round has been that the law appears to be a career that is evaluated on such a ruthlessly meritocratic of a combination of IQ and work effort that blacks ought to get some frank advice before assuming they’ll go to law school.
At the highest levels of the law, a winning personality presumably helps. But to get there it’s mostly a very long hard slog of thinking hard about unfun things. The legal profession therefore offers a fair amount of affirmative action at its lower rungs, but affirmative action runs out toward the top: there’s not much affirmative action for making partner.
There’s not, however, a lot of advice for young blacks that maybe law isn’t what they are looking for. (I did find some here from Elie Mystal.) In fact, our society has largely convinced itself that the solution to black people’s problems is for whites to try even harder to lure more blacks into whatever white people career they are in: law, architecture, acting, etc.
In fact, have any social scientists ever honestly studied which careers tend to work out better for blacks of a certain level? For example, say somebody is black, 17, has a 3.5 high school GPA and scored an above average 550 on both the math and verbal parts of the SAT. What are promising careers to consider? What are careers to watch out for?
This would seem like a good question for social scientists to research. The 1979 and 1997 National Longitudinal Studies of Youth might be a starting point for data.
Has anybody ever published on the topic?