A bias against the inability to code switch is the most reasonable way to summarize that which might appear controversial in the latest Freakonomic investigation.
Fascinating new research by my University of Chicago colleague, Jeffrey Grogger, compares the wages of people who “sound black” when they talk to those who do not.
His main finding: blacks who “sound black” earn salaries that are 10 percent lower than blacks who do not “sound black,” even after controlling for measures of intelligence, experience in the work force, and other factors that influence how much people earn. (For what it is worth, whites who “sound black” earn 6 percent lower than other whites.)
How does Grogger know who “sounds black?” As part of a large longitudinal study called the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, follow-up validation interviews were conducted over the phone and recorded.
For all the headline grabbing, a moment's consideration makes this conclusion fairly obvious - aside from the dopey assumption that salaries are meritocratic across the board. People who master various dialects are considered smarter than those who can't. It's one of the reasons we admire comedians who can do impersonations, and wits who drop the occasional French bon mot.
Think about it, you and I both know people who try to be intellectual showoffs by ordering American food in Spanish to the Mexican food workers. Nothing new about that.