A recent Pew Research Center poll shows Blacks less optimistic about “progress” than White counterparts. Blacks also believe that they frequently encounter prejudice, while Whites believe that Blacks do not face much discrimination.
The Pew Research Center released its survey November 13 on how Blacks see themselves now as opposed to a few years ago. Over 3,000 adults were interviewed by telephone from September 5 through October 6.
The survey, conducted in association with National Public Radio, found optimism about Black progress declining. It also learned that not only are there different views between Blacks and Whites, but also between middle class and poor Blacks.
Blacks with lower incomes and less education are more inclined to see few shared values between themselves and middle class Blacks, the Pew report points out. A difference over values and identity within the Black community is felt more strongly by those Blacks at the lower socioeconomic bracket, the report added.
When asked, 29 percent of the respondents say Blacks are worse now than five years ago; 20 percent say Blacks are better, and 49 percent say things are about the same.
Less than half (44 percent) say Blacks believe things will be better in the future, while 21 percent say it will be worse; 31 percent say it will be about the same. However, nearly twice the White respondents (55 percent) said that things for Blacks in this country have improved.
Blacks and Whites also do not agree if the economic gap between the two groups has widened or gotten smaller, the Pew survey noted. Forty-three percent of Blacks say it has widened, while 41 percent say it has gotten narrower. Whites on the other hand say the Black-White economic gap has narrowed (61 percent), while only 19 percent say otherwise.
The Pew group used U.S. Census Bureau population figures, which showed that the gap between the Black median household income and the White median household income has slightly narrowed: Black median income in 2006 was 61 percent of Whites; it was 58 percent in 1976. Nonetheless, though it has fluctuated from time to time, the Black-White income gap now is about the same as it was in 1997, the survey surmised.
Other points in the Pew report:
• Most Blacks believe that racial discrimination still exist when applying for a job (67 percent), renting an apartment or buying a house (65 percent), eating at restaurants and shopping (50 percent), and applying for college (43 percent). Yet by a two-to-one margin, Whites believe that Blacks rarely face racial bias.
• Blacks remain the nation’s most segregated racial or ethnic group. Housing segregation in metropolitan areas in the West and South has declined over the past quarter century, but there is less change in the Northwest and Midwest.
• The poverty rates for Whites and Blacks were lower in 2006 than they had been in 1980, but the Black poverty rate was about three times that of Whites.
• Nearly one in three (32 percent) Black households in 2006 had an income of at least $50,000 — it was one in five (18 percent) in 1970. However, Black households making between $75,000 and $100,000 are 7.7 percent of the Black populations; households making over $100,000 are 9.1 percent. Households making less than $15,000 are 24.4 percent of the Black population.
• Blacks are over-represented in virtually every aspect of the criminal justice system. Blacks were about twice as likely as Whites to be a victim of crime in 2005 and are disproportionally likely to be arrested (28 percent of juvenile and adult arrests in 2006) and serve time in prison (almost five percent of Black men were in prison or jail in 2006, as opposed to .7 percent of White men.)
According to the Pew survey, 37 percent of Blacks believe that they are no longer a single race because the Black community is so diverse, while 53 percent say they still see Blacks as one race.
The report also pointed out that Blacks have lost confidence in their leaders’ effectiveness over the last two decades. Only 18 percent believe that national Black political leaders are very effective, a nine percent drop since 1986. Meanwhile, 57 percent say Black leaders are somewhat effective, up from 54 percent in 1986.
Only 32 percent believe that the NAACP is very effective — 47 percent in 1986 felt this way. Today 41 percent say the longtime civil rights organization is somewhat effective, up from 38 percent in 1986.
Finally when the respondents were asked about Black ministers and clergy being very effective, only 38 percent thought so as opposed to 40 percent in 1986. Meanwhile, 42 percent say they are somewhat effective, down from 43 percent in 1986.
The entire Pew Research Center report on Black progress can be read on the Pew Center’s web site www.people-press.org/reports
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses on firstname.lastname@example.org, or read his blog, www.wwwchallman.blogspot.com.