June 28, 2013

For African Americans, discrimination is not dead

America’s struggles with race and racism are never completely out of the news. But it is hard to remember when a series of stories have given this issue such resonance, whether in the rulings of the Supreme Court on affirmative action and voting rights, a tense trial in a Florida courtroom and even the racially insensitive comments of a celebrity chef.

In the wake of the election of the nation’s first black president, African Americans’ sense of the country’s – and their own – progress improved markedly, as a 2010 Pew Research Center report documented. To some extent, these more positive views endure: Our June survey found that blacks (36%) were far more likely than whites (19%) to say that economic conditions were excellent or good, even though the unemployment rate for blacks was roughly double that for whites.

Yet the good feelings among blacks after Barack Obama’s election co-exist with a persistent belief that discrimination and unfairness remain a part of life for African Americans in this country. To take a recent example, in May fully 88% said there was a lot or some discrimination against blacks, with 46% seeing a lot of discrimination. A majority of whites (57%) also saw at least some discrimination against blacks, but just 16% said there was a lot of discrimination.

Topics: African Americans, Barack Obama, Discrimination and Prejudice, Race and Ethnicity

  1. Photo of Carroll Doherty

    is Associate Director of the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

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  1. Steven Collins2 weeks ago

    Don’t have to be black or Hispanic to see that he’s right. Division is key to power. Divided, categorized, you can count of group a to do this and group b to do that. What I always find interesting in my race is when my pastor talks about how the democratic party has failed an entire race.

  2. Ben Davidson10 months ago

    As long as there are politicians, people will be divided using some factor that is uncontrollable. Complexion is a great one. The “African American” box that people get dumped into is a really great political tool. Way back in an anthropology class, the professor said something like “All racial lines are artificial and no matter where you draw them, the lines will blur with those on one side belonging to the other.” Nature dictates that we will all blend. It is only politicians who need the power of voting blocks that make us segregated. If the political mentality didn’t keep on waving racial flags in our faces, we’d ignore it in less than a generation. A child would only be curious about differences in people. Politicians make them see a difference.

    1. Basir10 months ago

      I agree with this statement. You post is assuming a complicated categorical premise but it is a good observation.
      I would take about a generation and with the help of miscegenation this country would slowly transition to a post- racial state.

      However; identities would and group determination would conceive new separations, albeit, colorful the groups would still harvest some type of division.

      1. Ben Davidson10 months ago

        Oh How I’d love to take some time to discuss this with you and those with open minds. It would take little (however impossible) to quickly teach that all that counts is what you do. Of course it could easily be degenerated into some racist rant but the basic concept of how we are taught racism by those who will not let it go because of the power it distributes and seemingly simple answers it gives. Racism diminishes everybody. But of course judging by action demands behavior which is thermodynamically unfavorable – it takes work from all parties.

    2. John Atkinson10 months ago

      Let me take a wild guess here… you’re white.