According to a new poll released by the Pew Research Center , 63 percent of Americans believe blacks are responsible for their own inability to succeed.

The poll participants included people who identified as “solid liberals” and those who identified as “steadfast conservatives.” The poll asked if they believed that  “racial discrimination is the main reason why many black people can’t get ahead these days” or “blacks who can’t get ahead are mostly responsible for their own condition.”

Talk about a baited question.

More than 80 percent of those who identified as “steadfast conservatives” believed that blacks are responsible for their current station in life, while more than 80 percent of those who identified as “solid liberals,” which Pew defines as “generally affluent and highly educated” and who ” … vote Democratic and are unflagging supporters of Barack Obama,” believed that racial discrimination plays a role in holding blacks back.

In his recent article on The Atlantic, The Case For Reparations, Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote people still want to believe that discrimination against black people doesn’t exist in this day and age:

The lives of black Americans are better than they were half a century ago. The humiliation of Whites Only signs are gone. Rates of black poverty have decreased. Black teen-pregnancy rates are at record lows-and the gap between black and white teen-pregnancy rates has shrunk significantly. But such progress rests on a shaky foundation, and fault lines are everywhere. The income gap between black and white households is roughly the same today as it was in 1970. Patrick Sharkey, a sociologist at New York University, studied children born from 1955 through 1970 and found that 4 percent of whites and 62 percent of blacks across America had been raised in poor neighborhoods. A generation later, the same study showed, virtually nothing had changed. And whereas whites born into affluent neighborhoods tended to remain in affluent neighborhoods, blacks tended to fall out of them.

This is not surprising. Black families, regardless of income, are significantly less wealthy than white families. The Pew Research Center estimates that white households are worth roughly 20 times as much as black households, and that whereas only 15 percent of whites have zero or negative wealth, more than a third of blacks do. Effectively, the black family in America is working without a safety net. When financial calamity strikes-a medical emergency, divorce, job loss-the fall is precipitous.

And just as black families of all incomes remain handicapped by a lack of wealth, so to do they remain handicapped by their restricted choice of neighborhood. Black people with upper-middle-class incomes do not generally live in upper-middle-class neighborhoods. Sharkey’s research shows that black families making $100,000 typically live in the kinds of neighborhoods inhabited by white families making $30,000. “Blacks and whites inhabit such different neighborhoods,” Sharkey writes, “that it is not possible to compare the economic outcomes of black and white children.”

View the poll and research at the Pew Research Center (pdf).


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