Middle Class/Widening Wealth Gap

and Blacks

Posted on Friday, September 10, 2010

Blacks See Growing Values Gap Between Poor and Middle Class
Optimism About Black Progress Declines
African Americans see a widening gulf between the values of middle class and poor blacks, and nearly four-in-ten say that because of the diversity within their community, blacks can no longer be thought of as a single race, a new Pew Research Center survey has found.

The survey also finds blacks less upbeat about the state of black progress now than at any time since 1983. Looking backward, just one-in-five blacks say things are better for blacks now than they were five years ago. Looking ahead, fewer than half of all blacks (44%) say they think life for blacks will get better in the future, down from the 57% who said so in a 1986 survey.

Whites have a different perspective. While they, too, have grown less sanguine about black progress, they are nearly twice as likely as blacks to see black gains in the past five years. Also, a majority of whites (56%) say life for blacks in this country will get better in the future.

Similar race-based gaps in perception emerge on several other key topics explored in this survey. For example, blacks have much less confidence than whites in the fairness of the criminal justice system. Also, blacks say that anti-black discrimination is commonplace in everyday life; whites disagree.

But there are also areas where the two groups largely see eye to eye. For example, blacks and whites agree that there has been a convergence in the past decade in the values held by blacks and whites. On the issue of immigration, blacks and whites agree that most immigrants work harder than most blacks and most whites at low-wage jobs. And on the popular culture front, large majorities of both blacks and whites say that rap and hip hop – two music styles with roots in the black community that have gained mainstream popularity in recent years – have a bad influence on society.

The survey finds that black and white Americans express very little overt racial animosity. As they have for decades, about eight-in-ten members of each racial group express a favorable view about members of the other group. Large majorities in both groups say that blacks and whites get along either "very" or "pretty" well, though in both cases a greater number say "pretty well." More than eight-in-ten adults in each group also say they know a person of a different race whom they consider a friend.

Read the full report at pewsocialtrends.org

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