Racism: The Divide is Black and White.

A Black Lives Matter demonstrator (Shuttershock)

A Black Lives Matter demonstrator (Shuttershock)

On Monday, Pew released the results of a survey showing that, eight years after Barack Obama was elected president, 61% of black people and 45% of white people say that race relations in America are “generally bad.” That’s compared with 59% and 34%, respectively, who had negative impressions of race relations in July 2008.

If you’re wondering why things have gotten so tense, Pew has also released a report that offers a possible explanation: namely, black people and white people see black people’s struggles completely differently.

The survey shows that black people overwhelmingly blame lower-quality schools and discrimination for why “some blacks have a harder time getting ahead than whites.”

A majority of white people, meanwhile, said that “family instability” and “lack of good role models” were chiefly responsible for the problems facing black communities. Only 36% blamed discrimination, and just 45% said that a “lack of jobs” was holding black people back.

In other words, while most black people think that higher levels of poverty and lower levels of economic mobility in their communities are the fault of America’s legacy of systematic racism and under-investment, more white people are content to blame black people themselves.

Here’s the key chart:


There’s much more at Fusion, including the chart which shows that Republicans say there’s actually too much discussion about race in America.

This is mind-numbingly disheartening, that more and more, white people are simply turning their backs and declaring there’s no problem, really, if people would just stop making a thing out of race, well, no probs.


  1. Kengi says

    Back when my parents bought their first house redlining was still common in the same city. Being white, they, of course, had no problem buying a nice house where they wanted and getting a mortgage despite being low income. That house with a reasonable mortgage was a major reason for our “family stability” in a good neighborhood with good public schools. Those schools which led to easy to get jobs in the same neighborhood for me.

    Anyone without the same opportunities throughout their lives are just lazy and lack motivation. Right? If they were truly motivated and worked hard they would have had white parents like me!

    Why is privilege, which seems such a simple concept, beyond the understanding of so many people?

  2. rq says

    Why is privilege, which seems such a simple concept, beyond the understanding of so many people?

    I wish there was a good answer to that question.
    And it’s not even so bad admitting you have that privilege! I mean, it sucks when you say something stupid and get called out on it and you’re allowed to feel bad about it (personally, quietly, and with the intention of learning from it), but it’s not actually difficult or insulting to realize that yeah, you have it better than that person next to you, for reasons that neither one of you can change. It’s strange how admitting to reality can seem like such a threat to some people -- is it because it makes them feel less special? less worthy? I dunno, I’m pretty high up on the privilege scale, and what that means to me is that I have to be careful of who I might inadvertently step on. You know, not live in a bubble of my own making. There’s a fascinating world out there that can only come to fruition if we don’t push the less privileged out of our way, if we break the barriers that have been built up against them. Maybe try sharing, for a start (I was going to say ‘sharing the benefits of our privilege’ but that sounds super awkward and too Benevolent Saviour; I’m having an idea here and it is refusing to be articulated in a way that makes me sound not like a superior asshole).

    * I use the terms ‘we’ and ‘us’ rather loosely here, not necessarily as a reflection of all privileged people.

  3. cicely says

    I am working on a hypothesis—that social matters are a tension between two “forces/feelings”:
    1) Everyone/group is the hero of their story; and
    2) Sometimes, it’s not about you (singular and plural).
    For example—“But I’m straight and white; and we straight whites are The Hero!”, means that the non-straight and non-white are The Villain! “It has to be about us; we’re The Hero!!!
    Other Peoples’ Stories are, at best, the Expanded Universe material, the backstory, and the fanfic to The Real Story.
    (I’m still working on it.)

  4. blf says

    Some suggestions from the mildly deranged penguin:

    Social matters are a tension between two “forces/feelings”:
    Lack of cheese is a tension between the universes and the mildly deranged penguin:

    1) Everyone/group is the hero of their story;
    1) There must always be moar cheese!

    2) Sometimes, it’s not about you (singular and plural).
    2) It’s always about the moar cheese!!!
    3) And MUSHROOMS!
    4) Peas and horses are an abomination.

    She hopes this clarifies matters.

  5. cicely says

    Yes—but the Cheese is the Hero of its story! In which the mdp is a Horse-level Villain.
    And things relating to peas are merely Expanded Universe material.

  6. blf says

    the Cheese is the Hero of its story! In which the mdp is a Horse-level Villain.

    That defective brown dwarf of a universe was stuffed full of peas and walled off behind lumps of British Industrial Cheddar (with a few portals that would allow horses to enter but only safe things, like Daleks, to leave). It’s still around someplace, snarling, but is now about as much of problem as having breakfast with a T. rex.

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