Survey: African Americans Still Optimistic Despite Racism

The “State of the Black Family” report shows optimism about the quality of black life, although many racial concerns remain.

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Although many African Americans identify long-standing problems that still plague the community—such as unemployment and access to high-quality education—the black population remains largely optimistic about the future and satisfied with the direction the country is going in, according to a new survey by Ebony magazine and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Almost 90 percent also said they were either "very satisfied" or "somewhat satisfied" with the overall quality of their lives, the "State of the Black Family Survey" reports.

However, just because African Americans are able to navigate the world they live in more or less happily does not mean they're unwilling to acknowledge the severe problems the community faces. Many of the 1,005 respondents surveyed pointed to racial disparities in the United States.

For example, 84 percent of those surveyed still believe that racial discrimination is deeply entrenched in American life, 74 percent think that society is not supportive enough of young men and boys of color, and 52 percent think the media portrays African Americans in a negative light.

More significantly, even though about two-thirds of African Americans believe that they are doing better financially than five years ago, more than 80 percent voice concern over being discriminated against because of their race and being paid less than their white counterparts.

It seems that alongside racial disparities, African Americans are equally concerned about the economy, since economic concerns are in the forefront. More specifically, 20 percent of respondents point to "improving the economy and creating jobs” as their top concern. Additionally, about half of the entire group surveyed believes that we are losing the struggle in reducing the gap between rich and poor.

"We have a lot of work to do in creating jobs and making sure that people of color receive the training and education needed to obtain those jobs," President and CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation La June Montgomery Tabron said in a press release. "We believe the lack of employment is really critical and impacts a child's well-being and limits opportunities."

About one-third of respondents were concerned that their children were not getting the best-quality education that could be afforded to them. 

However, not every sector is lacking in the eyes of African Americans. Approximately 60 percent of respondents think we are making steady progress in providing access to quality health care for all. 

The survey was conducted with 1,005 African-American adults Feb. 16-20 and 22-25 by Lester & Associates for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.9 percentage points. 

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