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Blacks Optimistic Despite Huge Barriers to Success

Blacks Optimistic Despite Huge Barriers to Success

Poll shows that African-Americans remain hopeful for the future even in the toughest of times.

Published February 22, 2011

Sixty percent of Blacks believe that their children’s lives will be better than their own in the coming years, according to a recent poll. Image:  Mario Tama/Getty Images

A new Washington Post-Kaiser-Harvard poll on race in America has discovered that African-Americans are more likely than anyone else in the United States to believe that their children will one day have a better standard of living than themselves. It’s an unprecedented show of optimism in the face of one of the worst recessions in our nation’s history.

Strangely enough, considering their power position in America, whites are more than 20 percent less likely to believe that their children’s lives will be better than their own in the coming years, whereas 60 percent of Blacks say their kids will have it better. What’s more, while only 18 percent of Blacks believe their children will be worse off than they were, 31 percent of whites fear for their kids’ futures.

Interestingly, white Republicans are more than twice as likely as white Democrats to say that their children will be worse off than they were (44 vs. 21 percent). On a related note, Republicans are also far more likely than Democrats to take hard-line stances on immigration, which is set to make the United States a “majority minority” country by 2050.

What stands out most about this new data, of course, is that it flies in the face of the facts. While African-Americans are the most optimistic about the future, they in fact have the most difficulties ahead, according to statistics.

Since the recession has hit, African-Americans are almost twice as likely as whites to be unemployed. In fact, nearly one in five Black Americans is now jobless. What’s more, Blacks who do have jobs make on average more than $200 a week less than their white counterparts.

And with rising unemployment and underemployment come rising social ills. According to a report from the Center for American Progress, black communities with high unemployment should expect surges in crime as well:

"A study from the Economic Policy Institute found that during the strong economy of the 1990s, falling crime rates were in part attributable to the decrease in unemployment and rising underemployment. Some research suggests that many communities are likely to see an uptick in crime—if they have not already—as joblessness grows."

In other words, though a little optimism can’t hurt, the way things are going now, Blacks expecting big changes for their children in the coming years may be mistaken.

Written by Cord Jefferson

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