Poll: Washington, D.C.’s Real Divide Is Class, Not Race

Poll: Washington, D.C.’s Real Divide Is Class, Not Race

Wealthier Blacks see much about the city the same way that well-to-do whites do.

Published June 21, 2011


(Photo: www.kff.org)

A Washington Post and Kaiser Family Foundation survey has found that a majority of residents both Black and white, see socioeconomic class, not race, as the chasm between citizens in the city that was once called “Chocolate City.”


Wealthier Black residents also expressed views about their neighborhoods and the city that were more akin to those of well-to-do whites rather than poorer African-Americans.


But whites and better-off Blacks are not aligned entirely. The Black middle class is anxious about the city’s economy, their own financial resources and gentrification.


The poll also reveals that Blacks are also affected by the city’s ethnic and racial changes since the 1960s. What was once a 70 percent Black city no longer has a Black majority, with the population moving toward a sizeable Hispanic population.  


This racial and cultural shift was commented on by 75 percent of the Blacks polled, while hardly a majority of whites noted the change. Blacks also have a more critical view of racial dynamics.


Kevin Chavous, a former city councilman, put the sense of African-American unease in context. “If you think about churches, family, neighborhoods, Washington is still very segregated in where people live, go to school and go to church. So [the poll numbers] may sound surprising at first glance, but if you think about how people live, it makes sense,” he said.

Written by Frank McCoy


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