A new survey from Pew Research Center confirms what many in Black communities already know. Black people see a clear path forward in addressing racism and white supremacy. But there remains a growing feeling that things won’t change anytime soon.
The report examines everything from views on the debt owed to descendants of enslaved Black people to the need for overhauling political, economic and health care systems. Topline takeaways include an overwhelming belief that the legacy of slavery impacts life for Black people today.
“Black Americans have a clear vision for how to achieve change when it comes to racial inequality,” the report reads. “This includes support for significant reforms to or complete overhauls of several U.S. institutions to ensure fair treatment, particularly the criminal justice system; political engagement, primarily in the form of voting; support for Black businesses to advance Black communities; and reparations in the forms of educational, business and homeownership assistance.”
Conducted in October 2021, the Pew Research survey engaged close to 4,000 Black adults on their ideas about U.S. society and social change. While nearly half of Black adults expressed some hope of change during their lifetime in the months after George Floyd’s murder, less than half maintained the same optimism by late 2021.
Of those surveyed, 68 percent of Black adults said that racial discrimination was the major deterrent for individual advancement. Black respondents found the major issues impacting Black communities as racism (63 percent), police brutality (60 percent) and economic inequality (54 percent).
An overwhelming majority of Black adults said the criminal justice system needed change. Black adults were split on funding for police departments, with 35 percent saying it should increase, 39 percent saying it should stay the same and 23 percent advocating for a decrease in funding.
Despite the differences in opinion on police funding, close to half of Black adults think the systems of policing, prison and courts should be completely rebuilt for Black people to receive fair treatment. Only three percent of those surveyed said Black people did not experience discrimination.
Even with frustration with the current state of affairs and skepticism that change is possible, Black adults surveyed still viewed voting as a viable strategy for equality.
According to Pew researchers, the latest report is a part of a series of conversations with Black Americans about views and interests. Prior surveys looked at religious viewpoints and Black identity. The report also embraced a broad definition of Black to include those who identify as ethnically Latino or Hispanic.
As previously reported by NewsOne, the second iteration of the Black Census Project is currently underway. Launched by the Black Futures Lab, the Black census aims to reach 200,000 Black adults to engage their thoughts on politics and life in America.
Recognizing the moments of frustration with the current state of affairs, Black Futures Lab’s principal and founder Alicia Garza told NewsOne that engaging Black adults provide opportunities for longer-term planning and advocacy but also allows people to be heard.
“We focus on telling new and different stories about who our communities are and what we want for our futures,” Garza said. “This is a black survey about black people, by Black people, for Black people.”
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