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U.S. Institutions Black Americans Designed To Hold Them Back

Source: Bogdan Malizkiy / Getty

UPDATED: 6:20 pm. ET, June 18

Black Americans have always looked at U.S. institutions with a side-eye. History has given them many good reasons to doubt the fairness of institutions like the prison system and policing. This distrust has led the way for racist conspiracy theories to take root in Black communities, leaving generations suspicious of some of America’s biggest institutions.

MORE: Black Students Fare Better In Schools With More Black Teachers, Parents Say In New Study

A recent Pew Research report found that many Black Americans believe U.S. institutions were designed to hold Black people back.

In the report, the Pew Research Center explored how Black Americans think about major U.S. institutions as well as the impact that may have on their success or lack thereof.

Since this country’s existence, Black people have been suspicious of the actions of U.S. institutions based on their personal and collective historical experiences with racial discrimination. Some examples include the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 and the Tuskegee Syphilis Study.

Racial discrimination played a huge factor in why Black Americans believed so strongly that U.S. institutions were designed to hold them back.

Most Black adults say they have experienced racial discrimination and that they’ve felt undermined because of it, according to part of the in-depth deep dive.

The Report

In the report, Pew surveyed 4,736 Black adults in the U.S. from Sept. 12 to 24, 2023, in English and Spanish. Although some responses varied based on gender, education, family income and political affiliation, most Black demographic subgroups felt distrust in U.S. institutions.

One of the institutions with the most consensus was the prison system.

According to the report, 82% of Black adults believe Black people are more likely than White people to be incarcerated because prisons want to make money on the backs of Black people. Seventy-four percent of Black adults believe this is happening in the U.S. today.

Here are the top U.S. Institutions Black people believe were designed to hold them back:

  • Prison System (74%)
  • Courts and judicial process (70%)
  • Policing (68%)
  • Political system (67%)
  • Economic system (65%)

Below are some of the top ways Black Americans believe U.S. Institutions show ongoing and intentional bias:

  • Black public officials are singled out to be discredited in a way that doesn’t happen with white officials (76%)
  • Police do very little to stop guns and drugs from flooding Black communities (76%)
  • Black people are disproportionately incarcerated so prison can make money (74%)
  • Big businesses market luxury items to Black people to keep them in debt (67%)
  • Medical researchers experiment on Black people without their knowledge or consent (55%)
  • The government encourages single motherhood among Black women to eliminate the need for Black men (55%)
  • The government promotes birth control and/or abortion to keep the Black population small (51%)

Click here if you would like to read the entire report.

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