Blackamericans and Belief about Race


These are twin sisters

Whenever giving a tour of the Dar Al Hijrah Islamic Center to people of other faith, I often like to point out that we live in a very diverse society and world and that we must learn to get along. This story’s report in Salon magazine that says that 1/3 of Blackamericans no longer believe that ‘blacks’ are a single race shows me that we are becoming a little more nuanced about “race”. “The Blacks” are not one big monolithic group of people. On the other hand, we have a lot of work to do.

The full Pew Research Report referred to in the article can be found here

More below the fold

But the sidelining of race has also been calamitous. Regardless of the progress made in racial attitudes, the existence of the black underclass is an ongoing scandal. More than 50 years after Brown v. Board of Education ended de jure racial segregation in this country, poor urban blacks continue to be a group apart, plagued by disproportionately high rates of crime, incarceration, drug use, and poor health. Inner-city black children go to bad schools, live in substandard housing, eat bad food, are disproportionately raised by single mothers, and are exposed to a pathological street culture in which aggressive demands for “respect,” ugly misogyny and the crudest markers of male machismo are valorized, while education, self-discipline and personal responsibility are dismissed as “acting white.”


The Pew poll found that there was a growing “values gap” between middle-class and poor blacks: 61 percent of the black respondents, and 70 percent of the college-educated blacks, said that over the past 10 years, the values of middle-class and poor blacks have become more different. Just 44 percent said that in 1986. Further confirmation of this values gap is the study’s finding that 64 percent of blacks regard hip-hop and rap music as having a bad influence on society. Moreover, the study found that while most blacks believe that they are subject to widespread discrimination, most of them don’t blame discrimination for the lack of black progress: 53 percent say blacks who can’t get ahead are mostly responsible for their own condition.


There are major hurdles to be overcome. The Pew poll found that while large majorities of blacks believe that they are routinely victims of discrimination; most whites believe that blacks are not. This is a fundamental gap that must be overcome.

But the way to overcome it is to start talking beyond race and start seeing beyond race. To be your brother’s keeper, you must first know that you are his brother. And that connection isn’t made through skin color. It’s made through a shared humanity. If Americans can come out of our racial time recharged and ready to work together, we just might rediscover that.

I’ll say

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