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Poll: Class divisions now outweigh race among black Americans
David Edwards and Muriel Kane
Published: Thursday November 15, 2007
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A recent poll of black Americans has found that two-thirds believe racism is very prevalent when they seek jobs or housing and half say they have encountered discrimination even in stores and restaurants.

This contrasts strongly with the beliefs of white Americans, only about a quarter of whom think that blacks still face discrimination in housing and employment.

Even more disturbing, the Pew Research study found that just 44% of blacks believe the situation will be better in the future, compared with 57% who responded optimistically to the same question in 1986.

Despite their own experiences of discrimination, 53% of black Americans say that blacks are responsible for their inability to get ahead, a striking turnaround from the situation in 1994, when 60% said discrimination was the major factor.

This shift in attitudes may be connected with the belief of 61% of black Americans that the values of middle class blacks are diverging from those of poor blacks, with 40% saying that there is no longer a single black community. Black college graduates in particular said their values were more like those of middle-class white Americans than like those of poor blacks.

The survey also suggested that black Americans feel they made gains during the Clinton boom years of the late 90's but have not fared as well under Bush. Only 20% said that blacks are better off now than five years ago -- the lowest that number has been since 1983, when the country was just coming out of a major recession. However, 31% agreed that blacks are better off now than ten years ago, which confirms the generally more optimistic responses obtained by a similar poll in 1999.

White Americans in general are far more inclined to believe that blacks have made steady progress, with a majority saying that blacks are better off than they were ten years ago and more than a third saying they are better off now than five years ago.

The following video is from, broadcast on November 14, 2007.