11.14.2007

Redefining what it means to be black in America

I was listening to NPR this mourning, (it's what I wake up to every mourning) when they highlighted something that I thought I was witnesing when I lived in LA, but wasen't sure of. It is this, that according to a small majority of minorities, class, not race is the defining issue. This is not to say that racism is no longer a factor, but rather that classism and values are larger issues. Here are some excerpts from the NPR program - Redefining What It Means to Be Black in America by Juan Williams.

The split in the black race comes down to a matter of values, according to the poll. In response to the question, "Have the values of middle-class and poor blacks become more similar or more different?" 61 percent of black Americans said "more different." White Americans agreed, with 54 percent saying there is a growing values gap between the black middle class and the black poor; 45 percent of Hispanics agreed, too.
At the same time, 72 percent of whites, 54 percent of blacks, and 60 percent of Hispanics agree that in the last 10 years, "values held by black people and the values held by white people (have) become more similar."


A poll released by the Pew Research Center, in association with NPR, finds that 67 percent of black men and 74 percent of black women think rap music is a bad influence on black America. In fact, 59 percent of black men and 63 percent of black women think the whole hip-hop industry — from the jailhouse fashion of pants hanging low, to indifference to work and school — is equally detrimental to black America.

This leads to what may be the most important finding in the poll: 53 percent of black Americans now agree that "blacks who can't get ahead are mostly responsible for their own condition."
White America (71 percent) and Hispanic America (59 percent) agree that racism, while still a factor in American life, is not the principal force keeping poor black people in poverty. The more oppressive force, they seem to be saying, is a lack of strong families and the prevalence of values that do not emphasize education, hard work and perseverance.


It is important to note that this is not some Pollyannaish view that ignores the reality of racism. Sixty-eight percent of blacks say they deal with racial discrimination today in at least two of the categories of experience cited in the poll: such as applying for jobs, buying a house, renting an apartment, applying for college, shopping or dining out.
But even with that hard-edged view of how often they have to deal with discrimination, a majority of black people say that regardless of the race of an individual, a black person can make it in America.
That is a very different tune from the one the rap lyrics want you to believe — the one that says black people are all victims unless they are society's thugs, pimps and criminals.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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