Why We Can’t Get Ahead: It’s All Our Fault.

Why can’t we get ahead? According to most black folks, it’s all our fault.

That’s one of the findings in a report by the Pew Research Center titled Blacks See Growing Values Gap Between Poor and Middle Class – Optimism about Black Progress Declines. The report is based on a survey on racial attitudes was conducted by the Center in the fall of 2007. The Center is a nonpartisan think tank.

According to the report:

Why Some Blacks Lag Behind: Personal Factors or Discrimination?

Fully two-thirds of all Americans believe personal factors, rather than racial discrimination, explain why many African Americans have difficulty getting ahead in life; just 19% mostly blame discrimination.

While clear differences exist between white and black views on this question, these racial disparities are significantly less pronounced than those observed in other areas covered by this survey, including questions that measured perceptions of the overall levels of discrimination faced by blacks.

Overall, most whites (71%), Hispanics (59%) and a narrow majority of blacks (53%) believe that blacks who have not gotten ahead in life are mainly responsible for their own situation. At the same time, three-in-ten blacks (30%) blame racism for failures to advance, a view shared by 24% of all Hispanics and 15% of whites.

The survey also suggests that attitudes about what is more to blame for the failure of many blacks to advance appear to be strongly related to perceptions of discrimination against blacks.

For example, about four-in-ten blacks (37%) who believe African Americans are often discriminated against when applying for jobs also say discrimination is the main reason why some blacks don’t get ahead. But among blacks who say employment discrimination is relatively infrequent, only 15% believe bias is the major obstacle for black advancement.

A similar pattern is apparent among whites. About a third (34%) of whites who believe job discrimination against blacks is common say discrimination is mainly to blame for the fact that many blacks fail to advance. This view is held by just 11% of whites who say this form of racial bias is uncommon. Similarly, four-in-ten Hispanics who say blacks frequently are discriminated against when seeking work say discrimination is to blame for lack of black advancement, roughly double the proportion of Hispanics (19%) who say anti-black bias in employment is rare.

The report has of food for thought. Highly recommended reading. I’ll make another post based on the report in a day or so.

2 thoughts on “Why We Can’t Get Ahead: It’s All Our Fault.

  1. Hello there!

    I think that there are MANY factors that contribute to the level of underachievement of some black people. Racism and sexism and classism and white supremacist constructs are contributing to the lack of progress of many people of color – but it is not THE ONLY factor. We could all discuss all day long the degrees of oppression of racism, sexism and classism… but we really DO need to understand the factors that we can control and seek to address them.

    Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!

  2. One thing I always say is, “our problem is that we have too many problems.”

    Instead of trying to agree on the “mega-problem,” I wish each of us could agree to do SOMETHING about A problem or ANY problem.

    It is our failure to not take action which hurts us most of all.

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