Poll: African-Americans optimistic on race, Hispanics pessimistic

Posted Jan 13, 2010 by Chris Dade
A poll by a non-partisan "fact tank" in the U.S. has revealed that African-Americans are more optimistic about racial matters today than they have been in 25 years, while Hispanics are more pessimistic when it comes to matters of race.
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Conducted by the Pew Research Center between the end of October and the end of November a poll covering several different aspects of race and race relations has shown that while the majority of African-Americans believe that more still needs to be done to address racial discrimination in the U.S., 81 percent to be precise, increasing numbers are optimistic about the future, 53 percent believing the future will be better for them, 44 percent having felt that way in 2007.
Furthermore 39 percent say that they are personally better off than they were five years ago, contrasting with 20 percent who stated in 2007 that they were better off than they were five years earlier.
However, as the poll released on Tuesday confirmed, there is an air of pessimism within the Hispanic community, with 50 percent of Hispanic respondents saying they get along "very" or "pretty" well with whites and African Americans, compared to over 70 percent of whites and African Americans indicating that they get along "very" or "pretty" well with Hispanics.
When it came to which racial groups were discriminated against "a lot", to quote the Associated Press, among the 2,884 adults who took part in the poll, 23 percent said Hispanics faced "a lot" of discrimination and 18 percent said the same of African-Americans. For whites the figure was 10 percent and for Asian-Americans eight percent.
Recent attacks on Hispanics are being attributed to anti-immigrant sentiment, with Carmen Febo-San Miguel, executive director of a Hispanic cultural center in Philadelphia saying that she believes racism in the U.S. is "pretty entrenched". Whether driven by greater expectation of fair treatment it is unclear but 31 percent more Hispanics born in the U.S. than those born outside the U.S. speak of "a lot" or "some" discrimination against their community.
The sight of Barack Obama in the White House is said to be driving much of the optimism felt by African-Americans.
According to McClatchy Ronald Walters, a political science professor at the University of Maryland before his retirement, commented:It's the politics of expectations. It's having an African-American president and the hope that, when all is said and done, he will help (African-Americans). Those of us who have been critical of him for things he hasn't done in the first year, even we expect he will do something
Andrew Kohut, President of the Pew Research Center, agreeing on the optimism created by the election of Barack Obama, highlighted the fact that perception and reality can be very different when it comes to certain factors. He said:The poll shows a whole list of ways in which black attitudes are more positive than they were prior to President Obama's election. When you have a big event like that, and all of the indicators are pointing in one direction, I think the conclusion is inescapable
Then he added:Blacks are saying the income gap has narrowed, when in fact that is not the case. It has something to do with the perception and the sense of things as more positive
Other significant data collected during the poll in which 812 African-Americans and 376 Hispanics participated includes 95 percent of African-Americans viewing President Obama in a favorable light. While 56 percent of whites still support the President, 76 percent supported him before he took office.
As for the action President Obama has taken to address issues within the different racial groups, 80 percent of African-Americans believe the attention he is paying to them is acceptable, 13 percent disagreeing and stating that he is not addressing sufficiently issues affecting African-Americans.
Among whites 22 percent believe that their group is neglected, 42 percent of Hispanics feeling the same neglect.
Regarding the President's own racial identity McClatchy reports that 53 percent of African-Americans say that he is indeed an African-American, 34 percent describing him as of mixed race.
The view amongst whites is quite different, just 24 percent classing the President as African-American, far more, 53 percent, seeing him as of mixed race.
Those wishing to read the entire report can do so here.