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New poll reveals challenges and opportunities facing African American families

A new poll released today by WKKF and Ebony Magazine found that many African Americans are troubled by a wide range of issues, especially economic challenges such as obtaining meaningful employment and livable wages. Seventy-three percent, or almost three-fourths of the survey’s 1005 respondents, are concerned about income inequality.

Despite a strong recognition that the nation is making progress in some important areas like providing access to health care and improving public education, a large segment of the black population believe racism is very much alive and directly impacts their lives. Fourteen percent of respondents said they face discrimination “very often,” while 44 percent said they “sometimes” face discrimination. In addition, respondents also cited finding affordable housing and keeping their children safe as chief concerns.

The survey, conducted by telephone in February 2014 by Lester & Associates, also found that 88 percent of respondents are “very satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied” with their quality of life. “Despite the many problems and challenges African Americans face in 2014, they display the same strength and resilience that has characterized their 400 year struggle in America,” said Ron Lester, who heads Lester & Associates. “Most express high levels of satisfaction with their lives in general and in the aggregate, they have an estimated buying power of over $1 trillion dollars annually.  Yet at the same time, many problems persist.” 

Specifically, the poll also found that:

  • 74% think society isn’t doing enough to support young men and boys of color.
  • Almost two-thirds say they are better off financially than they were five years ago, but 82% are concerned that Whites still make more than Blacks for doing the same jobs.
  • 52% see the media portrayal of African-Americans as generally negative.
  • 60% of respondents agree we are making progress in providing access to health care.
  • Almost 1/3 are concerned that their children are not getting a quality education.
  • 44% said they knew someone who had committed suicide or was killed. 
  • Seventy-four percent say efforts to reduce crime and violence in their neighborhood is losing ground or staying the same.
  • 30% said “improving the creating more jobs/good paying jobs” is a top issue of concern.

La June Montgomery Tabron, president and CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, noted that poll respondents expressed concerns about the impact of racial bias and the income inequality gap that is prevalent within the African American community, as well as other demographics in American society. “We have a lot of work to do in creating jobs and making sure that people of color receive the training and education needed to obtain those jobs,” she said. “We believe the lack of employment is really critical and impacts a child’s well-being and limits opportunities.”

She added that a recent study, ”The Business Case for Racial Equity,” by the Altarum Institute underscores the potential benefits to business, government and the economy if racial inequities are addressed. “Discriminatory policies and disparities in housing, education, health and crime and justice are outlined and we estimate substantial economic benefits of racial equality, including an increase of almost $2 trillion in minority purchasing power and millions of job opportunities for college graduates.”

Tabron said that President Obama’s ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ initiative is bringing government, the private sector and non-profits together to address the obstacles faced by boys and young men of color.  She said the initiative exemplifies the type of public-private partnerships needed to improve life outcomes for communities of color.  “By directly engaging the business sector to promote racial equity,” she said, “we will create a healthier, better educated and more diverse workforce, help close the minority earnings gap, and provide an overall boost to the economy.”

To request the full results of the survey and the survey crosstabs please contact communications@wkkf.org.

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