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How Black Americans view the path to overcoming inequality

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Posted at 11:04 AM, Feb 14, 2023

Black Americans have long articulated a clear vision for the kind of social change that would improve their lives.

The Pew Research Center recently explored Black Americans’ views about how to overcome racial inequality. The 2022 report found Black Americans “have a clear vision for reducing racism but little hope it will happen.”

“Most African Americans know their history,” said Spelman College professor Cynthia Neil Spence. “We know that from the stories that our grandparents have told us, our great-grandparents have told us. And those stories have always, in fact, been centered around the disenfranchisement of us based on who we are and based on how we were born.”

That same Pew report stated nearly 70% of Black adults see racial discrimination today as the primary obstacle to success.

“We still have the highest maternal mortality rates. We still have the highest rates of poverty,” Spence said.

“The systems that we currently have in place are not developed in a way that would meet the needs of most Black business owners and entrepreneurs in this country," said Alex Camardelle, vice president of policy and research at the Atlanta Wealth Building Initiative.

The Pew report stated that after George Floyd’s death in 2020, more than half of Black adults said the increased attention on racial equality would lead to meaningful change. In a survey one year later, nearly two-thirds said it hadn’t led to change.

“America is having to really just take an inventory of itself and look in the mirror and decide how are we going to be equitable and equal moving forward," said
Kyle Walcott, president of the Emerging 100 of Atlanta.

“I’m really a bit tired of hearing what the problems are. We have a George Floyd bill that yet has not been approved. We have a John Lewis Voting Rights Act that has not been approved. We have individuals who are serving at the federal government and the state governmental level, who have demonstrated behaviors that suggest that they don’t really care," Spence adds.

According to the Pew report, just 13% of Black adults say equality for Black people in the U.S. is very likely.

“It’s difficult, you know, as a Black person to think about, ‘When is that change going to come?’” Walcott said. “Things don’t happen overnight, and so how long are we going to wait, you know, on the government, the structures, the leaders who are in charge? We need the people that are in charge of the changing, the regulatory frameworks and the policies to be on the front lines.”

“I’m born and raised in the South. So, I’m in a community that’s hard-wired to believe that things won’t change or that the pace is just going to outlive me," Camardelle said.

“It’s time now for us to sit around tables and to build out sustainable strategies for addressing inequalities in our society,” Spence added. “This is what works, and let’s do it. Let’s make a difference.”