How Black Americans See Discrimination

Taken altogether, these survey results aren’t terribly surprising: They’re backed up by the reams of data that show the extent to which African-Americans are far more likely to live in areas with concentrated poverty even when they are high earners, are more likely to go to segregated and underfunded schools, and more likely to be stopped by the police and searched once they are. Black folks are living objectively more difficult lives than similarly situated white folks.

But here is a sobering thought: What if the black respondents to the NPR survey, who almost unanimously assumed that anti-black discrimination was a given, were like the people in the Urban Institute study and actually underestimating the drag that discrimination exerts on their lives? As data becomes more accessible and granular, we can more easily see how race is often the only variable that explains disparate treatment. If these responses are how people feel about discrimination based largely on what they can glean from their own direct experiences and commiserating with relatives and neighbors, it’s not hard to imagine that the full picture is even less rosy than these data suggest at first glance.

– Gene Demby

More by this author

Black, White, and in Color: Essays on American Literature and Culture
Habeas Viscus: Racializing Assemblages, Biopolitics, and Black Feminist Theories of the Human
A Map to the Door of No Return: Notes to Belonging
Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route

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