A Time-Louis Harris Poll: The Black Mood: More Militant, More Hopeful, More Determined

  • Share
  • Read Later

(3 of 4)

A feeling of being part of a group of embattled outsiders runs strongest among low-income blacks, those on welfare and the young. It by no means stops there. Sixty-one percent agree with the statement, "People who have the power are out to take advantage of you." Yet the sense of being discriminated against is not universal. Sixty-eight percent attest that they have experienced discrimination personally, and 23% feel it "almost every day of my life." Humiliations in looking for a job or housing, in getting served at a restaurant or applying for help from the Government, in enrolling a child in an integrated school or even in getting admitted to a hospital, all rank high as areas where blacks are consistently given a hard time. Poignantly, 48% agree that "white society has treated blacks so badly that it is hard for black men to have any real authority, even in their own homes." But, remarkably, 26% in both rural areas and inner cities report that they had almost never been discriminated against.

In view of the long and unyielding list of grievances, it is noteworthy that the majority still rely on orthodox methods of working within the system. When asked to assess the effectiveness of four different types of black leadership, a majority of blacks make the distinction that although militants may build up black pride, they are not necessarily the most effective. At the top of the list are "elected black officials," cited by 71% as "very effective." They are followed by "civil rights leaders, such as the N.A.A.C.P.," viewed as "very effective" by 67%, although by only 56% of the under-21 group. Behind them are "black ministers and religious leaders," given a "very effective" rating by 56 percent. At the bottom of the list—despite "pride" expressed in the Panthers in another context—are "leaders of black militant groups." They are given a "very effective" mark by only 29%, though an additional 29% say that they are "somewhat effective."

All of the bitterness and frustration notwithstanding, blacks in America express strong confidence that life is improving for them and will improve further in the days ahead. Sixty-four percent feel that things are "getting better than they were four to five years ago." Why? Seventy-seven percent say that "more blacks being admitted to college" has given them a great deal of hope; 70% cite "new kinds of jobs opening up for blacks" as a major cause of optimism; 63% see "great hope" in what they believe is the "rising racial pride among black people"; and 63% observe the same in the "increase in black-owned businesses."

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4