King’s Dream: Is it reality today? Look at these gaps …

This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series King's Dream
This income comparison chart appears in the August 2013 Pew report, called "King’s Dream Remains an Elusive Goal; Many Americans See Racial Disparities." Click on the chart to visit the Pew page for this study.

This income comparison chart appears in the August 2013 Pew report, called “King’s Dream Remains an Elusive Goal; Many Americans See Racial Disparities.” Click on the chart to visit the Pew website and download the entire 46-page report.

Dr. Wayne Baker returns today! His first column …

Wednesday is the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech delivered at the Lincoln Memorial. Other notables gave speeches that day, but King’s became famous here and around the world.

Some say King’s dream words are inscribed on the hearts of Americans. It is true that “I Have a Dream” is inscribed on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on the very spot where he spoke—but how much of King’s dream is reality today?

There are many answers to that question. We’ll consider several this week, so please check back Monday through Friday.

Where do we stand financially?

Today, we look at the issue of economic freedom—a major theme in King’s speech. King’s speech was part of the March on Washington, as it is typically called now. Its official title was the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, highlighting the twin themes of economic freedom and civil rights. The economic gulf between whites and blacks was wide 50 years ago.

QUESTION: How much do you think the financial gap has closed? A little? A lot?

ANSWER: Not at all, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center. The median household income for blacks is $39,760, according to the latest U.S. Census data, while the figure for whites is $67,175. Put differently, the median household income of blacks today is 59% of the median household income for whites. In 1967, it was 55% of white household income. Since 1967, the black incomes have fluctuated between 54% to 65% of white incomes.

QUESTION: How about wealth?

ANSWER: Same story. The average net worth of a white household today is $91,405, while the wealth figure for black households is $6,446. Over time, the gap between white and black wealth has increased, says Pew.

QUESTION: How about home ownership?

ANSWER: This is one of the hallmarks of the American Dream. About three of four white households (73%) own their own homes. Among black households, the figure is 44%. The gap in home ownership has fluctuated over the years, but the rate of black home ownership is the same today as it was in 1976.

Of course, there have been some improvements, as we’ll consider this week. Today, however, the economic indicators tell a grim story—at least by these measures, King’s Dream is as far from reality today as it was 50 years ago.

Are you surprised by these comparisons?

How do you interpret them?

PLEASE NOTE …

As the creator and main Our Values columnist through the years, I want to express my thanks to our guest authors this summer! I appreciate their contributions: Dmitri Barvinok, David Crumm, Rodney Curtis, Terry Gallagher, and Joe Grimm!

Comments: (2)
Categories: Equal OpportunitiesGetting Ahead

King’s Dream: Have we moved toward racial equality?

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series King's Dream
Click

This chart appears in the August 2013 Pew report, called “King’s Dream Remains an Elusive Goal; Many Americans See Racial Disparities.” Click on the chart to visit the Pew website and download the entire report.

Tomorrow is the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech.  How much progress have we made over the past 50 years toward a color-blind society?

QUICK—before you read further: How do you answer today’s main question?

If a pollster telephoned you: Would you say that we’ve made a lot of progress, some progress, just a little progress, or none at all?

Here’s what Pew found: About 45% of the general public said we have made a lot of progress, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center.  About a third (36%) responded that we have made some progress; while 12% said a little. Only 4% responded that we haven’t made any progress at all.

At the same time, almost half of Americans (49%) said that a lot more needs to be done to achieve racial equality. Three of ten (31%) said some more needs to be done. Only 6% said that nothing more needs to be done.

Blacks and whites tend to disagree about the amount of progress we’ve made, and how far we have to go.

In the survey, almost half of whites (48%) said we’ve made a lot of progress, but only a third (32%) of blacks agreed.  Similarly, less than half of whites (44%) said there’s a lot more to do done, while almost eight of ten blacks (79%) said the same.

One of the biggest areas of disagreement concerns fair treatment of blacks—a topic we’ll explore in more detail this week.

Have we made “a lot of progress” on racial equality, based on your personal experience and observations?

Where have we made the most progress?

Where do we still have a long way to go?

Please, in addition to adding a comment, share this column with friends—extend our conversation. You can do that easily by clicking the blue-“f” Facebook icon or the envelope-shaped email icon.

Comments: (1)
Categories: Equal OpportunitiesGetting Ahead

King’s Dream: Are whites or blacks treated more fairly?

This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series King's Dream
Click the chart to visit Pew's site for the full report.

Click the chart to visit Pew’s site for the full report.

The value of universalism—meaning justice and fairness for all—is one of the 10 beliefs that nearly all Americans hold dear. On today, this 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech and the March on Washington, would you say that blacks in your community are treated as fairly as whites?

Now that’s a very broad question, so let’s narrow it down and consider specific areas and institutions: police, courts, workplaces, stores and restaurants, local public schools, healthcare, and voting in elections. Would you say that blacks are treated as fairly as whites in each of these?

Researchers at the Pew Research Center asked these questions in a survey earlier this month, timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary. In each area or institution, there are wide racial divides in opinions about fair treatment. For example, 70% of blacks say that blacks in their communities are treated less fairly than whites in dealing with the police, compared to just over a third of whites (37%) who say the same. Almost the same proportion of blacks (68%) says that, in the courts, blacks are treated less fairly than whites, with only 27% of whites saying the same.

How about treatment in the workplace? Over half of blacks (54%) say that blacks in their communities are treated less fairly than whites. Only 16% of whites agree. Similarly, 44% of blacks say that blacks in their communities are treated less fairly than whites in stores and restaurants, with only 16% of whites agreeing with them.

Generally, we see roughly the same amount of disagreement about fair treatment of blacks in local public schools, healthcare, and voting in elections. Blacks tend to see unfairness. Whites tend to see fairness.

Are you surprised by these racial differences in opinion about fair treatment?

How would you answer the question of fair treatment of blacks, compared to whites, in your community?

 

Comments: (0)
Categories: Universalism

King’s Dream: ‘Our great unfinished business?’

This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series King's Dream

President Barack Obama marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington with a bell-ringing ceremonyPresident Obama has been called the embodiment of Martin Luther King and his dream. As the nation’s first African American president, Obama illustrates how far we’ve come and how opportunities have improved since King’s day.

But things haven’t changed for many. There’s a long way to go and a lot left undone, as Obama said in his speech yesterday at the Lincoln Memorial. He spoke on the 50th anniversary of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, standing where King delivered it.

Here’s an excerpt where he talks about opportunities and unfinished business…

“And so as we mark this anniversary, we must remind ourselves that the measure of progress for those who marched 50 years ago was not merely how many blacks had joined the ranks of millionaires; it was whether this country would admit all people who were willing to work hard, regardless of race, into the ranks of a middle-class life. The test was not and never has been whether the doors of opportunity are cracked a bit wider for a few. It was whether our economic system provides a fair shot for the many, for the black custodian and the white steelworker, the immigrant dishwasher and the Native American veteran. To win that battle, to answer that call—this remains our great unfinished business.”

Obama was speaking about equality of opportunities—one of 10 core values that a large majority of Americans hold dear. As we’ve seen this week, opportunities are far from equal for vast numbers of Americans. If opportunities were even remotely close to equal, we wouldn’t see the vast disparities between whites and blacks in income, wealth, home-ownership, and other outcomes.

Only 26% of blacks say that the situation of black people in this country is better today compared to five years ago, according to the Pew Research Center. Whites tend to agree: Only 35% of whites say that the situation of black people is better today than five years ago. Opinions of both groups were more optimistic in 2008, when Obama was first elected president. But optimism faded after that.

If you watched Obama’s speech or read about it, what do you think of his message?

What’s your opinion of the situation of black people in this country today compared to5 years ago?

How optimistic are you about the future?

 

 

Comments: (0)
Categories: Equal Opportunities

King’s Dream: How well do blacks and whites get along?

This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series King's Dream
Pew research study 2013 How Well Do Racial and Ethnic Groups Get Along These Days

Click on the chart to visit the Pew website and download the entire 46-page report.

Respect for people of different races is one of the 10 core values that nearly all Americans hold dear. But: How well do blacks and whites actually get along?

This week, we’ve used the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech to reflect on race relations since that time. We’ve considered Obama’s remarks about our unfinished business, racial differences in perceptions of fair treatment of blacks, assessments of how far we have come and how far we have to go, and black-white disparities in income, wealth and homeownership.

So far, it’s been a story of divides, differences, and difficulties among some areas of progress.

When it comes to respect, however, it’s a different story. A large majority of blacks (73%) say that whites and blacks get along very well (16%) or pretty well (57%), according to the Pew Research Center poll we’ve consulted all week. However, about one of four blacks say that whites and blacks don’t get along well.

Whites tend to see white-black relations in a similar way. About eight of ten whites (81%) say that whites and blacks get along well (12%) or pretty well (69%). About 16% say blacks and whites don’t get along well.

Another indicator of respect is acceptance of black-white marriage. Acceptance is at an all-time high, according to a Gallup poll. “Americans are approaching unanimity in their views of marriages between blacks and whites,” Gallup researchers say “with 86% now approving of such unions.” Whites and blacks similarly approve of marriage between blacks and whites. For example, 96% of blacks and 84% approve of black-white unions.

Of course there have been other positive trends and improvements as well. Pew’s FactTank has compiled several of them here.

Are you surprised by these trends in black-white relations?

What would you say is the area of greatest progress in achieving King’s dream of racial equality?

Comments: (0)
Categories: Equal OpportunitiesFreedom