50 years after, Martin Luther King’s ‘Dream’ still not realized in U.S.: poll

50 years after, Martin Luther King’s ‘Dream’ still not realized in U.S.: poll 7:36pm EDT By Chris Francescani tumblr_menb33cmnc1r5ss03o1_500 January-21-Martin-Luther-King-Jr.-Day Martin Luther King Jr martin_luther_king_jr_quote-1 martin_luther_king_jr_quotes_6 tumblr_m9hm5vDG2h1qzhkvho1_500 martin-luther-king-jr-day-L-xGOagM NEW YORK (Reuters) – Fifty years after Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech, nearly half of those who responded to a new poll said a lot more needs to be done before people in the United States would “be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” The Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C., found that 49 percent of those polled think “a lot more” needs to be done to achieve the color-blind society King envisioned in his 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech. But 73 percent of black respondents and 81 percent of whites thought the two races get along “very well” or “pretty well.” The telephone poll of 2,231 adults, including 376 black Americans and 218 people of Hispanic descent, was conducted between August 1 through 11. A quarter of the black Americans polled said the lives of blacks were better now than they were five years ago, when the United States elected its first black president, Barack Obama. In 2009, after Obama’s election, 39 percent of black Americans expressed the same opinion. “It’s clear now that the rosy glow that followed that historic election has faded among both blacks and whites,” said Pew Research Center senior editor Rich Morin. “We don’t know for sure but it’s reasonable to suggest that among the biggest reasons would be the Great Recession, which hit all Americans hard, but particularly blacks.” WEALTH GAP King’s speech was the centerpiece of a march on Washington that drew some 250,000 people to the National Mall. [ID:nL6N0GN1S6]. In it, the famed orator described the lives of black Americans, telling the nation, “The Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.” The Pew poll found the economic gulf between whites and blacks is roughly the same as it was half a century ago. The gaps between blacks and whites in the areas of household income and household wealth have widened, but the poll found that on measures such as high school completion and life expectancy, they have narrowed. The poll found that on other measures, including poverty and homeownership rates, the gaps are roughly the same as they were 40 years ago. Pew said that between 1967 and 2011 the median income of a black household of three rose from about $24,000 to nearly $40,000. Expressed as a share of white income, black households earn about 59 percent of what white households earn, a small increase from 55 percent in 1967 (1967 and 2011 media household income figures expressed in 2012 dollars). When expressed as dollars, the black-white income gap widened, from about $19,000 in the late 1960s to roughly $27,000 today. Pew said the race gap on household wealth has increased from $75,224 in 1984 to $84,960 in 2011. Pew said other indicators of financial well-being have changed little in recent decades, including homeownership rates and the share of each race that live above the poverty line. The black unemployment rate has consistently been about double that of whites since the 1950s, according to Pew. When it came to criminal justice, Pew said that significant minorities of whites agree that blacks receive unequal treatment when dealing with the criminal justice system. Pew said seven-in-ten blacks and about a third of whites said blacks are treated less fairly in their dealings with the police. And about two-thirds of black respondents and quarter of whites said blacks are not treated as fairly as whites in the courts. Thirty-five percent of blacks polled said they had been discriminated against or treated unfairly because of their race in the past year, compared with 20 percent of Hispanics and 10 percent of whites, Pew said. August 23, 2013 50 Years Later <nyt_byline> By CHARLES M. BLOW

<nyt_text><nyt_correction_top>As we approach the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, I have a gnawing in my gut, an uneasy sense of society and its racial reality.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech keeps ringing in my head, an aching, idyllic, rhetorical masterpiece that envisions a future free of discrimination and filled with harmony and equality. But I wonder whether the day he imagined will ever come and whether many Americans have quietly abandoned King’s dream as a vision that can’t — or shouldn’t — exist in reality.

I’m absolutely convinced that enormous steps have been made in race relations. That’s not debatable. Most laws that explicitly codified discrimination have been stricken from the books. Overt, articulated racial animus has become more socially unacceptable. And diversity has become a cause to be championed in many quarters, even if efforts to achieve it have taken some hits of late.

But my worry is that we have hit a ceiling of sorts. As we get closer to a society where explicit bias is virtually eradicated, we no longer have the stomach to deal with the more sinister issues of implicit biases and of structural and systematic racial inequality.

I worry that centuries of majority privilege and minority disenfranchisement are being overlooked in puddle-deep discussions about race and inequality, personal responsibility and societal inhibitors.

I wonder if we, as a society of increasing diversity but also drastic inequality, even agree on what constitutes equality. When we hear that word, do we think of equal opportunity, or equal treatment under the law, or equal outcomes, or some combination of those factors?

And I worry that there is a distinct and ever-more-vocal weariness — and in some cases, outright hostility — about the continued focus on racial equality.

In this topsy-turvy world, those who even deign to raise the issue of racial inequality can be quickly dismissed as race-baiters or, worse, as actual racists. It’s the willful-ignorance-is-bliss approach to dismissing undesirable discussion.

In this moment, blacks and whites see the racial progress so differently that it feels as if we are living in two separate Americas.

According to a Pew Research Center poll released Thursday, nearly twice as many blacks as whites say that blacks are treated less fairly by the police. More than twice as many blacks as whites say that blacks are treated less fairly by the courts. And about three times as many blacks as whites say that blacks are treated less fairly than whites at work, in stores or restaurants, in public schools and by the health care system.

In fact, a 2011 study by researchers at Tufts University and Harvard Business School found, “Whites believe that they have replaced blacks as the primary victims of racial discrimination in contemporary America.”

And in these divergent realities, we appear to be resegregating — moving in the opposite direction of King’s dream.

The Great Migration — in which millions of African-Americans in the 20th century, in two waves, left the rural South for big cities in the North, Midwest and West Coast — seems to have become a failed experiment, with many blacks reversing those migratory patterns and either moving back to the South or out of the cities.

As USA Today reported in 2011:

“2010 census data released so far this year show that 20 of the 25 cities that have at least 250,000 people and a 20 percent black population either lost more blacks or gained fewer in the past decade than during the 1990s. The declines happened in some traditional black strongholds: Chicago, Oakland, Atlanta, Cleveland and St. Louis.”

In addition, a Reuters/Ipsos poll released this month found that “about 40 percent of white Americans and about 25 percent of nonwhite Americans are surrounded exclusively by friends of their own race.”

Furthermore, there is some evidence that our schools are becoming more segregated, not less. A study this year by Dana Thompson Dorsey of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that “students are more racially segregated in schools today than they were in the late 1960s and prior to the enforcement of court-ordered desegregation in school districts across the country.”

I want to celebrate our progress, but I’m too disturbed by the setbacks.

I had hoped to write a hopeful, uplifting column to mark this anniversary. I wanted to be happily lost in The Dream. Instead, I must face this dawning reality.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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