Fri, Feb 02, 2007 - Page 7 News List

Study shows alienation among black US youths


A new study has found widespread marginalization and alienation among young black Americans in the US, who say the government cares little about them and fear that racism will not be eliminated in their lifetime.

The study belies assertions by the administration of US President George W. Bush that affirmative action programs are no longer necessary, and shows that achievements such as Senator Barack Obama's bid to become the nation's first black president are far from the norm, the study's director said.

"It is a problem that we keep suggesting that racism is eliminated because in fact it's not," said Cathy Cohen, a political science professor at the University of Chicago who conducted a national survey of 1,590 black, white and Hispanic people aged 15 to 25.

"They do feel quite alienated, almost like secondary citizens at times in this country. So the rhetoric of a color-blind society where you're only judged on merit is not their reality," she said.

Nearly half of the black youths surveyed believe the government treats immigrants better than black people, and 56 percent believe that leaders in government care very little about people like them.

More than 60 percent said they think discrimination makes it harder for blacks to get ahead, and 54 percent said that blacks receive worst education than whites.

Only 11 percent of black youth, 12 percent of Hispanic youth and four percent of white youth believe it is very likely that racism will be eliminated in their lifetime.

The survey has a margin of error of less than 2 percent.

It is important not to dismiss the major advances made in racial relations, Cohen said, noting that her parents grew up in a time and place where blacks were not allowed to drink from the same water fountains as whites.

However, blacks continue to have significantly higher rates of poverty, incarceration, unemployment and are far more likely to be victims of violence, contract AIDS or become pregnant as teenagers.

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