Most Black Americans Believe U.S. Institutions Are Purposefully Holding Them Back

The new Pew Research Center report draws from a survey of over 4,700 Black adults in the United States in September 2023. According to the report, most Black Americans believe American criminal justice systems, governments, big business, media outlets, and healthcare systems were unfairly designed to purposefully hold them back. Around 75 percent of Black adults experienced racial discrimination at least occasionally, with 13 percent reporting encounters with racism on a regular basis. Additionally, three-quarters of Black adults stated they need to work harder than their non-Black peers to achieve the same level of success.

The study found Black adults have a particular mistrust of the United States criminal justice system. According to the report, the percentage of Black adults who believe the prison system, judicial system, and American policing policies were at least somewhat designed to hold them back was 74 percent, 70 percent, and 68 percent, respectively. Furthermore, 76 percent of respondents agreed that police do very little to stop guns and drugs from flooding Black communities, and 74 percent believe Black people are disproportionately jailed to increase prison profits.

In regards to the American government, 67 percent of Black adults reported the political system in America was at least somewhat designed to prevent their success. Black women were more likely than men to hold this opinion. Additionally, while most Black adults agreed with the statement that Black politicians are singled out and discredited more than their White peers, Democrat-leaning Black respondents were significantly more likely to agree (82 percent) than Republican-leaning participants (57 percent).

Black adults reported mistrust in economic and media outlets as well. A majority of respondents believe American big business marketing practices target Black people, persuading them to buy luxury products and keep them in debt. Nearly 90 percent of respondents reported encountering inaccurate news about Black people, with 73 percent of this group believing those inaccuracies were created on purpose, rather than human error.

Mistrust of American healthcare systems was also found to be prevalent among Black Americans. Over half of respondents agreed that they mistrust medical research, believing medical professionals experiment on Black people without their consent. An even larger share of Black adults, 62 percent, believe the American government encourages Black single motherhood in an effort to reduce the need for Black men. About 58 percent of respondents believe the government encourages birth control and abortion in Black communities to purposefully control the Black population.

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