If you scanned the headlines over the last year, it would be easy to assume a deep level of pessimism and anxiety among African Americans and Latinos, particularly compared to white Americans.
Young black men are being slain by police officers, seemingly on a weekly basis, leading to protests in cities from Ferguson to Baltimore and an uncomfortable national debate over the extent of racial progress. The unemployment rate for African Americans remains nearly twice as high as for white Americans and only recently dipped below 10 percent. Latinos have seen their push for immigration reform stymied in both Congress and the courts, and they remain targets of choice for prominent Republicans.
Yet a recent poll finds that for all of the challenges they face, African Americans and Latinos are far more likely to be optimistic than their white counterparts, both about their personal station in life and the future of the country more broadly. The poll of nearly 2,000 adults was conducted in mid-June by Penn Schoen Berland for The Atlantic and the Aspen Institute. The findings overall suggest that the concept of The Dream is in trouble: Seventy-five percent of respondents said The Dream was “suffering,” while just one-quarter said it was “alive and well.” Break down the results by age and race, however, and the more startling finding is that in the age of Obama, white Americans—and in particular those under 30 or nearing retirement age—have all but given up on the American Dream. More than four out of five younger whites, and more than four out of five respondents between the ages of 51 and 64 said The Dream is suffering.