Despite severe losses during the recession, the majority of African Americans see the economy improving and are confident that their financial prospects will improve soon.Read that again: whites are more satisfied with their own lot, but the most dire about the economy in general.
That optimism, shared to a lesser degree by Hispanics, stands in stark contrast to the deeper pessimism expressed by a majority of whites. In general, whites are more satisfied with their personal financial situations but also more sour about the nation's economic prospects.
African Americans and Hispanics were more likely to be left broke, jobless and concerned that they lack the skills needed to shape their economic futures. But they also remained the most hopeful that the economy would soon right itself and allow them to prosper.
Whites, also buffeted by the long recession, are the most resentful of government action and far less optimistic about what is ahead financially, both for their own families and for the country as whole.
"I think things are going to get worse before they get better. A lot of people are going to have to buckle down because we've got a generation now that doesn't work," said David Still, 54, a married, white father of two who works as an electrician in Sumter, S.C. "You got people who were brought up on state support and things like that. When you can get as much money sitting at home as working, you are going to do that."
I'd insert a cryptic "LOL" here, but there isn't anything funny about the way these kinds of welfare myths are still perpetuated by white folks from one generation to the next (I think we got rid of people being "brought up on state support" about a generation ago).
The black jobless rate stands at 15.7 percent, far higher than the overall rate of 9 percent. The jobless rate for Hispanics is 11.9 percent, and for whites it is 8 percent.Part of the optimism amongst African-Americans and Latino Americans is that, as marginalized groups already, "hard times" are a cultural norm and viewed as just something one gets through.
The white anger, which we saw overwhelmingly in the "Tea Party" movement the past few years, is also diametric in its zeal regarding "government."
On the one hand, whites blame the government and Obama for the sorry state of the economy, and call for "lesser government" as a result (austerity, assaults on public employee unions, etc.).
On the other hand, "most whites said the Obama administration is doing too little for their families and not enough for the middle class, working-class Americans and small businesses. They were about twice as likely as were African Americans and Hispanics to say the administration is doing too much for Wall Street financial institutions."
As schizoid as this sounds, it is probably more a function of class than it is race. As Robert Reich put it recently, the problem isn't the role (or lack thereof) of government. It's income disparity between the wealthiest segments of society and everyone else.
The rich get richer, and the poor get pessimistic. And as more whites slip economically, the anger grows more so every day.
*Apologies to the brilliant website Stuff White People Like