When I was a working reporter I was often assigned to write poll stories. I liked writing them; it was a snapshot of what Americans were thinking. The Pew Research Center has a poll out this week of African-Americans, a year into our first African-American president's term. It's just full of fascinating stuff. Thirty-nine percent of the blacks in the poll said that "the situation of black people in this country" is better than it was five years ago. Just 20% said that in 2007. As for the future, they are optimistic--53% of those polled said life for blacks in the future will be better than it is now. Two years ago, 44% said that. Was Obama's election a factor? 54% of the blacks polled said, yes, his victory had improved race relations here. A third of the whites agreed; 45% said it had made no difference. Economics? A third of the blacks in the poll said their economic situation was good or excellent, up a bit from 27% in 2006. But for whites it was down--35% saying good or excellent now as against 52% in '06. We haven't killed off racism, of course. More than eighty percent said we need to make more changes before they have equal rights with whites; about a third of the whites agreed. Progress? Sure. As I've written before, we inch forward.
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