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Poll: 40 Percent of Whites Think Black Folks Just Need to ‘Try Harder’ to be Equally Successful

Black People Try Harder

Previous studies have found that lack of opportunity, not hard work, is what keeps people in poverty. (Photo by Hinterhaus Productions/DigitalVisison/Getty Images).

Black people would be just as well off as whites if they just tried a little harder, according to 40 percent of white American respondents in a new poll from YouGov.

The market research firm asked a variety of questions on what it called “racial resentment,” including one that asked participants thoughts on the idea that “it’s really a matter of some people not working hard enough; if Blacks would only try harder, they could be just as well off as whites.”

In total, 35 percent of poll participants agreed (16 percent “strongly” and 19 percent “somewhat”) with the statement, while 36 percent disagreed. Twenty-eight percent of pollers said they didn’t feel either way about it.

When examined along racial lines however, 40 percent of white respondents indicated their belief that Black folks would be “just as well off as whites” if they tried harder compared to just 18 percent of Black respondents who felt the same, according to the poll.

The question revealed an even starker divide along political party lines, however. Twenty-two percent of Democrats agreed (8 percent “strongly” and 14 percent “somewhat”) with the statement to some degree, a small number compared to the 55 percent of Republican respondents. Meanwhile, 66 percent of those polled who voted for President Donald Trump agreed that Black people should try harder to be equal while 14 percent of Hillary Clinton’s supporters said the same.

The YouGov poll also questioned respondents on whether efforts to increase racial diversity negatively impacts whites, if Blacks have historically received less than they deserved, and whether generations of slavery and discrimination are to blame for making it more difficult for Black Americans to escape poverty.

Discrimination and systemic inequality, which can take many forms, have been linked to poorer outcomes for Black folks, including lower graduation rates, higher rates of jail, or incarceration and even a shorter life expectancy than their white counterparts. A study published last year found that since 1989, Black people have received 36 percent less call backs for employment than white people.

YouGov interviewed approximately 1,500 respondents of various ages, races and genders from April 1-3, 2018. The margin of error was reported at plus or minus three percentage points.

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