More than 8 in 10 black Americans say they believe Trump is a racist and that he has made racism a bigger problem in the country. Nine in 10 disapprove of his job performance overall.
The pessimism goes well beyond assessments of the president. A 65 percent majority of African Americans say it is a “bad time” to be a black person in America. That view is widely shared by clear majorities of black adults across income, generational and political lines. By contrast, 77 percent of black Americans say it is a “good time” to be a white person, with a wide majority saying white people don’t understand the discrimination faced by black Americans.
Courtney Tate, 40, an elementary school teacher in Irving, Tex., outside Dallas, said that since Trump was elected, he’s been having more conversations with his co-workers — discussions that are simultaneously enlightening and exhausting — about racial issues he and his students face everyday.
“As a black person, you’ve always seen all the racism, the microaggressions, but as white people they don't understand this is how things are going for me,” said Tate, who said he is the only black male teacher in his school. “They don’t live those experiences. They don’t live in those neighborhoods. They moved out. It’s so easy to be white and oblivious in this country.”
Francine Cartwright, a 44-year-old mother of three from Moorestown, N.J., said the ascent of Trump has altered the way she thinks about the white people in her life.
“If I’m in a room with white women, I know that 50 percent of them voted for Trump and they believe in his ideas,” said Cartwright, a university researcher. “I look at them and think, ‘How do you see me? What is my humanity to you?’ ”
The president routinely talks about how a steadily growing economy and historically low unemployment have resulted in more African Americans with jobs and the lowest jobless rate for black Americans recorded. Months ago he said, “What I’ve done for African Americans in two-and-a-half years, no president has been able to do anything like it.”
But those factors have not translated positively for the president. A 77 percent majority of black Americans say Trump deserves “only some” or “hardly any” credit for the 5.5 percent unemployment rate among black adults compared with 20 percent who say Trump deserves significant credit.
In follow-up interviews, many said former president Barack Obama deserves more credit for the improvement in the unemployment rate, which declined from a high of 16.8 percent in 2010 to 7.5 percent when he left office.
Others said their personal financial situation is more a product of their own efforts than anything the president has done.
“I don’t think [Trump] has anything to do with unemployment among African Americans,” said Ethel Smith, a 72-year-old nanny who lives in Lithonia, Ga., a suburb of Atlanta. “I’ve always been a working poor person. That’s just who I am.”
It really does come down to black folk like myself wondering if a room full of white folks are oblivious to the black experience in 2020 or actively hateful of it, and I don't know which. I learned long ago not to bring up politics in any conversation around here in NKY because then I learn the answer.