GenForwarda survey of the Black Youth Project at the University of Chicago with the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, is a bimonthly report of racially and ethnically diverse young people’s perspectives. The latest report, for October 2017, entitled “The ‘Woke’ Generation? Millennial Attitudes on Race in the US”, captured some profound insights on what Millennials think of discrimination and racial power in America.

Some of the findings include:

  1. Most Millennials of color believe President Donald Trump is a racist. White Millennials are split on this issue.
  2. Millennials, across ethno-racial lines, agree that Trump “is most sympathetic to rich people and white people.”
  3. Millennials believe African American people experience the most severe racial discrimination in America, with Latinx being second. However, the young adults also believe African American people hold the second highest level of political power in America, behind white people.

The last juxtaposition is fascinating. If the Millennials surveyed widely perceive African American people as most subject to race-based discrimination (as opposed to race-based privilege) and perceive African American people as wielding less financial power—both traditional factors in political power analyses—where do they draw the conclusion that African Americans are first runners up in domestic political power?

Perhaps, the persistence of limiting Black-white racial analyses informs this perspective. Perhaps it’s witnessing Black resilience despite centuries of racist structures. Perhaps young people are swayed by optics. Millennials are likelier to fraternize, date, marry, have babies and network across racial, ethnic and religious lines. Many cast their votes for a Black president and include family members who did the same, and perhaps to them this equates to Black political power.

Do they now believe President Barack Obama’s two consecutive terms somehow lifted the masses of Black people in America out of previous conditions of servitude, reversed racist police targeting of Black people, bailed former Black homeowners out of foreclosures that followed predatory lending, decreased the school-to-prison pipeline and normalized Black excellence in ways that made Black laypeople an impenetrable political force with which to reckon?

Maybe, despite the various domestic attacks on Black personhood, the inability to crush the Black spirit is a political power of its own.

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