Poll underscores changing realization among Latinos, blacks and Asians that it takes more than hard work to be a success


LatinaLista — It’s always assumed that if a person works hard, he/she will succeed in life. The harder you work, the greater your success. It’s the premise for the proverbial “American Dream.”

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Yet, a new poll released by Colorlines.com shows that the meaning of the American Dream has evolved, or to some, devolved. About 2400 people were polled for the survey and the results reveal a telling snapshot of today’s Americans’ opinions on who succeeds in life in this country and who doesn’t.

According to the poll, when people were asked if individual initiative alone explained racial disparities in the country, 23.6 percent of whites believed that to be the case. Only 12.9 percent of Latinos felt the same way and among blacks, 9.1 percent agreed.

When it comes to attributing racial factors to holding certain people back, it wasn’t surprising that the group who least agreed with that sentiment were whites at 37.2 percent. All the other major ethnic groups — Latinos (53.7 percent); blacks (67.5 percent); and Asians (58.6 percent) — felt racism factored in whether or not someone could achieve all that they could be.

Interestingly, a small portion of each ethnic group felt that (economic) class was more important than race or ethnicity in determining racial disparities in achievement. As one respondent pointed out, it’s all about who has the money to be able to afford to go to college.

Yet, there was no getting away from the fact that those who were more conservative saw racial disparities in achievement as a strictly either-or scenario — a person was either hard working or lazy.

However, not everybody took such a cut and dry view.

… Young people (ages 18 to 25) are only about 65 percent as likely as older Americans to view individual initiative as the exclusive explanation for success. Like Blacks and Latinos, they are also more likely to select more than just one type of explanation. Nuance is not our enemy, and with proactive efforts, it can be our collective future consensus, as well.