The vast gap between solid liberals and steadfast conservatives on this question is striking (these results also provide context to the widely divergent and passionate responses to Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Atlantic cover story this spring making the case for reparations). But so too is the gap striking between solid liberals — a group that’s highly educated, urban and well-off — and their younger “next generation” counterparts.
Another potential factor is that the “next generational left” is much more likely to say that government can’t afford to do more to help the needy (56 percent) than solid liberals (12 percent). And so perhaps their views on what changes government might still make to create equality for blacks are colored by their skepticism that government can afford to do more.
Of course, another explanation is that the lifetime of younger liberals has encompassed less discrimination than their parents and grandparents saw. But evidence suggests that discrimination — even if we now see subtler forms of it — has by no means disappeared. A more revealing question might grant people the chance to answer that both discrimination and personal responsibility play a role, to varying degrees. Perhaps we’d see then that young liberals believe discrimination persists, just to a lesser degree than in the past.