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Noah Smith

The Right and Left Misjudge Black America

The country's most-excluded group has made headway in several crucial measures of well-being.
Wonder what they really think?

Wonder what they really think?

Photographer: Dominick Reuter/AFP/Getty Images

As we celebrated Martin Luther King Day, most Americans seemed to be in agreement about one thing: Black America isn’t doing well. The right seems to perceive black communities as hopeless morasses of violence and dysfunction, as Donald Trump’s repeated references to “inner cities” reveal. On the left, there is a common notion that racial oppression is the same as it ever was. Though they disagree as to the cause, and focus on different problems, both sides seem rather sure that black America is mired in a more-or-less hopeless predicament.

But both sides just might be wrong. Evidence is quietly accumulating that black Americans are on an upward trend.