Majority of Black Americans believe U.S. institutions are conspiring against them, poll finds


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Breaking News!

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By Ayanna Alexander and Matt Brown, from the Associated Press

More than 6 in 10 Black adults surveyed agreed that institutions such as the criminal justice system, the country’s economic system and policing are designed to hold Black people back.

1950s file photo shows men from Alabama who were included in a syphilis study (National Archives via AP).

Most Black Americans say they’ve experienced racial discrimination regularly or from time to time, which colors how they view U.S. institutions like policing, the political system and the media, according to a study on conspiracy theories.

The study released Monday by the Pew Research Center examined the intersection of race and conspiratorial beliefs. It’s the second installment in the research group’s series on how Black Americans see success and failure.

The study defines racial conspiracy theories as ideas that Black Americans might have about “the actions of U.S. institutions” that aren’t necessarily the stated goals of the institution. The study stresses that these are claims that Black Americans may have because of America’s documented history of racist policies largely impacting Black communities. Pew examined claims including conspiratorial beliefs about how major institutions discriminate against Black Americans and support for generational adages such as “you have to work twice as hard” to advance compared with white Americans.

For instance, the study found that more than 8 in 10 Black Americans surveyed agreed with the statement that “Black people are more likely to be incarcerated because prisons want to make money on the backs of Black people.” And more than 6 in 10 Black adults surveyed agreed that institutions such as the criminal justice system, the country’s economic system and policing are designed to hold Black people back.

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