Mark Dolliver: The Intra-Racial Divide

If you think a hip-hop soundtrack will help a brand ingratiate itself with black consumers, guess again. A Pew Research Center poll found 61 percent of black adults saying they think hip- hop exerts a bad influence on society; 71 percent said the same about rap. Asked to assess some prominent blacks, just 17 percent deemed 50 Cent a good influence on the black community. (By comparison, Oprah Winfrey was rated a good influence by 87 percent.)

The split on hip-hop reflects a deeper divide. As you can see in the chart, black adults see a widening divide in the values of middle-class and poor blacks. Just 23 percent agreed that “middle-class and poor blacks share ‘a lot’ of values in common.” Forty-two percent said they share “some values in common,” while 22 percent said they share “only a little” and 9 percent said they share “almost no values in common.”

Strikingly, 37 percent agreed with the statement, “Blacks today can no longer be thought of as a single race because the black community is so diverse.” Barely half (53 percent) said it still makes sense to view blacks as a single race “because they have so much in common.” Be that as it may, one wonders in reading the report whether the phrase “black community” has become obsolete.