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Next Generation Poised to be More Racially Accepting

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While there is constant talk among older generations about the failings of the younger generation, one area in which the younger generation should be admired is their views and actions on racial issues.

While older generations have an impressive history in paving the way for increased racial equality, from sparking the civil rights movement to electing a black president, much is still left to be desired. Iowa particularly has been apart of this two-sided equation.

A state that is 95 percent white did more to elect the nation’s first black President than any other state. In addition, Iowa has a rich history of pioneering the breakdown of racial barriers. On the other end, the high number of blacks in Iowa prisons, the large Iowa high school drop-out rate for blacks, the high Iowa jobless rate for blacks, or the failure of many of Iowa’s black entrepreneurs is very disproportionate to the low African-American population in Iowa.

For the past few months Pew research has been studying the Millennial culture in all of its subsets have found that this group of 18- to 29-year-olds is more open to diversity than any other generation sub set previously. Their level of acceptance in this generation is greater than in other generation.

According to the pew study, Millennials, compared with older groups, particularly Americans ages 50 or older, are significantly more likely to be accepting of interracial marriage. In addition, a majority of Millennials say at least some of their friends are of a different race.  Compare those rates to Americans ages 50 and older who are considerably less likely to have cross-racial friendships. This difference is largely the result of fewer older whites having black friends. The study showed just 36 percent of whites ages 50 to 64 and 32 percent of whites ages 65 and older report having at least some black friends. Why does any of that matter? Because we make decision based on trust, we trust those whom we can relate to- those with whom we have a relationship. Without those relationships it’s difficult to be included in the decisions.

Does this infer that older people are racist and younger people are tolerant? Not necessarily.

The Pew study shows that all generations over time have improved in their views on race. However, it is reasonable to assume that Millennials increased experience and willingness to engage with diverse cultures will allow them to be in a better position to deal with some of the lingering racial and ethnic disparities we still face.

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This is good news and I'm not surprised based on my children's experiences who are now 25 and 21. They see the world in a very different lens in regard to race and sexual orientation. They have friends of different races and cultural backgrounds, and being bi-racial is cool. There is great hope for our future!

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