The news from the United States sounds threatening: riots in Missouri after the police fatally shot an 18-year-old African-American. Now the National Guard has to move in. It awakens memories of a burning Mississippi from the 1960s. Is the country relapsing into a period of racial unrest? Was Barack Obama’s election as the first black U.S. president just a fairy tale?
The answer is no, and it cannot be stressed enough. America has changed fundamentally in the last half century.
Let us just remind ourselves: in the 1960s, white and black people sat in segregated seats on the bus and went to different schools. Since then, much has been achieved. The African-American middle class has expanded. The number of marriages between white and black people is increasing. For Americans, the racism of those days is unthinkable today. That’s where the progress has been made – inside people’s heads.
But anyone who thought that with Mr. Obama’s election the problems of African-Americans would disappear was simply naive. The economic crisis affected the black middle class harder than other sections of the population. At 11.4 percent, unemployment among African Americans is almost twice as high as the country’s average.