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The Chairman's Blog
Black America: How Is Your Life Going?
The Chairman's Blog

Black America: How Is Your Life Going?

Economists and government agencies know a lot about Black Americans.

Through massive government and corporate data collection techniques and tens of thousands of platforms digitizing everything from birth and death rates to credit card spending to average income -- and infinite combinations within -- they seemingly know everything imaginable about Black life in the U.S.

But economists and government agencies only know about Black Americans' transactions in life -- not how they actually experience their lives.

Almost no one in government, academia nor any NGO knows the latter. It might be why we are here.

Gallup felt our country needed a totally independent, nonpartisan center with no ties to any special interests that documents and reports how Black people experience life in America on an ongoing basis. Everything from their interactions with others amid ordinary life activities to how Black Americans navigate the exclusion and discrimination that results in negative life outcomes. Literally no organization in the world asks Black Americans this question: "How is your life going?"

The Gallup Center on Black Voices, which we are launching today, will get to the bottom of it -- the truth -- and detail the responses. That is our core mission. The Center on Black Voices has created a set of standards for life on Earth that especially apply to Black Americans. Think of these newly developed standards as the new sustainable development goals (SDG) for both this country and all its cities.

More specifically, the center will study Black Americans' level of access to and relationship with the economy, justice, wellbeing, education equity and opportunity -- which are the driving forces of a great life.

Gallup will fund the center, staff it and run it. This is a 100-year commitment. We are making a promise to our country and all Black Americans to just listen and report the facts. We are putting the full resources of our research engine behind understanding how Black Americans' lives are going.

One SDG among several we will track is the single best question Gallup scientists have ever found to measure how anyone experiences their life: "Please imagine a ladder with steps numbered from zero to 10 at the top. The top of the ladder represents the best possible life for you and the bottom of the ladder represents the worst possible life for you. On which step of the ladder would you say you personally feel you stand at this time?"

The follow-up question is, "On which step do you think you will stand five years from now?"

That simple question-set finds what Gallup scientists believe is the most desired state of mind a human can experience: Thriving. Gallup finds that a big part of Thriving is hope.

Lord knows we are aware of mountains of data on the disparities in Black employment, dropout rates, imprisonment and interactions with police. I am sure the government needs to know these things, but none of them provide insight into what would make Black lives in America thrive. Nor how many Black lives experience what Gallup scientists refer to as "Net Thriving."

Ultimately, Net Thriving should matter more to leaders than GDP and more to politicians than their approval ratings.

The first mission of our new center is to answer just one question: "Is the Black experience in America getting better or worse?" We are going to report our findings every quarter on our Center on Black Voices website.

More than half of Black Americans 18 years and older (56%) are in a state of Net Thriving. This means 44% are either suffering or struggling.

What if America significantly reduced that 44% suffering or struggling? Improving Net Thriving would change America and the world more than any other sociological shift in decades. It would change Black lives in America and then Black lives across the world. It would change everybody's life.

Follow our breakthroughs and analytics on our new website, Gallup Center on Black Voices. If we don't collectively lead the way to create a whole new future for Black America -- who will?


Jim Clifton is Chairman of Gallup.

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