Preliminary results of a survey about the needs and concerns of Utah's growing black community show most members worry about their lack of unity.
The next biggest concern of black Utahns, most of whom live in the Salt Lake area, Ogden and Layton, is the lack of educational opportunities for their children in predominantly white schools and the lack of youth programs aimed at helping minorities stay in school and become successful.The survey, conducted by the Utah Coalition of African-American Women, also found the black community is concerned about the apparent lack of support for black businesses, lack of employment opportunities for members of their community and the lack of black cultural awareness in Utah.
The coalition estimates approximately 10,000 blacks live in northern Utah.
"We want more positive attitudes toward minority children to be shown and taught in the schools. . . . We need more qualified black scholars and educators in Utah," said Jerry A. Harwell, first vice president of the coalition.
"As fine as a career in sports is, we need to let our young people know they can do more than play sports," Harwell added.
Although the coalition characterized the survey as incomplete, several black leaders in the community agreed with its findings.
During June and July, the coalition handed out nearly 1,000 surveys to women through black churches, businesses and other businesses. Only 106 responded, and all respondents are female.
Concerning black-owned and -operated businesses in the area, respondents said they feel the numbers are dismal and there is a need to create a black economic community.
Jobs and job training are also a concern. Respondents want more employment opportunities and would like to see more blacks in decisionmaking positions.
The survey also indicated a need to establish a network of community information for blacks who move into the area. "How long are people here before they realize there is a black community in Utah?" Harwell asked. "Some of these folks are in a state of culture shock after arriving here."
Racism was also a concern. Few respondents said they had experienced blatant discrimination, but some reported subtle racism in the workplace.
"Many non-blacks have not had any experience working or socializing with blacks. . . . This lack of interaction will create misunderstandings, promote stereotypes and do nothing to bridge any cultural gaps," Harwell said.
Other concerns include gang problems, AIDS, drugs, sensitivity training for police, helping elderly blacks, supporting the goals and the agenda of the various organizations in the community and having more blacks and minorities in government.