I agree with the previous posts that racial bigotry has declined during the past few decades; relations between whites and blacks are certainly better than they were in the 1960s. But I should point out that racial bigotry works both ways, since the previous posts seem to suggest that the problem exists entirely with white prejudice against African Americans.
The above posters have really hit the nail on the head in that the problems of racism and discrimination exist in great degrees in terms of economics, incarceration and education. These three elements create a vicious cycle. Poverty and poor education often lead to incarceration which in turn hurts the family unit and leads to future generations of poverty of poor education, and then often incarceration. In addition we have to be concious of the fact that high incarceration rates for African American males is unquestionably a result of racism and discrimination. If the trends continue, I see a much larger portion of the African American population living in poverty and filling our prisons to the point of where our penal system in under great duress. Without a change in attitudes and education, I see a possible decrease in the African American population as a whole. This population will be suffering from the problems of third world countries (poverty, high infant mortality, decreased life span, increased disease) while living in a first world nation.
I agree that overt, cultural racism is less of a factor in the lives of African-Americans today, and neither is the legal racism that black men and women faced less than a generation ago. But the problems were not just legal or cultural, they were economic, and there is very little support among many Americans for helping to overturn the economic legacies of Jim Crow. Poverty continues to affect African-Americans at a rate far disproportionate to whites, a factor that surely contributes to the incarceration rates described in the previous post. It also contributes to the massive achievement gap between African-American and white students, a problem which is in my opinion the biggest one facing education today.
First of all, it is hard to say that there are really negative trends in white attitudes towards African Americans today. I would argue that there is less racism, discrimination, and prejudice today than there was thirty years ago.
That said, things are obviously not perfect for the African American community. The trend that I see as the most negative is the continuing trend towards high incarceration rates for African American men. If this trend keeps up, the African American community (at least the parts of it that are at the lowest end of the socioeconomic ladder) will be even more depressed. There will be even fewer stable families as more men are removed from the "marriageable" pool because they are in prison or have a hard time getting work due to their status as felons.
I would argue, then, that the trends in race relations are not uniformly negative. However, there are trends that clearly point to the possibility of a decline in the status and situation of African Americans in the underclass.