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Deep divide in how blacks and whites see race, new survey proves


    Black Lives Matters protesters marched through downtown Seattle, including through Westlake Center and Pacific Place mall, on Nov. 27, 2015, to bring attention to police brutality, civil rights issues, consumerism.

A report that asked thousands of people about their views of racism has found the nation to still be deeply divided, with majorities of black and white Americans holding nearly opposite views of the impact of skin color.

About 4 in 10 black Americans doubt the country will ever reach the point where they are treated as equals to whites, according to the Pew Research Center survey released today. Yet, nearly 4 in 10 white Americans think that’s already happened. A majority of white people believe blacks are treated the same as them when applying for a mortgage, in the workplace, in restaurants and at the voting booth, the survey found.

In almost every category measured, including police treatment of blacks, the Black Lives Matter movement, politics and the presidency, “there’s a huge polarization between black and white Americans,” said Pew’s Juliana Horowitz.

“You hear that anecdotally, that there is a divide in the country,” and the numbers bear it out, added Horowitz, an associate research director at the Washington organization.

While about 4 in 10 whites surveyed said there was too much of a focus today on race, nearly 6 in 10 blacks said there is too little. Forty-six percent of whites described race relations as generally good, yet 61 percent of blacks said they are generally bad.

White and black Americans also disagreed on the nature of racism. When asked about the biggest problem when it comes to discrimination against black people, just about 1 in 5 whites said it was that racism was built into U.S. laws and institutions. Nearly twice that share of blacks believed the same. Meanwhile, 7 in 10 whites said individual people discriminating against blacks was the biggest issue in racism.

“Blacks are far more likely — at 71 percent — to say they have personally experienced discrimination in their lives,” Horowitz said. “Yet 3 in 10 whites also say they have been treated differently because of their race. On the other hand, when asked if their race has made life harder, 40 percent of blacks said it had while only 5 percent of white people said it had for them.”

Pew researchers said they were spurred to conduct the survey, which asked questions of 3,769 adults between Feb. 29 and May 8, by national controversies over race, policing and violence, such as shootings of unarmed black men that catapulted the Black Lives Matter movement into prominence. Researchers also wanted to ask about President Barack Obama’s effect on race relations before the end of his second term.

The survey also asked Latinos about their views of racism against black Americans and found their views more likely to closely align the views of black Americans.

The survey had a margin of error of 2.2 percentage points.

Support of Black Lives Matter was high among black Americans, with 65 percent giving their support. At 4 in 10, whites were less supportive. On Obama, the groups also stood apart. Slightly more whites said Obama has made race relations worse (32 percent) than those who said he’s made them better (28 percent). But a little more than half of blacks said he has improved race relations.

While the differences were stark, the report said there were some groups of whites that were closer in their views to blacks. “Whites who are younger than 30 are far less likely than older whites to say there is too much focus on race,” researchers wrote, and also more likely to support Black Lives Matter. White Democrats were also generally more sympathetic than white Republicans to the views of black Americans on race.

Still, blacks and whites are “sharply divided,” researchers wrote, adding that “for many blacks, racial equality remains an elusive goal.”


©2016 Los Angeles Times

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  • One of the main factors in the problem is the large percentage of whites who refuse to acknowledge there is any problem at all. They think that if they deny there is a problem, it doesn’t need to be discussed or confronted- but yet they just can’t understand all this anger and unrest. Meanwhile, the repubs continue to openly attempt to undermine every goal and accomplishment of the president, just to minimize his legacy as the first president of color. They feel like they are “losing the country”- more like the country is leaving them behind. Trump is the canary in the coal mine.

    • Oh, there’s a problem. And the problem is related to this question. Why is it, that every other race, even the most persecuted – Jews, have managed to pull their OWN selves up by their own bootstraps?

    • The Pew survey has a lot of very old information. Nothing really new in it. But let us make an agreement: Whites will need to admit more residual discrimination exists than they have acknowledged thus far and much of that is embedded in laws that need to be changed. Blacks will need to take more responsibility for their own fortunes and outcomes by working on family stability, cutting crime in their communities and protecting human life in gang-infested communities like Chicago. No one is totally innocent in this mess.

  • After 8 years of Barrack, race relations are at an all-time low. Obama spent 8 years cranking the heat on fictitious BS. The likes of which gave us the infamous “beer summit”, Fredie Grey, and let’s not forget the bogus “black lives matter” crappolla.

  • Not sure about the mainland but here in Hawaii I don’t believe black discrimination exists at all. It’s human nature to want to blame something or someone for failures or lack of forward progress.

    • In Hawaii discrimination against Blacks exists as well. When you deal with an unknown person you are making a bet and you base it on likeliness to win and that is based on statistics. That is why discrimination against Asian is declining because of their achievement, while discrimination against Blacks does not decrease. But if you know the history of the person like was in the case of Obama, then you do not need to discriminate and you treat that person without discriminating.

      • Discrimination against blacks in Hawaii also occurs because Hawaiians have discriminated against blacks. There is a long and interesting history to this which I wish SA would explore.

  • I feel that “man ” has tribal instincts that have evolved with our survival genes. Tribal affiliation is of course highly variable and subjective. We all make choices or discriminate about lots of things including our friends, our food, cloths, skin ink or not, etc. Historically there have always been the haves and the have-nots … this has not changed much except that now we have a middle class [that always wants more] and the entitlement class. I doubt that full equality/parity will ever be perceived as 100%. What we need to do better is celebrate our differences. Tribal differentiation transcends skin color.

  • Issue won’t change anytime soon. Since this land of freedom began race issues were already instigated. A lot of the World as well. Humans just have a hard time getting along with other races. Only a few percent are able to.

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