June 24, 2016
How blacks and whites view the state of race in America

How blacks and whites view the state of race in America

There are large gaps between blacks and whites in their views of race relations and racial inequality in the United States. Explore how the opinions of blacks and whites vary by age, education, gender and party identification in key questions from our report, "On Views of Race and Inequality, Blacks and Whites Are Worlds Apart." These findings are from a new national survey of 3,769 U.S. adults, including 1,799 whites and 1,004 blacks, conducted Feb. 29-May 8, 2016.

Views of race relations

Whites and blacks see the state of race relations very differently. While whites are about equally likely to say race relations are good as to say they are bad, blacks hold decidedly negative views, with majorities among all demographic groups of blacks saying race relations are bad. Among whites, opinions are split along party lines, with Democrats more likely than Republicans or independents to say race relations are bad. In fact, white and black Democrats are equally as likely to say that race relations in the U.S. are generally bad.

Race relations in the United States are ...

When it comes to improving race relations, blacks are evenly divided on whether it is more important to focus on the things racial and ethnic groups have in common or on what makes each group unique. By contrast, whites are about twice as likely to say the focus should be on commonalities rather than differences.

To improve race relations, it is more important to focus on ...

Whites are about twice as likely as blacks to say there is too much attention paid to race and racial issues in the country these days. About six-in-ten blacks say too little attention is paid to these issues. Among whites, men, those over 30 and Republicans are more likely to say we pay too much attention to race and racial issues.

There is ______ attention paid to race and racial issues in our country these days

Racial inequality

Solid majorities of blacks across all demographic groups say the country needs to continue making changes to give blacks equal rights with whites. While whites have moved closer to this position in recent years, the share that agrees remains significantly smaller (88% of blacks vs. 53% of whites).

% among U.S. white adults saying ...

% among U.S. black adults saying ...

100%

88

81%

Our country has made the changes needed to give blacks equal rights with whites

75

Our country needs to continue making changes to give blacks equal rights with whites

54%

53

50

38

36

Our country has made the changes needed to give blacks equal rights with whites

25

Our country needs to continue making changes to give blacks equal rights with whites

13

8

0

NOV

2009

MAR

2011

MAR

2014

JUL

2015

MAY

2016

NOV

2009

MAR

2011

MAR

2014

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2016

% among U.S. white adults saying ...

100%

Our country has made the changes needed to give blacks equal rights with whites

75

54%

53

50

38

36

25

Our country needs to continue making changes to give blacks equal rights with whites

0

NOV

2009

MAR

2011

MAR

2014

JUL

2015

MAY

2016

% among U.S. black adults saying ...

100%

88

81%

75

Our country needs to continue making changes to give blacks equal rights with whites

50

Our country has made the changes needed to give blacks equal rights with whites

25

13

8

0

NOV

2009

MAR

2011

MAR

2014

JUL

2015

MAY

2016

Furthermore, blacks are far more skeptical than whites that change will come – 43% say the country will never make the necessary changes to achieve racial equality, compared with 11% of whites. This pattern holds across all demographic groups.

Our country ______ to give blacks equal rights with whites

About two-thirds of blacks say they strongly (41%) or somewhat (24%) support the Black Lives Matter movement. Four-in-ten whites say they at least somewhat support it. There are large racial gaps in opinions across gender, age and education level, but roughly two-thirds of both white and black Democrats support Black Lives Matter. Just two-in-ten white Republicans express support.

Percent saying they ______ the Black Lives Matter movement

Protesters march in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 5, 2014, the third night of nationwide protests following a grand jury's decision not to charge a white police officer in the choking death of Eric Garner, a black man. (MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)

What may be holding blacks back?

When asked about the reasons why black people may have a harder time getting ahead than whites, blacks are about twice as likely as whites to say that racial discrimination is a major factor holding black people back. Large majorities of blacks across all demographic groups say this. Among whites, Democrats and adults ages 18 to 29 are much more likely than their counterparts to see discrimination as a major reason why blacks may have a harder time getting ahead than whites.

Racial discrimination is a ______ why black people in our country may have a harder time getting ahead than whites

Blacks are considerably more likely than whites to say that lower quality schools are a major reason why black people may have a harder time getting ahead than whites. This is true regardless of gender, age, education and party identification.

Lower quality schools are a ______ why black people in our country may have a harder time getting ahead than whites

Across all major demographic groups, similar shares of whites and blacks say family instability is a major reason why black people may have a harder time getting ahead than whites. The survey also asked about three other possible reasons for achievement gaps: lack of good role models, lack of jobs and lack of motivation to work hard.

Family instability is a ______ why black people in our country may have a harder time getting ahead than whites

When asked which is the bigger problem when it comes to discrimination against black people in our country, slightly more blacks point to discrimination based on the prejudice of individuals than to discrimination that is built into laws and institutions. Opinion among whites is more lopsided – a majority see individual prejudice as a bigger problem while relatively few cite institutional discrimination.

When it comes to discrimination against black people in our country today, the bigger problem is ...

Are blacks treated fairly?

Blacks are nearly three times as likely as whites to say black people in our country are treated less fairly than whites in the workplace. Among whites, two-thirds say both groups are treated about equally. Very small shares of blacks or whites say that whites are treated less fairly than blacks in this or any of the other areas tested in the survey. The survey also asked respondents about the treatment of blacks in their community and found that people tend to view their own communities as more fair than the country as a whole across each of the items tested.

How blacks are treated in the workplace

Blacks are far more likely than whites to say black people in the U.S. are treated less fairly than whites by the police. While the vast majority of blacks say this is the case, half of whites do. White Democrats are considerably more likely than white Republicans and white independents to say that black people are treated less fairly by the police. Even so, white Democrats are less likely than black Democrats to say this is the case.

How blacks are treated in dealing with the police

Voters take part in the Super Tuesday primary in Centreville, Virginia, on March 1. (PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

Blacks are about twice as likely as whites to say black people in the U.S. are treated less fairly when voting in elections. About four-in-ten of both white and black Democrats say blacks in the U.S. are treated less fairly when voting in elections. Just 5% of white Republicans agree. The survey also found large racial gaps when it comes to blacks in the U.S. being treated less fairly in the courts, when applying for a loan or mortgage and in stores and restaurants.

How blacks are treated when voting in elections