By Richard Prince, The Root
“Amid a renewed national conversation about race in the U.S., a new Pew Research Center survey finds profound differences between black and white Americans in views on racial discrimination, barriers to black progress and the prospects for change,” Pew reported on Monday.
“Blacks, far more than whites, say black people are treated unfairly across different realms of life, from dealing with the police to applying for a loan or mortgage. And, for many blacks, racial equality remains an elusive goal.
“An overwhelming majority of blacks (88%) say the country needs to continue making changes for blacks to have equal rights with white, but 43% are skeptical that such changes will ever occur. A much lower share of whites (53%) say the country still has work to do for blacks to achieve equal rights with whites, and only 11% express doubt that these changes will come. Meanwhile, 38% of whites say the necessary changes have already been made, compared with 8% of blacks.
“Black and white adults have widely different perceptions about what life is like for blacks in the U.S. By large margins, blacks are more likely than whites to say black people are treated less fairly in the workplace (a difference of 42 percentage points), when applying for a loan or mortgage (41 points), in dealing with the police (34 points), in the courts (32 points), in stores or restaurants (28 points), and when voting in elections (23 points).
“The report is based on a new national Pew Research Center survey conducted Feb. 29-May 8, 2016, among 3,769 adults (including 1,799 whites, 1,004 blacks and 654 Hispanics). It focuses primarily on the divide between blacks and whites on attitudes about race relations and racial inequality and their perceptions of the treatment of black people in the U.S. today.
“Among the findings:
“Black and whites offer different perspectives on the current state of race relations in the U.S. White Americans are evenly divided, with 46% saying race relations are generally good and 45% saying they are generally bad. In contrast, by a nearly two-to-one margin, blacks are more likely to say that race relations are bad (61%) rather than good (34%).
“Blacks are about twice as likely as whites to say there is too little attention paid to race and racial issues in the U.S. these days (58% vs. 27%). About four-in-ten whites (41%) — compared with 22% of blacks — say there is too much focus on race and racial issues.
“Blacks and whites differ significantly in their assessments of the impact President Obama has had on U.S. race relations. Some 51% of blacks say Obama has made progress toward improving race relations, and 34% say he has tried but failed to make progress. Meanwhile, a substantial share of whites (32%) say Obama has made race relations worse, while 28% say he has made progress and 24% say he has tried but failed to make progress. Among white Republicans, 63% say Obama has made race relations worse.
“Among blacks, there is widespread support for Black Lives Matter. Roughly two-thirds (65%) of blacks express support for the group, including 41% who strongly support it. Among whites, four-in-ten say they support the Black Lives Matter movement, but just 14% express strong support. White support for Black Lives Matter is far more widespread among those younger than 30.
“Whites are deeply polarized on issues of race along party lines. About six-in-ten (59%) white Republicans say there is too much attention paid to race and racial issues these days, while only 21% of white Democrats agree. And while about eight-in-ten (78%) white Democrats say the country needs to continue making changes to achieve racial equality, just 36% of white Republicans agree.
“Blacks are far more likely than whites to say racial discrimination (70% vs. 36%), lower quality schools (75% vs. 53%) and lack of jobs (66% vs. 45%) are major reasons why blacks may have a harder time getting ahead than whites. And on the question of individual vs. institutional racism, whites are far more likely than blacks to say that discrimination that is based on individual prejudice — rather than built into laws and institutions — is the bigger problem for blacks today.
“A majority of blacks (71%) say that they have experienced discrimination or been treated unfairly because of their race or ethnicity. Blacks with at least some college experience (81%) are much more likely than blacks who have never attended college (59%) to say they have been discriminated against because of their race.
“Black-white gaps in economic well-being persist and have even widened in some cases. In 2015, the median adjusted household income for blacks was $43,300, and for whites it was $77,900. The median net worth of households headed by whites was roughly thirteen times that of black households in 2013, a gap which has widened in the aftermath of the Great Recession.