Survey Finds Racial Differences in Views of Race, Equality

Four in ten African Americans do not believe they will see the changes needed in the United States to ensure their equal rights with whites, a report from the Pew Research Center finds.

Based on a survey of nearly thirty-eight hundred Americans, the report, On Views of Race and Inequality, Blacks and Whites Are Worlds Apart (79 pages, PDF), reveals profound differences in the views of black and white respondents with respect to racial discrimination, barriers to getting ahead, and the prospects for change. For example, only 8 percent of African Americans said the country has made the changes needed to ensure their equal rights with whites, while 43 percent said it will never do so (compared with 38 percent and 11 percent of whites, respectively). Black respondents also were consistently more likely than white respondents to say African Americans are discriminated against in encounters with the police (84 percent vs. 50 percent), in court (75 percent vs. 43 percent), when applying for a loan or mortgage (66 percent vs. 25 percent), and in the workplace (64 percent vs. 22 percent). White Americans, by contrast, were evenly divided as to the current state of race relations, with 46 percent saying they were generally good and 45 percent saying they were generally bad, while for every black American who said race relations were generally good (34 percent), almost twice as many said they were generally bad (61 percent).

Black respondents also were more likely to say that lower-quality schools (75 percent vs. 53 percent), racial discrimination (70 percent vs. 36 percent), and a lack of jobs (66 percent vs. 45 percent) helped explain why African Americans have a harder time getting ahead than whites do, while only 19 percent of white respondents (compared with 40 percent of black respondents) said that institutional racism was a bigger problem than individual racism.

The survey also found that 51 percent of African Americans believed that President Barack Obama has had a positive impact on improving race relations in the U.S., with only 5 percent saying he had made them worse, compared with 28 percent and 32 percent of whites.

"On Views of Race and Inequality, Blacks and Whites Are Worlds Apart." Pew Research Center Press Release 06/27/2016.