Blacks and whites see racism in the United States very, very differently

in racism •  2 years ago

President Donald Trump's various responses to clashes between white supremacists and counter-protesters in Charlottesville this weekend drew widespread condemnation, but also brought decades-old questions to the surface of American political and moral discourse.
"I think there is blame on both sides," Trump said Tuesday, reverting back to the wording from a statement he made Saturday that pointed blame at counter-protesters as much as white supremacists. "I'm not putting anybody on a moral plane ... I thought what took place was a horrible moment ... but there are two sides."
There's not a lot of polling out there on how Americans feel about white supremacists and neo-Nazis, but if the widespread condemnation of Trump's remarks is a guide, most Americans are opposed.

An avalanche of polling over the last three years, much of it prompted by police killings of African-Americans that grabbed headlines in 2014 and 2015, show how people of different racial backgrounds have wildly different American experiences. Public opinion polling paints a stark picture of wide disparities between African-Americans and other minorities compared to whites. Black Americans perceive -- and experience -- racial discrimination more than white Americans.

Here's a look at what the data shows.

A country divided over race.

The bottom line is that nonwhites tend to see racial discrimination a lot more than whites do. Take a look at these numbers: An overwhelming 87% of black Americans say black people face a lot of discrimination in the United States, but only 49% of white Americans say the same thing, according to a February poll from the Public Religion Research Institute.

Meanwhile, six in 10 Americans (61%) said racism against blacks is widespread in the United States in a Gallup poll last August -- up from just 51% at the beginning of President Barack Obama's first term in 2009. But that includes a broad racial split: 82% of blacks vs. just 56% of whites.

And nonwhites take the topic a lot more seriously. A Quinnipiac University poll in March found 66% of nonwhites labeled prejudice a "very serious" problem, while only 39% of whites felt the same way. Meanwhile, one in four whites (25%) said it was not a serious problem and only one in 10 nonwhites (11%) felt the same way.

Looking forward, an overwhelming 88% of blacks say the country needs to keep making changes for blacks to have equal rights with whites. A small majority (53%) of whites agree with them, according to a Pew Research survey from last June. And blacks seem to be less optimistic about that is happening. About half of that group (43%) is skeptical that these changes will ever happen in the United States, while only one in 10 whites (11%) say they're doubtful the country will eventually change.

Racism in the real world

But there are also major divides in how Americans see how racism and discrimination changes everyday life for blacks in the United States.

Our friends at the Pew Research Center asked a series of questions last summer that really gets at the heart of how blacks and whites perceive racial disparities in normal life.

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