Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

A new poll finds differing perceptions on racial opportunity in the U.S. (Photo: DryHundredFear/flickr/cc)

Perceptions of Opportunities and Equality Differ Widely Along Racial Lines

Majority of Americans think race relations have gotten worse, but differing views persist

Nadia Prupis

Perceptions of equality in the U.S. are still sharply divided by race, even as a majority of Americans acknowledge that race relations have declined in the past year, a new survey released Monday has found.

The survey, conducted by PBS Newshour/Marist Poll, asked respondents if they believed that black and white Americans receive equal pay for equal work and have equal job opportunities. Answers revealed that 61 percent of whites believed there is no racial pay gap, while 72 percent of blacks believed there is.

Despite those divides, a majority of all those surveyed—56 percent of black respondents and 60 percent of whites—said that race relations have gotten worse over the past year.

However, when looked at in more specific contexts, the perception of what has fueled racial tension seemed to differ among the groups. Nearly two-thirds of whites said they think the Black Lives Matter movement "distracts attention from racial discrimination." Meanwhile, 65 percent of black respondents said it does the opposite.

The survey addressed racial discrimination in a variety of contexts. As NPR reports:

Some of the survey's widest disparities between black and white respondents were on economic and social justice issues.

For example, equal opportunity for getting hired for a job: While 52 percent of whites said they feel the opportunity to get a job was equal among whites and blacks, more than two-thirds of African-American respondents (76 percent) said it was not equal.

And when it comes to equal justice under the law, white Americans were almost evenly split. Exactly half of whites said African-Americans and Caucasians had the opportunity for equal justice under the law, while 46 percent disagreed. Among African-Americans, only 11 percent said the opportunity for equal justice is shared by blacks and whites, while 87 percent said it was not.

As for the question of police brutality, responses were even more stark, with 42 percent of whites believing that police give equal treatment to people of both races, while 90 percent of black respondents disagreed. However, the results found that a majority of Americans overall believe police do not treat black and white people equally, with a final count among both races standing at 36 percent to 60 percent.

"I think what we were looking at was to get a sense of Americans today and their view on race relations, and see areas of similarity, areas of disagreement," Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, told NPR. "And to get a handle on what is obviously something that brings forth a lot of emotion, particularly in the context of recent shootings and issues of police community behavior."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

... We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Bombshell': Israeli Spyware Used to Hack iPhones of US State Department Officials

Calling the Israel-based spyware maker NSO Group an "in-plain-sight national security threat," one expert warned that "a multi-agency investigation is immediately needed."

Jessica Corbett ·

US Progressive Caucus Hails Honduran Election as Chance for 'New Chapter' in Relations

"We encourage the Biden administration to use this opportunity to make a clean break with previous presidential administrations, which worked to ensure that the 2009 coup d'état succeeded."

Brett Wilkins ·

'The Facts of This Case Are So Egregious': Parents of Michigan School Shooter Charged in Killings

"There were a lot of things that could have been so simple to prevent," the Oakland County prosecutor said of the mother and father now being sought by law enforcement.

Kenny Stancil ·

Health Minister Says 'Highly Transmissible' Omicron Hitting Young Children Hard in South Africa

In South Africa's worst-affected province, children under the age of five now make up the second-largest group being admitted to hospitals.

Julia Conley ·

Groups Tell UN Food Agency to Ditch 'Toxic Alliance' With Pesticide Association

"This partnership with CropLife is in direct conflict with FAO's mandate as a U.N. institution to fulfill human rights to health, adequate food, clean water and environment, and safe working conditions."

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo