Poll Shows Most Americans Think Race Relations Are Bad

24 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Poll Shows Most Americans Think Race Relations Are Bad.

Seven years ago, in the gauzy afterglow of a stirring election night in Chicago, commentators dared ask whether the United States had finally begun to heal its divisions over race and atone for the original sin of slavery by electing its first black president. A new New York Times/CBS News poll reveals that nearly six in 10 Americans, including heavy majorities of both whites and blacks, think race relations are generally bad and that nearly four in 10 think the situation is getting worse. It has now soared to 68 percent, the highest level of discontent among blacks during the Obama years and close to the numbers recorded in the aftermath of the riots that followed the 1992 acquittal of Los Angeles police officers charged in the beating of Rodney King. Only a fifth of those surveyed said they thought race relations were improving, while about 40 percent of both blacks and whites said they were staying essentially the same.

The nationwide telephone poll of 1,205 people, which focused on racial concerns, was conducted from July 14 to July 19, at the midpoint of a year that has seen as much race-related strife and violence as perhaps any since the desegregation battles of the 1960s. Church apparently by a white supremacist, and after a yearlong series of shootings and harassment of blacks by white police officers that were captured by smartphone cameras.

The view that the flag represents heritage more than bigotry was shared by 65 percent of white Southerners, including three-fourths of white Southern men. Pinckney, the pastor of Emanuel A.M.E. “For too long,” he said, “we’ve been blind to the way past injustices continue to shape the present.” But Mr. Still, almost half of those questioned said the Obama presidency had had no effect on bringing the races together, while about a third said it had driven them further apart. The president won 95 percent of the black vote and 43 percent of the white vote in 2008, according to exit polling, and 93 percent of the black vote and 39 percent of the white vote in his re-election.

The divide, seen in the answers to virtually every question in the poll, was stark when respondents were asked whether they thought most Americans had judged Mr. Eighty percent of blacks said yes, while only 37 percent of whites agreed. “I’m not surprised it’s gotten worse under President Obama,” said Elizabeth Gamble, 33, an African-American cook from Albany, Ga., “because he’s black and so he already had that strike against him once he got into office.” Deep racial schisms also were evident in responses about law enforcement and the criminal justice system.

At a time when the unemployment rate for blacks is double that for whites and black households earn 40 percent less, blacks continue to assert they do not enjoy an equal shot at attaining financial success. Only a third of blacks surveyed said that almost all of the people who lived near their homes were of the same race, compared with half who said so in a 2000 Times poll.

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