Survey of Americans on Race


In the wake of recent incidents of police violence towards African Americans, the launching of the national civil rights movement known as Black Lives Matter, and the ever-present issue of race in the ramping up presidential campaigns, it’s an important time to hear the voices and perspectives of Americans across the country to better understand how the general public and those of different racial and ethnic backgrounds feel about the issue. This Kaiser Family Foundation/CNN survey provides insights into the public’s views of complicated issues surrounding race, including the experience of racism and discrimination in the daily lives of Black and Hispanic Americans, institutional discrimination and individual bias, and the role of both government and individuals in creating a path forward.

More than half of Black Americans and a third of Hispanic Americans say they’ve been treated unfairly because of their race or ethnicity in the past month alone, and some report being victims of racial discrimination that denied them opportunities in housing or in the workplace. At a time when more than half of Black Americans report some personal connection with the prison system, the vast majority say the criminal justice system as a whole favors Whites over Blacks. Meanwhile, White Americans are less likely than Black Americans to see racism as a big problem in this country, and more likely to say that individual behavior and bias is a bigger problem than institutional discrimination.  Although there is some evidence that Whites are increasingly aware of the problem, still, fewer Whites than Blacks say that past and present discrimination and a lack of jobs and educational opportunities are reasons for the problems facing Black and Hispanic Americans today.  The Black Lives Matter movement has emerged in part because of this disconnect; increasing awareness of the issue and advocating for equal treatment and protection under the law. Looking forward, society as a whole continues to face many challenges addressing institutional and individual racism, and trends over time indicate mixed progress in the past 20 years, particularly when considering that two-thirds of younger Blacks report recent unfair treatment because of their race.

Section 5: Changes Over Time Methodology

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