June 27, 2016

5 key takeaways about views of race and inequality in America

A new Pew Research Center survey finds profound differences between black and white Americans in how they view the current state of race relations and racial equality and in the ways they experience day-to-day life.

Here are five key takeaways from the new report on race in America:

1Black and white Americans differ widely in views on race relationsWhites and blacks are split over the current state of race relations and what progress Obama has made on the issue. About six-in-ten blacks (61%) say race relations are generally bad, while about equal shares of whites say race relations are good as say they’re bad. Overall views on race relations are more positive now than they were a year ago, following the unrest in Baltimore over the death of Freddie Gray, a black man who died while in police custody. Even so, the public’s views of race relations are more negative now than they have been for much of the 2000s.

Following the election of Barack Obama as the nation’s first black president in 2008, many voters were optimistic that his election would lead to better race relations. Today, about a third of Americans (34%) say Obama has made progress on improving race relations, while about three-in-ten (28%) say he has tried but failed to make progress. A quarter say the president has made race relations worse and 8% say he has not addressed race relations. Blacks are far more likely than whites or Hispanics to say Obama has made progress on race relations (51% vs. 28% and 38%, respectively). Among whites, Republicans are particularly likely to say the president has made race relations worse: 63% of white Republicans say this is the case.

2About six-in-ten Americans (61%) say more changes are needed to achieve racial equality; 30% say the country has already made enough changes. There’s a big race gap on this question: 88% of blacks and seven-in-ten Hispanics say more changes are needed for blacks to have equal rights with whites compared with 53% of whites. Some 38% of whites say the necessary changes have been made.

About four-in-ten blacks (43%) are doubtful that the country will ever make the changes needed for blacks to have equal rights with whites. Just 11% of whites and 17% of Hispanics share this view.

3By large margins, black adults are more likely than whites to say that blacks are treated less fairly than whites across key areas of American life. For example, 64% of black adults say blacks are treated less fairly than whites in the workplace, compared with 22% of whites who say the same – a 42-percentage-point gap. Blacks are also considerably more likely than whites – by margins of at least 20 points – to say that blacks are treated less fairly than whites in dealing with the police, in the courts, when applying for a loan or mortgage, in stores and restaurants and when voting in elections.

Blacks are also more likely than whites to say they have experienced unfair treatment because of their race or ethnicity in the past year. Some 47% of blacks say someone has acted as if they were suspicious of them and 45% say people have acted as if they thought they weren’t smart. About one-in-ten whites report having these types of experiences. Blacks are also more likely than whites to say they have been unfairly stopped by police (18% vs. 3%) and that they have been treated unfairly in hiring, pay or a job promotion (21% vs. 4%) in the last year.

4About four-in-ten black adults strongly support Black Lives MatterAbout four-in-ten Americans express support for the Black Lives Matter movement, but blacks are considerably more likely to do so than whites or Hispanics. About two-thirds of blacks (65%) say they strongly or somewhat support the movement, compared with 40% of whites and 32% of Hispanics.

Among whites, Democrats and those younger than 30 are more likely than others to say they support the Black Lives Matter movement. Fully 64% of white Democrats express support for the movement – roughly equal to the share of black Democrats (65%). By comparison, 20% of white Republicans and 42% of white independents say they support it.

Similarly, six-in-ten white adults younger than 30 express at least some support for the Black Lives Matter movement, compared with fewer than half of whites who are 30 or older.

Among blacks, there is stronger support for Black Lives Matter from those younger than 50: Roughly half of blacks ages 18 to 29 (52%) and 30 to 49 (47%) strongly support the movement, compared with 32% of blacks ages 50 to 64 and 26% of blacks ages 65 and older.

5Across several measures, black-white gaps in social and economic well-being persist. Blacks lag behind whites in homeownership, household wealth and median income, among other indicators. And these differences remain even when controlling for levels of education.

Long-standing racial differences in family structure also persist. Today, non-marital births are more than twice as common among black mothers as white mothers, and black children are nearly three times as likely as white children to be living with a single parent.

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Race and Ethnicity, African Americans, Socioeconomic Class

  1. Photo of Renee Stepler

    is a research analyst focusing on social and demographic trends at Pew Research Center.


  1. Anonymous1 year ago

    Did the wealth levels include all the black Actors/Actresses/Athletes & Music performers? Why are Native Americans & Asians not included in the research? What everyone fails to acknowledge is the 1st slave owner was black who owned white slaves & it was a white President that freed slaves! Where does the racism exist? The problem today is the younger generation act as though the world owes them something, when they are told NO its automatic racism. I wonder if all the bi-racial ppl yelling racism realize, more times than not, it was a white women who gave them life, therefore they are racist against their own parents…..hippocracy?!

  2. Anonymous1 year ago

    How was this quantitative study done? Was it verbally by phone or was it done online? The reason I ask is because if someone was to talk to someone by phone, they are likley to not give their honest opinion especially if the respondent is white. WHite people are not as likley to answer these questions honestly if an African American is administering the phone survey. I wouldnt be surprised if this data is skewed slightly because of the shame of admitting true opinions. Thoughts??

    1. Anonymous1 year ago

      Look at you thinking people be lying secret racists…

      Despicable…. Witch hunt. That’s all you’re doing.

      That’s about as real a thought as it gets for what you said.

  3. Anonymous1 year ago

    Blacks are 14% of america and commit 54% of the murders. The only way we could sort this out, is if white people took as big a leap off the deep end as blacks. Then try to pretend they are the victims of their own people. The choices people make in education, life style, and of course, violent crimes, do not leave this as some wand white people can waive to make it more fair for black people. Black people have the opportunity to better themselves and their communities, they are choosing not to. They choose not to testify or use the police for the tool that it is. They then go to the police expecting solutions, but providing no help. This isn’t white people’s fault. Any more than white people could blame blacks for the country falling apart. We all share in that burden. We all accumulate that. Some are more damaging to our image than others. It’s not just white people. It’s anyone trying to get something for nothing. Even if they are 1%er’s just taking you for a ride. It’s unequal for everyone, not just blacks. So really, the only reason white people see it as fair, is because it’s equally UNFAIR. Maybe if you actually addressed that, and not were a bunch of racist people who think it’s only one color getting unfairly treated, you would see that equality first. LOL They are too busy being racist and blaming white people though. Because we all look alike right?

    1. Anonymous1 year ago

      You got the gall to say they are not choosing to ecucate themselves or netter themselves. As a non black, non white, I will tell you this: You prevent them from being able to do that. I am speaking from experience of white racism.

    2. Anonymous1 year ago

      Your uneducated, biased, and privileged perception blinds you from the realities that Black, Hispanic and other minority group experiences. You are treating your opinion as a fact and backing it up with other opinions. As a scholar and American born citizen, it is my duty to debunk and expose bigotry. Sorry mate, education is key, and a little empathy for a community that you do not belong to and will never EVER be a part of or truly know what they go through and experience.

      What I will agree with is, the fact that that the system is strategically built and rigged to force a disadvantage to the poor and the colored. The system and the government has let down, lied to and used both the white and colored community.

      There is no fear in standing next to those who are being treated with cruel injustice. There is no fear in admitting that you, we, I do not know what it is like to wake up everyday and wonder if I will be targeted for something. There is no shame in not knowing what it is like to see people fear you for the color of your skin. There is no shame is simply standing with our fellow Americans who are being massacred. There is no shame is admitting there is an injustice happening in our nation.

      There is shame in blaming those who statistically and historically have been put down, murdered and dehumanized. There is shame in staying quiet. There is shame in feeling angry when people expose injustices and racism.

      But the beauty of shame is… thathe it can turn into courage with a simple mind and perception change.

      1. Anonymous1 year ago

        Ever thought those who wake up with black skin are themselves a little racist? After all if they judge themselves based on skin color is that not racism? Which leads me to think they are the one’s being judgemental on the color of skin. As far as these “innocent” black kids being killed by white police, how “innocent” are they when committing a crime & disrespecting authority? Furthermore, the bi-racial individuals would then be racist against their white parent, correct?

  4. Anonymous1 year ago

    ridiculous. take for example the mortgage topic. You can apply and get mortgages online from many major financial institutions. How in the world does your race come through a computer ? Does the man track what race you are from the moment you purchase a computer until your application?

    1. Anonymous1 year ago

      Because neighborhoods are so segregated, race is easily assessed by zip code. If you’re coming from a black area, they assume you’re black. If you have a black name, that screws you as well – regardless of how much you’re willing to pay up front. All online mortgage applications are read by real people, and they’re not nearly as ignorant as you seem to think they are.

    2. Anonymous1 year ago

      Lol yes. In order to qualify they do an extensive background check. I applied for a mortgage loan last year on my own. As a Hispanic woman. My fiancé also applied. I make way more than my fiancé and have great credit, as does he. I was offered 100,000 less than he was. Let’s just say that we will wait to do it together. This also happened back in early college when I also had a great job and better credit than my fiancé, at the time he was my bf, and was denied by the same credit card company he was approved for. Suspicious?

  5. Anonymous1 year ago

    What this doesn’t address is how people define concepts like “justice” and “rights” and “equality.”. There seem to be many who have confused revenge with justice. Many people seem to think they have the right to ignore the law and ignore the instructions of police, thus contributing to bad experiences. Equality now seems to be more about “my turn to be in charge and kick sand in your face”. When this is the case, no, “racial equality” will not happen.

    1. Anonymous1 year ago

      Great point, and eloquent.

    2. Anonymous1 year ago

      Very well said.

  6. Jonathan Whitley1 year ago

    Could someone please explain this line in the 5th point: “And these differences remain even when controlling for levels of education.”

    I can’t see how this is done, nor even figure out how it would be done.

    To me, this is a critical issue in racial disparity. Education has a very strong correlation with salary, loans, homeownership, and appearance. Education has a strong negative correlation with crime, drugs, and unplanned birth.

    So yeah, kind of a big deal on if education is taken into account for any of these polls.

    1. Brett Doughnuty1 year ago

      What its saying is that education does not make a significant change in the numbers.

      In other words, educated black Americans still experience very similar gaps in these fields as uneducated black Americans. This implies that education gaps alone cannot be used to explain the gaps in other fields; which is significant.

  7. Anonymous1 year ago

    You don’t need stats if your black, your living it already.

    1. Anonymous1 year ago


  8. John Kretzschmar1 year ago

    The lessons from 1967, as written up in the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders Report, are still unlearned. As we move toward 2040 when the nation becomes a “minority majority” tensions will likely increase, and we need to focus on how the U.S. can truly become “one nation with liberty and justice for all.”

  9. Anonymous1 year ago

    Thanks PEW for gathering data but will the data solve the problem on how people see people who look different than them? Will this data show that we all may look different but we all want a safe environment, a home, family structure, good schools, higher education, vacations, and equal paying jobs. We want to be included in commercials that value us, and not choosing little Wayne as our view or our life. Where is our freedom, our young people are killed by our public servants like dogs in the street and our justice system overlook murder. We fear our children lives. President Obama cannot correct 100+ years of prejudice and using him is a cop out. United States has the name United in it, but where is the union. We don’t want a hand out but eliminate the separate but equal and stop using us as lab rats. Look at Philanthropy a multi billion dollar business to help people in need, does it really help people, gather all of those dollars and fix cities, fix schools, build sports facilities, add grocery stores like Fresh Foods with out the begging and making people tell the story Philanthropists already know.

    1. Anonymous1 year ago

      That is not their role in this. They gather data, that is what they do. Now it is used for whatever purpose the the next person cites it for. This isn’t the website to go on a social justice rant because it just isn’t. It’s like when servers are yelled at by the customer that they’re steak is over cooked. You’re attacking the wrong person.

  10. Anonymous1 year ago

    The problems many black citizens have can be connected to living in large population cities and the unemployment in those cities which are also run by Democrats. Take Chicago..solely owned and operated by Democrats and occupied by blacks and it is a murder capital. Whites have nothing to do with it and can not be called upon to be responsible for actions taken by the blacks in these Democrat cities…OR the white Democrats who have gleefully kept them in a slavery-type of life. IF you seriously want change, the first thing needed doing is to determine what the problem is. If you say that the problem is whites, how will you get them to change what happens in Chicago?

    1. Anonymous1 year ago

      Majority of the police force in Chicago is white. The white police terrorize the population. They kill unarmed people; hide them from their lawyers; beat them while in custody and other atrocities. Being a public nuisance (being loud, homeless, shoplifting, loitering, jaywalking) shouldn’t get you the death penalty. Sadly, in some police departments across America, that is the case. Until all police are required to wear body cameras, they will continue to get away with murder and abuse.

      1. Anonymous1 year ago

        Because police are white…this is the problem. You are delusional. After last year of “police terror” – the washington post, the guardian, and one other publication released data on the number of blacks killed by police. Guess what? Less blacks are killed by police than whites. (Guardian with 2015/2016 data: theguardian.com/us-news/ng-inter…) (Washington Post: washingtonpost.com/sf/investigat…). Less than one black is killed a day by police, yet blacks kill each other in record numbers. They account for ~50% of the murders in this country and 90% of them are black on black. Here is data on Chicago alone this year: heyjackass.com

        Also if these vicious and murderous white cops just left … I guess all crime would cease and black communities would be doing great. Well guess what, not true either. The “Ferguson Effect” –> realclearpolitics.com/articles/2…

        Blacks need to grow up and stop blaming others. Stop killing each other, start going to and finishing school (look @ graduation rates in HS), and stop having children out of wedlock. Its simple. Get a clue.

        1. Anonymous1 year ago

          No matter real or perceived injustices, if people follow these principles, their lives and their children’s lives will be better. This works for everyone, black or white.