Perceptions of Opportunity and Equality Differ Widely Along Racial Lines - Metro Justice

Perceptions of Opportunity and Equality Differ Widely Along Racial Lines

20804927718_bf15f4c4ea_z.jpgWhat is your perception on race? Do you feel that we're closer to equality than society is telling us? Do you believe that there is no racial pay gap? Do you feel activism is only doing harm to race relations? Do you believe the opposite?

A recent survey by PBS Newshour/Marist asked questions related to race, discrimination, and race relations and activism. A recent Common Dreams article by Nadia Prupis breaks down the responses and what they reveal. Not surprisingly, perceptions do differ between black and white respondents.  The breakdown in responses shows that there is still a clear racial divide.

Many of the white respondents for instance believe there is no racial pay gap, that job opportunities are equal, and that movements like Black Lives Matter are a distraction from real racial justice issues. Meanwhile the majority of black respondents have reported the opposite. The division is a clear as fantasy vs. reality. Many of the younger white respondents grew up in an era of "color-blindness", a well-meaning but misguided philosophy that ignores the existence of racial identity. Combine that with racial privilege and it can be easy to see a world where discrimination feels like a non-issue. 

For many of the black respondents discrimination is a reality that is lived daily. Police profiling and violence are realities. Fewer job opportunities and the existence of pay gaps are realities. This isn't some rose-colored world where ignoring skin color makes the problem go away. For many, activism and movements like Black Lives Matter are a means to fight for their validity as human beings.

Where do we go from here? How can we work to see inequality as a harsh reality and proactively address it? The first step we can take is to listen when the voices of the disadvantaged speak. We need to listen to what their needs are, and how we can help. Take a  workshop on addressing racial inequality. Reach out to people in your community, and learn what their needs are. For some, a rally might be the step outside of one's comfort zone needed to see the other side. How do you plan on addressing inequality? Please share your ideas. If you are already actively working for fight inequality, what are you doing?

(Photo credit: Backbone Campaign, from their Racism the Elephant in the Room event. Licensed under Creative Commons)

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.

(More after the flip)

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."

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