Americans are more divided in their perceptions of race than ever before, according to a Gallup poll released earlier this month.
The Gallup 2001 Social Audit on Black/White relations revealed that 66 percent of blacks believe race will always be a problem in America, while 45 percent of whites agree. This 21-point gap between blacks’ and whites’ expectations is the largest Gallup has recorded since it first asked the question in 1993.
Forty percent of blacks said they are treated unfairly by law enforcement officials, while 35 percent of whites agreed blacks were treated unfairly.
The poll showed a “persistent gap between the way blacks and whites view the world today,” said Frank Newport, editor in chief of Gallup.
Another significant divide was on the issue of educational opportunity. In 1962, when Gallup first asked blacks if their children had the same chance as white children to get a good education in their own communities, 53 percent answered positively. Although this number rose to 68 percent in 1990, it fell to 52 percent in the current poll.
In 1989, 71 percent of whites and 51 percent of blacks believed there was equality in housing. Today, 83 percent of whites think access to affordable housing is equal, while 48 percent of blacks agree.
Nearly half–47 percent–of blacks felt they were treated unfairly in public due to their race in the past month.
Differences in experiences partially explain the existing gap in opinion, Harrington said.