The Advantage Blog

The Power of Attitudes – Part 2: Racism

August 2, 2013 | By |

Racism is dwindling in the US.

Things haven’t changed that much.

These are two themes that frame what can be heard from family, friends, and the media depending on what your life experiences have been like, or what sort of story you want to tell. While there is no way to answer the question conclusively, there is helpful information. Back on June 6, I wrote about how attitudes toward gay and lesbian relations had shifted quickly and the support for this claim was, “Between 2001 and 2013 Gallup has poll results showing a whopping 19% increase in approval.”

Shifting back to racism, how can we truly measure that? One way is to ask this question of a few thousand randomly selected people: “Do you approve or disapprove of marriage between blacks and whites?” What percentage of the American population approves? Well, back in 1959 the number was mere scintilla of the population at 4%. As of the Gallup poll that they did for this year between June 13 and July 5, the approval rating was an all time high 87%.

Again, asking for the approval rating on interracial marriage is hardly the only metric one would use to measure the complex question of “What is the state of racism in America?” After all, this question only relates to whites and blacks. However, it is not a bad place to start. Digging into the available data on Americans views on how they rate “Intergroup Relations” can be helpful. For example, which ethnic groups report getting along the best with each other? That would be Whites and Asians which comes in at 87% reporting that their relations were good (up 11% since the start of the poll in 2001). Which ethnic groups come in with the lowest reports of having good intergroup relations? The answer here is Blacks and Hispanics, of whom 60% report having good relations.

There are trends here to note. That 60% report of good relations between Blacks and Hispanics is also up 11% since 2001. In fact, all reports have an overall increase between 2001 and 2013. Again, we can not answer any question conclusively about the state of racism in America, but more data certainly helps.

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