Whites, Blacks, Hispanics Disagree About Way Minority Groups Treated

by Jeffrey M. Jones

Whites diverge from blacks, Hispanics in their views of black-Hispanic relations

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- Gallup's annual Minority Rights and Relations poll finds that non-Hispanic whites are much more likely than blacks or Hispanics to express satisfaction with the way each of six different minority groups are treated in society. However, whites are not as positive when asked to rate the state of relations between specific groups, especially when it comes to black-Hispanic relations. Whites are divided as to whether black-Hispanic relations are good or bad, but majorities of both blacks and Hispanics say that relations between these groups are good. There are only minor differences in the way whites and blacks rate black-white relations, although blacks are more likely than whites to believe that black-white relations will always be problematic.

The Minority Rights and Relations poll was conducted June 8-25, interviewing more than 2,000 adults nationwide and included samples of 500 blacks and Hispanics each. The poll was weighted so that it is representative of the U.S. adult population.

How Groups Are Treated in Society

Gallup asked Americans to assess their level of satisfaction with the way each of six minority groups are treated in society. As in previous years, Americans are most likely to express satisfaction with the way Asians (76%) and women (67%) are treated. A majority is also satisfied with the treatment of blacks (61%) and Hispanics (57%), but less than half say they are satisfied with the way immigrants (47%) and Arabs (45%) are treated.

For the most part, the ratings for each group (aside from Arabs, which was asked for the first time this year) have been steady over the years. However, there has been a notable drop in satisfaction with the way immigrants are treated, from 54% last year to 47% this year.

Blacks and Hispanics are generally much less positive than whites about the way each of the six groups are treated in American society today. In fact, fewer than half of blacks and Hispanics are satisfied with the way all groups except Asians and women are treated, while a majority of whites are satisfied with the way every group other than Arabs or immigrants are treated. The gaps in expressed satisfaction between whites, blacks, Hispanics are quite large for all groups except Arabs.

Satisfied With Way Groups Treated in Society, by Racial and Ethnic Group

Total Sample

Non-Hispanic Whites

Blacks

Hispanics

%

%

%

%

Asians

76

82

63

58

Women

67

74

51

60

Blacks

61

66

37

46

Hispanics

57

62

45

40

Immigrants

47

52

38

26

Arabs

45

47

41

37

The largest disparities between whites and Hispanics concern the perceived treatment of immigrants (a 26-point gap) and Asians (a 24-point gap). The largest disparities between whites and blacks are in regard to the treatment of blacks (a 29-point gap) and women (a 23-point gap).

Hispanics and blacks rate the treatment of their own groups more negatively than the other groups. Forty percent of Hispanics are satisfied with the way Hispanics are treated, compared with 45% of blacks and 62% of whites. Just 37% of blacks are satisfied with the way blacks are treated in American society, compared with 46% of Hispanics and 66% of whites.

Hispanics (26%) are significantly less likely than whites (52%) or blacks (38%) to express satisfaction with the way immigrants are treated. That gap has widened since 2003 -- back then 63% of whites, 44% of blacks, and 42% of Hispanics approved of the way society treated immigrants. This could reflect the increased national attention focused on immigrants, a substantial proportion of whom are Hispanic.

Inter-Group Relations

In addition to evaluating how groups are treated by society, the poll asked Americans to assess the state of relations between various racial and ethnic groups. In all, four pairs of groups were tested -- whites and blacks, whites and Hispanics, whites and Asians, and blacks and Hispanics. Americans give the most positive evaluation to white-Asian relations, with 83% rating them as "good." A majority also think white-black (64%) and white-Hispanic (60%) relations are good, but only 48% say the same of black-Hispanic relations.

Next, we'd like to know how you would rate relations between various groups in the United States these days. Would you say relations between -- [RANDOM ORDER] -- are very good, somewhat good, somewhat bad, or very bad?

Percentage Rating Relations as Good

Total

Non-Hispanic Whites

Blacks

Hispanics

%

%

%

%

Whites and Asians

83

87

70

73

Whites and blacks

64

67

62

58

Whites and Hispanics

60

61

55

68

Blacks and Hispanics

48

41

71

61

Ratings of racial or ethnic group relations differ somewhat by respondent race or ethnicity, but not to the degree seen for the "treatment" question. There is one conspicuous exception to that --whites are much less positive about black-Hispanic relations than are either blacks or Hispanics. Specifically, just 41% of whites believe black-Hispanic relations are good. Meanwhile, most blacks (71%) and Hispanics (61%) see relations between blacks and Hispanics as good. That has been the typical pattern in previous Minority Relations polls.

Part of the reason for the disparity in ratings of black-Hispanic relations by racial or ethnic group is that many whites -- 19% in the current poll -- do not offer an opinion on black-Hispanic relations. Among those who do, they divide evenly between describing them as "good" or "bad."

Ratings of black-Hispanic relations today (48%) are less positive than a year ago (56%). This is due largely to a decline in positive ratings among whites, from 53% to 41%.

Hispanics rate white-Hispanic relations more positively (68%) than either blacks (55%) or whites (61%). Ratings of white-Hispanic relations have also fallen significantly in the past year. In 2005, 70% said they were good compared with 60% today. That is also mainly due to a more negative assessment from whites, among whom positive evaluations have dropped from 73% to 61%.

Black-White Relations

The poll delved more deeply into the subject of black-white relations. As the above data show, both whites (67%) and blacks (62%) give positive and fairly similar ratings to black-white relations today. A separate question in the poll, asked on a frequent basis since the early 1990s, shows that blacks are less optimistic about black-white relations in the long term than are whites. The question asks respondents if they think "relations between blacks and whites will always be a problem for the United States" or if "a solution will eventually be worked out."

Overall, Americans reject the notion that relations between blacks and whites will always be a problem, by a 54% to 42% margin. That has been the prevailing view in the last several years. However, during the 1990s, most took the opposing view.

But blacks' and whites' views diverge on this issue. Most blacks, 55%, feel that black-white relations will always be a problem. The majority of whites (56%), on the other hand, are optimistic that a solution will eventually be worked out.

Whites' optimism about this matter has grown over the past decade or so. During the 1990s, most whites thought black-white relations would always be a problem, but since 2001, at least half of whites have been optimistic about finding a solution.

In contrast, blacks' views have changed very little over that time. Since 1993, an average of 58% of blacks said that black-white relations will always be a problem.

Another question in the poll attempts to measure perceived animosity between racial groups. It asks respondents whether "only a few, many, or almost all black people dislike whites," and in turn uses the same formulation to measure perceptions of whites' feelings toward blacks. The current results are consistent with earlier polling in finding that most Americans believe that ill feelings between the races are the exception rather than the rule.

Majorities of both whites and blacks do not believe resentment is that prevalent in either direction. But whites are somewhat more likely to feel that "many" or "almost all" blacks dislike whites, while blacks are more likely than whites to feel that "many" or "almost all" whites dislike blacks.

Survey Methods

These results are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 2,032 adults, including oversamples of 500 blacks and 506 Hispanics, aged 18 years and older, conducted June 8-25, 2006. The total sample is weighted so that it reflects the national adult population. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is ±6 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

For results based on the sample of 500 blacks, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±7 percentage points.

For results based on the sample of 506 Hispanics, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±7 percentage points (167 out of the 506 interviews with Hispanics were conducted in Spanish).

For results based on the sample of 872 non-Hispanic whites, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±7 percentage points.

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