Black Dissatisfaction Simmers Beneath Good Race Relations

by Lydia Saad

Slight majority of blacks think new civil rights laws are needed

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., delivered his landmark "I Have a Dream" speech in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 28, 1963, calling for a new era of racial equality and racial harmony, and demanding an end to the segregation and police brutality then inflaming the South. Less than a year later, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which enforced blacks' legal right to vote and ended segregation in public places.

Forty years after King's speech -- an anniversary commemorated this weekend in Washington, D.C., -- most blacks say civil rights for blacks have improved over the course of their lifetimes. Also, blacks tend to be upbeat about black-white relations, saying that relations between the two groups are generally good, and perceiving that racial animosity is confined to only a few Americans. These are the more encouraging findings from Gallup's annual Minority Rights and Relations survey, conducted June 12-18.

On the downside, blacks are generally dissatisfied with society's treatment of their racial group. Many blacks report being discriminated against on a routine basis, and a majority of blacks say it happens to them at least a few times a year. Four in five blacks believe that racial minorities do not have the same job opportunities as whites do.

There is no available polling to document the extent to which King was perceived as the leader of the black community in his era, but history leaves little doubt that he was the leading black figure of his time. Today, no one person stands out as the most important national leader in the black community. Secretary of State Colin Powell and Jesse Jackson lead the list of people that blacks mention as filling this role, but neither man is named by more than one in five blacks. Another third of blacks mention a smattering of black public officials and celebrities, while the remaining third believe there is no black leader or cannot name one.

Who do you feel is the most important national leader in the black community today? [OPEN-ENDED]

 


2003 Jun 12-18


Blacks

Colin Powell

18

Jesse Jackson

17

Kwesi Mfume

5

Al Sharpton

4

Condoleeza Rice

2

Oprah Winfrey

1

Maxine Waters

1

Other

18

None/No leader

11

No opinion

23

100%



Blacks Perceive Progress, Albeit Limited, on Civil Rights

A majority of blacks (71%) believe that civil rights for blacks have improved over the course of their lifetimes, but only a quarter of blacks feel they have "greatly" improved. Another 46% of blacks say they have "somewhat improved." One in seven blacks believe conditions have worsened.

Perhaps contrary to expectations, older blacks are not much more likely than younger blacks to perceive civil rights gains. About three-quarters of blacks aged 40 and older (76%) say that civil rights have either somewhat or greatly improved in their lifetimes, compared with 65% of younger blacks who say the same.

Thinking back over your lifetime, how do you feel civil rights for blacks have changed in this country -- would you say the situation has greatly improved, somewhat improved, stayed pretty much the same, somewhat worsened, or greatly worsened?

 

Greatly
improved

Some-
what
improved


Same

Some-
what
worsened

Greatly
worsened

%

%

%

%

%

Blacks

All Blacks

25

46

13

13

1

Blacks ages 18 to 39

23

42

17

14

2

Blacks age 40+

26

50

8

12

1



U.S. Society Is Far From Great for Blacks

For the past three years, Gallup has tracked the way Americans feel about society's treatment of various groups, including the treatment of women, Hispanics, Asians, blacks, and immigrants. Only 40% of black Americans are satisfied with the way blacks are treated in society. Nearly three in five (59%) are dissatisfied. These attitudes have been quite stable since June 2001.

Reaction to the Way Blacks Are Treated in Society
Based on black respondents
June 12-18, 2003

This dissatisfaction may, to some extent, be based on personal experience. Gallup finds most blacks reporting that they personally have experienced racial discrimination in public life or employment. About a quarter of blacks experience this at least weekly (26%), and a total of 64% experience it at least a few times a year. Another 15% of blacks experience it less than once a year, while 19% say they never do.

Black men are more likely than black women to report being discriminated against every day (23% vs. 14%), but aside from this difference, black men and women appear to have similar perceptions on this question.

Next we have a question about your own experiences as [a black/a Hispanic]. How often do you feel discriminated against in public life or employment because you are [black/Hispanic] -- [ROTATED: every day, every week, about once a month, a few times a year, less than once a year, (or) never]?

 

 



Every day



Every week


About once a month


A few times a year

Less than once a year




Never

%

%

%

%

%

%

2003 Jun 12-18

All Blacks

18

8

13

25

15

19

Black Men

23

4

12

27

14

17

Black Women

14

10

14

24

16

21



Black Americans perceive job opportunities for racial minorities quite negatively. Only 17% of blacks believe that racial minorities have the same job opportunities as whites do, while 81% disagree.

Do you feel that racial minorities in this country have equal job opportunities as whites, or not?
Based on black respondents
June 12-18, 2003

But whether new laws are needed to correct the situation is somewhat controversial. Only a slim majority of blacks, 52%, believes that new civil rights laws are needed to protect blacks from discrimination; 41% of blacks disagree.

Do you think new civil rights laws are needed to reduce discrimination against blacks, or not?
Based on black respondents
June 12-18, 2003

Also, blacks are closely split on whether the achievement gap between white Americans and black Americans is the result of discrimination against blacks. Four in 10 blacks believe that blacks' disadvantages in the areas of jobs, income, and housing can be attributed to racial discrimination, but a slight majority (53%) thinks it is due to something else.

Whites and Blacks Getting Along

While black Americans seem to be saying that there is much room for improvement in the treatment they receive from society, they are relatively upbeat about relations between whites and blacks. Nearly 6 in 10 blacks (59%) rate relations between whites and blacks as either "very good" or "somewhat good." Only 39% of blacks consider relations bad.

Whites give a similar assessment of the situation: 69% say black-white relations are good, while 30% consider them bad.

 

Rating Relations Between Whites and Blacks in the U.S.

Very
good

Somewhat
good

Somewhat
bad

Very
bad

%

%

%

%

2003 Jun 12-18

National Adults

10

58

24

6

Non-Hispanic Whites

10

59

25

5

Blacks

9

50

26

13



A majority of whites and blacks also agree that racial animosity is relatively rare between both groups. About half of blacks (51%) and nearly two-thirds of whites (62%) say that only a few white people dislike blacks. A substantial minority of blacks (39%) believe that "many" whites dislike blacks, but only 6% believe the feeling is pervasive among whites.

Do you think only a few white people dislike blacks, many white people dislike blacks, or almost all white people dislike blacks?

 

Only a few

Many

Almost all

NONE (vol.)

No opinion

%

%

%

%

%

2003 Jun 12-18

National Adults

60

35

2

1

2

Non-Hispanic Whites

62

34

1

1

2

Blacks

51

39

6

1

3



The findings are similar when looking at perceptions of how blacks feel about whites. A majority of blacks and whites perceive that only a few blacks dislike whites.

Do you think only a few black people dislike whites, many black people dislike whites, or almost all black people dislike whites?

 

Only a few

Many

Almost all

NONE
(vol.)

No opinion

%

%

%

%

%

National Adults

2003 Jun 12-18

52

38

6

1

3

Non-Hispanic Whites

2003 Jun 12-15

52

39

5

1

3

Blacks

2003 Jun 12-18

54

38

5

1

2



A Racial Divide in Race Perceptions

As is always seen in polling data on racial matters, the recent survey finds black Americans and white Americans holding different perceptions. Whites and blacks are fairly similar in their views about personal relations and feelings between blacks and whites. For instance, only 10 points separate whites and blacks in their ratings of black-white relations.

Much larger gaps exist in perceptions about the extent of racial discrimination in society and the need for government intervention to fix the problem. For example, whites are nearly twice as likely as blacks (48% vs. 25%) to say that civil rights have greatly improved over their lifetimes. A majority of whites (68%) are satisfied with society's treatment of blacks, compared to only 40% of blacks. Most divergent are perceptions of workplace discrimination; only 17% of blacks, but 55% of whites, believe that racial minorities have the same job opportunities as whites do.

Summary of Civil Rights Attitudes, by Race

June 12-18, 2003

 

Blacks

Whites

Gap

%

%

Only a few blacks dislike whites

54

52

+2

Black-white relations are very/somewhat good

59

69

-10

Only a few whites dislike blacks

51

62

-11

Civil rights have greatly improved in our lifetime

25

48

-23

Achievement gap is not due to discrimination

53

81

-28

Satisfied with treatment of blacks

40

68

-28

New civil rights laws are not needed

41

77

-36

Blacks have equal job opportunities

17

55

-38

Survey Methods

These results are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,385 adults, aged 18 and older, conducted June 12-18, 2003, including oversamples of blacks and Hispanics that are weighted to reflect their true proportions in the general population. For results based on the total sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is ±3 percentage points. Results for the sample of 241 blacks, aged 18 and older, have a margin of sampling error of ±7 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.

14. Next we'd like to know how you feel about the way various groups in society are treated. For each of the following groups please say whether you are very satisfied, somewhat satisfied, somewhat dissatisfied, or very dissatisfied with the way they are treated. How about… [RANDOM ORDER]?

C. Blacks

 

Very satisfied

Some-
what satisfied

Some-
what
dissatisfied

Very
diss-
atisfied

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

National Adults

2003 Jun 12-18

20

44

22

12

2

2002 Jun 3-9

19

45

22

11

3

2001 Jun 11-17

20

41

24

13

2

Men

2003 Jun 12-18

23

43

22

10

2

2002 Jun 3-9

20

47

21

9

3

2001 Jun 11-17

26

40

21

11

2

Women

2003 Jun 12-18

18

44

22

13

3

2002 Jun 3-9

17

43

24

13

3

2001 Jun 11-17

15

43

26

14

2

Non-Hispanic Whites

2003 Jun 12-15

22

46

22

8

2

2002 Jun 3-6

19

49

21

8

3

2001 Jun 11-17

20

44

25

9

2

Blacks

2003 Jun 12-18

10

30

20

39

1

2002 Jun 3-9

12

31

26

29

2

2001 Jun 11-17

8

31

28

32

1

Hispanics

2003 Jun 12-18

11

47

22

16

4

2002 Jun 3-9

19

38

24

14

5

2001 Jun 11-17

15

35

26

18

6



SUMMARY TABLE: SATISFACTION (BASED ON "VERY SATISFIED")


2003 Jun 12-18
(sorted by "national adults")


National Adults

 

Men

 

Women

Non-
Hispanic Whites

 

Blacks

 

His-
panics

%

%

%

%

%

%

Women

28

36

21

31

17

26

Asians

25

29

21

26

20

20

Blacks

20

23

18

22

10

11

Hispanics

18

21

14

19

15

11

Immigrants

15

17

12

15

14

11

19. 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?

A. Whites and blacks

 

Very
good

Some-
what good

Some-
what bad

Very
bad

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

National Adults

2003 Jun 12-18

10

58

24

6

2

2002 Jun 3-9

8

61

23

5

3

2001 Jun 11-17

6

57

28

7

2

Men

2003 Jun 12-18

12

57

24

5

2

2002 Jun 3-9

10

62

21

5

2

2001 Jun 11-17

7

57

28

6

2

Women

2003 Jun 12-18

9

58

24

7

2

2002 Jun 3-9

6

61

25

5

3

2001 Jun 11-17

5

57

29

7

2

Non-Hispanic Whites

2003 Jun 12-15

10

59

25

5

1

2002 Jun 3-6

7

63

24

3

3

2001 Jun 11-17

6

56

30

6

2

Blacks

2003 Jun 12-18

9

50

26

13

2

2002 Jun 3-9

9

59

18

13

1

2001 Jun 11-17

8

62

17

11

2

Hispanics

2003 Jun 12-18

11

57

19

9

4

2002 Jun 3-9

9

53

25

9

4

2001 Jun 11-17

8

57

18

14

3



SUMMARY TABLE: GROUP RELATIONS (BASED ON "VERY/SOMEWHATGOOD")

2003 Jun 12-18

Non-Hispanic Whites

Blacks

Hispanics

%

%

%

Whites and Asians

83

74

76

Whites and Hispanics

72

61

84

Whites and blacks

69

59

68

Blacks and Hispanics

55

72

71

24. Do you feel that racial minorities in this country have equal job opportunities as whites, or not?

 

Yes

No

No opinion

%

%

%

National Adults

2003 Jun 12-18

49

49

2

2002 Jun 3-9

48

49

3

2002 Jun 12-17

48

50

2

Men

2003 Jun 12-18

51

47

2

2002 Jun 3-9

54

44

2

2002 Jun 12-17

51

48

1

Women

2003 Jun 12-18

48

50

2

2002 Jun 3-9

43

54

3

2002 Jun 12-17

45

52

3

Non-Hispanic Whites

2003 Jun 12-15

55

43

2

2002 Jun 3-6

54

43

3

2002 Jun 12-17

53

45

2

Blacks

2003 Jun 12-18

17

81

2

2002 Jun 3-9

19

80

1

2002 Jun 12-17

18

79

3

Hispanics

2003 Jun 12-18

39

58

3

2002 Jun 3-9

41

55

4

2002 Jun 12-17

46

51

3



27. Next we have a question about your own experiences as [a black/a Hispanic]. How often do you feel discriminated against in public life or employment because you are [black/Hispanic] -- [ROTATED: every day, every week, about once a month, a few times a year, less than once a year, (or) never]?

 

 

Every day

 

Every week


About once a month


A few times a year

Less than once a year

 


Never

 

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

All Blacks

2003 Jun 12-18

18

8

13

25

15

19

2

2002 Jun 3-9

15

9

13

31

7

23

2

2001 Jun 11-17

17

7

15

21

16

23

1

Black Men

2003 Jun 12-18

23

4

12

27

14

17

3

2002 Jun 3-9

12

10

16

30

6

26

--

2001 Jun 11-17

15

9

17

23

17

18

1

Black Women

2003 Jun 12-18

14

10

14

24

16

21

1

2002 Jun 3-9

16

8

11

32

9

21

3

2001 Jun 11-17

19

5

12

20

15

28

1

All Hispanics

2003 Jun 12-18

8

2

10

23

16

41

*

2002 Jun 3-9

10

8

9

19

16

36

2

2001 Jun 11-17

6

12

13

21

12

35

1

Hispanic Men

2003 Jun 12-18

2

4

9

24

15

45

1

2002 Jun 3-9

9

7

10

19

14

40

1

2001 Jun 11-17

8

3

15

26

9

39

*

Hispanic Women

2003 Jun 12-18

15

1

11

22

16

35

--

2002 Jun 3-9

10

9

8

19

18

32

4

2001 Jun 11-17

5

20

10

16

15

32

2

BASED ON --241-- BLACK ADULTS; MAXIMUM ERROR ±7 PCT. PTS.

BASED ON --111-- BLACK MEN; MAXIMUM ERROR ±10 PCT. PTS.

BASED ON --130-- BLACK WOMEN; MAXIMUM ERROR ±9 PCT. PTS.

BASED ON --266-- HISPANIC ADULTS; MAXIMUM ERROR ±7 PCT. PTS.

BASED ON --131-- HISPANIC MEN; MAXIMUM ERROR ±9 PCT. PTS.

BASED ON --135-- HISPANIC WOMEN; MAXIMUM ERROR ±9 PCT. PTS.



35. Do you think only a few white people dislike blacks, many white people dislike blacks, or almost all white people dislike blacks?

 

Only a few

Many

Almost all

NONE
(vol.)

No opinion

%

%

%

%

%

National Adults

2003 Jun 12-18

60

35

2

1

2

2002 Jun 3-9

60

32

4

1

3

1998 Apr/Jun ^

60

34

3

1

2

1998 Jun 5-7

63

31

3

1

2

1998 Apr 17-19

56

37

3

1

3

1996 Aug 5-7

61

32

2

--

5

1996 Jul 25-28

52

40

4

--

4

1996 Jul 18-21

52

40

4

--

4

1996 Jun 27-30

51

43

3

--

3

1995 Oct 5-7

58

33

3

--

6

1992 May 7-10

58

35

3

--

4

Men

2003 Jun 12-18

65

29

3

*

3

2002 Jun 3-9

66

25

5

*

4

Women

2003 Jun 12-18

55

40

2

1

2

2002 Jun 3-9

54

39

3

1

3

Non-Hispanic Whites

2003 Jun 12-15

62

34

1

1

2

2002 Jun 3-6

62

32

2

1

3

1998 Apr/Jun ^

61

34

3

*

2

1995 Oct 5-7

59

33

3

--

5

1992 May 7-10

59

36

2

--

3

Blacks

2003 Jun 12-18

51

39

6

1

3

2002 Jun 3-9

52

36

10

*

2

1998 Apr/Jun ^

50

40

5

1

4

1995 Oct 5-7

55

30

5

--

10

1992 May 7-10

53

32

8

--

7

Hispanics

2003 Jun 12-18

53

38

3

2

4

2002 Jun 3-9

52

34

8

2

4

^

Aggregated results based on surveys conducted June 5-7, 1998 and April 17-19, 1998. Total number of interviews is 2,010, including 1,654 whites and 203 blacks.



36. Do you think only a few black people dislike whites, many black people dislike whites, or almost all black people dislike whites?

 

Only a few

Many

Almost all

NONE
(vol.)

No opinion

%

%

%

%

%

National Adults

2003 Jun 12-18

52

38

6

1

3

2002 Jun 3-9

53

37

6

1

3

1998 Apr/Jun ^

52

37

6

1

4

1998 Jun 5-7

58

33

5

*

4

1998 Apr 17-19

47

40

8

1

4

1996 Aug 5-7

46

43

6

--

5

1996 Jul 25-28

47

40

7

--

6

1996 Jul 18-21

47

40

6

--

7

1996 Jun 27-30

46

43

6

--

5

1995 Oct 5-7

39

44

10

--

7

1992 May 7-10

39

46

10

--

5

Men

2003 Jun 12-18

56

34

7

*

3

2002 Jun 3-9

58

32

7

1

2

Women

2003 Jun 12-18

50

42

5

1

2

2002 Jun 3-9

49

42

5

*

4

Non-Hispanic Whites

2003 Jun 12-15

52

39

5

1

3

2002 Jun 3-6

52

39

5

1

3

1998 Apr/Jun ^

52

38

6

1

3

1995 Oct 5-7

37

46

11

--

6

1992 May 7-10

37

48

10

--

5

Blacks

2003 Jun 12-18

54

38

5

1

2

2002 Jun 3-9

66

28

3

*

3

1998 Apr/Jun ^

57

32

4

1

6

1995 Oct 5-7

57

31

4

--

8

1992 May 7-10

53

35

6

--

6

Hispanics

2003 Jun 12-18

53

31

10

1

5

2002 Jun 3-9

50

32

11

1

6

^

Aggregated results based on surveys conducted June 5-7, 1998 and April 17-19, 1998. Total number of interviews is 2,010, including 1,654 whites and 203 blacks.



42. Thinking back over your lifetime, how do you feel civil rights for blacks have changed in this country -- would you say the situation has greatly improved, somewhat improved, stayed pretty much the same, somewhat worsened, or greatly worsened?

 


Greatly
improved

Some-
what
improved

 

Same

Some-what
worse-
ned


Greatly
worse-
ned


No opinion

National Adults

2003 Jun 12-18

45

42

9

3

*

1

1995 Oct 19-22

32

51

9

5

2

1

Men

2003 Jun 12-18

44

43

9

2

1

1

Women

2003 Jun 12-18

45

41

9

3

1

1

Non-Hispanic Whites

2003 Jun 12-15

48

41

8

2

*

1

1995 Oct 19-22

34

51

8

5

1

1

Blacks

2003 Jun 12-18

25

46

13

13

1

2

1995 Oct 19-22

25

51

14

7

2

1

Hispanics

2003 Jun 12-18

35

47

12

3

1

2



43. Do you think new civil rights laws are needed to reduce discrimination against blacks, or not?

 

Yes, new laws needed

No, not needed

No opinion

%

%

%

National Adults

2003 Jun 12-18

26

70

4

1993 Aug 23-25

38

58

4

Men

2003 Jun 12-18

22

76

2

Women

2003 Jun 12-18

30

65

5

Non-Hispanic Whites

2003 Jun 12-15

20

77

3

1993 Aug 23-25

33

62

5

Blacks

2003 Jun 12-18

52

41

7

1993 Aug 23-25

70

26

4

Hispanics

2003 Jun 12-18

44

52

4



44. On the average, blacks have worse jobs, income, and housing than white people. Do you think this is mostly due to discrimination against blacks, or is it mostly due to something else?

 

Discrimination

Something else

No opinion

%

%

%

National Adults

2003 Jun 12-18

19

77

4

1993 Aug 23-25

24

70

6

Men

2003 Jun 12-18

20

76

4

Women

2003 Jun 12-18

19

78

3

Non-Hispanic Whites

2003 Jun 12-15

16

81

3

1993 Aug 23-25

21

73

6

Blacks

2003 Jun 12-18

40

53

7

1993 Aug 23-25

44

48

7

Hispanics

2003 Jun 12-18

22

72

6



40. Who do you feel is the most important national leader in the black community today? [OPEN-ENDED]


2003 Jun 12-18
(sorted by "national adults")


National Adults

 

Men

 

Women

Non-
Hispanic Whites

 

Blacks

 

Hispanics ^

%

%

%

%

%

%

Colin Powell

23

26

21

23

18

--

Jesse Jackson

18

21

15

19

17

--

Al Sharpton

3

4

1

2

4

--

Condoleeza Rice

2

1

3

2

2

--

Oprah Winfrey

1

1

2

1

1

--

Kwesi Mfume

1

1

1

*

5

--

Maxine Waters

*

*

*

--

1

--

Other

12

13

12

12

18

--

None/No leader

6

6

5

5

11

--

No opinion

34

27

40

36

23

--

^ Not asked in Hispanic oversample.

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