The Washington Post

Would 2009 Pew poll on attitudes toward race hold up today?

In the wake of the killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, the Pew Research Center re-highlighted two surveys that focused on attitudes toward race.The polls from 2009 and 2010 looked at everything from attitudes of whites and African Americans on law enforcement, discrimination and news coverage of blacks. But the data point that I found most fascinating, from the 2009 survey, concerned the state of race relations.

[The] survey showed that African Americans had a positive overall assessment of the state of race relations. About three-quarters of African Americans (76%) said blacks and whites got along “very well” or “pretty well.” Majorities of both blacks (60%) and whites (70%) said that the values of the two groups had gotten more similar over the previous 10 years.

Data for “Blacks Upbeat about Black Progress, Prospects” were collected right around the time of the one-year anniversary of President Obama’s election and was released in January 2010. Those numbers certainly reflect the hopeful mood that enveloped the nation after the election and inauguration of its first black president. But given the rise of the Tea Party, the stubbornness of the birther movement and the roiling rage among Republicans in general at the president, I wonder if those numbers for blacks and whites would be so high today.

Jonathan Capehart is a member of the Post editorial board and writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog.


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