(Gregorio Borgia/AP)


About US is a new initiative by The Washington Post to cover issues of identity in the United States. Look for the About US newsletter launching this winter.


Amid the rise of vocal white supremacy and nationwide protests against police brutality and racism, there have been calls for Americans to have more honest conversations about race. A recent survey of Virginia voters found that most — regardless of race — have had those tough discussions at least once in recent years.

Large majorities of white and black registered voters in Virginia said they’ve had frank conversations about equality or prejudice with people of other races, according to the Washington Post-Schar School poll. A 65 percent majority of white Virginia voters said they had frank conversations about issues related to racial equality or prejudice with an African American person in the past few years. A similar 67 percent of black Virginia voters said they had such conversations with someone not African American.

Among white people, age and education were strong factors in determining who is having those tough conversations and who isn’t — much bigger factors than political party. While 73 percent of white Virginia voters with college degrees say they’ve had frank conversations about race with African Americans, that falls to 59 percent of those without degrees.


More young white voters report having had frank conversations with African Americans — 78 percent of those under 40 years old have had conversations about racial prejudice with black people, compared with 69 percent of 40- to 64-year-olds and 45 percent of those 65 and older.

Similar shares of white Republicans (61 percent) and Democrats (60 percent) say they’ve had frank conversations about issues of racial prejudice with someone who’s African American.

The Post-Schar School poll was conducted over cell and landline phones Sept. 28 through Oct. 2 among a random sample of 1,121 Virginia adults, including 709 white registered voters with an error margin of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points. Read more from that poll here.

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