This article is written by Vividh Jain, a student of the Institute of Law, Nirma University. In this article, the author comments on the racism followed in America and make readers aware of the American black and white along with the current scenario.
Since years of high-profile police footage murdering black men, recently in the case of George Floyd, many white Americans have come to understand the violence of policing and institutional injustice that black Americans have been fighting against for years. Yet surveys also indicate a significant difference between how black and white Americans view connections with racism, police brutality, demonstrations, and change. Nearly eight years after the election of Barack Obama as the first black President of the United States, an event that gave rise to a sense of optimism among the many Americans about the upcoming years of racial issues. A series of flashpoints around the United States have exposed deep racial divisions and sparked a national race conversation.
Black Americans view of racial inequality
More than 150 years since the United States 13th Amendment outlawed slavery, most of the United States adults believe the history of segregation continues to influence black people’s role in American society today. More than four in every ten blacks claim that the nation has not made adequate strides in racial equality and there is some uncertainty, particularly among the blacks, that black people would never have equal rights as whites. A recent Pew Research Center study revealed substantial gaps in opinions on racial inequality between black and white people, obstacles to black success, and opportunities for improvement. Blacks, even more than whites, believe black men are harshly discriminated against in all areas of life, from coping with the police to applying for a mortgage or loan. Yet racial equality remains a complex goal for many blacks.
The blacks are especially pessimistic about the racial progress of the world. More than eight in every ten black adults believe the history of slavery influences the status of today’s black people in America, including 59 percent who claim it as a significant influence. Around 8 in every 10 blacks (78 percent) believe the nation hasn’t gone far enough when it applies to grant black people equal treatment with whites, and half say it’s doubtful the nation will attain racial equality. Americans in the United States see drawbacks for Blacks and Hispanics. A majority of all Americans (56 percent) believe that being black affects the willingness of people to make at least a little headway, and 51 percent believe the same for being Hispanic. By contrast, 59 percent say being white helps the ability of people to move forward. Blacks, Asians, and Hispanics are much more likely than whites to say that being white helps the willingness of people to make at least a little headway. Among whites, someone who is more educated, as well as whose move towards the Democratic Party, are especially likely to see benefits of being white.
The vast majority of blacks (88 percent) believe that the nation wants to start taking steps for blacks to receive equal treatment as whites, but 43 percent remain wary of these changes coming. A further 42 percent of blacks claim that the government must finally make the required reforms for blacks to have equal treatment as whites, and only 8 percent say the nation has already made the necessary changes. A much lower proportion of whites (53 percent) claim that the nation still has work to do for blacks to obtain equal treatment as whites and only 11 percent show skepticism that such reforms will come. Four in every ten whites believe that the country will eventually make the necessary changes for black people to have equal treatment, and about the same share (38 percent) has already made enough changes.
Biased Criminal Justice System
In the United States, black people regularly show greater concern about violence than white people. Concerns over violent crime and gun violence amongst blacks are higher than whites. In last year’s pre-election poll, three-quarters of blacks were compared to less than half of whites (46 percent) and the results said that violent crime is a really major issue in the country today. And while 82 percent of blacks think gun violence is a very major concern in the United States, just 47 percent of whites say the same thing. Blacks, too, are more likely to regard violence locally as a significant issue than whites. In an early 2018 poll, black people were nearly twice as likely as whites in their local group to say crime is a big issue (38% vs. 17%).
This is consistent with an early 2017 poll where blacks were around twice as likely as whites and says that the local community is not sufficiently free from crime (34% vs. 15%) or not at all protected from crime. Black people were even more likely than whites to be worried about losing their house (28% vs. 13%) or becoming the victim of a crime (20% vs. 8%). Equal shares in both classes, however (22 percent of blacks and 18 percent of whites) said they were currently the victims of a violent crime.
Republicans vs. Democrats – conflicting viewpoint on racism
Democrats and those who tend Democrats are more likely to say that it has been more normal and appropriate for people to convey discriminatory and racially offensive views than the Republicans and Republican leaners since Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. Among Democrats, 84 percent say it’s more common now and 64 percent say it’s more acceptable; nearly half of Republicans say it’s more popular (42 percent) and just 22 percent say it’s more appropriate for people to express such views. A majority of Americans (56 percent) believe Trump has made racial relations worse; only 15 percent believe he’s made strides in improving racial relations, while 13 percent say he’s tried but failed to make improvements and 14 percent say he’s failed to fix this problem. In comparison, when Barack Obama became president, 37 percent say Barack Obama made strides in race relations and 27 percent say he tried but failed. A fifth of Americans says Obama has made relations between races worse. These retrospective perceptions on the treatment of race relations by Obama are almost similar to those held during Obama’s last year in office.
Not surprisingly, along partisan lines, assessments of Trump’s and Obama’s handling of racial relations differ greatly. Democrats overwhelmingly believe Trump has made racial relations worse (84%), like major black (79%) and white (86%) Democrats. Among Republicans, opinions are more mixed. About a third of Republicans (34 percent) believe Trump has strengthened race ties and 25 percent believe he’s tried but failed to make development; 19 percent of Republicans claim he hasn’t tackled the problem and 20 percent think he’s made race relations worse. So far as views of Obama’s treatment of race relations are concerned, 55 percent of Democrats claim he’s strengthened race ties during his presidency; just 8 percent believe he’s made it worse. By comparison, 51% of Republicans believe that Obama has made race relations worse, while 14% agree that he has made strides in changing it. As in Trump’s views of how racial relations are handled, white and black democrats give very contrasting evaluations on how Obama approached this topic while he was President.
Besides, after accounting for other factors, partisanship has more correlation with views on the racial advancement of the nation than demographic factors, while being young and more educated are still important predictors, particularly among whites. Since whites and non-whites frequently have greatly varying viewpoints on social issues, and non-whites overwhelmingly align with or contribute to the Democratic Party, disparities between Democrats and Republicans are often seen among whites in this study to compensate for discrepancies in the racial composition between the two parties. Black Democrats (64 percent) are much more likely to say that the government has not gone far enough than white Republicans (15 percent) if it comes to granting black Americans equal rights as whites. Approximately half of Republicans say it’s about right, while a significant proportion (31%) say the country has gone further in this regard. Eight in every ten white Democrats and only 40 percent of white Republicans say that slavery’s legacy continues to affect the position of black people in American society today.
A majority of blacks (71 percent) claim they have been discriminated against or wrongly punished because of their colour or ethnicity. Approximately one in ten (11 percent) say it happens to them on a daily basis, while 60 percent say they rarely or occasionally have experienced this. Similarly, women and men are likely to report having encountered racial discrimination on an individual level among blacks and there are no significant differences by sex. However, there’s also an educational division: Blacks with at least a bachelor’s degree expertise (81%) are far more likely than blacks who have never attended college (59%) to say they were discriminated against due to their race. Experiences of racial discrimination are much less frequent among whites, but a large minority (30 percent) of white adults report being discriminated against or disproportionately punished by way of race or ethnicity. Just 2 percent say they frequently do so and 28 percent say it happens less often. Whites who claim they have a lot of interaction with blacks are far more likely than whites who’ve had less contact with blacks to say they have also been discriminated against because of their colour.
Although some whites often claim to have been handled unfairly due to their race, the overall effect is relatively small. Just 5 percent of whites say their color or religion has made life-success more difficult for them. Many whites (62%) say their ethnicity didn’t make a difference in their desire to excel, and 31% believe their ethnicity made life harder for them. In fact, college-educated whites are prone to see their race as an advantage: 47 percent believe white has made it harder for them to excel. By contrast, they were made better by 31 percent of whites with higher education and 17 percent of those with a high school diploma or less claim their race has. White Democrats (49 percent) are also one of the most likely to say their race or ethnicity has made it harder for them to go on in life. To many blacks, a distinctly detrimental effect on their lives has been the systematic effects of segregation. Four in every ten blacks believe their race has made life-success more complicated for them. Approximately half ( 51%) believe their ethnicity hasn’t made a difference in their personal progress, while just 8% say black has made it harder.
The cumulative effect their race has had on their potential to excel is a deep educational gap among blacks. Completely 55 percent of blacks with a four-year college degree state that their race has made life-success more challenging for them. About 45 percent of blacks attending college but not having a bachelor’s degree claim the same. A significantly smaller share (29 percent) of blacks with a high school diploma or fewer claim their race has made it difficult for them to excel. A majority (60 percent) of this audience say their race has not made a difference.
Some of the most noticeable differences between blacks and whites are emerging on questions concerning police officers and the work they are doing. A mid-2017 survey asked Americans to rank police officers and other categories of people on a “feeling thermometer” from 0 to 100, where 0 is the coldest, most pessimistic ranking and 100 is the warmest and the most favourable. Black people gave an overall mean of 47 to the officers; whites gave an overall mean of 72 to the officers. Blacks are much more likely to have strong complaints than whites about the way cops do their work, especially when it comes to police encounters with their communities.
Earlier in the survey, 84 percent of black Americans said blacks are usually viewed less equally than whites in dealing with officers. A much lower proportion of whites, but still a majority of 63 percent said the same thing. Blacks were still around five times as likely as whites to say that the police had wrongly harassed them because of their race or religion (44% vs. 9%), with black people more likely to claim so (59%). A 2016 study has found strong racial disparities in the main facets of policing. Blacks were far less likely than non-blacks or whites to say that police in their nation is doing a good or an excellent job by using the right degree of force in each situation (33% vs. 75%), treating racial groups equally (35% vs. 75%), and holding officers accountable for inappropriate conduct (31% vs. 70%). Blacks were also significantly less likely than whites to say that local police were doing an outstanding or decent job at defending residents from violence (48% vs. 78%).
Notably, there are gaps between the police themselves and black-white views of policing. In a poll of about 8,000 commissioned officers completed in the fall of 2016, black officers were almost twice as likely as white officers (57% vs. 27%) to suggest high profile, black people, deaths during police shootings were indicative of a larger issue, not individual events. And nearly seven in ten Black officers (69 percent) – compared to only a quarter of white officers (27 percent) – said the demonstrations that accompanied many of these events were driven by a sincere willingness to keep the police responsible for their acts, rather than by long-standing prejudice against the police.
According to a survey, a vast majority of Americans (54 percent) favour the death penalty for those accused of murder. Yet only about a third (36 percent) of blacks favour capital punishment for this felony, compared to nearly six in ten whites (59 percent). Ethnic divisions relate to certain matters pertaining to the application of the death penalty. In a survey carried out in 2015, 77 percent of blacks said minorities are more likely to be sentenced to death for committing similar offences than whites. Whites were split on this question: 46 percent said minorities were unfairly sentenced to death, although no ethnic differences were found throughout the same amount. Blacks are also far more likely than whites to say that capital punishment is not a deterrent offence (75% vs. 60%), and also less likely to say that the death penalty is legally acceptable (46% vs. 69%). Nonetheless, in both categories about seven in ten said they had the possibility of murdering an innocent person (74 percent of blacks vs. 70 percent of whites).
In recent decades, some aspects of the criminal justice system have changed. One example: Some states are now using criminal evaluations to assist with parole decisions. Such tests include gathering data on individuals that are on parole, matching the data with data on other individuals that have been convicted of offences, and then awarding a ranking to inmates to help determine whether or not to free them from jail. A 2018 survey asked Americans if they felt the use of criminal risk analysis was an appropriate use of algorithmic decision-making in parole decisions. A 61 percent majority of black adults say using such tests in parole hearings is unacceptable to individuals, compared with 49 percent of white adults.
Voting rights for ex-felons
States broadly differ when it comes to allowing individuals with past convictions of a felony to vote. According to the National Conference of State Legislators, in 12 states, citizens with such criminal convictions may forfeit the ability to vote indefinitely unless certain conditions – such as obtaining a pardon from the governor – are fulfilled. For comparison, people with criminal convictions in Maine and Vermont rarely forfeit the right to vote, except though they are being held in jail. Twenty-two states fell in between these lines, restricting voting rights only through detention and for a time afterward, such as convicted inmates going on parole. 69 percent of Americans preferred requiring individuals accused of felonies to vote after completing their sentences. Black adults were even more likely to prefer this strategy than white adults, slightly or strongly (83% vs. 68%).
The Black Lives Matter movement
Most blacks (65%) actively campaign for the Black Lives Matter movement: 41% wholeheartedly support it, and 24% say they are somewhat supportive of it. Around 12 percent of blacks say they’re opposed to Black Lives Matter (including 4 percent who oppose it strongly). And now, blacks have very conflicting opinions about how successful the Black Lives Matter campaign can be in helping them gain representation in the long term. Many (59%) think it’ll be effective but just 20% think it’ll be effective. Around one in five (21 percent) say it isn’t going to be that effective or it won’t be effective in the long run at all. Blacks with a bachelor’s degree or masters or higher are among the most doubtful that eventually, the Black Lives Matter campaign would bring about racial equality. Around three in ten (31 percent) of people with a bachelor’s degree or above say the campaign isn’t going to be that effective or not at all effective in the long term, relative to only two in ten adults with fewer qualifications.
Admittedly, many blacks, on the whole, remain pessimistic that the nation will make the requisite reforms to bring about racial equality. Yet even for those who hope the reform will finally arrive, only 23 percent say that Black Lives Matter will bring about equality very successfully. Whites have conflicting opinions on the Black Lives Matter cause, for their part. Four in ten whites claim they support the campaign (14% firmly support the campaign and 26% mostly support it) and almost a third of whites (34 percent) believe the Black Lives Matter campaign would be at least very successful at helping blacks gain freedom in the long term. Young white adults appreciate Black Lives Matter better than middle-aged and older whites. Six in ten of these kinds of ages 18 to 29 state they favour it, relative to 46% of whites aged 30 to 49, 37% of whites aged 50 to 64, and 26% of whites aged 65 and over. Young whites are now much more likely to claim that the Black Lives Matter campaign would be at least successful in the long term (47% vs. 37%, 32%, and 26% respectively) than their older counterparts.
Whites’ views on Black Lives Matter also vary dramatically by classification with the movement. The movement is supported by some 64 percent of white Democrats, including 29 percent who do so strongly. One in every five white Republicans and 42 percent of white independents state they are highly critical of the Black Lives Matter campaign (4 percent of Republicans and 11 percent of independents). Black Democrats are still significantly more likely to say that the campaign would be at least very successful in promoting racial equality (53% vs. 20% and 34% respectively) than Republicans and independents. When asked how well they believe they understand the Black Lives Matter movement’s aims, blacks are much more likely to claim they understand it really or relatively well than whites do. Even now, almost one in five blacks (19 percent ) say they don’t grasp their ambitions well, compared to 29 percent of whites. Yet Black Lives Matter’s general visibility is universal among whites and blacks: generally, 81 percent of blacks and 76 percent of whites have heard about the campaign at least a bit, including around half or more of each community (56 percent and 48 percent respectively), who say they had heard a lot.
Community engagement is a key to racial equality
More than four in ten blacks (48 percent) and whites (46 percent) say it would be a very useful approach to work with community leaders to address challenges in their community and help blacks gain equality. Yet the two parties disagree on certain other strategies as to the efficacy. While almost four in ten (38 percent) black adults claim it will be very important to try to see more black people elected to public office, just 24 percent of whites claim the same. Blacks are even more likely than whites to say that groups seeking to help blacks gain equality should be very helpful in getting together people of different ethnic backgrounds to learn about race (41 percent vs. 34 percent). Similarly, blacks find more interest in holding protests and rallies than whites, but comparatively few blacks see this as a particularly successful means of bringing about reform (19% vs. 7% of whites).
About half (48 percent) of whites say they’re really happy with their community’s quality of living, compared to only one-third (34 percent) of blacks. Since accounting for profits this difference continues. For instance, 57 percent of whites with an annual salary of $75,000 or more report being very happy with their community’s quality of life; only 38 percent of blacks in the same age category claim the same. Black people are much more likely to claim they have endured financial distress in the past 12 months than whites. Approximately four in ten (41 percent) blacks claim they’ve had difficulty paying their expenses, and almost a fifth (23 percent) suggest they’ve been receiving help from a food bank or convenience store at that period. 25 percent of whites say they’ve been unable to pay their bills, and 8 percent say they’ve been shopping for food from a food bank over the last 12 months. Black males are much more likely to say that their ethnicity has made it more difficult for them to go on in life (20% vs. 5%, respectively). Equal shares of blacks (28 percent) and whites (27 percent) among women suggest their ethnicity has brought them down. Approximately eight in ten (81 percent) blacks say they feel very linked to a larger black culture in the United States, with 36 percent feeling very related.
Blacks who have a deep sense of belonging to a larger black culture are likely than those who don’t say they’ve made a financial donation to, attended an event funded by, or donated their time to an association or agency directly seeking to better the life of Black Americans over the past 12 months. Most black people say the NAACP (77%), the Congressional Black Caucus (63%), and the National Urban League (66%) were at least very successful in helping blacks gain prosperity in this country. Just about three in ten or fewer claim one of these programs are successful, likely representing, at least in part, the common belief among blacks that the nation has much to do for blacks to obtain equal rights with whites.
The American must accept the dignity of all races, to eradicate racism. Each race and country has its own distinctive cultures and traditions. It’s important to build an environment that values both culture and diversity. The key to addressing racism’s root causes is fixing the problem of historical racist actions properly. Indeed, the traces of colonization underpin the current manifestations of bigotry seen today in many countries where some consider their races to be superior to others. Only after we have looked at what happened in the past may we clear the way for acceptable future actions.
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