Despite two terms of President Barack Obama, black Americans remain pessimistic about racial divides and the likelihood that they will ever achieve true equality with whites.
A Pew Research Center survey released Monday details those stark divides between the attitudes of white and black Americans about racial issues in the U.S.
According to the survey, the vast majority of blacks, 88 percent, say the U.S. must continue to make changes in order for blacks to have equal rights with whites, but 43 percent say the country “will not” make those changes. Forty-two percent said the U.S. will makes those changes.
While 4-in-10 black Americans are dubious about the prospect of racial equality in the U.S., Pew found opposite attitudes among white Americans — with 40 percent of whites saying the U.S. will make the changes necessary for whites and blacks to be on a level footing. Meanwhile, 38 percent of whites say the country has made enough changes for equality.
The perception divide, as exposed by Pew’s survey, cuts across most swaths of life, with blacks seeing more unfair treatment than whites see for blacks, by significant margins, in all areas polled. For example, in the workplace, 64 percent of blacks said they are treated less fairly than whites and just 22 percent of whites said blacks are treated less fairly than they are.
Black Americans also saw unfair treatment when voting in elections (43 percent to white people’s 20 percent), in stores or restaurants (49 percent to whites’ 21 percent), when applying for a loan or mortgage (66 percent to whites’ 22 percent), in the courts (75 percent to whites’ 43 percent), and when dealing with the police (84 percent compared to 50 percent for whites).
Overall, blacks are significantly more bleak when it comes to race relations than whites, with 61 percent of blacks saying relations are generally bad, compared to 45 percent of whites who have the same sentiment (34 percent of blacks and 46 percent of whites said relations are good). Ironically, while fewer black Americans are likely to say race relations are good, they are more likely to say Obama has improved race relations.
“Some 51% of blacks say Obama has made progress toward improving race relations, and an additional 34% say he has tried but failed to make progress. Relatively few blacks (5%) say Obama has made race relations worse, while 9% say he hasn’t addressed the issue at all,” Pew reports.
White Americans, on the other hand, are more likely than blacks to have a negative view of Obama’s handling of race relations, with 28 percent of whites saying he improved race relations, 24 percent saying he tried but failed to improve race relations, and 32 percent saying he made race relations worse.
Pew’s survey of 3,769 adults (including 1,799 whites, 1,004 blacks, and 654 Hispanics) was conducted from February 29 through May 8, 2016, and has a margin of error or +/- 2.2 percentage points.