Far fewer Americans see racism as a major problem in the US compared with 13 years ago, a poll released on Monday on the eve of the inauguration of the nation’s first black American president.
A new Washington Post-ABC News poll found that just over one in four Americans still saw racism as a “big problem” today, less than half of the 54 percent who said so in mid-1996, and that a majority of respondents believed race relations would improve during Barack Obama’s administration.
The survey showed broad disparities between how blacks and whites see the issue, however. It said just 22 percent of whites continued to see racism as a societal problem, compared with 44 percent of blacks. In 1970 those figures stood at 52 percent for whites and 70 percent for blacks.
Just over half of blacks said black Americans had achieved or would soon achieve racial equality in the US, while 75 percent of whites said African-Americans had achieved racial equality.
The poll, conducted by telephone from Jan. 13 to Jan. 16 among 1,079 adults, said just as many people today see racial bias in their local communities as did back in 2003, before Obama — the son of a black Kenyan father and a white American mother — hit the national stage.
Forty-seven percent of Americans — two thirds of blacks and 43 percent of whites — said they believed blacks experienced racial discrimination in their communities. The poll was released days after the Washington Post interviewed Obama, who said his election reflected the country’s improving views on race and that Americans should “focus on what we have in common.”
A new CNN/Opinion Research Corp poll said nearly seven in 10 black Americans believed that with the election of Obama, slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King’s dream of racial equality had been fulfilled.