Racial Attitudes: Gaps Narrow for Young People

By Roach, Ronald | Black Issues in Higher Education, July 10, 1997 | Go to article overview

Racial Attitudes: Gaps Narrow for Young People


Roach, Ronald, Black Issues in Higher Education


In a study on racial attitudes, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies has found that although Black and white Americans remain far apart in their perceptions of race and race relations, the perception gap appears to be closing among America's young adults.

The study, which was released on June 17, just a few days after President Bill Clinton's announcement of a race relations initiative, showed that whites generally believed race relations in their communities were excellent or fair but poor in the rest of the nation. In contrast, African Americans considered race relations both in their communities and the rest of the nation as ranging from fair to poor.

However, the 1997 National Opinion Poll revealed a significant generation gap within both races, and found a number of similarities in the racial views of young Blacks and young whites. According to the poll, young Blacks considered discrimination against African Americans to be common and saw rampant harassment by police against Blacks. Similarly, young whites believed some discrimination against Blacks continues and that police are more prone to harass Blacks than whites.

"The most promising of the findings is the remarkably similar views of young (eighteen- to twenty-five-year-old) Blacks and whites on race relations, in contrast to older Blacks and whites who view race relations starkly different," said Dr. David Bositis, the political analyst and senior research associate for the Joint Center who conducted the survey.

The survey consisted of three groups - a national general population sample of 850 participants, a national sample of 850 African Americans, and a national sample of 100 Hispanics. Eighty Black and eighteen Hispanic respondents who were included in the African American and Hispanic samples were also included in the general population sample. …

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