Believe It: Blacks, Whites Have a Lot in Common

By Freeman, Gregory | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), February 23, 1996 | Go to article overview

Believe It: Blacks, Whites Have a Lot in Common


Freeman, Gregory, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


HOW SIMILAR are blacks and whites in this country? How different? A gathering of polls and census data by the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research suggests that while we may differ when it comes to politics, our fundamental values aren't that different at all.

The data were gathered from a variety of polling sources and analyzed by race. All of the polls were taken between 1990 and 1995. In all, information from 17 polling sources was used, including the Gallup Organization, the CBS News/New York Times Poll, the ABC News/Washington Post Poll, the Yankelovich Partners Poll, the Louis Harris and Associates poll and many others.

Blacks and whites were asked, for example, which of the following statements came closest to the way they felt:

A. Diversity benefits our country economically and socially, so race or ethnicity should be a factor when deciding who is hired, promoted or admitted to college; or

B. Hiring, promotion, and college admissions should be based strictly on merit and qualifications other than race or ethnicity.

Of the blacks surveyed, 68 percent chose statement B, while 28 percent chose statement A. (The remainder offered no opinion.) Of the whites polled, 86 percent chose statement B, while 12 percent chose statement A.

On a wide variety of issues, blacks and whites agreed. For instance, 82 percent of blacks polled felt strongly that Congress should balance the budget; 84 percent of whites surveyed felt that way. Of the blacks questioned, 52 percent felt strongly that Congress should cut personal income taxes; 54 percent of whites felt the same way.

On welfare reform, 75 percent of the blacks believed that the welfare system should be overhauled; 84 percent of whites agreed. Similar responses were found when asked whether Medicare should be reformed, with 60 percent of blacks saying yes and 57 percent of whites agreeing.

The differences were small in other areas as well. When asked whether a pregnant woman should be able to get an abortion for any reason if she chooses not to have the baby, 40 percent of blacks polled felt strongly that she should, while 42 percent felt strongly that she should not. Among whites, 45 percent felt strongly that she should, while another 45 percent disagreed. This issue clearly divides both black and white Americans.

Asked if marijuana should be made legal, 70 percent of blacks said no, and 73 percent of whites said the same. …

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