Americorps volunteer John Harris III, who helps to coordinate a jobs fair program, talks to job seekers in Washington, Wednesday, July 31, 2013. As the nation recognizes Martin Luther King Day and African-American contributions to American society, public opinion on race relations, opportunity, and discrimination is clearly divided by race, according to a new poll by the Emerson College Polling Society. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
As the nation recognizes Martin Luther King Day and African-American contributions to American society, public opinion on race relations, opportunity, and discrimination is clearly divided by race, according to a new poll by the Emerson College Polling Society.
When asked are race relations getting better in the US, 34% of respondents said yes, while 44% of people said no. Among African-Americans, 61% believe race relations are worsening as compared to 41% of Caucasians and 42% of Hispanics who hold the same view.
Americans appear to be generally split on whether or not minority groups and Caucasians are on an equal playing field. Twenty-seven percent believe non-Caucasians have more opportunities, 30% think they have fewer, 32% said they have the same amount, and 7% judged it dependent on other factors. African-Americans and Hispanics believe that minority groups have fewer opportunities, 53% and 39% respectively compared to 27% of Caucasians.
When asked whether the American justice system is biased against minorities, further divisions according to race were revealed in the Emerson poll. Sixty-nine percent of African-Americans agreed the American judicial system is biased; 22% saying it was not. Among Caucasians, 28% of those polled believe the system is biased and 51% do not.
Americans are divided on the Supreme Court’s recent decision to strike down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, which sought to reduce voter discrimination by requiring jurisdictions with proposed changes to voting laws to seek approval of such changes by the federal government. Twenty-four percent approved the decision, 41% disapproved the decision, and 35% had no opinion. Interestingly, Caucasians disapproved of the decision (40%-22%) more than African-Americans (35%-48%).
Race is also at play in perceptions regarding the Food Stamp Program – and whether it fosters a culture of dependency or is a needed safety net for the downtrodden and unemployed. Caucasians are split with 33% to 31% viewing food stamps as creating a culture of dependency. In sharp contrast, 41% of African Americans view the food stamp program as a safety net, while 18% conclude it results in a culture of dependency.