It’s about 50 miles from Selma to Montgomery, but the road to racial inequality is much, much longer. Yesterday we looked at attitudes about race three decades after the 1965 Selma marches.
What are racial attitudes today?
One data point is the Department of Justice’s just-released report of its investigation into the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO. The Justice Department won’t bring charges against the police officer who shot and killed Brown, but its report documents deep and systematic racial bias in the Ferguson police department.
What can we ascertain if we look at racial attitudes over time?
In 1964, 70% of blacks and 53% of whites felt that a solution to relations between the races would eventually be worked out, according to Gallup. This optimism declined over time, hitting a low point in 1996.
Since 1996, whites and blacks have slowly become more optimistic but have never reached 1964 levels. And, unlike 1964 when blacks were more optimistic than whites, since 1996 whites have almost always been more optimistic than blacks.
From 1964 to the present time, whites have always been more likely than blacks to say that “blacks have as good a chance as whites in your community to get any kind of job for which they are qualified.”
Whites and blacks see race relations differently, and always have.
How much longer will these differences continue?
Are you optimistic or pessimistic about race relations?
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