- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 11, 2001

Black Americans have a pessimistic view of race relations in the United States, according to a survey released yesterday by the Gallup Poll Social Audit.
Sixty-six percent of blacks say that racial relations will always be a problem in the United States.
Blacks' negative perceptions may be due to economic pressure, media-highlighted racial profiling incidents and the recent federal switch to a Republican administration, said Frank Newport, editor in chief of the Gallup Poll.
"[The survey] says clearly and distinctly that race relations will continue to be a problem today, and that we see no evidence things are getting better. In fact, we have statistical evidence they may be getting worse," Mr. Newport said.
From the end of March until mid-May this year, Gallup conducted telephone interviews of 2,400 randomly selected adults in the United States. Of the participants, 1,000 were black and at least 800 were white, with the remaining number claiming other racial distinctions.
At least 69 percent of whites say blacks are treated the same as whites in their own community while 41 percent of blacks say the same. The survey also shows 37 percent of blacks believe racial relations are "somewhat" or "very" bad compared with 27 percent who felt the same in 1998.
Mr. Newport said a difference in black and white perceptions on race relations in the United States has been consistently reported in all previous poll surveys, with the gap increasing in recent years regardless of government and organizational attempts to improve racial equality.
"Basically, the bottom line is if you stop a white American on the street, you will get generally positive answers . On the other hand, if you stop a black American on the street, you will get a persistently more negative perception," Mr. Newport said.
Last year's presidential election may have contributed to increased negativity among blacks, he said, citing the controversy surrounding results in Florida and the change in administration from Democratic to Republican.
"In some ways, our data indicates that blacks may have taken this change a little more harshly than previous changes, in relation to the events that transpired," Mr. Newport said.
Media attention to racial profiling also may have contributed to negative perceptions.
As many as 83 percent of blacks believe racial profiling is a widespread epidemic compared with 55 percent of whites. Forty-four percent of blacks feel police have stopped them at some point in their lives because of their skin color, and almost half of all blacks say that they were treated unfairly in the past month because of their race.
The percentages also differ between age and gender among blacks, with claims of unfair treatment by police made by 27 percent of those under 35 years of age and 31 percent of black males.
A majority of blacks also favor government intervention through affirmative-action programs. Fifty-seven percent of blacks support increases in such programs while 36 percent of whites favor keeping current levels of affirmative action and 33 percent of whites support decreases.

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