Americans’ View of White-Black Relations Sinks to New Low

Americans’ perception of relations between white and black Americans sank to a new low this year, according to a Gallup poll released Wednesday.

The poll, which was conducted by telephone between June 8 and July 24 and surveyed 1,226 U.S. adults, found that 24 percent of respondents believe that race relations are very bad and 31 percent believe they are somewhat bad. Fewer than half of Americans believe race relations stand in a positive place, with 37 percent saying they are somewhat good and an anemic 7 percent saying they are very good.

The findings represent a significant decline since 2018 in the number of Americans who view the state of race relations positively, and constitute the most pessimistic findings Gallup has measured since 2001.

From 2001 to 2013, Americans’ perception of black-white relations was mostly positive, with a majority saying that relations were at least somewhat good. Then in 2015, the number of respondents reporting a positive view of race relations dropped to 47 percent after several incidents of unarmed black Americans being killed by white police officers made national news, including the shooting death of Michael Brown.

Americans’ positivity about race relations ticked upwards again in 2016 and 2018 only to drop again this year as protests sweep the nation over police brutality against black Americans, and major metropolitan areas devolve into rioting and unrest.

Both peaceful protests and rioting erupted in cities around the country in May after the police custody death of George Floyd, who died after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes while Floyd pleaded for air. Several incidents since then of black Americans being killed or injured by police have also garnered national attention and added fuel to the protests, including the case of Jacob Blake, who was shot seven times by Kenosha, Wis. police and is now paralyzed from the waist down.

The police were responding to a report that Blake was trespassing and had stolen a woman’s car keys. There was an open warrant out for Blake and a knife was retrieved from the floorboard of his car after he was shot.

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