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Americans' Satisfaction With Way Blacks Treated Tumbles

Americans' Satisfaction With Way Blacks Treated Tumbles

Story Highlights

  • 49% satisfied with way blacks treated, down from 62%
  • No change in satisfaction with way other groups treated
  • Increased perception blacks treated unfairly in many situations

PRINCETON, N.J. -- Americans' satisfaction with the way blacks are treated has declined to a new low in Gallup's 15-year trend, now at 49%. This is a sharp drop from two years ago, when 62% were satisfied. Blacks, whites and Hispanics all show significant declines since 2013 in their satisfaction with the treatment of blacks in the U.S.

Satisfied With the Way Blacks Are Treated in U.S. Society

The results are based on Gallup's 2015 Minority Rights and Relations poll, conducted June 15-July 10 with more than 2,000 national adults, including 800 non-Hispanic whites, 800 non-Hispanic blacks and 500 Hispanics. The drop in satisfaction likely reflects the effects of several high-profile and deadly incidents in the last year involving white police officers and black citizens.

Currently, 33% of blacks are satisfied with the way blacks are treated in society, a decline from 47% in 2013. This decline has occurred even though blacks themselves are no more likely than two years ago to report being treated unfairly in various situations because of their race, including dealing with the police. Blacks' satisfaction levels with the treatment of blacks are now similar to what they were in 2007 and 2008.

A slim majority of whites remain satisfied with the way blacks are treated, but this is down from 67% in 2013. Hispanics' satisfaction with the treatment of blacks has fallen from 61% to 44% over the same time period and is back to where it was in the latter years of George W. Bush's administration.

Politically, Democrats are increasingly less satisfied than Republicans or independents with the treatment of blacks, though all groups' satisfaction levels are down significantly. Democratic satisfaction with the treatment of blacks has fallen from 51% in 2013 to 31% today, while independent levels are down nine percentage points (from 64% to 55%), and Republican levels are down 10 points (from 76% to 66%).

Americans' declining dissatisfaction with the treatment of blacks is specific to blacks and not part of a broader reassessment of how minority groups are treated in the U.S. The poll finds no meaningful change in Americans' satisfaction with the way Hispanics, Asians, Arabs, immigrants and women are treated.

Satisfied With the Way Groups in Society Are Treated, 2013 vs. 2015

The net result of these changes is that Americans now are only slightly more satisfied with the treatment of blacks (49%) than with the treatment of immigrants (44%). Americans are equally satisfied with the treatment of blacks and Arabs. Two years ago, Americans were about equally satisfied with the treatment of blacks and Hispanics, but now a significant gap exists in views of the treatment of the two largest U.S. minority groups.

Americans Perceive Greater Mistreatment of Blacks in Specific Situations

Americans are more likely to believe that blacks are treated unfairly in various situations now than they were in 2007, when Gallup last asked the question. These changes in perceptions include an increase of six points in views that blacks are treated unfairly in dealing with the police to 10-point increases in unfair treatment while shopping. Overall, Americans are most likely to perceive blacks are treated unfairly by police, with 43% saying this occurs.

Changes in Perceptions That Blacks Are Treated Less Fairly in Various Situations, 2007 vs. 2015

Gallup has asked these items periodically since 1997. The 2015 readings for each item are the highest in Gallup's trends.

Much of the increase in perceived unfair treatment of blacks is driven by changes in whites' opinions; in most cases, blacks show modest change on these items since 2007. But blacks were far more likely then, and now, than whites and Hispanics to perceive that blacks are treated unfairly.

Changes in Perceptions That Blacks Are Treated Less Fairly in Various Situations, 2007 vs. 2015, Based on race/ethnic group

Seven in 10 blacks believe that blacks are treated unfairly when dealing with the police, more than double the percentage of whites (34%) who say this. A majority of Hispanics, 54%, agree that blacks are treated unfairly by police.

Implications

Over the last year, several incidents of white police officers killing black suspects they were trying to apprehend have made national news. The effects of those incidents have led to an increase in the U.S. public's perceptions of race relations as the most important problem in the country, a decline in confidence in the police and a significant decrease in Americans' satisfaction with the way blacks are treated in the U.S. Americans are also now more likely to perceive that blacks are treated unfairly in various situations, including dealing with the police, but also at work, when shopping and when visiting restaurants and other establishments.

Blacks themselves would have firsthand knowledge of whether they have been treated unfairly because of their race. And blacks are no more likely now than they were two years ago to say they have been treated unfairly by the police, when at work or when shopping. This suggests much of the rise in concern with the way blacks are treated results from the high-profile media attention focused on the relatively small number of incidents involving black men and white police officers -- rather than a broader pattern of mistreatment of all or most blacks.

But the news media are shining a light on troubling incidents of mistreatment of blacks. This media spotlight may lead to efforts to help reduce unfair treatment of blacks by police but also by society more generally. Greater efforts to ensure that blacks are treated fairly could in turn lead to decreases in the percentage of blacks who say they personally have been mistreated, as well as in the percentage of blacks, and all Americans, who perceive blacks get unfair treatment.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted June 15-July 10, 2015, with a random sample of 2,296 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. All respondents had been previously interviewed in the Gallup Daily tracking survey and agreed to be re-contacted by Gallup. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

For results based on the total sample of 857 non-Hispanic whites, the margin of sampling error is ±5 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

For results based on the total sample of 802 non-Hispanic blacks, the margin of sampling error is ±5 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

For results based on the total sample of 508 Hispanics, the margin of sampling error is ±7 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

View survey methodology, complete question responses, and trends.

Learn more about how Gallup Poll Social Series works.

Gallup


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