Is the U.S. Really All That ‘Post-Racial’?

Along with its official events, inauguration week included a virtual festival of national self-congratulation about how “post-racial” the U.S. has become. But while it’s hard to deny that progress has been made, ABC News/Washington Post polling (fielded just before inauguration day) finds a sharp black/white divide in opinion about its extent.

One question in the survey asked whether black people “who live in your community experience racial discrimination, or not.” Among white respondents, 11 percent said “yes, often,” 25 percent said “yes, occasionally,” 8 percent said “yes, rarely” and 55 percent said “no.” Among black respondents, the “yes, often” figure was dramatically higher (26 percent) and the “no” figure correspondingly lower (35 percent, along with 26 percent saying “yes, occasionally” and 12 percent “yes, rarely”). Likewise, while the survey found 38 percent of white respondents saying black people already “have achieved racial equality,” barely half as many black respondents, 20 percent, agreed that this is the case.

Looking more specifically at black Americans’ experience of bias, 37 percent of the poll’s black respondents said they’ve personally felt they were “stopped by the police” on some occasion because of their race. Sixty percent said they’ve felt “a shopkeeper or sales clerk was trying to make you feel unwelcome” due to race; 35 percent have felt they “were denied a job you were qualified for”; and 20 percent that they “were denied housing you could afford” for that reason.