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Has U.S. achieved racial equality? Depends on whom you ask

Four out of 10 African-Americans said they doubt the nation will ever achieve racial equality, but as many white Americans believe racial equality has been achieved, according to a national study released by the Pew Research Center.

“This is the last year of Obama’s presidency, and there’s been a renewed national conversation about race relations,” said Juliana Horowitz, the associate director of research at Pew Research Center who led the study.

Percent of African-Americans Who Say…

    • 43%

U.S. will not make changes to achieve racial equality

    • 42%

U.S. will make changes to achieve racial equality

    • 8%

U.S. has made changes to give blacks equal rights with whites

    • 8%

Other

Source: Pew Research Center

Following the shooting deaths of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown and the mass shooting at an historically African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina, Horowitz said perceptions of progress toward racial equality remain splintered. Nearly nine out of 10 African-Americans say they believe more must be done to strengthen race relations.

Following the June 2015 Charleston shooting, Horowitz said she and her colleagues wondered if the nation would one day achieve equity, regardless of skin color or ethnicity. When they surveyed more than 3,700 U.S. adults between February 29 and May 8, the researchers asked people if this nation must do more to improve racial equality. Among those who said yes, they then asked if that would ever happen. Far more white Americans — 38 percent — said they thought the country had done enough to bolster race relations, compared to 8 percent of African-Americans who said the same.

Percent of White Americans Who Say…

    • 11%

U.S. will not make changes to achieve racial equality

    • 40%

U.S. will make changes to achieve racial equality

    • 38%

U.S. has made changes to give blacks equal rights with whites

    • 12%

Other

Source: Pew Research Center

The survey also asked people if they ever experienced discrimination in day-to-day life, such as interacting with police, applying for a loan or mortgage, ordering food in a restaurant or casting a ballot in an election. Across the board, African-Americans said they were treated less fairly than whites in all instances. Nearly three-quarters of African-Americans say people have discriminated against them on the basis of race.

This report follows the National Urban League’s 2016 State of Black America study, which used government data to compare black Americans’ economic, social justice, health, civil engagement and education status to the rest of the country. The organization concluded that race discrimination drives disparities that are pervasive across the United States, and that African-Americans enjoy 72 percent of the benefits that whites have, said Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League in a NewsHour interview.

“These disparities exist in virtually every major American metropolitan area. It is just a question of to what degree,” he said.

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