How the past year shaped perspectives on race in America

On the anniversary of George Floyd’s death, the nation reflects back on a year of renewed focus on race in America.

The author(s)

  • Catherine Morris Data Journalist, US, Public Affairs
  • Sarah Feldman Data Journalist, US, Public Affairs
Get in touch

May 25- On the anniversary of George Floyd’s death, the nation reflects back on a year of renewed focus on race in America.

Stories this week:

Most believe America still has a way to go on race

Six in ten Americans believe that the nation still has work to do to give Black Americans equal rights with white Americans. Views vary across racial and ethnic groups, with 92% of Black Americans in agreement that change is still needed, compared to just 50% of white Americans, according to the Axios-Ipsos Hard Truth Civil Rights Poll.

Taking a closer look at the views of white Americans by partisanship, and the defining role of politics become clear. White Democrats overwhelmingly believe that further progress is required (85% agree) compared to only a handful of white Republicans (21% agree).

Views on this question have shifted slightly among Americans overall compared to the summer of 2020. In a NPR/Ipsos survey conducted in late August 2020 following the shooting of Jacob Blake, about 5 percentage points more Americans felt the country needed to continue making changes.  

This change was primarily driven by non-Black Americans. Among Black Americans, opinion has not changed at all.

Black Americans 3x more likely to have police draw a gun or taser on them

Even as Black Americans are less likely to experience being pulled over by the police than white Americans, mostly due to lower rates of car ownership, Black Americans are still three times more likely to have police draw a gun or taser on them than white people at a vehicle stop, new Axios-Ipsos polling indicates.

When pulled over both Black and white Americans report being told to step out of their vehicle at roughly equal rates. Black Americans, though, are far more likely to experience police actions escalating. Black people are twice as likely to have had additional police officers called onto the scene.

Beyond escalations, over half of Black Americans who report experiencing a vehicle stop (56%) feel that there has been a time when they were pulled over for a reason they felt was unjustified or wrong, 24-points ahead of white Americans on this question.

One year later: America divided on legacy of 2020 protests

One year later, Americans are divided on the legacy of the 2020 protests, with partisanship and race playing important roles in this division, Axios-Ipsos Hard Truths polling finds.

Half of Black and Asian Americans believe the protests had a positive impact on society. The demonstrations split Hispanic Americans roughly equally between agreeing, being unsure, and disagreeing on whether the protests had a positive influence.

Partisanship drives a clear wedge between white Americans here. A majority of white Democrats believe the impact of the protests was positive, while only 8% of white Republicans hold this position.  

Last summer, whether the protesters were largely peaceful divided Democrats and Republicans, too. These partisan differences appearing one year later surrounding the legacy of the demonstrations are an extension of these longstanding trends.

The pandemic hits Black and Hispanic Americans’ health and finances harder

Current research shows that COVID had a more severe impact on the health and financial wellbeing of Americans of color. These themes are reflected in a recent Ipsos survey on mental health, which finds that Black and Hispanic Americans in particular report that COVID has more of a major or moderate impact on their health and finances than white Americans.

These findings once again underscore the uneven impact of the pandemic and how it exacerbated preexisting inequalities.

A majority believe that Asian Americans experienced discrimination as a result of COVID-19

Seven in ten Americans agree that Asian Americans experienced discrimination a result of the pandemic, but like many topics regarding race, partisanship is a strong driver of opinions. Asian Americans and white Democrats are the most likely to say that Asian Americans were targeted during the pandemic, according to the Axios-Ipsos Hard Truth Civil Rights survey.

Asian Americans began to experience COVID-related discrimination shortly after the start of the pandemic, with three in ten Americans reporting having seen people blaming Asians for the pandemic as early as April 2020, according to Center for Public Integrity/Ipsos polling.
 

The author(s)

  • Catherine Morris Data Journalist, US, Public Affairs
  • Sarah Feldman Data Journalist, US, Public Affairs

Society