A New York Times / CBS poll conducted July 14 to 19 finds a fairly sharp increase in people, white and black alike, who think race relations in the US are deteriorating. 68% of black respondents said relations were generally bad, while 57% of white respondents felt that way. Prior to this year, this level of pessimism in race relations in the U.S. has not been seen on a sustained basis since the 1990’s, according to the data.
The good news is that, in the wake of the Charleston, SC church shootings, a majority appear to recognize the problem and we now seem open to at least having the conversation. The bad news is the conversation is not easy; the problems are deeply ingrained in our society, and they won’t be easy to fix.
Among the problems that need to be addressed, and there are many, is a general lack of economic opportunity that the NY Times / CBS poll suggests transcends the racial divide. The poll found that whites and blacks, at 57% equally within each group, share the view that it is “mainly just a few people at the top who have a chance to get ahead”
Perhaps if we were to do a better job of leveling the playing field for all our citizens – white, black, Hispanic and Asian – it would make the conversation on improving racial discrimination go just a little easier, and yield results a little quicker.