Majority of US voters believe American society is racist: poll

A majority of US voters think American society is racist, a new poll found.

Fifty-six percent of registered voters surveyed in a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll said they consider American society to be racist, while 71 percent said they think race relations in the country are either very bad or fairly bad — up from 55 percent in February.

The poll, conducted nearly two months after the police-custody death of George Floyd, also found growing support for the Black Lives Matter movement and for kneeling during the national anthem by professional athletes.

“Americans are concerned about issues of inequality, and George Floyd’s death helped contribute to that,” said pollster Brenda Lee, who worked on the survey. “We’ve moved the needle a great deal in terms of just clearly identifying that we, as Americans, have an issue with racism in this society.”

Almost 60 percent of those surveyed said black people are discriminated against, while just over 50 percent said the same of Hispanics.

But a stark divide was found among party lines, as 90 percent of Democrats said blacks in America face discrimination, compared to 26 percent of Republicans who agreed.

The split was also evident within the question of whether US society is racist, with 82 percent of Democrats affirming — nearly triple the portion of Republicans (30 percent) who said the same.

Regarding the protests sparked by Floyd’s killing, 57 percent of voters said they support the ongoing demonstrations, compared to 32 percent who said they do not. Separately, 58 percent of those surveyed said they’re more concerned with racial inequality as a result of the protests, the poll found.

But overall, about half of voters said they see the Black Lives Matter movement in a positive light, an increase from 38 percent just four years ago. Broken down by race, 76 percent of black voters held that view, compared to 42 percent of white voters, according to the poll.

A shift was also found in the number of Americans who believe it’s appropriate for professional athletes to kneel during the national anthem, as former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick first did in 2016 to protest police brutality.

A slight majority of US voters, or 52 percent, now support taking a knee, up from 43 percent two years ago.

In contrast, 45 percent said they still believe kneeling is inappropriate, according to the poll, which surveyed 900 registers voters from July 9-12 and has a margin of error plus or minus 3.27 percentage points.

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