Americans overwhelmingly believe that pre-judging someone by the color of their skin is racist.
Eighty-nine percent (89%) of voters nationwide believe it is racist when a white American pre-judges a person of color based on the color of their skin. Additionally, 87% believe it is racist when a person of color pre-judges a white person based on the color of their skin.
Questions about the definition of racism flared up earlier this year when the New York Times hired Sarah Jeong and she was accused of making racist statements on social media against white Americans. Andrew Sullivan wrote a widely discussed column on the topic noting that some on the political left today do not believe racism against whites is even possible.
Sullivan wrote that, in this view, ” racism has nothing to do with a person’s willingness to pre-judge people by the color of their skin, or to make broad, ugly generalizations about whole groups of people, based on hoary stereotypes. Rather, racism is entirely institutional and systemic, a function of power, and therefore it can only be expressed by the powerful — i.e., primarily white, straight men.”
However, the survey found that even 94% of liberals believe it is racist when a person of color pre-judges a white person based on the color of their skin.
Some commentators on the political left believed that the entire controversy about Jeong’s social media posts was an inappropriate bullying attack by the alt-right.
The national survey of 1,000 Registered Voters was conducted August 28-29, 2018 by ScottRasmussen.com and HarrisX, a polling company specializing in online surveys (see Methodology). It has a 3.1 percentage point Margin of Error with a 95% level of confidence.
The survey also found that 79% believe it’s racist for a white American to make broad generalizations about groups of people based on the color of their skin. Seventy-seven percent (77%) say it’s also racist when a person of color makes such generalizations.
The data was collected using a split sample technique. Half the respondents were asked about statements made by white persons and the other half were asked about statements made by persons of color (see question wording and crosstab results).
Data released earlier showed that:
- 23% of voters nationwide believe that most white Americans are racist.
- 58% believe racism towards persons of color remains a large problem in the United States.
- 67% recognize that black men are likely to receive stricter prison sentences than white men for comparable crimes.
- 24% of voters believe a healthy democracy is possible when disagreements fall along racial lines.
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