King’s dream: Are whites or blacks treated more fairly?
Now that’s a very broad question, so let’s narrow it down and consider specific areas and institutions: police, courts, workplaces, stores and restaurants, local public schools, healthcare, and voting in elections. Would you say that blacks are treated as fairly as whites in each of these?
Researchers at the Pew Research Center asked these questions in a survey earlier this month, timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary. In each area or institution, there are wide racial divides in opinions about fair treatment.
For example, 70 percent of blacks say that blacks in their communities are treated less fairly than whites in dealing with the police, compared to just over a third of whites (37 percent) who say the same. Almost the same proportion of blacks (68percent) says that, in the courts, blacks are treated less fairly than whites, with only 27percent of whites saying the same.
How about treatment in the workplace? Over half of blacks (54 percent) say that blacks in their communities are treated less fairly than whites. Only 16percent of whites agree. Similarly, 44percent of blacks say that blacks in their communities are treated less fairly than whites in stores and restaurants, with only 16 percent of whites agreeing with them.
Generally, we see roughly the same amount of disagreement about fair treatment of blacks in local public schools, healthcare, and voting in elections. Blacks tend to see unfairness. Whites tend to see fairness.
Are you surprised by these racial differences in opinion about fair treatment?
How would you answer the question of fair treatment of blacks, compared to whites, in your community?
Wayne Baker is a sociologist on the faculty of the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. Baker blogs daily at Our Values and can be reached at email@example.com or on Facebook.