While racism is, for the most part, over in America, some unsettling news has come to light suggesting that it’s actually not. According to a new survey, 28 percent of white Americans said they’d really appreciate it if they could discriminate against races and ethnicities when it comes to selling or renting.
The General Social Survey has been conducted since the ‘70s to measure American attitudes on cultural issues, and it’s still producing quite telling results. It’s not surprising that the whites of the ‘70s were all for allowing homeowners to refuse black people entry into their neighborhood—and it may not be surprising that 2015 views are not much better.
The Washington Post reports that, while the Obama administration has unveiled massive plans to actively combat housing segregation all over the country—the new HUD effort will require cities and towns to track discriminatory patterns and report them publicly every three to five years—the social views of white America have, remarkably, not caught up to the law.
The reversal over the last four decades has been striking. But as recently as 2014, 28 percent of whites still said they’d chose the law allowing homeowners to refuse to sell their homes to blacks.
On another GSS question, a third of whites in 1972 agreed with the statement “white people have a right to keep blacks out of their neighborhoods if they want to, and blacks should respect that.”
While the GSS is no longer asking the latter question, the Post reports that 12 percent of whites still agreed with the “respect my racism” sentiment when the item was dropped in 1996.
The good news is that the number of whites who agree that they’d prefer to live in a non-integrated neighborhood has been dropping consistently over the years. Currently, the number of respondents who would like to live in a residential area where other races don’t exist is lower than 20 percent, and continues dropping.
The Post spoke to Alexander Polikoff, a civil rights lawyer in Chicago, who had this to say about why the numbers for those who do want to live in a racially integrated neighborhood have remained “relatively stable” over the past several years:
“It’s not that people in the large harbor racial animus, although there are some who do,” he says. “It’s that people are fearful of inundation.”
That’s only slightly, slightly less depressing.
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