More white Americans now share the view, long held by minorities, that racism is a national problem and should be confronted, according to an analysis of recent public opinion polling.
The review, compiled by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in conjunction with the Northeastern University School of Journalism, concludes that a majority of Americans across racial groups think more should be done to end racism.
Media coverage of events such as the Charleston church massacre on June 17 and the Baltimore riots after the death of Freddie Gray in police custody has combined with technology to make a powerful case for racial bias being more of an abiding pattern than a snapshot of any given moment in time, said Jonathan Kaufman, director of Northeastern's journalism school.
"When whites see injustice, they're human, and they understand what it's like to be afraid," Kaufman said. "I think that cuts through people's prejudices and makes them think twice."
Kellogg's analysis, obtained by The Associated Press, notes that since President Barack Obama's election in 2008, polls have shown an overall decrease in the number of people who believe race relations are "very or fairly good."
In January 2009, a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll showed 79 percent of whites, 76 percent of blacks and 64 percent of Hispanics held that view. The same poll seven years later showed 33 percent of whites, 26 percent of blacks and 38 percent of Hispanics felt the same way.
A similar Gallup poll showed a 10-point drop for blacks and 35-point drop for whites on the state of race relations between 2008 and 2015.
The increased use of technology in documenting racial incidences — such as shooting Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and the chokehold death of Eric Garner — has helped drive new attitudes among whites about the realities of racism in America, researchers found.
The Kellogg foundation announced Thursday that it is launching a "Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Commission" to discuss solutions for ending systemic inequality based on race.
New York Times/CBS polling in 1995 showed only 15 percent of whites believed the criminal justice system was biased against blacks, compared to 51 percent of blacks. By 2015, that number had risen to 44 percent of whites and 77 percent of blacks. Polls from CNN/Kaiser Family Foundation and Gallup showed an increase in the number of whites who believe the criminal justice system is biased against black people.
Kellogg's analysis was done taking comparative polling data over the past two decades from CNN/Kaiser Family Foundation; PBS NewsHouse and Marist College's Institute for Public Opinion; The New York Times/CBS; The Wall Street Journal/NBC News; The Pew Research Center and Gallup. Poll questions were not identical, but researchers considered them similar enough to draw conclusions and identify trends.
The Associated Press