In the year since George Floyd’s murder led to widespread protests, racism and discrimination have remained very much in the news. The uneven impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare racial and ethnic disparities in health care, education, and employment, and a recent surge in anti-Asian sentiment has generated concern. While discussions about these and other important issues have spurred some state and federal actions over the past year, Californians’ opinions about racism have remained largely unchanged.
According to the latest PPIC Statewide Survey, more than eight in ten Californians see racism as either a big problem (55%) or somewhat of a problem (29%) in the United States today; 10% say it is a small problem, and 6% say it is not a problem at all. Views were similar last July, at the height of protests over systemic racism (60% big problem, 25% somewhat of a problem, 10% small problem, 5% not a problem at all). Democrats (74%) are far more likely than independents (45%) and Republicans (27%) to view racism in the US as a big problem.
Views across racial/ethnic groups somewhat mirror overall findings. About eight in ten African Americans (79%), 65% of Latinos, and 55% of Asian Americans say racism is a big problem today, compared to fewer whites (46%). These shares were somewhat similar a year ago (86% African Americans, 71% Latinos, 57% Asian Americans, 50% whites).
Asked to think about their own experience, four in ten Californians say they have experienced discrimination or been treated unfairly because of their race or ethnicity regularly (5%) or from time to time (35%), while six in ten say they have not experienced any discrimination.
As they did last July, these overall findings conceal contrasting experiences across racial/ethnic groups. About eight in ten African Americans (20% regularly, 61% from time to time), six in ten Asian Americans (7% regularly, 53% from time to time), and four in ten Latinos (7% regularly, 36% from time to time) say they have experienced racial discrimination. By contrast, three in four whites say they have not experienced any discrimination due to their race.
While there is substantial agreement across racial/ethnic groups that racism is a problem in our country, some differences persist. As discussions about race relations and racial discrimination continue across the state and the country, the PPIC Statewide Survey will continue tracking Californians’ perceptions on these issues.