In the wake of last summer’s widespread protests over the murder of George Floyd, some states and localities have been grappling with criminal justice reforms. There’s been a change in national leadership, and President Biden has emphasized the need to address systemic racism. Through all of this, Californians have remained supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement.
In our recent April Survey, about six in ten Californians (58%) said racism is a big problem in the US today, and about one in four said it is somewhat of a problem (26%); views were similar last July (60% big problem, 25% somewhat of a problem). Overall perceptions of racism in the US are in alignment with continued support of the Black Lives Matter movement (BLM). Nearly two in three Californians support BLM (31% strongly, 33% somewhat), and their views have not changed much since last July (31% strongly, 37% somewhat).
While majorities across demographic groups and regions are supportive of Black Lives Matter, support is highest among African Americans and lowest among whites. Our survey also found a divide across age groups: three in four younger Californians (ages 18 to 34) support BLM (41% strongly, 35% somewhat), compared to about six in ten Californians 35 and older (26% strongly, 32% somewhat). Overwhelming majorities of Democrats (52% strongly, 35% somewhat) are supportive, compared to six in ten independents (30% strongly, 31% somewhat) and just one in four Republicans (8% strongly, 17% somewhat).
A majority of Californians (62%) continue to believe that the criminal justice system is biased against African Americans. Nearly all African Americans hold this view, compared to two-thirds of Asian Americans and six in ten Latinos and whites. Younger Californians are more likely than older adults to say the criminal justice system is biased (70% 18 to 34, 58% 35 and older). Democrats (84%) and Republicans (33%) differ widely on whether the criminal justice system is biased against African Americans.
As California and the country as a whole grapple with discrimination, systemic racism, and the racial injustices that have been laid bare in the past year, views on race relations remain a hugely important topic. The PPIC Statewide Survey will continue to track Californian’s perceptions on race, equity, and other key issues.