Nearly one year after George Floyd’s murder, Black and white Americans have very different views on race


As the one-year mark of George Floyd’s murder approaches, only a small share of Americans say race relations have improved in the past year — though many also feel hopeful for the future.

About four in 10 U.S. adults (42%) think race relations in the country are worse today than they were a year ago, according to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll, although this was the smallest share of people to express that view since 2015. Thirty-nine percent of people say race relations are about the same, and 17% say they’re better.

White people are more likely than Black people (45% versus 34%) to believe race relations have gotten worse over the past year. But more than half of respondents overall (57%) predicted that race relations would be better for future generations than they are now.

Nearly seven in 10 people said they had never or rarely experienced discrimination or been treated unfairly due to their race or ethnicity. But the poll also provided yet another snapshot of how Americans experience race differently: 61% of Black Americans reported often or sometimes experiencing discrimination, while 84% of white respondents said they had rarely or never experienced it.

Among respondents who identified as Latino, 39% said they often or sometimes experienced discrimination, while 61% indicated they rarely or never did.

Some 53% of respondents believe local police in the community where they live and work treat people of color the same as they do white people, but Black respondents (61%) and Latino respondents (39%) were more likely than white respondents (25%) to say people of color were treated more harshly. 

The national poll of 1,249 adults conducted in early May came almost a year after 46-year-old Floyd, who was Black, died in a police encounter with Derek Chauvin, a white former Minneapolis police officer. The killing sparked widespread protests and course correction on racial inequality last year, and a jury last month found Chauvin guilty of murder and manslaughter.

Seventy-seven percent of poll respondents said Chauvin’s guilty verdict was the right decision. More than half of most demographic groups agreed with the decision, but just 50% of Republican women and 49% of people who supported former President Donald Trump in the 2020 election said it was the right move. 

Two in three respondents support reforming police use of force, though support is far lower among Republicans and 2020 Trump supporters (both 33%). One area of broad consensus: Nine in 10 Americans believe police officers’ use of body cameras does more good than harm.

As for how President Biden is handling race relations, 51% of Americans approve and 40% disapprove. Just over a third of Americans think race relations will improve during the Biden administration, including 49% of Black people, 44% of Latinos and 31% of white people.

Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris called on Congress last month to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which would ban chokeholds and some no-knock warrants and address “qualified immunity,” a legal doctrine that protects law-enforcement officers from civil lawsuits. The bill passed the House last month.

Related: Why are ‘Karens’ so angry?



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