Americans think race relations between black and white people are at their lowest in more than two decades, according to a Gallup poll released Wednesday.
A majority of Americans, 57%, say relations are “somewhat” or “very” bad, the Gallup poll found. Meanwhile, about 42% of Americans say relations between blacks and whites are either “very” or “somewhat” good.
The results are similar to last year’s poll, which also found that U.S. adults viewed race relations between blacks and whites as at an all-time low.
The poll was conducted from June 1 to July 5, during which time former police officer Derek Chauvin was sentenced to 22 and a half years in prison after being convicted of murder in the death of George Floyd. His sentence, while one of the longest for a police officer convicted of unlawful use of deadly force, fell short of what some advocates wanted and prompted protests.
Before 2016, majorities of both racial groups rated relations between the two groups positively. Over the last two decades, whites have been more likely to rate race relations positively, but the difference in the two groups’ views is particularly stark this year. Only 33% of black Americans view relations with white Americans positively, while 43% of white Americans view relations positively. However, the gap is still smaller than in 2018, which saw a 14-point gap between the groups.
The poll comes after a turbulent year for race relations in the U.S., coupled with economic and physical hardship for many Americans caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
In May last year, riots broke out in metropolitan areas across the country following the death of George Floyd. The day after Floyd’s death, rioters in Minneapolis took to the streets, shattering storefronts and burning police cars as they clashed with law enforcement. Similar violent demonstrations broke out in New York City, Portland, Dallas, Atlanta, Seattle, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and other cities across the country.
In recent months, conservatives have pushed back against efforts to teach more Critical Race Theory, a left-wing ideology that promotes the idea that white people in the U.S. constitute an oppressor class while racial minorities are relegated to an oppressed class.
However, “even as Americans rate Black-White relations negatively today, they continue to be optimistic about the future overall,” Gallup said.
A 57% majority of U.S. adults say “a solution to the problem of Black-White relations will eventually be worked out and race relations will not always be a problem,” Gallup said, while 40% “disagree and say it will always be a problem.”
“As the nation continues to grapple with racial equity, Americans rate the state of Black-White relations more negatively now than at any time in over two decades. Overall, however, they believe there is still hope for an eventual solution,” Gallup said.