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Roughly 75% of Black Americans worry that they or someone they love will be attacked by a white supremacist because of their race, according to a national Washington Post-Ipsos poll conducted in May.
The release of the poll’s findings come after an 18-year-old white supremacist ruthlessly gunned down 10 Black people at a Tops Market in Buffalo, NY on Saturday, May 14.
Payton Gendron traveled 200 miles from his mostly White community of Conklin to surveil and target the Black community in Buffalo, massacring mothers, sons, and grandmothers with the n-word written on his gun. He now faces first-degree murder charges, and a federal hate crime investigation remains ongoing.
Surveying 806 Black Americans across the country from May 18 – May 20, the poll also found that 70% of Black people believe that half, most or nearly all White Americans hold white supremacist beliefs. A whopping 97% of Blacks surveyed see white supremacy as a threat.
White supremacist attacks top the list of threats among Black Americans
In fact, restrictions on voting rights, the criminal justice system, police brutality and gun violence all ranked high as threats to Black people, but racism topped the list, according to the poll.
While claims of a “post-racial society” grew louder following the election of President Barack Obama, Black respondents to the poll believe racism is a bigger problem today compared to five years ago.
The police lynching of George Floyd in 2020 spurred the nation’s largest civil unrest in U.S. history and a flood of financial support to Black-led organizations. Yet, the recent poll found Black Americans don’t believe Floyd’s death has caused more concern from White Americans about police brutality against Blacks.
Moreover, a Washington Post-Ipsos poll conducted from April 21 – May 2 found that 43% of White respondents believe the U.S. has done enough to make Blacks equal to Whites in society, compared to only 9% of Black respondents who share that view.
Black respondents listed personal family upbringing, access to guns, and social media as the biggest contributors to hate crimes against Black people. And when it comes to arming themselves in light of the white supremacist Buffalo massacre, Blacks remain split on the issue, with 51% of Black respondents saying they haven’t considered buying a gun after the domestic terrorist event.
Black Americans believe economic opportunity will do the most to reduce crime
When it comes to solutions, respondents were asked which of the following options would do the most to reduce crime in general: increasing police officers on the streets, having outreach workers resolve disputes, building economic opportunity in small neighborhoods with high crime, or increasing prison sentences for gun violations.
According to the poll, a majority of Black respondents believe building economic opportunity in marginalized, high crime neighborhoods will do the most to reduce crime. Meanwhile, non-Black respondents were torn between increasing police patrols and building economic opportunity.
The poll indicates a continued divide between the level of concern Black Americans have for racism’s violent effects compared to the rest of Americans.
Both the April 21 – May 2 and May 18 – 20 polls were jointly funded and sponsored by the Washington Post and Ipsos. The first poll includes a random sample of 997 adults in the United States, as well as a partially overlapping sample of 1,248 non-Hispanic Black adults. The May 18-20 poll was of 806 non-Hispanic Black adults. The margin of error for the polls stood at plus or minus 3.5%.