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Doing Good For Our Neighborhood

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Location InfoSheridan, Melbourne, Australia

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As the Obama presidency draws to a close, white and black Americans are deeply divided on views of race relations in the United States, according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center.
The report, titled On Views of Race and Inequality, Blacks and Whites are Worlds Apart, found that just 8 percent of black Americans say the changes needed to achieve racial equality for blacks in the U.S. have already been made, while nearly 40 percent of white Americans say the same thing.

President Barack Obama is photographed during a presidential portrait sitting for an official photo in the Oval Office, Dec. 6, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

As to whether the country will ever achieve racial equality — defined in the survey as an environment in which blacks and whites are treated with equal fairness — blacks are far less optimistic than whites. Just 42 percent of blacks believe the country will eventually make the changes to get there, compared with 75 percent of whites.

Pew Research Center, Juliana Horowitz, associate director of research for Pew, notes that there are views that black and white survey respondents held in equal measure. For instance, when asked to identify effective means of achieving racial equality, 34 percent of whites and 41 percent of blacks said bringing people of different racial backgrounds together to talk about race would be a very effective tactic for helping blacks achieve equality.
But Horowitz says the survey suggests how difficult such conversations are likely to be.

There are “fundamental differences” in how white and black Americans think about race, she says. “The starting point is so different.” Pew has surveyed attitudes on race many times over the years. Horowitz says the motivation behind this most recent survey was recent high profile race-related events, such as the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, and the coming end of the nation’s first black presidency.

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