CNN O.J. Simpson Trial

Pessimism grows over race relations

CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll

Whites and blacks agree that racial discrimination against blacks is a serious problem in the country. But only 29 percent of whites think discrimination is a problem in their own communities, while half of African-Americans think discrimination is a serious problem where they live, according to the latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll. African- Americans and whites are equally pessimistic that race relations will always be a problem for the United States. At the start of the civil rights movement 22 years ago, a majority of both groups said that a solution would eventually be worked out, but today only four in 10 Americans of either race think that will happen.

The poll results are based on interviews with 833 whites and 323 African-Americans conducted October 5-7, 1995. The margin of error is plus or minus six percentage points except where noted.

Discrimination is a serious problem in the United States:
Whites              75%
African-Americans   81%
 
Discrimination is a serious problem where you live:
Whites              29%
African-Americans   50%
Race relations will always be a problem:
  
                   Now   1963
Whites             55%    44%
African-Americans  55%    26%

How has the O.J. Simpson trial affected racial attitudes? Only 17 percent of whites say that they have less trust in African-Americans as a result of the trial, but nearly double that number fear that African-Americans don't trust them. The same pattern is true for blacks. Only 18 percent report having less trust in whites after the trial, but twice as many say they think whites don't trust them because of the trial's outcome.

Fifty-five percent of African-Americans say that only a few whites dislike blacks. But just 37 percent of whites say that only a few blacks hate whites. Overall, three-quarters of whites and a majority of blacks say that the trial has done more to hurt race relations in this country than to help.

You trust members of other race less after trial:
Whites            17%
African-Americans 18%
Members of other race trust you less after trial:
Whites            31%
African-Americans 35%
How many whites dislike African-Americans? African-Americans answered:
Only a few        55%
Many              32%
Almost all         8%
How many African-Americans dislike whites? Whites answered:
Only a few        37%
Many              46%
Almost all        11%
(Sampling error: +/- 4 percentage points.)

The trial has hurt race relations:

Whites             77%
African-Americans  53%

What other attitudes have been changed by the O.J. Simpson trial? The number of African-Americans who think the American justice system is biased against blacks has dropped since March of this year, but a majority still perceive bias. One reason may be that a third of African-Americans (and only 9 percent of whites) have been unfairly treated by the police specifically because of their race.

Since June, whites have lost confidence in defense attorneys and juries. A majority of whites now say they have less confidence in defense attorneys' ability to defend their clients without resorting to unethical or irresponsible tactics; in June only 28 percent of whites felt that way. Forty-eight percent of whites now say the trial has made them less confident that jurors can reach a verdict without letting racial attitudes affect their judgment; in June only 32 percent of whites felt that way.

Justice system is biased against African-Americans. African-Americans answered:
Now                54%
March              66%
 
Ever treated unfairly by police due to race:
Whites                9%
African-Americans    34%
 
Less confidence that attorneys can defend clients ethically. Whites answered:
Now                 51%
June                28%
(Sampling error: +/- 4 percentage points.)

Less confidence that jurors make decisions not based on race. Whites answered:

Now                 48%
June                32%
 
(Sampling error: +/- 4 percentage points.)


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