Considering all the racial turmoil during the past year, after the death of George Floyd in the custody of Minneapolis police officers, it is remarkable how much race relations have improved in the past 50 years.
A new report, The Social Construction of Racism in the United States, by Eric Kaufmann of the Manhattan Institute, delineates this huge progress. Consider:
- Liberal whites are more supportive of punitive Critical Race Theory (CRT) than blacks, who aspire to agency and resilience. CRT appears to have a detrimental effect on African-Americans’ feeling of being in control of their lives.
- Terms like “systemic racism” and “unconscious bias” are increasingly common but white racist views have been in steady decline whether with regard to having black co-workers, classmates or neighbors.
- The share of white Americans who agree that it is permissible to racially discriminate when selling a home declined from 60% as late as 1980 to 28% in 2012.
- Approval of black-white intermarriage rose among whites from around 4% in 1958 to 45% in 1995 and 84% in 2013. The actual share of interracial newlyweds rose from 3% in 1967 to 17% in 2015. In 2017, fewer than 10% of whites in a major PEW survey said that interracial marriage was a “bad thing.”
- Police killings of African-Americans declined by 60-80% from the late 1960s to the early 2000s and have remained at this level ever since.
- According to a Washington Post database, police shot and killed 999 people in 2019, including 424 whites and 252 blacks. Twelve of the black victims were unarmed, versus 26 of the white victims. This is in a country where annual arrests number more than 10 million. It is hardly an “epidemic” of police use of lethal force against blacks.
- What explains the wide perception of racial retrogression at a time when surveys show that racial attitudes and behaviors have never been better? One explanation is that social media allows for wide publicity of statistically rare incidents that are in reality getting even rarer.
Conclusion. “At a time when measures of racist attitudes and behavior have never been more positive, pessimism about racism and race relations has increased in America.” “The willingness of so many in the media to play down or ignore the truth about America’s racial progress is not simply wrong, but also dangerous.”