While blacks and Hispanics hold broadly favorable views of
each other, Hispanics are less likely to say the two groups get along well. At
the same time, African Americans are far more likely than Latinos to say blacks
are frequently the victims of racial discrimination, according to a recent
survey of racial and ethnic attitudes by the Pew Research Center.
The country's two largest and most powerful minority groups
also disagree on other issues that strike close to the heart of many blacks and
Hispanics, though these differences are generally modest. Notably, blacks are
more likely to say the situation for African Americans is worse today than it
was five or even 10 years ago. Nearly half of all blacks also say immigrants
reduce job opportunities for blacks, while fewer than four-in-10 Hispanics
The current round of Democratic presidential primaries has
brought the issue of Hispanic-black relations onto center stage. Overwhelming
majorities of blacks have supported Barack Obama, while Hillary Clinton has
counted on majority support among Hispanics, coupled with her strong support
from whites, to counter Obama's appeal among African American voters.
In the recent Florida Democratic primary, Clinton beat Obama
among Hispanics by nearly 2-1 while Obama countered by winning blacks by better
than 2-1. This race and ethnicity gap, apparent throughout the 2008 primary
season, has led some to ask if the division reflects larger and more troubling
tensions between the two groups.
The Pew survey suggests that the answer depends on the
question that you ask. On many core issues, majorities or large pluralities of
blacks and Hispanics share the same view. At the same time, the poll also
pinpoints some areas of disagreement and potential conflict. The telephone
survey was taken from Sept. 5 through Oct. 6, 2007 among a
nationally-representative sample of 3,086 adults.
Hispanics More Likely to Say
Groups Do Not Get Along
The survey found that overwhelming majorities of both blacks
and Hispanics have favorable views of each other. Fully three-quarters of all
blacks (77%) have a very or somewhat favorable view of Latinos, while 79% of
Hispanics have a similarly positive view of blacks. (Three-quarters of all
whites also have an approving view of Hispanics and a slightly larger
percentage expressed a favorable opinion of blacks.)
But some differences begin to emerge when blacks and
Hispanics are asked how well the two groups get along. A majority of blacks
(70%), but a smaller share of Hispanics (57%), say the groups get along very or
fairly well. At the same time, Hispanics are significantly more likely than
blacks to say that inter-group relations are strained (30% vs. 18%). Whites are
roughly equally divided, with nearly four-in-10 (39%) saying that blacks and
Hispanics get along well, 32% saying they do not, while nearly as many express
This "perception gap" on inter-group relations
persists even when controlling for socio-economic status. For example, 63% of
all better-educated Hispanics -- those who had attended college -- say blacks
and Latinos get along well, compared with 73% of similarly educated blacks.
That's a 10-point difference -- little different than the overall 13-point gap
between the two groups. Similar differences emerge in most age and income
categories as well.
Love Thy Neighbor
Does familiarity breed tolerance or contempt? It depends.
Hispanics and blacks living in counties with relatively high concentrations of
African Americans are somewhat more likely to say that blacks and Latinos get
along well (65% Hispanics, 72% blacks) than are Hispanics and blacks living in
low-density black counties (50% and 57% respectively), suggesting proximity is
associated with greater acceptance. But there is no difference in perceptions
of relations between blacks and Hispanics between who live in counties with
relatively higher or lower concentrations of Latinos; in either case, about
two-thirds of blacks and six-in-10 Hispanics think the two groups get along
Differences on Core Issues
On some issues key to both groups, strong differences
emerge. For example, on the issue of racial discrimination, blacks acknowledge
that some progress has been made. But majorities also say bias against blacks
remains widespread in key areas of American life, notably in housing and
employment. In contrast, most Hispanics reject the view that blacks frequently
face discrimination in these areas, offering positions that tend to be much
closer to the views of whites than to those of blacks.
For example, two-thirds of all African Americans say blacks
are "almost always" or "frequently" discriminated against
when they apply for a job, compared with 36% of Hispanics and 20% of whites.
Similarly, blacks are about twice as likely as Hispanics to say that blacks face
discrimination when buying a house or renting an apartment (65% vs. 36%),
applying to college (43% vs. 22%) or dining at restaurants or shopping in
retail stores (50% vs. 29%).
The different way that African Americans and Hispanics view
the prevalence of racism is underscored when these four questions are analyzed
together. About one-in-four (26%) blacks say discrimination "almost
always" or "frequently" occurs in each of the four activities
tested in the survey: applying for a job or admission to college, shopping or
eating out, or seeking to buy or rent housing. Another 24% say blacks
frequently encounter racism in three of the four areas. Only 19% report that
racism is not frequently found in any of the four domains. In contrast, 45% of
Hispanics (and 63% of whites) say blacks do not frequently encounter racism in
any of the areas tested. By the same token, only 11% of Hispanics and 3% of
whites believe that blacks often experience racism in all four areas.
Blacks and Hispanics also see the extent of black progress
in somewhat different ways, with African Americans distinctly more negative
about the advancement they have made as a group in recent years. Fewer than a
third (31%) of all blacks but 44% of Hispanics say the situation of black
people in the United States has improved in the past decade. By the same token,
blacks are three times more likely than Hispanics to say that things have
gotten worse (22% vs. 7%), with the remainder reporting no change.
Contrasting Views on Illegal
Hispanics also are significantly more likely than African
Americans to view illegal immigration as a serious problem in their
communities. Overall, more than four-in-10 Hispanics (44%) say illegal
immigration is a big problem in their communities compared with 28% of blacks.
Views of Latinos and blacks on the seriousness of the immigration problem are
virtually identical in counties that have the smallest proportion of Hispanics.
In these communities, only about one-in-five see illegal immigrants as a
concern. But in counties with comparatively large Hispanic populations, there
is an 11 percentage-point difference between Latinos and blacks (47% vs. 36%)
and, significantly, these counties are home to about seven-in-10 Latinos.
Hispanics also are somewhat less enthusiastic than blacks
about residential integration. Six-in-10 blacks compared with half of all
Hispanics say they would like to see the country become more integrated in
terms of minorities and whites living in the same neighborhoods. Among whites,
41% say they want more integration while 44% say current levels of integration
are "about right," a view shared by 38% of Hispanics and 28% of
blacks. (Since the question specifically asked for their views of "minorities
and whites" living together, this finding may say more about how blacks
and Hispanics feel about living among whites than how they feel about living
near each other.)
On other questions about discrimination, Hispanics and
blacks express similar views. For example, when asked if discrimination or
personal shortcomings are the main reason why some blacks don't succeed,
roughly similar majorities of blacks (53%) and Hispanics (59%) say blacks
themselves are responsible, a view shared by 71% of all whites.
© 2008. Pew research Center