African-American views of race relations in the U.S. have dropped sharply from the high levels of optimism reached after President Barack Obama's election in 2008, a new poll has found.
According toa Wall Street Journal/ NBC poll
conducted just days after the not-guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman murder trial, 54 percent of blacks surveyed said they "strongly disagreed" with the idea that America judges people on the content of their character, not the color of their skin.
Just 30 percent felt that way one month after Obama took office.
The survey of 1,000 adults, including 120 African-Americans, 79 percent of blacks in total said they "disagreed" with the idea that Americans judge people by character, not skin color, including 25 percent who "somewhat disagreed."
Optimism over race relations was at an all-time high in January 2009 when Obama became the first black president. At that time, 77 percent of Americans polled described race relations as good, including 79 percent of whites and 64 percent of blacks. In the new poll, 52 percent of respondents felt that way, including 52 percent of whites and 38 percent of blacks.
The survey also found sharp differences along racial lines about how Americans view the legal system in the wake of the Zimmerman acquittal.
Just 24 percent of whites said the trial had decreased their confidence in the legal system, compared to 71 percent of blacks who felt that way.
"Things aren't going to change. You can't change ignorance," said one black poll respondent, Deborah Williams, told the Journal.
Williams said she had been hopeful Obama's presidency would heal race relations but her optimism has dimmed. She also said the Zimmerman verdict was proof that racism still exists in America, the Journal reported.
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