There's been a longstanding gap in the way blacks and whites have viewed race relations, with blacks' optimism about racial harmony persistently lagging that of whites by about 12 points, Gallup reports.
In a review of race relations and discrimination since the late 1990s, Gallup reports
that as recently as June 2013, 58 percent of whites versus 48 percent of blacks said they were optimistic about a solution to race relations.
"Perhaps one reason for this racial gap in optimism is the even greater gulf between how blacks and whites perceive society's treatment of blacks," the pollster notes.
Using the June 2013 survey, Gallup reports 67 percent of whites and 47 percent of blacks said they were either very or somewhat satisfied with how blacks are treated in society.
Blacks' satisfaction dipped to 41 percent two months later after the acquittal of neighborhood security watchman in Florida, George Zimmerman, in the shooting death of a 17-year-old black teenager, Trayvon Martin, Gallup noted.
Yet despite blacks' pessimism about racial harmony, and dissatisfaction with how blacks are treated, the majority are positive about white-black relations, Gallup reports.
Also in the June 2013 poll, two-thirds of blacks described white-black relations as either very good or somewhat good, while one-third called them very bad or somewhat bad, Gallup reports.
Whites were slightly more positive than blacks about race relations in that same survey, with 72 percent calling them good, and 27 percent calling them bad.
The pollster also noted blacks and whites rejected the idea that discrimination is the major reason blacks tend to have worse housing, employment and income situations on average than do whites, although 37 percent of blacks believe that's the case, as do 15 percent of whites.
The disparity in how the races view police was especially wide in the 2013 poll, with 68 percent of black Americans saying the system is biased versus 26 percent who don't think so.
Whites attitudes were almost exactly the opposite -- with 25 percent saying the system is biased and 69 percent saying it's not, Gallup reports.
Still, black Americans were more positive toward law enforcement when evaluating the honesty and ethical standards of police officers in the 2013 survey. Less than half of black Americans, 45 percent, said officers' standards are high or very high, while 59 percent of white Americans said the same.
Only 17 percent of blacks said police officers' standards were low or very low, suggesting that at least last year, before Ferguson, blacks held the police in reasonably high regard.
"As of this June, 74 percent of black Americans said they had at least 'some' confidence in police, while 88 percent of white Americans said the same," Gallup reports.
"Yet despite the high-profile nature of incidents involving blacks and the police in recent decades, when Gallup asked blacks directly if they had felt they were treat unfairly by the police in the last 30 days because they were black, 81 percent said no."
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