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Civil Rights and Race Relations

This national telephone survey of age 18+ Americans, sponsored by AARP and conducted by The Gallup Organization in late 2003, about race relations in the United States today is Gallup's most comprehensive race relations study of blacks, Hispanics and whites undertaken. The survey finds progress in two areas that are very important to most people: marital relationships and preferences for neighborhoods. A majority of Americans approve of interracial marriage and a majority prefer to live in mixed neighborhoods. There was also widespread support for affirmative action, since over half of each racial/ethnic group supports affirmative action for blacks and Hispanics.

However, there are vast perceptual gaps in how whites, blacks and Hispanics feel about the treatment of racial and ethnic minorities. Large majorities of whites feel that blacks and Hispanics are treated fairly, while blacks and Hispanics are less likely to feel that they receive fair treatment. Nearly half of blacks and slightly fewer Hispanics say they have experienced some form of discrimination in the past 30 days. Some of the perceptual gaps and differences in treatment may be explained by the major socioeconomic differences between whites and the other two groups-whites had the highest levels of income and education. These differences in socioeconomic status are further underscored by the shape of personal finances and the amount of worry about family expenses expressed by blacks and Hispanics.

Even though nearly two-thirds of respondents say that race relations will always be a problem in America, when confronted with the prediction that in 2050, a majority of people in the U.S. will be non-white, the vast majority said it wouldn't matter or that it would be a good thing.

The survey was conducted by The Gallup Organization for AARP from November 11 through December 14, 2003, and includes oversamples of blacks and Hispanics in a total sample size of 2,002 adults across the country. This sample includes 915 non-Hispanic whites, 446 non-Hispanic blacks, and 551 Hispanics (including both black and white Hispanics), plus 90 respondents in other racial/ethnic categories. When overall results are presented, they are based on the overall sample weighted to accurately reflect current U.S. Census figures for the United States on race, education, gender, age and geographical location. (107 pages)

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