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Treatment of Minorities

Treatment of Minorities

Muslims are the most likely group to report experiencing religious discrimination in the United States (62%), according to the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding Islamophobia's 2019 Index of Social Policy and Understanding Islamophobia. Muslim women report higher levels of discrimination (68%) than men (55%). By comparison: 43% of Jews report experiencing religious discrimination and 36% of white evangelicals report experiencing it. Forty-one percent of Muslim women experience gender discrimination within their community, the highest rate of any group surveyed. However, the misogyny they experience from society at large is still more prevalent at 52 percent. Muslim women were also more likely than any other group of women surveyed to report gender discrimination from society (36% or less).

When it comes to attitudes toward racial minorities, black Americans are the hardest hit. For example, according to the Gallop Institute, only 18 percent of blacks are satisfied with the way blacks are treated in this country today, compared to 51 percent of whites who say they are satisfied with the way blacks are treated. More than half of blacks say blacks are treated less favorably than whites in dealings with police, in stores and malls, and at work. About half of blacks say blacks are treated less favorably in neighborhood stores, in restaurants and when getting medical care.

Roughly the same results are found in a study by Pew Research. It highlights that more than eight out of ten blacks believe they are treated less fairly by the criminal justice system than whites. The same is true when dealing with police, hiring, pay and promotions. Seven in 10 or more said they were treated less fairly when applying for loans or mortgages and in stores and restaurants. The Pew study also found that 60% to 65% of blacks say that because of their race, people acted as if they were suspicious of them or acted as if they thought they were stupid. And a recent Pew study found that 83% of blacks said they had experienced discrimination or unfair treatment because of their race or ethnicity.

Americans' perceptions of the racial situation in American society have not improved in recent decades, and in many cases have become more negative. At the beginning of Barack Obama's administration there were high expectations for race relations: more than two-thirds of Americans said that his election was either the most important, or one of the two or three most important achievements for blacks in the last 100 years. But by the end of his presidency, attitudes toward race had deteriorated rather than improved. Under a Trump presidency, things have gotten even worse. All polls with which I am familiar show low marks for President Donald Trump's treatment of race relations, and Trump's job approval rating among blacks remains below 20 percent. In 2018, about half of Americans rated relations between whites and blacks as "good," a significant drop from the 70% or more who previously rated relations as good. And in 2019, 40% of Americans said they were "very concerned" about race relations after several high-profile cases in which police officers shot unarmed blacks and several cases in which blacks attacked white police officers. That number is up significantly from 13 percent in 2010. The percentage of Americans concerned about race relations fell to 31% in this year's March update before recent events.

George Floyd's death sparked protests against police brutality, police racism, and a lack of police accountability and called for a reorganization of the police force. According to the U.S. Crisis Monitor, collected by ACLED, there have been nearly 11,000 demonstrations, political violence, and events across the United States since late May 2020, following George Floyd's death. In some ways, the struggle for Muslim rights overlaps with the Black Lives Matter movement. Both groups (African Americans and American Muslims; including Black Muslims, who make up one-third of the American Muslim population) are fighting institutional racism and systemic violence against Black people.

Not all trends are negative, however. Among the general population, there have been long-term changes in two major attitudes about race. The percentage of Americans who say they would vote for a black presidential candidate who is otherwise worthy of the office has risen to 96 percent, up from 38 percent in 1958. And the percentage of Americans who approve of black-white marriage rose from 48% in 1965 to 87% when Gallup last updated the figure in 2013.

In 2018-2019, attitudes toward immigrants split sharply along party lines. For example, Democratic Party supporters saw immigrants as a strength of the United States (83%), and only 11% said immigrants were a burden. On the other hand, only 38% of Republicans and Republican independents said immigrants strengthen the country, while 49% (almost half) said they burden it. Attitudes toward legal and illegal immigrants also vary. In 2018, for example, 38% of 2,000 Americans surveyed said legal immigration to the U.S. should be maintained at current levels, while 32% said it should be increased; 24% said legal immigration should be reduced. A majority of Democrats (84%) said they sympathize with immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally, while only 48% of Republicans share this positive attitude. Interestingly, a majority of Americans (69%) are more sympathetic to illegal immigrants than legal immigrants.

In 2019, a majority of Americans (61%) supported same-sex marriage, while 31% opposed it. That same year, 72% of Americans said they generally agreed with homosexuality.

In 2018, polls showed that Latinos expressed more concern about their place in the U.S. 57% of immigrant (foreign-born) Latinos said they were concerned, and 42% or U.S.-born Latinos said they were concerned. 57% of that year's Latino Democrats also said that the situation of Latinos in the U.S. had worsened over the past year, compared to 12% who said the same thing in 2013. At the same time, only 28% of Hispanic Republicans expressed concern about the worsening situation, compared to 18% in 2013.

In a 2017 poll, 54% of Native Americans living on tribal lands or in other Native American areas said they face racial or ethnic discrimination from police and job applications. Three out of ten Native Americans said they experienced personal discrimination because they were Native.

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