Posted on September 8, 2011

Diversity in the U.S.: Americans Getting Along, but Divisions Remain

Katy Steinmetz, TIME, September 6, 2011

In a report called “What It Means To Be American,” two think tanks surveyed Americans on their attitudes toward their fellow citizens. While the results suggest that people embrace the idea of diversity, they also show a country that is sensitive to religious and ethnic divisions–particularly when beliefs are broken down along party lines.


About 9-in-10 respondents said that the country was founded on the idea of religious freedom and that all religious books should be treated with respect. More than 8-in-10 said they have favorable opinions of African-Americans, Hispanics, Catholics and Jews. Smaller majorities said they feel favorably about Mormons (67%) and Muslims (58%).

But the sentiments were more complicated when demographics come into play: left-leaners and Millennials are, predictably, more comfortable with non-whites. While 65% of Democrats have favorable views of Muslims, for example, 47% of Republicans do. {snip}

Many people see themselves as the primary targets of prejudice. When asked whether discrimination against minorities is a critical issue, 17% of whites agree, compared to 42% of Hispanics and 53% of African-Americans. Meanwhile, 51% of whites say that discrimination against them is as big of a problem as discrimination against minorities, and those numbers rise to above 60% among Republicans and Tea Partyers.