Posted on September 11, 2022

A Quarter of U.S. Adults Fear Being Attacked in Their Neighborhood, a Poll Finds

Alana Wise, NPR, September 8, 2022

A quarter of American adults say they live in fear of being attacked in their own neighborhoods, according to a poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The poll, conducted between June and July of this year and including a sample of 4,192 adults, found that Americans of color were more likely than white Americans to say they feared being threatened or physically attacked.

The poll found that a quarter of Black respondents, 26% of Latinos, 36% of Native Americans, 21% of Asian adults, and 19% of white adults say they have feared someone might threaten them harm in their own neighborhoods.

NPR interviewed several poll respondents about their individual reasons for feeling unsafe in their communities. Their answers ranged from looming threats of violent racism to fears of societal collapse due to politics.


Paul Ongtooguk, an Alaskan Inuit man living in Anchorage, has lived with this kind of fear for most of his life.

“Growing up, we went through the era when it was just open racism about being Alaskan Native,” he says.


Thousands of miles southeast in a small Texas town, 64-year-old Annette Jackson says her experience with violent racism has only worsened in recent years.


Following Donald Trump’s 2016 White House victory, Jackson, who is of mixed race but presents as a woman of color, says she was assaulted by a white man while working her job at a Walmart deli counter.

“He said ‘Trump won,’ and then he spit in my face,” she says.

Jackson says she reported the incident to management, but no further action was taken.

“It’s like Trump won so they had a right to treat me in a kind of way.”

Jackson’s example, while extreme, is not unusual.

Last year, the FBI said that 2020 had seen the largest number of reported hate crimes since 2008. Attacks against Black and Asian Americans saw the most significant increases in that period.

Jackson claims Black, white, Hispanic and Native American ancestry, and says she presents as a woman of color.

“I don’t feel safe at all,” she says. “I would hesitate to call the police in fear they’d shoot me instead of the person I’m calling the police on. There are people that ride around with the Confederate flags hanging out the back of their trucks. And, you know, I don’t feel safe. I don’t feel safe in America.”


Not everyone polled shared the same ideas on the root of violent crime.

Bernardo Medina, 71, is a Puerto Rican born American living in New Jersey.

He says he feared most for national security and blamed Democrats in power for “emboldening” enemies of the United States.


He also blamed the Black Lives Matter movement and 2020 protests against police brutality for degrading social discourse.