Black Americans Differ From Other U.S. Adults Over Whether Individual or Structural Racism Is a Bigger Problem
Katherine Schaeffer and Khadijah Edwards, Pew Research Center, November 15, 2022
Americans tend to view racism by individuals as a bigger problem for Black people in the United States than racism in the nation’s laws. Black Americans themselves, however, are more likely to say racism in U.S. laws is the larger problem, according to a fall 2021 Pew Research Center survey.
Overall, about two-thirds of U.S. adults (65%) say that, when it comes to racism against Black people in our country today, racism by individual people is a bigger problem than racism in our laws. Around a quarter (23%) say that racism in our laws is the bigger problem, while another 10% say that there is no discrimination against Black people in the country today.
Most White (70%), Asian (65%) and Hispanic (63%) adults say that racism by individuals is the larger of the two issues when it comes to racism against Black people. About one-in-ten White (11%), Asian (12%) and Hispanic (12%) adults say is there no discrimination against Black people in the U.S. today.
Among Black Americans, views on this question are very different. About half of Black adults (52%) say that racism in U.S. laws is the bigger problem for Black people in the country, while 43% say the greater issue is racism by individuals. And just 3% of Black adults say that there is no discrimination against Black people in the U.S. today.
Majorities across age groups say that racism by individual people is the bigger problem for Black people in America than structural racism. Around six-in-ten adults under 50 (59%) hold this view, as do about seven-in-ten adults 50 and older (72%).
Still, younger adults are more likely than their older counterparts to say that structural racism is a bigger problem than individual racism for Black Americans. A third of adults ages 18 to 29 and 27% of those ages 30 to 49 say this, compared with smaller shares of those ages 50 to 64 (19%) and 65 and older (17%).