How Black And White Americans' Views On Race Differ : The NPR Politics Podcast A new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll out Monday reveals how Americans view race after a white police officer was found guilty of George Floyd's murder.

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This episode: demographics and culture reporter Danielle Kurtzleben, White House correspondent Ayesha Rascoe, and senior political editor and correspondent Domenico Montanaro.

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How Black And White Americans' Views On Race Differ

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How Black And White Americans' Views On Race Differ

How Black And White Americans' Views On Race Differ

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HANNAH: Hey, NPR. This is Hannah (ph) from rainy Birmingham, England, where I just got back from the library with my son Henry (ph), who is now the proud owner of his very own library card. This show was recorded at...


1:35 p.m. on Monday, May 17.

HANNAH: Things may have changed by the time you hear it. All right, here's the show.


KURTZLEBEN: Congratulations, Henry. That's great.

DOMENICO MONTANARO, BYLINE: The libraries are still a great resource.


KURTZLEBEN: Exactly, even if you can't go in them yet.


KURTZLEBEN: Hey there. It is the NPR POLITICS PODCAST. I'm Danielle Kurtzleben. I cover demographics and culture.

RASCOE: I'm Ayesha Rascoe. I cover the White House.

MONTANARO: And I'm Domenico Montanaro, senior political editor and correspondent.

KURTZLEBEN: And today we are going to talk about race. White and Black Americans have very different views of race in America. They've also had very different experiences when it comes to dealing with discrimination and trusting police. Those are not exactly shocking findings, but there are some interesting nuances out of our new NPR/PBS/NewsHour/Marist poll. Domenico, you have been immersed in this poll. You've been looking under the hood, so to speak. So let's just jump in. Let's start with people's views on policing. What did this poll find? What stood out to you?

MONTANARO: Well, you know, we asked how much confidence people had in police officers in their communities to gain the trust of residents. And you saw, you know, huge divide between whites and Blacks and, you know, I have to say also Latinos, too. Latinos and whites very much seem to trust that the police can do this. Three-quarters of both Latinos and whites say that the police can gain that - they have confidence that police can gain the trust of residents. Fewer than half of African Americans said so.

KURTZLEBEN: Yes, like you said, there was a pretty big racial gap on how people view the police. I'm curious, what other sorts of gaps did we see? There's always a partisan gap on pretty much everything in this country these days. Were there pretty big partisan gaps, too?

MONTANARO: I mean, yeah. I mean, it's like whatever you put on that T-shirt, you know, of which party - that's the biggest dividing line. If you're a Trump supporter, if you're a Biden supporter, there really is almost no easier way to tell where people are going to go. And we've tested this, you know, time after time in almost everything we talk about. You know, when it came to however, you know, your experiences, I thought, you know, it was a really wide gap. You know, if you just - even just taking the politics out of this, you know, that's where you saw African Americans - 61% said that they in their own life have personally experienced discrimination or been treated unfairly because of their race or ethnicity. Just 15% of whites said the same and 39% of Latinos, so that's where you start with. And the views of, you know, everything else sort of fall with that. You know, when you think about whether or not whites think the police treat people of color more harshly, they don't think so largely. They, for the most part, think that police treat people of color the same. But when you look at how African Americans feel about it, 60-plus percent think that police do treat them more harshly.

KURTZLEBEN: Mmm hmm. Ayesha, I want to turn to you because none of this is happening in a vacuum, right? I mean, first of all, we had the Derek Chauvin verdict this year. But also, President Biden has talked a lot about racism, about criminal justice and policing reform. He says he really wants to address these things, so give us a quick rundown of how that effort is going.

RASCOE: Well, I can be fairly quick with it because there hasn't been a lot on policing.


RASCOE: What they have left it to is - they do support the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act that passed the House. They want it to get picked up in the Senate. It would address issues like banning chokeholds, certain no-knock warrants. It would deal with the issue of qualified immunity, which is basically being able to sue police officers for their conduct, giving more leeway for that. So there is work being done on this issue, but that's as far as it has gone right now for the administration. They have - as a part of the Justice Department, they have started, you know, opening up, doing more investigations into police departments. That was something that had stopped under the Trump administration, so they are doing that - civil rights investigations. But there has not been a lot coming from the White House on policing.

KURTZLEBEN: Mmm hmm. Right. And as you also alluded to there, it's not just about the White House. It's about congressional action, which is kind of an oxymoron (laughter) at certain times. Well, let's turn to this - the idea of one other thing that was really fascinating in this poll, I thought. It's the topic of how much people talk about race and how comfortable they feel talking about it. I was a little surprised, Domenico, that so - an overwhelming majority of people said, yeah, I feel great talking about race. But there were some really interesting nuances behind that.

MONTANARO: Well, with friends and family, right?


MONTANARO: I mean, so it was almost 9 in 10 people said that they are at least somewhat comfortable talking about race with their friends and family. Now, you know, I think we have to put a little bit of an asterisk around that kind of thing because, you know, that sounds like the kind of answer people want to hear, right?

RASCOE: Yeah. Are people being honest with themselves?

KURTZLEBEN: (Laughter).

MONTANARO: Right. And that's a thing that we talk about in polling all the time that, like, there are some of these questions - sometimes, the answers people give, you know, it's because they think that that's what societally acceptable. It's what survey researchers call social desirability, so that's one piece of it potentially. And as you pull the layer back a little bit on that, which is why we ask multiple questions on it, you see that things start to unravel a bit. You have two-thirds of Americans who say they actually have these conversations, not just that they're comfortable having them. And then when you go even further into that, the people who are most likely to have those conversations are groups that all lean Democratic. So, you know, you wind up where you have people - you have Republicans in particular not wanting really to talk about race or not doing it very much. And then they're also the same group of people who are, for the most part, saying that race relations have gotten worse over the past year. And really all that's changed between last year and this year - for the most part, we're seeing groups that have flipped because Trump was in office, and now it's Biden.

RASCOE: And there is a question of when you think of race relations and what good relations are, right? Like there - part of the issue can be good race relations may be for some people feeling like, I don't want to talk about things that make me feel uncomfortable, or I don't want to talk about things that challenge me. So good race relations is not dealing with that, then I feel like race relations is good, for me. But for a lot of, you know, people of color, Black people in particular, you can't live life without talking about race. So it's ingrained...


RASCOE: ...In your very - the fabric of your conversations. It's not that you want to talk about it, but you have to talk about what neighborhoods you can go to, where is it safe? Who's watching you? Are you going to be able to get this job? What your hair should look like - all of these things are a part of your life. How much your house is gonna sell for if they know that you're Black - it will get appraised for $100,000 less. So these are all things that Black people don't have a choice but to talk about, right? It's life.


MONTANARO: And a lot of conservatives on the flip side of that that I've talked to over the past several years feel like Democrats talk too much about race, that they are kind of obsessed with the idea of, you know, identity politics - right? - was a kind of a catchword, a buzzword that we used to hear a lot about in politics. And, you know, when you start to look at a case like the George Floyd case, which is on videotape - right? - and you have a unanimous jury decision. And now we have three-quarters of Americans saying, you know, that they think that it was the right decision. You know, we did see within this poll that there was considerable support. Two-thirds of Americans were in support of reforming police use of force policies. And almost 9 in 10 - universally, people think it's a good idea for police to wear body cameras. And people may have different reasons for that, but there is near universal support for that.

KURTZLEBEN: Mmm hmm. All right. Well, we're going to take a quick break here, and we're going to talk a lot more about our poll when we get back about people's views on coronavirus. Stay with us.

And we are back, and we are talking about another big topic we polled on - COVID-19. But before we get into the results, I want to start with you, Ayesha. How many people in America are fully vaccinated now? And are we on track to hit President Biden's July 4 party-barbecue target that he talked about in his joint address to Congress last month?

RASCOE: Well, so nearly half of adults are fully vaccinated, but the pace of vaccinations has slowed. But if you want to have a barbecue outside, the CDC did say last week you don't need a mask if you're fully vaccinated, and you can hang out with people. And you're outside, so you can go ahead and cue it up, you know? I think.


KURTZLEBEN: Yeah, that's true.

MONTANARO: Get your fire starters ready, and let the charcoal roll.

RASCOE: Yeah, you can go ahead and do it. Yeah.

KURTZLEBEN: Domenico, we know that there are a lot of Americans who are hesitant about getting the vaccine. How has that changed over time because we've polled a few times on this, haven't we?

MONTANARO: Yeah, and our polling kind of tracks with what Ayesha's talking about. There are 73% of Americans in our survey who said that they've either gotten the vaccine or they will get the vaccine if one comes available to them. We have a quarter of people who are holding out and saying that, no, they don't want to get vaccinated. And the biggest, you know, most likely people to say they aren't going to get vaccinated are Trump supporters and Republican men. Forty-three percent of Trump supporters say that they're going to hold out and not get the vaccine and 44% of Republican men, and this has not budged very much. And I don't want to, you know, go too far down the rabbit hole with Danielle because mentioning Republican men and not wanting to get vaccinated after going through the Trump presidency and talking about how masculinity was intertwined with mask-wearing...


MONTANARO: ...And getting vaccinated and all of that, right?


MONTANARO: But it does look like we've hit a plateau as a country because when you look at the numbers, we've had a steady increase since President Biden has gotten into office. Only 4% of people reported that they had already gotten vaccinated in January. That was 22% in mid-March, 36% by the end of March, 57% in April and 59% now. You can see that pace definitely slowing, and there's a lot of work to do to get the people who are most hesitant to get it. And those are squarely in Republican communities.

KURTZLEBEN: Mmm hmm. Well, we should mention one bit of news here before we finish, and that's that just minutes before we started recording, there was news that Biden would send 20 million additional doses of vaccine to other countries. Now, this is a thing that he has been criticized in some quarters for being slow or not aggressive enough on. Ayesha, maybe quickly tell us what Biden has done before this and how this has evolved at the White House.

RASCOE: So they have made some vaccines available, but they were not - and they are part of this international collaboration, COVAX, which is about getting money and getting resources to countries that are not as rich as the U.S. so that they can get vaccines. But the issue was it wasn't just money that was needed. Like, money is not - it was - people need the vaccine themselves. The U.S. has mechanisms that put them first in line for manufacturers to get vaccines that are produced. And so the U.S. has been very hesitant to make any moves or changes to that or to try to send supply outward or to other countries while there were all these people who were clamoring for vaccines in the country. But there was - you know, there was difficulty getting them in the beginning, right? There was difficulty with people who wanted to get vaccines being able to find them and get them.


RASCOE: And so it seems like the Biden administration was hesitant about that. They do seem to be opening up now much more.

KURTZLEBEN: Well, and, Domenico, the poll seemed to show that people are pretty in favor of this kind of move, right?

MONTANARO: Yeah, 9 in 10 people pretty much said that they were OK with it. They think that it's a good idea.

KURTZLEBEN: Great. Well, some form of unity, so let's end it there.

MONTANARO: (Laughter).

KURTZLEBEN: I'm Danielle Kurtzleben, and I cover demographics and culture.

RASCOE: I am Ayesha Rascoe. I cover the White House.

MONTANARO: And I'm Domenico Montanaro, senior political editor and correspondent.

KURTZLEBEN: And thank you for listening to the NPR POLITICS PODCAST.


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