Poll: Lots of Whites are Feeling Oppressed

Anxiety, nostalgia, and mistrust run deep in white America.

Devin Foley | November 20, 2015

Anxiety, nostalgia, and mistrust run deep in white America.

The Public Religion Research Institute recently released some fascinating polling data from its 2015 American Values Survey. It appears that all that white-shaming is actually having an effect.

Regarding the culture, white Americans overwhelmingly think it’s going to hell:

“A majority (53%) of Americans say that American culture and way of life has mostly changed for the worse since the 1950s, compared to 46% who say it has changed for the better.

  • Six in ten (60%) black Americans and a majority (54%) of Hispanic Americans believe that American culture has mostly changed for the better since the 1950s. In contrast, only 42% of white Americans agree, and 57% say that the American way of life has mostly changed for the worse over the last sixty years.

 

  • While a majority of independents (56%), Republicans (67%), and members of the Tea Party (72%) say American culture and way of life has gotten worse since the 1950s, only 40% of Democrats agree.”

 

Regarding discrimination, half of whites think discrimination against whites is now a problem:

“More than four in ten (43%) Americans say that discrimination against whites has become as big a problem as discrimination against blacks and other minorities, while 55% disagree. Opinions about ‘reverse discrimination’ have remained fairly constant over the past few years. Half (50%) of white Americans—including 60% of white working-class Americans—agree that discrimination against whites has become as big a problem today as discrimination against blacks and other minorities, while fewer than three in ten Hispanic (29%) and black Americans (25%) agree.”

And, as you can imagine, that sentiment boils over into the immigration debate. Interestingly, though, the anti-immigrant sentiments aren’t limited to just white Americans:

“Compared to a few years earlier, Americans report less tolerance when encountering immigrants who do not speak English. Nearly half (48%) of Americans agree that they are bothered when they come into contact with immigrants who speak little or no English, compared to 40% in 2012. More than six in ten (63%) white working-class Americans say they feel bothered when they come into contact with immigrants who do not speak English, compared to 43% of white college-educated Americans.”

Given the changing demographics and identity politics of today, it’s little wonder that such sentiments would be on the rise. Consider the following chart from Pew Research Center on the changes in race and ethnicity in America since 1960: 

America has always been an experiment, but it was largely a white experiment. All of that’s been changing and it will be fascinating to watch and experience how this experiment progresses. 



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