Many Americans have no friends of another race: poll

Friends Grace Greenwood (L) and Alex Place, both of Arlington, Virginia, leap into a water sprinkler for a
Friends Grace Greenwood, left, and Alex Place, both of Arlington, Va., leap into a water sprinkler.

About 40 percent of white Americans and about 25 percent of non-white Americans are surrounded exclusively by friends of their own race, according to an ongoing Reuters/Ipsos poll.

The figures highlight how segregated the United States remains in the wake of a debate on race sparked by last month’s acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting of unarmed black Florida teenager Trayvon Martin. President Barack Obama weighed in after the verdict, calling for Americans to do some “soul searching” on whether they harbor racial prejudice.

There are regions and groups where mixing with people of other races is more common, especially in the Hispanic community: Only a tenth do not have friends of a different race. About half of Hispanics who have a spouse or partner are in a relationship with non-Hispanics, compared to a tenth of whites and blacks in relationships.

Looking at a broader circle of acquaintances to include coworkers as well as friends and relatives, 30 percent of Americans are not mixing with others of a different race, the poll showed.

Respondent Kevin Shaw, 49, has experienced both integration and racial homogeny. He grew up in downtown Kansas City, Missouri, and attended a mixed high school where he was one of only two white teenagers on the mostly black football team. His wife, Bobbi, is Hispanic. They met in high school and have been married for 27 years.

Eleven years ago, they moved to a predominantly white neighborhood in the suburb of Liberty. “Soon after we moved in, my mother-in-law came to visit and a neighbor asked if she was my maid. It was just a matter of ignorance,” he said.

In the time he has lived there the neighborhood has become less blinkered, helped by the arrival of younger families.

He also puts prevailing attitudes down to environment. “A lot of it comes down to where you grow up,” he said.

As a group, Pacific states — including California, the most populous in the nation — are the most diverse when it comes to love and friendship. By contrast, the South has the lowest percentage of people with more than five acquaintances from races that don’t reflect their own.

Some of this is down to precedent. “This country has a pretty long history of restriction on interracial contact and for whites and blacks; even though it’s in the past, there are still echoes of this,” said Ann Morning, an associate professor in the department of sociology at New York University.

“Hispanics and Asian Americans have traditionally had less strict lines about integrating.”

In his comments two weeks ago, President Obama expressed optimism about the future, saying his daughters’ experiences show younger generations have fewer issues with race. “It doesn’t mean we’re in a post-racial society. It doesn’t mean that racism is eliminated. But… they’re better than we are, they’re better than we were, on these issues,” he said.

Younger American adults appear to confirm this, according to the poll. About one-third of Americans under the age of 30 who have a partner or spouse are in a relationship with someone of a different race, compared to one tenth of Americans over 30. And only one in 10 adults under 30 say no one among their families, friends or coworkers is of a different race, less than half the rate for Americans as a whole.

“My mom’s school, they had ended segregation, but she told me there was still basically one side of the road for whites and one side of the road for blacks,” respondent Carlon Carter, 18, said.

A keen athlete and music fan, his racially diverse group of friends in Birmingham, Alabama, comes from these shared interests.

“There’s a big difference now. We don’t see each other so much like, ‘You’re white and I’m black.’ If you like the same thing I like, then that’s all that matters,” he said.

These results were taken from the ongoing Reuters/Ipsos online poll and include the responses of 4,170 Americans between July 24 and Aug. 6. The credibility interval, a measure of precision, for these results is plus or minus 2.7 percentage points for a five-day average on any given day during that period. Smaller subsets of the poll, such as blacks, Hispanics and adults under 30, have a credibility interval for that period ranging from about 3 percentage points to 11 percentage points.

The race and ethnicity questions in this story are part a polling project that started in January 2012, surveying about 11,000 people a month since then. More information on the these questions and hundreds of others asked since the poll began can be found here.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

After Eric Garner death, religious leaders meet to…

Interfaith leaders convened with city officials to discuss what the community can do to help dial down heightened tensions after Eric Garner's death.

Local

'Suspicious' Hamilton Heights fire caused by power strip:…

An extension cord overload caused the deadly fire in Hamilton Heights late Monday that killed a 15-year-old girl and injured at least 12 others.

National

At 91, Marvel creator Stan Lee continues to…

By Piya Sinha-RoyLOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Marvel Entertainment's chief emeritus Stan Lee may be in his ninth decade, but it hasn't stopped him from adding…

National

Islamic State says beheads U.S. journalist, holds another

Islamic State insurgents released a video purportedly showing the beheading of U.S. journalist James Foley, who had gone missing in Syria nearly two years ago.

Movies

Review: Sadly, Matthew Weiner's 'Are You Here' is…

"Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner tries his hand at movies with "Are You Here," a misjudged Owen Wilson-Zach Galifianakis comedy that turns into a drama.

Movies

Review: 'Love is Strange' is not only a…

John Lithgow and Alfred Molina tie the knot in "Love is Strange," but the film winds up being more about living with people than an activist picture.

Movies

Frank Miller on writing 'Sin City'

Frank Miller's comics career is a long and storied one, with "Sin City" being one of his most individual creations. Here, in his own words,…

Movies

Interview: Jessica Alba is a stripper again in…

Jessica Alba has gotten used to vague phone calls from director Robert Rodriguez, the Austin-based auteur who has made a habit of putting Alba into…

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL defense (DEF)

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL quarterbacks (QB)

MLB

Shane Greene travels unlikely road to Yankees stardom

Shane Greene was throwing a bullpen session on a quiet field at Daytona Beach Community College one day when the ball started moving.

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL tight ends (TE)

Wellbeing

Metabolic syndrome could have a sugar link

Scientists in St. Louis may have found another culprit in metabolic syndrome, which can lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  Uric acid is…

Wellbeing

Another way stress hurts your unborn baby

Mothers know to try staying calm during pregnancy, as stress has been linked to behavioral and developmental problems for their babies. But now, a new…

Tech

Siren: A new dating app that puts women…

Online dating can be brutal, especially for single women. Noting that many women hate wading through inappropriate messages and photos, two tech entrepreneurs decided to…

Wellbeing

What eye symptoms need emergency attention?

Many people experience temporary eye-related problems such as pink eye (conjunctivitis) from a cold virus or a scratched cornea resulting from an object coming into…