Black Americans’ Reports of Mistreatment
- New high of 35% report mistreatment while shopping in a store
- About one in five report unfair treatment in other situations
- 54% of Black Americans report unfair treatment in at least one situation
- Reports of mistreatment higher among Black than Hispanic Americans
WASHINGTON, D.C. Black Americans’ self-reports of being treated unfairly in a variety of situations are generally steady or higher rather than declining. This includes a new high of 35% who say they personally were treated unfairly while shopping during the past 30 days, up from 24% last year. In five other situations, reports of recent unfair treatment are similar to a year ago and range from 17% to 21%.
In general, Black Americans are no less likely to report being treated unfairly in any of the five situations now than they were when Gallup first asked the items in 1997. The healthcare item was first asked in 2004.
Five line graphs showing whether Black Americans say they have been treated unfairly in the past 30 days because they were Black, in the following situations: at work; in a store where they were shopping; in a restaurant, theater, bar, or another entertainment place; in dealing with police, such as traffic incidents; and while getting healthcare for themselves or a family member. Seventeen percent in 2021 say they were treated unfairly at work, compared with 17% in 2020, a high of 23% in 2003 and 2007, and 21% when first asked in 1997. A new high of 35% in 2021 says they were treated unfairly in a store, compared with 24% in 2020 and 30% in 1997. Twenty-one percent in 2021 say they were treated unfairly in a restaurant, bar, theater, or other entertainment places, compared with 18% in 2020, a high of 26% in 2004, and 21% in 1997. Twenty percent in 2021 say they were treated unfairly in dealings with police, compared with 19% in 2020, a high of 25% in 2004, and 15% in 1997. Seventeen percent say they were treated unfairly while getting healthcare, compared with 13% in 2020 and the high of 20% when it was first asked in 2004
The results are based on a June 1-July 5 Gallup survey that included oversamples of Black and Hispanic adults to allow for more precise estimates of those subgroups. The questions about unfair treatment were asked of Black and Hispanic respondents only. While the oversamples are large enough to report reliable estimates of Black and Hispanic Americans overall, they are not sufficiently large to report results for subgroups of Black or Hispanic adults. Before this year, the percentage of Black adults who reported mistreatment at stores in the past 30 days ranged from 24% to 30%.
For the other items, the high points were registered in 2002, 2004, and 2007 surveys. The current figures are statistically on par with these, except for the 17% of Black respondents currently reporting unfair treatment at work. This is significantly lower than the prior high of 23% reported in 2002 and 2007. It is possible the increase in remote work brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic has been a factor in the lower percentages perceiving unfair treatment in 2020 and 2021 compared with 2018 and most prior years. While none of the individual items comes close to the majority level, the majority of Black Americans, 54%, say they have been treated unfairly in at least one of the five situations. Forty-five percent have not experienced unfair treatment in any of the situations in the past 30 days.
In past years in which the same set of five items has been asked, the percentage of Black Americans reporting unfair treatment in at least one of the situations has been close to 50% — above it in some years but below it in others.
Line graph. The trend in the percentage of Black Americans who said they were treated unfairly in at least one of the following situations — at work; in a store while shopping; in a restaurant, bar, theater, or other entertainment places; in dealings with police; while getting healthcare for themselves or a family member. The graph shows the percentage treated unfairly in at least one of the situations for the years in which those five items were asked. It was 59% in 2004, 42% in 2013, 43% in 2015, 46% in 2016, 53% in 2018, 45% in 2020 and 54% in 2021.
Hispanic Americans Less Likely to Say They Have Been Treated Unfairly
Hispanic Americans are less likely than Black Americans to report unfair treatment in the same situations, especially while shopping at stores (16%) or in dealings with police (11%). Hispanic Americans are most likely to say they have been treated unfairly at a restaurant in the past 30 days, with 19% saying this has happened to them, on par with the 21% of Black Americans who were treated unfairly at a restaurant.
Black and Hispanic Americans’ Reports of Unfair Treatment in Different Situations
Can you think of any occasion in the last 30 days when you felt you were treated unfairly in the following places because you were Black/Hispanic?
|Black adults||Hispanic adults|
|In a store where you were shopping||35||16|
|In a restaurant, bar, theater, or other entertainment places||21||19|
|In dealings with the police, such as traffic incidents||20||11|
|At your place of work||17||12|
|While getting healthcare for yourself or a family member||17||13|
|GALLUP, JUNE 1-JULY 5, 2021|
Gallup has asked Hispanic Americans about unfair treatment twice previously, in 2013 and 2015 surveys. The responses in prior years were generally similar to the current data, with the exception of fewer Hispanic Americans in 2015 saying they were treated unfairly in a store while shopping (7%); in a restaurant, bar, theater, or another entertainment place (9%); and while getting healthcare (9%).
Overall, 34% of Hispanic Americans this year say they have been treated unfairly in at least one of the five situations in the past 30 days, while 66% have not been treated unfairly in any of them.
In 2013, 32% of Hispanic Americans said they were treated unfairly in at least one of the five situations, while in 2015, 25% did.
The majority of Black Americans say they have been treated unfairly in at least one of five everyday situations, with mistreatment most commonly occurring at stores. The question asks about a limited time frame of 30 days, and it is likely that many more Black Americans have been treated unfairly in one of those situations outside that narrow window. Moreover, many Black Americans who have not been personally mistreated may know a family member or close friend who has been.
These results come at a time when there is greater awareness and sensitivity to racial inequities in U.S. society. One sign of real progress in the treatment of Black people would be to see the percentage who report unfair treatment go down over time. But since Gallup began tracking these in 1997, the figures have held steady or increased.
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