75% in state poll say race relations are fair or poor


Three in four Marylanders say race relations in the state are "only fair" or "poor," according to a survey by the University of Baltimore's Schaefer Center for Public Policy.

The survey of 845 Maryland residents showed considerable pessimism about relations between blacks and whites in the state. (No questions were asked about Latinos and Asian-Americans.)

Asked to "characterize the conditions of race relations in Maryland," 50 percent called them "only fair," 25 percent "poor," 21 percent "good" and 1 percent "excellent." Three percent said they didn't know.

A plurality of those polled (43 percent) said race relations in Maryland had stayed about the same over the past five years. But 31 percent said relations had worsened while only 18 percent believed they had improved. Eight percent said they didn't know. Whites and blacks shared the same assessment of the trend.

Whites were a bit more optimistic than blacks about the overall state of race relations. While the bulk of both groups found race relations to be "only fair," 24 percent of whites said they were "good" (compared with 12 percent of blacks) and 32 percent of blacks said they were "poor" (compared with 23 percent of whites).

Don Haynes, the center's director of survey research, said the Maryland results mirror polls taken elsewhere in the country.

"People seem to think relations haven't improved very much and are not really that great, but you're a little surprised people think they're as good as they are," he said.

Mr. Haynes said the survey showed whites and blacks shared a "pretty good agreement about existing conditions, but they're polarized over policy."

Only 32 percent of whites agreed that "affirmative action programs are necessary to help blacks and other racial minorities achieve equality with whites." Among blacks, 74 percent agreed.

Similarly, 56 percent of whites -- but only 12 percent of blacks -- agreed that "affirmative action programs keep whites from getting jobs they are qualified for."

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