Pew Survey Explores Racial Attitudes Toward Ferguson Crisis*

By Aura Bogado Aug 19, 2014

The results of a small** survey from the Pew Research Center illustrate a sharp divide between black and white respondents when it comes to what’s happening in Ferguson. If you pay attention to racial dynamics, some of the results aren’t too surprising:

Blacks and whites have sharply different reactions to the police shooting of an unarmed teen in Ferguson, Mo., and the protests and violence that followed. Blacks are about twice as likely as whites to say that the shooting of Michael Brown "raises important issues about race that need to be discussed." Wide racial differences also are evident in opinions about of whether local police went too far in the aftermath of Brown’s death, and in confidence in the investigations into the shooting.

But that’s not all. Pew also spoke with Latino respondents. Interviewers from Princeton Data Source asked:

"Did you follow the police shooting of an African American teen and protests in Ferguson, Missouri very closely, fairly closely, not too closely or not at all closely?"

When it came to non-Latino respondents, 54 percent of blacks said they followed the story closely; 25 percent of whites answered that they did as well. But here’s what might surprise you: only 18 percent of Latinos said they closely followed what’s happening in Ferguson. That’s less than one in five. 

Organizations like the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, which is largely made up of Latinos, has expressed solidarity with the people in Ferguson seeking justice for Michael Brown–but Pew’s numbers suggest that***, overall, white people are more likely than Latinos are to closely follow the developments in Ferguson.

As I’ve written previously, non-black Latinos have a long way to go in confronting our anti-black biases. Paying attention to what’s happening Ferguson would be a good start.

*Original headline, "Do Latinos Care About Ferguson," has been replaced with "Pew Survey Explores Racial Attitudes Toward Ferguson Crisis" for clarity. Original subhead has also been replaced. 

**Size of survey added for context.

***Phrase "tells us" has been replaced with "suggest that" to  correlate with small sample size.