White Americans Think Protesting Improves Nation—Unless Black Folks Are Involved

By Kenrya Rankin Jun 26, 2015

A new study from the Public Religion Research Institute found that white Americans are all for protests—unless the folks in the streets happen to be black.

Nearly seven in 10 (67 percent) of white people surveyed feel that protesting unfair government treatment makes the nation a better place. But only 48 percent of them feel that way when blacks protest. Meanwhile, when the same questions were put to non-white people, 56 percent said that protesting mistreatment is good for the country. When asked specifically about black people, that number went up to 65 percent.

“Most white Americans generally believe that protests are good for the country, but they hold significant reservations about protests led by African Americans,” Dr. Robert P. Jones, CEO of Public Religion Research Institute, said in a press release. “Among white Americans, strong support for protesting government mistreatment drops dramatically among whites when protesters are identified as black Americans.”

The survey comes after months of Black Lives Matter protests, which have sent thousands of black people into the streets to protest the fast-tallying murders of unarmed black people at the hands of police and other citizens.

Other key findings: Sixty-four percent of those surveyed say undocumented immigrants should be granted citizenship if they meet “certain requirements,” while nine in 10 say that speaking English is a necessary part of being “truly American.” And more than half (53 percent) of Americans feel the United States does not set a good moral example for the rest of the world.