Do You Have Friends of a Different Race? Many Americans Don’t

Poll shows Americans are divided on which races they associate with.

President Barack Obama speaks in the Brady Press Briefing room of the White House in Washington, Friday, July 19, 2013, about the verdict in the Trayvon Martin case. Obama spoke in a surprise appearance Friday at the White House, his first time appearing for a statement on the verdict since it was issued last Saturday.
National Journal
Matt Vasilogambros
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Matt Vasilogambros
Aug. 8, 2013, 9:53 a.m.

The United States still re­mains widely se­greg­ated — not by law, but by who people call friends.

A new poll from Re­u­ters shows that around 40 per­cent of white Amer­ic­ans and 25 per­cent of non-white Amer­ic­ans have friends ex­clus­ively of their own race. Even at work, where people may not have a choice of who they in­ter­act with, 30 per­cent of Amer­ic­ans are not mix­ing with people of a dif­fer­ent race.

In the af­ter­math of the George Zi­m­mer­man tri­al — where a mostly white jury ac­quit­ted the former neigh­bor­hood watch vo­lun­teer who shot and killed a black teen­ager — Pres­id­ent Obama called on the coun­try to ree­valu­ate the state of race re­la­tions in this coun­try. He ar­gued that there is still more work that Amer­ic­ans need to ad­dress, and that ra­cism still ex­ists.

Some ra­cial groups are more likely to as­so­ci­ate with people of a dif­fer­ent race. The poll shows that only a tenth of His­pan­ics don’t have friends of a dif­fer­ent race. Ad­di­tion­ally, for those His­pan­ics that have a spouse or part­ner, about half of them are in re­la­tion­ships with non-His­pan­ics. Com­pare this to only a tenth of white and black Amer­ic­ans who are in re­la­tion­ships with someone of a dif­fer­ent race.

Young­er people, though, seem more likely to de­vel­op re­la­tion­ships with people of dif­fer­ent races. Among those polled between the ages of 18 and 29, around a third have a part­ner or spouse of a dif­fer­ent race. For those Amer­ic­ans above that age-range, just around a tenth would an­swer the same way.

The poll has been on­go­ing since Janu­ary 2012 as part of a broad­er pro­ject by Re­u­ters. These latest fig­ures were eval­u­ated from on­line sur­veys among 4,170 Amer­ic­ans between Ju­ly 24 and Au­gust 6.

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