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75 percent of Black Americans fear physical attack based on their race: poll

AP-Matt Rourke
Howard Patton pays his respects at the scene of Saturday’s shooting at a supermarket, in Buffalo, N.Y., Wednesday, May 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Three quarters of Black Americans say they are worried that they or someone they love will be physically attacked because of their race, according to a new poll released on Saturday.

A new Washington Post-Ipsos poll found that 75 percent of Black Americans polled are worried that they or someone they care about will be physically harmed because they are Black, a development that comes one week after a fatal shooting in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Buffalo, N.Y.

Seventy percent of Black Americans polled said they believed half or more white Americans hold white supremacist beliefs compared to 19 percent who believed fewer than half white Americans do.

Two-thirds of those polled said white supremacy is a bigger problem today compared to five years ago. In comparison, 28 percent said the size of the problem is the same, while five percent said it was a smaller problem today.

Respondents were also asked about their feelings following the Buffalo shooting, in which a suspect, who is white, allegedly shot and killed 10 people and injured three others. Eleven of the 13 victims were Black, and the suspect allegedly espoused the racist “great replacement theory.” 

Seventy percent of respondents said the shooting made them feel sad, while 62 percent also said they felt angry. Just over half said they felt troubled, 34 percent said they felt afraid, 21 percent said they felt shocked and 8 percent said surprised. 

Speaking to The Washington Post’s Early 202 newsletter, House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said that lawmakers could only legislate a response to hate if “you first admit that the problem exists.”

“You never know what it is. It could be a severe enough punishment to be a deterrent. But if you don’t ever admit that it’s there, you can’t legislate it. No problem can be solved until you first admit that the problem exists. And we still refuse to admit that we have a race problem in this country. And it’s been there for over 400 years,” he said.

Clyburn, who was part of the civil rights movement lamented that the country had become used to tragedy.

“It seems as if they were just supposed to happen then you go and wait for the next one to happen. And they’re going to keep happening. But look at where we are (in) the country. It seems to be it’s coming from all sides. You wonder whether or not people just decided that the pursuit of a more perfect union has come to an end,” he said.

The Washington Post-Ipsos poll was conducted between May 18 and May 20 with 806 Black Americans. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points. 

Tags James Clyburn

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