1 in 5 supports reparations in new poll
Twenty percent of Americans say in a new poll they support reparations but an overwhelming majority still opposes payments meant to address the legacy of slavery and tackle the persistent wealth gap between Black and white Americans.
The Reuters/Ipsos poll released Thursday found that 1 in 5 respondents said the U.S. should use “taxpayer money to pay damages to descendants of enslaved people in the United States.”
The results were sharply divided along partisan lines, with 80 percent of Republicans saying they’re opposed to reparations while about a third of Democrats said they are supportive. The results were also split among races, with 10 percent of white respondents supporting the idea and half of Black respondents backing it.
Supporters said the payments would recognize the lingering effects of slavery and the systemic racism that still plagues the country.
The U.S. has paid reparations in the past, paying money to Japanese Americans interned during World War II.
The new poll comes amid shifting perceptions on race amid rising protests over racism and police brutality in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody last month.
A separate Reuters/Ipsos poll found that 72 percent of Americans understood “why Black Americans do not trust the police,” up 17 points from a similar poll in 2015, and 59 percent said police were too violent when dealing with people suspected of crimes, up 15 points from 2016.
Congress has begun grappling with reparations, with Democrats introducing a bill in 2019 to establish a commission to examine the impacts of slavery in the U.S. and recommend ways to compensate the descendants of slaves.
That legislation has languished in Congress.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, has said he would back a commission to study the possibility of providing reparations.
The latest Reuters/Ipsos polls surveyed 1,115 adults from June 10-16 asking about their thoughts on slavery and 4,426 adults over the same time period asking about racial issues. Both polls have credibility intervals of between 2 and 3 percentage points.