First National Survey of Minority Views Shows Deep Racial Polarization in US

HOW do African-Americans feel about whites, Asians, Latinos, and Jews? How do these other minorities feel about each other? And do white Americans feel these minorities have an equal opportunity?

The answers to these questions reveal a deeply polarized America.

In the first national survey of minority attitudes, released on Wednesday, pollster Louis Harris found that people of color believe white Americans are bigoted, bossy, and unwilling to share power. Other minorities had identical feelings of discrimination.

Mr. Harris also found, however, that African- Americans have stereotypical views of other minorities, believing, for example, that Latinos had too-large families and Jews care more about money than people. As part of the same survey, Harris found white Americans believe blacks and other minorities are given equal treatment in education, banking, and police protection.

The poll is distressing to its sponsors. ``The survey is a loud wake-up call to everyone who wants to prevent the further division of America into a bickering racial, ethnic and religious set of camps,'' says Sanford Cloud, the president of the National Conference, which used to be called the National Conference of Christians and Jews. ``It is clear we have a troubled society,'' says Mr. Cloud, a former Connecticut state legislator.

The survey found that even though minorities believe themselves to be the victims of prejudice, minorities are more likely than whites to agree to stereotypes about other minority groups. For example, a plurality of Latinos and blacks agreed that Asian-Americans are ``unscrupulous, crafty, and devious in business.'' However, only 27 percent of whites concurred.

The poll of 2,755 people also discovered widespread religious stereotypes. For example every group polled believed Muslims belong to a religion that condones or supports violence, is anti-American, and segregates and suppresses women. Respondents also had stereotypical attitudes toward Roman Catholics and Jews.

Harris believes one of the reasons for the stereotypes is the portrayal of minorities on television and in other mass media. In addition, he says racial confrontations tend to bring out prejudices. The survey also reveals that there might be some cause for hope. There is widespread cross-cultural respect, and most Americans (68 percent) favor ``full integration.'' Only 7 percent nationwide want a separation of the races.

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