Deep Divisions, Shared Destiny - A Poll of Black, Hispanic, and Asian Americans on Race Relations

New America Media, Poll, Posted: Dec 12, 2007

+ Executive Summary (pdf)
+ Poll Presentation (ppt)
+ Press Release (pdf)
+ Date and Time for Polls Briefings in Washington D.C, San Francisco, Los Angeles
+ UpFront Radio Interview of Richard Rodriguez
+ Press Coverage


Washington, D.C. – Sergio Bendixen, of Bendixen & Associates and Sandy Close, Executive Director of New America Media will be joined by Richard Rodriguez, Author, NAM Editor and TV Commentator at a press conference -- Wednesday, December 12, at 10:00am at The National Press Club - Zenger Room - 529 14th Street NW Washington, D.C.-- to release the results of the nation’s first multilingual poll, which examines how the nation’s largest ethnic groups feel towards each other, as well as their attitudes on key elements of American society.

Also joining in the press conference:

- Dereje Desta, Editor/Publisher, Zethiopia Newspaper
- Joshua Lee, Reporter, Korea Times


The poll of 1,105 African American, Asian American and Hispanic adults was conducted by telephone during the months of August and September 2007. The sample was designed to be representative of the adult population of the three major racial and ethnic minorities in the United States. Hispanic respondents were interviewed in English or Spanish, and Asian American respondents were interviewed in English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Vietnamese or Tagalog. RDD (Random Digit Dialing) methodology was employed in areas of the country that have significant (10 percent or more) African American, Asian American and Hispanic populations.

The study was designed and conducted by Bendixen & Associates, a public opinion research firm in Coral Gables, Florida. It was sponsored by New America Media. The poll was funded through the generous support of The Ford Foundation, Carnegie Corporation, The James Irvine Foundation, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Open Society Institute, The San Francisco Foundation, The California Endowment and The California Wellness Foundation.


The nation’s first multilingual poll of Black, Hispanic and Asian Americans has uncovered serious tensions among these ethnic groups, including mistrust and significant stereotyping, but a majority of each group also said they should put aside differences and work together to better their communities.

The poll, which was released today during a news conference at the National Press Club, was sponsored by New America Media (NAM) and nine ethnic media outlets who are founding members of the organization.

“This extraordinary poll reveals some unflattering realities that exist in America today,” said Sandy Close, Executive Editor and Director of NAM, the nation’s first and largest collaboration of ethnic news media. “The sponsors of the poll strongly believe the best way to move forward is by identifying the problems and initiating a dialogue that can bring ethnic groups closer together in their fight for equality and against discrimination.”

Broadly, the poll of 1,105 African-American, Asian-American and Hispanic adults found that the predominantly immigrant populations - Hispanics and Asians - expressed far greater optimism about their lives in America, concluding that hard work is rewarded in this society. By contrast, more than 60% of the African Americans polled do not believe the American Dream works for them. Blacks also described themselves as more segregated from the rest of America than the other groups.

The poll found that friction between ethnic and racial groups, which at times has erupted into highly-publicized incidents around the country, is clearly rooted in the mistrust that the groups harbor towards each other, as well as the sentiment that other groups are mistreating them or are detrimental to their own future. For instance, 44% of Hispanics and 47% of Asians are “generally afraid of African Americans because they are responsible for most of the crime.” Meanwhile, 46% of Hispanics and 52% of African Americans believe “most Asian business owners do not treat them with respect.” And half of African Americans feel threatened by Latin American immigrants because “they are taking jobs, housing and political power away from the Black community.”

Moreover, the three groups seem more trusting of whites than of each other. The poll found that 61% of Hispanics, 54% of Asians and 47% of African Americans would rather do business with whites than members of the other two groups.

“The poll reaffirms that while race relations between ethnic groups and whites grab the headlines, there are also serious racial problems between minority groups in America,” said Sergio Bendixen, who is an expert on Hispanic and multilingual polling. “Blacks feel they are left out of the American Dream and are being displaced by newcomers, and each group buys into the negative stereotypes about the other two. What’s clear is the need to dissolve this friction. The poll results show that the overwhelming majority of ethnic Americans want that positive outcome.”

Specifically, the poll also found that:

  • A majority of Hispanics and a significant percentage of Asians believe in the concept that every American has an equal opportunity to succeed. By contrast, the majority of Black respondents – 66 percent – disagreed with that notion.
  • Blacks overwhelmingly believe the criminal justice system favors the rich and powerful; most Hispanics and an even larger majority of Asians disagree.
  • A large majority of each group believes that they should put aside their differences and work together on issues affecting their communities; they also say the country would be better if more from all three groups were inpositions of authority at universities, businesses, media and government.
  • All three groups are optimistic about the future. Strong majorities of each group believe that racial tensions will ease over the next 10 years.

Further, Ms. Close said the poll found “a shared appreciation” for each group’s cultural and political contributions. “Hispanics and Asians recognize that African Americans led the fight for civil rights and against discrimination, forging a better future for the other groups,” she said. “Asian Americans and African Americans say Hispanic culture has enriched the quality of their lives. African Americans and Hispanics perceive Asian Americans as role models when it comes to family and educational values.”

Poll respondents sent mixed messages to the ethnic media, which many depend on for news about their community. While criticizing the ethnic media’s coverage of race relations, particularly other groups outside their own community, all three groups maintained that the ethnic media must play a vital role by strengthening inter-group communication and helping to break negative stereotypes.

The ethnic media is embracing their challenge to do better. “The poll is part of our campaign to address mutual misunderstandings, of which there are many,” said Sok Jeong, editor of the Korea Times. “The poll is a call to action for ethnic media to expand coverage of our mutual communities and help our readers gain a better understanding of the other ethnic groups.”

Related Article: Ethnic Media Take On Race Challenge.

Media Contact
Daniel Rader | 415-503-4170

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User Comments

David Adams on Jan 04, 2008 at 16:09:25 said:

I'm 70 years old and all my reading life I've seen the media try its best to divide people. I guess you 'New Media' types are no
different. I'm an American and I like Americans. Some of my best friends are Americans.

G C on Dec 18, 2007 at 23:27:23 said:

Asian Americans are hardly a cohesive group either. Socio-economically, and culturally speaking, there are significant differences between Filipino, Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean, Indian, Laotian, Samoan, etc. communities.

As for the sarcastic comments by Adam S. on notions of "white privilege" - the study provides that it does exists. Quote:

"61% of Hispanics, 54% of Asians and 47% of African Americans would rather do business with whites than members of the other two groups."

Preference for white customers over other people = white privilege.

Adam S. on Dec 16, 2007 at 10:13:49 said:

The prevailing notion among scholars of multiculturalism is that White people, as the majority, are the only group capable of racism. This study is a step toward realizing how patently absurd such a notion is. Moreover, what does it say about other minority groups when they trust the majority (read "oppressor) over other minority groups? Perhaps white people, who are vilified endlessly but other minority leaders and scholars, and who are pushed to feel guilty for their "privileged" status, are not so bad after all... Though this study was meant to be a commentary on the media's role in forming these attitudes, its comments have implications far beyond its own boundaries...

Claudia P on Dec 13, 2007 at 03:40:44 said:

What makes no sense in all of today's polls and generalizations about "hispanics" is that this is NOT a cohesive group and there is a HUGE difference between Mexican/South and Central Americans versus Caribbean Latinos like Puerto Rican and Dominicans (and probably Cuban also but I dont know enough Cubans to make this judgment). These two groups of Latinos are NOT cohesive, do not mix socially, have different food/music/accents and overall cultures, and they have different immigration issues and job prospects/career paths.

In regard to the issues surrounding immigration, because Puerto Ricans are Americans and not immigrants, they obviously have much more in common with African-Americans. You often hear Puerto Ricans from the hood/ghetto complaining about Mexicans taking jobs and bringing down wages. Many Puerto Ricans have lived around African-Americans their entire lives, while Mexicans are "the new neighbors in the projects". Many Puerto Ricans from the hood often speak negatively about African-Americans but often assimilate more with them than Mexicans/Central and South Americans because of their almost identical taste in music for the younger generations of Puerto Ricans and African-Americdans (as they age, Puerto Ricans often turn to their wonderful routes in salsa) and because they often come from the same hood, work at the same jobs, go to the same schools and jails, and are both Americans not immigrants. This is a tricky, but important, part of the equation and unfortunately, it really does not work with your Hispanic/Asian/African-American model.




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