The redemption our nation needs isn’t merely removing the offense of racism, it’s embracing those separated from us in relationships of love.
Earlier this year, I promised to write a series of posts this year highlighting positive cultural trends, as an encouragement to Christians. So today, with some trepidation, I’m going to make the counterintuitive case for optimism about U.S. racism.
To many, this must sound quixotic. In just the month of April, the nation saw the conviction of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd, the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright near Minneapolis and the fatal shooting of teenager Ma’Khia Bryant by police in Columbus, Ohio. These and numerous other high-profile police killings of black Americans have sparked protests and increased accusations of racism.
The protests began after the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Since that time, there has been a collapse in the perceptions of race relations among both black and white Americans. In 2013, the year before Michael Brown’s death, 72 percent of whites and 66 percent of blacks rated black-white relations as either very or somewhat good, according to Gallup polls. But by 2020, those percentages had swooned to 46 percent among whites and 36 percent among blacks.
Racism is still a reality—painfully and pervasively so. Roughly one-third of blacks in the U.S. say they experience discrimination monthly and more than 70% say they’ve ever experienced discrimination. If you don’t believe the statistics, then believe the testimony of a conservative Presbyterian who doubted the reality of racism—until he watched his adopted daughter with black skin receive vastly different treatment than his white children.
But there is evidence of dramatic declines in racist attitudes, even since the 1980s and 1990s. Many of these improvements were collected in a recent Manhattan Institute report by Eric Kaufmann, which you can read here.
- In 1980, 60% of white Americans agreed it was permissible to racially discriminate when selling a home. By 2012, fewer than half as many (28%) agreed.
- As recently as 1995, only 45% of whites approved of black-white intermarriage. By 2017, approval had doubled to more than 90%.
- And most telling of all, white opposition to a close relative marrying a black person—which was 65% in 1990—was less than 15% in 2018.