Now, with the rise of the Black Likes Matter movement and civil disturbances popping up around the country in protest of police action, my students want to know if these latest demonstrations have changed public opinion. Thanks to new data from a poll by the Los Angeles Times and Reality Check Insights, I tell them that the reaction from the nation to these protests vary widely by demographics and may not have had the impact that they had hoped; the BLM related protests did not shift the majority of Americans’ views on race in the nation.
A national sample of over 1,400 Americans were asked after the election if the protests in many cities across the U.S. over the killing of George Floyd and others by police changed the way you think about racial justice in America. The answer may not be as encouraging to my students as they would have hoped: just a third (32 percent) of Americans said that the protest helped them think “a lot” about racial justice in America, and 41 percent said the protests did not change their views whatsoever.
The protests had very different levels of impact along racial lines. Among Blacks, 52 percent believed that the protests changed their thinking on race and this was appreciably higher than the quarter of Whites (27 percent) who felt the same way. About a third of Blacks (32 percent) stated that the protests did not change their thinking about race compared to 45 percent of Whites.
Among Hispanics, about a third believed that the protests changed their views and another third found that the protests did nothing at all. The reactions here are remarkably inconsistent across the nation and it is clear that Americans did not overwhelmingly or uniformly accept the ideas behind the various protests, calling into serious question the efficacy of the actions themselves.
The protests also failed to shift attitudes outside of the youngest generations of Americans. While 85 percent of Gen Z and 69 percent of Millennials report that the movement impacted their thinking on race to some degree, less than a quarter of “Boomers” said the protests made them think “a lot” about the issues at hand. Younger Americans connected with the movement but older Americans did not