1. Archive

Poll: Minorities see whites as bossy, bigots

Minorities believe whites are bigoted, bossy and unwilling to share power, according to a new national poll on racial attitudes.

The poll reveals that bigotry and hostility among racial groups persist. But it also finds a reason for optimism: a widespread willingness to work together on problems common to everyone.

The survey of nearly 3,000 people was commissioned by the National Conference, a human-relations organization. It was founded in 1927 as the National Conference of Christians and Jews.

The survey is believed to be the first to look at minorities' attitudes toward whites and toward each other. It was conducted last summer and fall by Louis Harris of LH Research.

The further splintering of America into ethnic, racial and religious camps is a real danger, the National Conference concluded.

The poll finds that the three most populous minorities _ African-, Latino- and Asian-Americans _ have a decidedly negative view of whites. Two-thirds of such minorities think whites "believe they are superior and can boss people around."

Sixty-six percent of non-whites agreed that whites are "insensitive to other people and have a long history of bigotry and prejudice."

Sixty-one percent agreed that whites "control power and wealth in America and do not want to share it with non-whites."

Whites, however, believe equal opportunities abound. For instance, 69 percent believe that African-Americans are given an equal opportunity to quality education.

"It's a loud and strong and clear message to white America that you think things are better than your neighbors do," said Karl Berolzheimer of the National Conference.

The poll also found that minorities harbor prejudices against other minority groups.

For instance, Asian-Americans often are perceived as "unscrupulous" in business by other minorities.

"People of color appear to have a great many harmful stereotypes about each other," said Sanford Cloud, president of the National Conference.

He said the poll shows that "there's a lot of work that needs to be done within communities of color regarding their feelings toward each other."

Cloud, the first black person to head the National Conference, said he was surprised such a large gap remained between white and minority views.

He attributed it in part to people isolating themselves in their homes and being exposed to repeated insensitive media portrayals of minorities.

"As long as we continue to have such differences of opinion we cannot possibly come together and reach our full potential as a nation," he said.

Discussing the intolerance exposed by the poll is necessary so the country can unite against problems like homelessness and street violence, he said.

The survey did, however, find a willingness among the groups to work with each other.

Roughly nine of 10 Americans, in virtually every group, claim they are willing to work with the group they felt the least in common with in order to:

Protect children from gangs and violence.

Help schools teach children what they really need to learn.

Find solutions to ease racial tensions.

Help start child-care facilities for single parents.

Help feed, clothe and house the homeless.

An independent expert on polling, Stanley Presser, said he would not make too much of any single number in the poll, but was not surprised by the pattern it showed.

"There's a lot of evidence that whites and blacks see the world through very different eyes," said Presser, a University of Maryland sociology professor.

LH Research said it polled nearly 2,755 people by phone. The Ford and Joyce foundations co-sponsored the study.

The results are subject to a margin of sampling error of 2 percentage points.

_ Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.