Yesterday, the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion–a non-profit organization provides diversity training and other services aimed at eliminating discrimination and racism–released the results of a recent telephone survey that the organization conducted on racial and gender discrimination. The survey, released to coincide with a diversity summit that the organization held in Lansing to discuss how to address discrimination in light of the passage of Proposal 2 and the end of affirmative action programs aimed at ending gender and race discrimination in Michigan, found that Michigan voters believe that discrimination is persistent and that it will be decades before racial equality is achieved.
Some of the key findings of the survey:
68 percent of white voters and 77 percent of African American voters say discrimination on the basis of race and ethnicity continues.
Men and women both agree that gender discrimination continues to be an issue, with 58 percent of men and 70 percent of women saying discrimination exists at least some of the time.
When respondents were asked if people of color have equal educational and employment opportunities as whites, half of white voters said they thought there is equal opportunity and only 29 percent said African Americans have worse opportunities. Those results were reversed among African Americans, with only 34 percent saying they have equal opportunity, and 53 percent saying they have worse opportunities as whites.
Men were more likely to say women had equal or better opportunities than men in education and employment, with 63 percent of men saying women had equal opportunities and 9 percent of men saying women had better opportunities than men, and 25 percent saying women had worse opportunities. Of women surveyed, only 6 percent said their opportunities were better than men, 53 percent said they were equal, with 38 percent said they had worse opportunities than men.
Asked if they felt they had ever been discriminated against because of their race, 79 percent of African Americans said yes, compared to only 23 percent of white respondents. Asked if they had been discriminated against because of their gender, only 22 percent of men said yes, compared to 47 percent of women.
Only 14 percent of white voters and 5 percent of African Americans said we have racial equality today. Perhaps more disturbing, 29 percent of white and 29 percent of African Americans said we will “never” achieve racial equality. While 30 percent of white voters said they thought we would achieve equality in their lifetimes, 34 percent of African Americans said it might happen in the next 100 years.
Gender equality is also more a goal than a reality today, the survey found. Only 30 percent of men and 14 percent of women said that “we have it now,” while 22 percent of men and 24 percent of women said we will never achieve gender equality. But 38 percent of women said they expected society would achieve gender equity “in my lifetime,” along with 34 percent of women.
Both white and African American respondents said the quality of life for people of color had improved over the last decade, with 65 percent of whites and 58 percent of African Americans agreeing with that statement. Asked if the quality of life for women had improved, 67 percent of men and 69 percent of women agreed.