At a time when Republican state legislatures are trying to erase the existence of racism from classrooms and employer trainings, Black Americans believe white supremacy is a growing threat.
According to a new Washington Post-Ipsos Poll conducted after the racist massacre in Buffalo, New York, last weekend, three-quarters of Black people fear a physical attack against them or a loved one motivated by race. The same number of Black respondents said white supremacists are a “major threat,” and 66 percent believe white supremacy has gotten worse over the last five years.
The mass shooting in Buffalo only underscored the deadly threat of racism today. Only eight percent of poll respondents were surprised by the attack. Before the shooting, the same poll had found that 56 percent of Black people thought it was a bad time to be Black in America. After the attack, that number jumped to 65 percent.
Two years after the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter protest movement his killing invigorated, Black Americans feel disheartened by a lack of progress, the poll showed. In a backlash to the racial justice protest movement, Republicans have sought to limit discussions about racism in classrooms around the country. White people, they argue, have become the victims of woke liberals. In Florida, the most notable example, the state is mandating that teachers and textbooks portray racism and discrimination as solved problems rather than enduring threats.
These attempts are disconnected from the lived reality of Black Americans. They may also be feeding into the white supremacist threat. Seventy-six percent of respondents said political leaders contributed significantly to hate crimes against Black people. And while 71 percent of respondents identified “not enough teaching of tolerance in schools” as another significant factor, new restrictions on school curricula in many states may soon undermine attempts to educate children about racism in America.