New Rasmussen Poll: Majority of People Say #BlackLivesMatter Movement Doesn’t Matter, as White Denial Over Racism Continues

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Near the Lexington light rail station in St. Paul, protesters with Black Lives Matters blocked traffic to and from TCF Stadium on the home opener for the Vikings. Organizer Rashad Turner, front, led the event. RICHARD TSONG-TAATARII – STAR TRIBUNE
Near the Lexington light rail station in St. Paul, protesters with Black Lives Matters blocked traffic to and from TCF Stadium on the home opener for the Vikings. RICHARD TSONG-TAATARII – STAR TRIBUNE

According to a survey by the New York Daily News and Rasmussen Reports, the conservative-leaning polling organization, likely voters said by a 2-to-1 margin they do not think the Black protest movement supports reforms to ensure all Americans are treated fairly under the law.

“Black Lives Matter or all lives matter is an ongoing political debate, but most voters aren’t convinced that the Black Lives Matter movement is interested in justice for all,” Rasmussen Reports said on its website.

Further, 22 percent of respondents said they are “not sure” whether the movement supports reforms for fairer law enforcement.

“There appears to be a lot of confusion in people’s minds with what Black Lives Matter stands for,” said Francis Coombs, managing editor of Rasmussen Reports. “People see protests, but where is this going?”

The survey finds that many voters don’t agree with Black Lives Matter, and does not believe the criminal justice system needs fixing.  While 44 percent believe Blacks and other minority groups benefit from equal treatment from the court system and the police, 41 percent believe they face discrimination, and 15 percent are unsure.

Meanwhile, there is a racial divide on the issue, with 83 percent of African-American voters believing Blacks and others face discrimination, and half of whites saying Blacks receive equal treatment. This difference in perception, as Blacks actually experience police violence and racism in the legal system, is reflected in different police proposals.  For example, 57 percent of Black voters say “more oversight and training of police officers” would improve the criminal justice system, as opposed to 37 percent of white voters who want to see “more police officers on the streets.”

“What we have seen is a vast difference of opinion between white and black, when it comes to justice in America,” Coombs said. “Blacks are very suspicious of cops and the judicial system and whites aren’t that suspicious.”

The poll also found that 51 percent of Black voters say the Black Lives Matter movement supports reforms to ensure equal treatment under the law, and 30 percent say it doesn’t, with 19 percent unsure.  On the other hand, 55 percent of white voters say the group does not support criminal justice reform, and 21 percent say it does, with 24 percent uncertain.

Not surprisingly, 70 percent of Republicans say Black Lives Matter does not support reforms to ensure equal treatment, while only 11 percent say it does, with 19 percent unsure.

As this latest poll seems to focus more on whether Black Lives Matter is the problem, rather than police violence, mass incarceration and systemic racism, Rasmussen demonstrates that white denial of racism, white privilege and white supremacy are seemingly intractable.  Seeking white approval of the Black techniques and tactics of protest is at best, like chasing a moving target.  And Black agency dictates that whites are not entitled to dictate how Black folks should respond to their oppression, as we will figure it out on our own without approval.  In addition, while this nascent Black-led movement is not perfect, and the road to reform through nonviolent protest might not be a quick one, certainly whites must consider they would not prefer the alternative.

The Rasmussen survey comes on the heels of another poll released by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) on Tuesday.  That poll revealed that 43 percent of Americans said discrimination against whites has become as great of a problem as discrimination against Blacks and other people of color.  This includes half of white Americans, and 60 percent of working class whites, but only 29 percent of Latinos and 25 percent of Blacks.  Moreover, 53 percent of Americans believe the American culture and “way of life” have changed for the worse since 1950, as the Washington Post reported.  

All of this indicates that Black Lives Matter, and all those who seek racial justice, have their work cut out for them.

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