Nearly 40% of white Southerners believe that "white people are currently under attack" in recent poll

82 percent of black respondents were, scientifically speaking, not having that


Protesters rallied at CofC in 2017 when activist Bree Newsome visited to discuss her work as a racial and social justice advocate - DUSTIN WATERS FILE PHOTO
  • Dustin Waters file photo
  • Protesters rallied at CofC in 2017 when activist Bree Newsome visited to discuss her work as a racial and social justice advocate
About half of white Southerners can't shake the feeling that they're being targeted for their race, according to new poll results from Winthrop University.

Respondents were asked to indicate how they feel about the statement, "White people are currently under attack in this country."

Ten percent of white people surveyed said they "strongly agree," while 28 percent say they "agree." Another 11 percent of white respondents said they "neither agree nor disagree." In all, 49 percent of white Southerners polled did not indicate that they disagree with the idea that whites are under attack in the U.S.

The poll questioned a total of 969 people from 11 Southern states in November and December.

In contrast, 82 percent of black respondents said they either "disagree" or "strongly disagree."

The poll also cross-referenced data from questions about how those polled view the Confederate flag. A full 57 percent of those who indicated a favorable view of the flag did not disagree that whites were under attack.

Pollsters with the Southern Focus Survey, originally released in December, also had a bit of fun with their subjects this time around.

In a small survey-based experiment, half were asked the question, "Do you believe non-whites in America experience barriers that whites do not experience?" The other half was asked, "Do you believe whites in America experience privileges that non-whites do not experience?"

The slight difference in wording doesn't change the general idea behind the questions: that white people have an easier time with things than non-white people do. Essentially, the second question asked if people recognized that inherent inequality works to the benefit of white people.

As of 2016, white families in America carried a median net worth nearly ten times that of black families, according to the Federal Reserve. The lingering effects of systemic policies that blocked black Americans from making economic gains have led to an economy where black families earn just $57.30 for every $100 white families earn. In South Carolina, black high school students trail their white classmates in job readiness at staggering rates.

In the end, 71 percent of whites agreed that non-whites have "a harder time with some things," but only 50 percent of white people polled saw themselves as having "privilege."
  • Michael Campina file photo
"This is a classic 'framing effect,'" said poll director Scott Huffmon in a statement. "Whether differences are attributed to one group having 'privilege' or the other group facing 'barriers,' the end result is the same; however, by changing the way we talk about a situation, we see that attitudes can shift."

Ultimately, the university's research reinforces the obvious.

"What the poll uncovers is that whites and blacks have very different experiences living in the South," the report says.

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