Discussing Racial Attitudes in Southeast Michigan

Poll: Metro Detroiters believe race relations are improving.

Nearly 70 percent of people in metro Detroit think race relations here are improving, according to a poll commissioned by WDET and the other Detroit Journalism Cooperative partners.

Melissa Mason

African Americans were slightly more pessimistic than whites, with 47 percent of black respondents saying race relations are currently good. Among whites that opinion was shared by 56 percent of people in the survey.

Joining Host Stephen Henderson to talk about the survey and results are WDET’s Sandra Svoboda and Michigan Radio’s Lester Graham. EPIC MRA conducted the poll, surveying 600 people in Detroit and the metro area.

Graham points out that people of both races name education and crime and public safety as their top concerns. But opinions about racism or discrimination in everyday life diverge depending on whether people live in a racially segregated area.

“The difference between attitudes about the black experience are much wider,” Graham says.

The pollster, Bernie Porn, of EPIC MRA in Lansing, says those opinions reflect demographic changes in southeast Michigan.

“Many communities are becoming more black and more racially mixed, and so there’s a greater acceptance and a greater incidence of people getting along together and having friends of different races,” Porn says.

As part of the Detroit Journalism Cooperative work, Bridge Magazine’s Bill McGraw wrote about the survey, saying “by large margins, metro Detroiters believe the region has made progress in race relations since the 1967 riot, which devastated large swaths of the city 49 years ago this week, altering the course of Detroit’s future and changing the city’s image in the eyes of the world.”

Graham also further analyzed results in a video, reporting “Older white and black people tend to be further apart on several issues while younger people are closer.”



All of the Detroit Journalism Cooperative work on racial attitudes in the metro area can be found here.

Click on the link above to hear the full Detroit Today conversation.


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