U-M survey shows majority of Detroiters support reparations

The survey of 2,339 Detroiters was conducted last summer.

Detroit skyline

FILE - Downtown Detroit skyline.

The University of Michigan recently analyzed data from a survey on Detroiters’ perceptions of structural racism and reparations. The study concluded several key findings, including how a potential political candidate’s support of reparations could mobilize eligible voters in Detroit.

U-M researcher Erykah Benson says the survey found Black and white Detroiters were nearly equally as likely to say that Black people experience worse financial situations than white people. However, Black residents were significantly more likely to view the average Black person as financially better off compared to the average white person.

“In Detroit, segregation is still a very high rate. And so, when we think about people’s perceptions…perceptions being related to people’s social interaction, and that might inform how people perceive the level of income inequality in their own lives,” says Benson.

These are some of the key findings:

  • Approximately three in four Detroiters (73%) believe the average Black person is worse off today in terms of income and wealth than the average white person.
  • Seven in 10 Detroiters (71%) who believe there are economic disparities between Black and white Americans support reparations, while 19% of this same group neither oppose nor support reparations, and 9% oppose reparations.
  • Nearly eight in 10 Detroiters (78%) agree with the statement that “the legacy of slavery and discrimination against Black people continues to affect Black people in American society.”
  • Among Detroiters who say they neither support nor oppose reparations, 60% say addressing racial and ethnic inequality should be a high policy priority.

The survey took place from June 16 through August 26, 2022, and had a sample of 2,339 Detroit residents. End results were weighted in order to reflect Detroit’s city population. The study was published in March by Erykah Benson and Jasmine Simington.

The full report can be found here.

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