This really is good news

Via Atrios, there's a new poll out from the Pew Research center which makes me feel really good about the future of race relations in this nation.

More than eight-in-ten Americans (83%) now agree that "it's all right for blacks and whites to date," reflecting the most dramatic change among the racial attitudes tested in Pew polls--as recently as 1987, the public was divided virtually down the middle on the issue, with 48% approving of blacks and whites dating and 46% disapproving. Age is an important factor in attitudes toward interracial dating. In this regard, Pew surveys since 1987 have documented two complementary trends: Each new generation is more tolerant than the one that precedes it. At the same time, members of each generation have become increasingly tolerant as it ages. Together, these trends help explain the increase in expressions of tolerance toward interracial dating in recent decades. Nearly two-thirds of all Americans born before 1946 (65%) say it is acceptable for whites to date blacks. In contrast, this tolerant view of interracial dating is shared by more than eight-in-ten Baby Boomers (84%) and members of Generation X (87%), who were born between 1965 and 1976. Among younger people there is even broader acceptance of interracial dating: 94% of those born since 1977 say it is all right for blacks and whites to date. There have also been striking changes since the late 1980s in how people of different races view black-white dating. In 1987-88, fewer than half of whites (44%) said that interracial dating was acceptable; that number has nearly doubled (to 81%) in the current survey. Two decades ago, about three-quarters of blacks (74%) felt interracial dating was acceptable. Today, nearly all African Americans (97%) believe that interracial dating is acceptable.

In the past, when I've seen surveys on interracial dating, the questions were a bit more vague, and so I often assumed that much of the approval was based on interracial including relationships like Latino/Latina and white or black partners. But this one is not vague. It's asking about black-white dating specifically, and the numbers are astonishingly high from my perspective, coming as I do from a fairly racist part of the country.

And the trends are surprising as well, because they show this feeling is fluid along with age. The older the generation, the less accepting they are, but there's growth in the age groups, which is not what I would have expected. So yes, I'm very pleased, especially with that 94% acceptance rate among people under 30.

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