Louisiana Survey: White and Black Louisianans view discrimination differently

White and Black Louisianians view discrimination and racial progress very differently, according to the fourth of five reports from the 2021 Louisiana Survey.

The latest installment of the survey from the Public Policy Research Lab at LSU’s Reilly Center for Media and Public Affairs asks residents about the extent of racial discrimination in six different situations: In hiring, pay and promotions at work; in stores and restaurants; when applying for a loan or mortgage; in dealing with the police; when voting in elections; and when seeking medical treatment.

A majority of the state’s residents (55%) believe Black people are treated less fairly than white people in dealing with the police. However, in the remaining five situations, most do not believe Black people are treated less fairly.

Perceptions of discrimination differ considerably between white respondents and Black respondents. With the exception of encounters with the police, the majority of white respondents say white people and Black people are treated equally across all of these situations.

Other key findings include:

• Black Louisiana residents overwhelmingly (84%) believe the country needs to make further changes to achieve equal rights, compared to far fewer white residents holding the same belief (39%).

• Overall, 45% of Louisianans think being white helps someone’s chances of getting ahead, and 46% say being Black hurts a person’s chances. But white residents of Louisiana tend to think race plays little, if any, role in a person’s chances of getting ahead.

• In contrast, when it comes to the role of wealth in helping someone’s chances of getting ahead, attitudes of Black Louisianans are similar to those of white Louisianans, who think someone’s socioeconomic class plays a big role in advancement. About 79% of white respondents say being rich helps and 78% say being poor hurts, including 58% who say it hurts a lot. 

• Approximately two-thirds of Louisiana residents think the economic system in America unfairly favors the wealthy, an eight percentage point increase since 2016.

Louisiana residents are divided almost evenly between those who favor a smaller government providing fewer services (48%) and those favoring a larger government providing more services (45%). Additionally, 78% approve of the state’s 2016 expansion of Medicaid, while 76% approve of last year’s expansion of unemployment insurance benefits.

The survey polled 781 adult residents from across the state to gauge how Louisianans view their government and its policies. It was conducted from Jan. 4 to March 1, and the total sample has a +/-6.4% margin of error. The final report is slated for release on April 13.

Read the full report.