After staying steady for over a decade, concern over race relations has reached a new high in the United States.
About one-third of the U.S. population (roughly 35 percent) claims to be worried “a great deal” about the issue, marking the highest percentage in 15 years, according to a Gallup survey released on Monday.
Just last year, only 17 percent answered in a similar fashion, while in 2001, when Gallup began surveying Americans about race relations, about 28 percent had expressed their concern.
Over the past two years, amid the high-profile deaths of several African-American citizens at the hand of police and violent protests all across the country, the issue of racism and discrimination has gained massive attention in the media.
“Concern about race relations over the past two years has increased among Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals, and blacks and whites,” the report explained. “But the gap between the groups who were already most worried before 2015 — Democrats, liberals and blacks — and those less worried has not shrunk, and in some cases has widened.”
The Gallup survey, conducted with 1,019 adults March 2-6, also noted that people have become less satisfied with the way black population is treated and is more likely to list race relations as the most important problem faced by the country. The birth of Black Lives Matter movement may also play a significant part in bringing the problem to light.
“Race relations may not worry as many Americans as do issues such as the economy, affordable healthcare or crime, but Gallup's polling clearly shows that racial tensions over the past few years have significantly affected public opinion,” said Gallup's Jim Norman.
However, police brutality might not be the only thing that has made people worry relentlessly about race relations. Presidential candidates, both Democratic and Republicans, have been using race as a tool to earn people’s trust.
Democratic presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have continued to appeal to minorities in order to gain their support, while GOP presidential hopeful Donald Trump has repeatedly tried to alienate African-Americans, Hispanics and people of other communities with his hateful rhetoric.