A new Reuters/Ipsos poll shows how segregated the United States remains as about 40 percent of white Americans and about 25 percent of non-white Americans are surrounded exclusively by friends of their own race.
As President Obama calls for the country to re-examine race relations in America in the wake of the Trayvon Martin case, these figures reveal how Americans are still divided by skin color. Hispanics are the most integrated as only a tenth of the group have no friends outside their race. And about half of them who are married or in partnerships are in interracial relationships.
When the question included coworkers as well as friends and relatives, the poll also found that 30 percent of Americans are not mixing outside of their race.
As a group, Pacific states — including California, the most populous in the nation — are the most diverse when it comes to love and friendship. By contrast, the South has the lowest percentage of people with more than five acquaintances from races that don't reflect their own.
Some of this is down to precedent. "This country has a pretty long history of restriction on inter-racial contact and for whites and Blacks, even though it's in the past, there are still echoes of this," said Ann Morning, an associate professor in the department of sociology at New York University.
"Hispanics and Asian-Americans have traditionally had less strict lines about integrating."
In his comments two weeks ago, President Obama expressed optimism about the future, saying his daughters' experiences show younger generations have fewer issues with race. "It doesn't mean we're in a post-racial society. It doesn't mean that racism is eliminated. But...they're better than we are, they're better than we were, on these issues," he said.
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