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Residents abroad say discrimination a bigger problem in U.S. than their own country

Residents from several major countries say discrimination is a concern in their homelands but is a bigger problem in the U.S., according to a recent study by the Pew Research Center.

The study comes as new incidents of discrimination against Blacks in housing and banking have renewed concerns of racism in America.

The study by the Pew Research Center surveyed 17 major countries, including the United Kingdom, France, Australia, Greece, Italy, Belgium, Sweden, Germany and Japan.

Most adult residents in those countries say discrimination based on race or ethnicity is a somewhat or very serious problem in their own society.

Three quarters of residents in Italy, France, Sweden, Germany and the United States say discrimination is a problem. Only in Japan, Singapore and Taiwan do fewer than half say such discrimination is a serious problem.

But most of these residents view racial discrimination in the U.S. as worse than in their own country.

A median of 89 percent across the 16 non-U.S. residents surveyed describe racial and ethnic discrimination in the U.S. as a somewhat or very serious problem.

Recent examples of alleged racial discrimination against Blacks in banking and housing, which have raised renewed concerns about America’s history of racism, both nationally and locally, include the following:

This week, U.S. Bank finally settled a complaint and apologized to Joe Morrow, a Black man in Columbia Heights, Minnesota, accused of trying to cash his $900 paycheck in 2020.

A branch manager, who alleged the check was fraudulent, reportedly called police before reaching out to United Natural Foods, Morrow’s employer, to verify the check. However, body camera video shows the manager only called Morrow’s employer for verification after the 23-year-old Black man was removed from his office. As it turned out, Morrow’s paycheck was real.

While waiting for the check to be verified by his employer, bodycam video shows police placing Morrow in handcuffs as he stood up from a chair in the branch manager’s office. A white police officer claimed that Morrow had “flexed” at the manager “in a threatening manner,” according to a KSTP report in citing a police report.

U.S. Bank issued a public apology only after a local TV station reported last week about the incident.

“I am deeply sorry for where we failed and accept full responsibility,” Andy Cecere, U.S. Bancorp’s chief executive officer, wrote in the letter. “Our commitment to racial equity and inclusion, and that of U.S. Bank, is unwavering.”

Recently, many listeners of Chicago’s WVON radio station called in to report their own experiences on Perri Small’s show.

One woman said four of her accounts, including her debit card, were frozen until a relatively small check cleared the bank. Another caller, Bonita, said her bank, Citibank, dropped her credit limit several times on her credit card 30 days after she received it.

In Northern California, Tenisha Tate-Austin and her husband became suspicious when their home they spent years renovating was valued by an appraiser far lower than they expected.

During a second appraisal, the couple had a white friend pose as the owner after they removed all artwork and photos that showed the home belonged to a Black family. The second appraisal was more than $1.4 million and nearly half a million dollars higher than the previous estimate.

These instances further support Pew Research Center findings that also include that at least nine-in-10 residents in New Zealand, South Korea, Canada, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden believe racism in the U.S. is a very serious problem.

In New Zealand, 95 percent of adult residents believe racial discrimination is worse in the U.S. than their own country. In South Korea, 93 percent of those surveyed said racial discrimination is a very serious problem in the U.S. There were seven countries where 90 percent of residents believe racial discrimination in America is a very serious problem.

According to the survey, younger adults tend to be more likely than older people to see discrimination as a problem, whether in their own society or in the U.S.

For example, among Spaniards, 69 percent of those under age 30 said racial and ethnic discrimination in their own society is a serious problem, compared with 44 percent of those ages 65 and older. Younger Spaniards are also more likely than older Spaniards to see discrimination in the U.S. as a serious problem – though age-related differences in opinion about American discrimination are less pronounced, both in Spain and elsewhere.

The Pew study said surveyed women in most of the advanced economies tend to see discrimination at higher rates than men.

The study said 80 percent of women in the U.S. say racial discrimination is a somewhat or very serious problem, compared with 68 percent of men.

Gender differences of around 10 percentage points are also evident in Canada, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, New Zealand and South Korea, both when it comes to discrimination locally and in the U.S. (though differences for the U.S. are again less pronounced).

Politically, residents on the ideological left are more likely than those on the right to see racial and ethnic discrimination as a serious problem, both in their own society and in the U.S.

The ideological gap on this question is widest in the U.S. itself: 92 percent of those on the left (liberals, in common U.S. parlance) say racial and ethnic discrimination is a serious problem, compared with 47 percent of those on the right (conservatives), a difference of 45 points.

The next-largest ideological gap is in Australia, where 80 percent of those on the left and 50 percent of those on the right hold the view that discrimination is a serious problem in Australia. In general, people on the ideological left are also more likely than those on the right to say discrimination in the U.S. is a serious problem.

And finally, the study says attitudes on racial discrimination are sometimes influenced by one’s level of education.

In Taiwan, for example, 95 percent of those with at least a post-secondary degree describe discrimination as a serious problem in the U.S., compared with 77 percent of those with less than a post-secondary degree.

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