End of Year 2023 – Racial Justice

Reckoning with White Supremacy Past and Present

This year, as individuals and communities continued grappling with the legacy of systemic racism in our country, PRRI research and analysis helped to measure and explain the ways racism and white supremacy influenced American religion, culture, and politics in 2023.

Looking back at centuries of history and examining contemporary models of racial repair in Mississippi, Minnesota, and Oklahoma, PRRI President and Founder Robert P. Jones released his New York Times bestselling book, The Hidden Roots of White Supremacy and the Path to a Shared American Future.

This past week, Russell Contreras of Axios described the book and how the concept that the Americas were a “promised land” for European Christians led to centuries of violence against Indigenous people and Black Americans. Following the book’s publication, Jones appeared on MSNBC’s The ReidOut with Joy Reid, explaining why reframing America’s origin story is critical to charting a new course toward a genuinely pluralistic democracy.

When PRRI partnered with E Pluribus Unum (EPU) to publish a report about Black and white Southerners’ views on Confederate memorials earlier this year, understanding shared history was again a central focus. Analyzing 26 focus groups conducted with residents of cities across the South, we found:
  • While white Southerners were defensive about the presence of Confederate monuments, Black Southerners readily described how the memorials serve as reminders of a violent past.
  • In states where monument debates and removals have occurred, white focus group participants were more sensitive to how Confederate monuments affect Black people.
PRRI’s national surveys shone further light on the Americans’ attitudes toward racial justice in 2023, including our Christian Nationalism Survey and 2023 American Values Survey, both released jointly with the Brookings Institute.

Describing the findings of the PRRI/Brookings Christian Nationalism Survey for The Washington Post, Jennifer Rubin observed, “Christian nationalists in fact harbor a set of extreme beliefs at odds with pluralistic democracy,” including a strong element of white grievance. She points out more than three-quarters of Christian nationalism adherents (77%) agree that discrimination against white Americans is as big of a problem as discrimination against Black Americans, compared with 41% of Americans overall.

For NPR, Ashley Lopez reported that PRRI’s 14th annual American Values Survey found tensions are high among American voters, but there are some of the areas of consensus, including that an overwhelming majority of Americans (94%) say that “we should teach our children both the good and bad aspects of our history so that they can learn from the past.”

Racial Justice Across the Headlines in 2023:

The New York Times: Black, Evangelical and Torn

Code Switch: Black Praise in White Pews: When Your Church Doesn’t Love You Back

The Atlantic:

The Post-racial Republicans

Religion News Service:

We Must Recognize the Patterns of White Supremacy

Texas Observer:

The Origins of White, Christian Supremacy

CNN: Americans See Martin Luther King Jr. as a Hero, But That Wasn’t Always the Case