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Racism in Seattle: Professor Christopher Parker Discusses WA Poll Results

Submitted by Stephen Dunne on November 9, 2016 - 3:43pm

In an article published the day after the presidential election, UW Political Science Professor Christopher S. Parker challenges the belief that Seattle is enlightened on race. Though most people view the Pacific Northwest as progressive, it is not as progressive as we might think in regards to race, as indicated by the results of the most recent Washington poll. Professor Parker directed the survey on behalf of the PBS affiliate KCTS 9 and the website

In the survey, respondents were asked about their views on Black Lives Matter, public policy (i.e., Trump’s proposed border wall), and voting rights, among other things. Surprisingly, Professor Parker notes, “when we broke the results down between Eastern Washington and the Puget Sound region, we didn’t find significant differences on measures of racism.” So how can we explain this surprising finding? According to Professor Parker, “the search for an answer may begin with the racial demographics of the state: It’s 83 percent white. On its face, this isn’t a big deal because the Northwest isn’t known for its diversity. Lurking beneath the surface, however, is a sense of anxiety among Washingtonians.”

The apparent anxiety was measured through a series of questions. One of the most astonishing results in this regard may be that “72 percent of Washington’s electorate stated that they are afraid that ‘there isn’t going to be much freedom for real Americans as time goes on.’”

The article entitled “Think Seattle is enlightened on race? New poll says otherwise” appeared on November 9th, 2016 on the Crosscut website. Crosscut is the Pacific Northwest’s reader-supported, independent, non-profit electronic journal that strives to provide its readers with facts and analysis to enable them to intelligently participate in civic discourse.