WASHINGTON (SBG) — As protests against racism spread throughout the country, and eventually the world, researchers surveyed the demographics of the protesters. They found white people made up the largest portion.
According to a June study by Pew Research Center, 46% of protesters were white, 17% were Black, 22% were Hispanic and 8% were Asian.
Associate director for social trends at Pew Research Center Juliana Horowitz pointed out that while the bulk of protesters sampled were white, the number was smaller than the proportion of white people who make up the American population, which is 64%.
“We found that the group that is protesting is more racially and ethnically diverse and younger than Americans overall," Horowitz said.
Horowitz said 41% of the protesters sampled were between the ages of 18 and 29. This age group only makes up about 20% of American adults.
“We do see young people in particular, especially young white people, expressing a lot of concern about inequality and saying the country hasn’t made enough progress on these issues," Horowitz said.
Horowitz and her colleagues found the protesters were 79% Democrats or lean Democratic, and 14% were Republican or lean Republican.
University of North Carolina Greensboro Political Science Professor Andrew Engelhardt said white people are quickly changing their attitudes about race and the number who protested was unprecedented.
“They’re willing to actually make an effort and go out and protest and call attention to what they see as injustice," Engelhardt said.
Engelhardt recently completed research about the relationship between politics and individuals' identities and intergroup attitudes at Brown University's Taubman Center for American Politics and Policy. He said the changing attitudes of white people started around 2008.
“With events under the Obama administration, renewed attention to police violence with reaction to Michael Brown’s killing in Ferguson," Engelhardt said. "And then especially now with attention to George Floyd’s killing in Minnesota, that there are problems that still exist.”
Not everyone thinks the intentions and actions of all white protesters are genuine or productive.
Portland Police Officer Jahkary Jackson, who is Black, said in a YouTube video posted by his department on July 15 that he has witnessed problematic behavior by some white protesters.
"I got to see those people get faded out by people that have no idea what racism is all about," Jackson said. "Never experienced racism. They don't even know that the tactics that they are using are the same tactics that were used against my people and they don't even know the history. "
The Portland Police Department said Jackson was not available for Sinclair's interview request.
Engelhardt said he understands why some might be skeptical about the large white presence at protests against racism.
“I think they have every right to be skeptical given like, what history has taught us where we get the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act but then no real commitment to legislation to try to address what other disparities existed," Engelhardt said.
Overall, Engelhardt said he sees the "glass half full."
“We have to give these folks a little bit of the benefit of the doubt, too. They are willing to go out and be subjected to tear gas," Engelhardt said.
Time will tell if white people continue to champion racial justice, or if some will become disillusioned when politicians can't meet their demands for things like criminal justice reform. Currently, Congress is at a stalemate on that issue and will likely remain that way until the November election.