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UT Austin’s LBJ School of Public Affairs releases report on race relations in city of Austin

A report released today (Sept. 6) by the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin finds that Austin residents view race relations as a serious and continuing problem. The report explores public perceptions of race relations and assesses services provided by the city of Austin.

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AUSTIN, Texas —A report released today (Sept. 6) by the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin finds that Austin residents view race relations as a serious and continuing problem. The report explores public perceptions of race relations and assesses services provided by the city of Austin.

Written by a research team of LBJ School faculty and students, the report is based on numerous interviews with community leaders and a scientific sample of Austin residents (with a margin of error of 4 percent).

Some highlights of the report:

  • Nearly 60 percent of African American, Hispanic and White citizens polled characterize the quality of race relations in Austin as only poor (11 percent) to fair (48 percent).
  • Most respondents appear to be quite tolerant. For example, 87 percent of respondents rejected the idea that neighborhoods should have the right to exclude persons on the basis of their ethnicity or beliefs.
  • A majority of those polled reported that they had not experienced racial or ethnic discrimination in the previous year; however, 46 percent of African Americans, 35 percent of Hispanics and 21 percent of Asians reported at least one incident of discrimination.
  • A majority (82 percent) of survey participants indicated satisfaction with city of Austin services, with relatively little difference among various ethnic groups.
  • Fifty-five percent of respondents agreed with the statement that the city of Austin provides equal treatment to various ethnic groups, with the notable exception of blacks, of whom 62 percent disagreed.
  • Minority leaders feel that progressive Whites have abandoned civil rights efforts in favor of environmental protection.
  • Minority leaders argue that current economic development policies neglect the needs of the African American and Hispanic communities. In their opinions, the African American and Hispanic communities are forced to compete with each other for economic development funds.
  • A majority of survey respondents indicated general satisfaction with the Austin Police Department (A.P.D.). However, more than two-thirds of the respondents believe that the A.P.D. does not treat all ethnic groups equally.
  • The overwhelming majority of respondents, nearly 90 percent of all ethnic groups, favor the creation of a citizens’ review board to monitor the Austin Police Department.

The report’s research was conducted over the 1999-2000 academic year under the direction of Professor Richard Schott, and was funded by the LBJ Foundation, the LBJ School of Public Affairs and the city of Austin. The report makes several recommendations, including the establishment of a citizens’ review board over the APD, publicizing the work of the Austin Human Rights Commission and the city’s anti-discrimination ordinances, and increasing involvement of the public and private sectors, educational institutions and community groups in efforts directed towards racial reconciliation.

Copies of the report are available at no charge from the Communications Office of the LBJ School of Public Affairs at 471-4218.