From June 8th through 14th, 2021, the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center conducted a statewide survey of Oregonians’ values and beliefs regarding the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. The questions were intended to gather preliminary data to inform more in-depth research in the months ahead.
This online survey consisted of 1400 Oregon residents ages 18+ and took approximately 15 minutes to complete. To ensure a representative sample, demographic quotas were set, and data weighted by the area of the state, gender, age, and education. Responses were analyzed and categorized to allow for a better understanding of trends in Oregonians’ values and beliefs. The survey’s margin of error, for the full sample, ranges from ±1.6% to ±2.6% depending on how the response category percentages split for any given question. Due to rounding, numbers may not add up to 100%.
This survey uses aggregated data to analyze the opinions of BIPOC residents in comparison to the opinions of residents who identify as white and not another race. BIPOC residents are not a monolith; the grouping represents a wide diversity of races and ethnicities. The findings included in this memo should not be construed such that all people of color are believed to share the same opinions. Disaggregated race data will be provided when sample size permits reliability.
Findings will include a citation of the relevant question, which can be referenced in the annotated questionnaire and tabs at the bottom of the page.
Warning: Some readers may find the reporting below, including the respondent comments, disturbing.
- A year after George Floyd’s death—and eight after the birth of the Black Lives Matter movement—BLM protests remain a divisive issue for Oregonians. Yet the vast majority of Oregon residents agree that the protests had an impact—one that will be long-felt, not fleeting.
- 70% of Oregonians say BLM protests have had a positive, negative, mixed impact, compared to 22% of residents who say the protests have had no impact, and 9% who aren’t sure (Q10).
- Nearly one in five Oregonians believe that impact has been at least somewhat positive (19%). They point to increased awareness of systemic racism and greater community collaboration and advocacy as positive effects of BLM protests (Q10-11):
“Even in this small Republican-leaning town, there have been more discussions about racial justice, and a couple of new activist groups have launched during the last year.”Non-binary, age 45-54, Columbia County, Asian or Pacific Islander, Hispanic/Latino/a/x, and white or Caucasian
“I don’t think they’ve had a dramatic impact in my community, but I think shaking people out of comfortable blindness to the inequities in our systems and government is good. Union county is pretty white, not accidentally either if you look at the history, but I hope that it helps make the place slightly more tolerant and aware.”Male, age 30-44, Union County, white or Caucasian
“BLM feeds people at Street Feed events, has swap meets, and by their presence and attending, I know Eugene is the kind of place where I want to live.”Male, 30-44, Lane County, white or Caucasian
- Among the demographic groups most likely to believe that BLM protests have had a positive impact are people under 30 (26%), college graduates (28%), and urban residents (27%) (Q10).
- A plurality of people over 75 say the protests have had no impact (29%).
- Nearly half of those who say the protests’ impact has been at least somewhat positive believe the effects will be long-lasting (47%), compared to 20% who think these effects will be fleeting (Q12).
“People are finally seeing how racial discrimination is dug into all our agencies, institutions, and systems. Now we are beginning to address the systems and make things more equal, fairer to more people.”Female, age 64-75, Josephine County, white or Caucasian
- Roughly the same proportion of residents say BLM’s impact has been at least somewhat negative (22%). Many of these respondents point to vandalism, which some believe is caused by BLM protestors, and others believe is caused by bad actors using the protests as cover (Q10, Q12).
- Others say that the BLM protests themselves are responsible for the division between residents in Oregon.
- The 22% of residents who believe BLM protests have had at least a somewhat negative impact include residents who characterize the grievances brought forth by the Black Lives Matter protests as unfounded.
“The Black Lives Matter has had a bad impact as it has only caused unneeded violence and aggressive protests for something that isn’t happening to anyone in our state.”Male, age 18-29, Klamath County, white or Caucasian
“Co-opting of the movement by rioters who have nothing to do with BLM.”Male, age 55-64, Multnomah County, Asian or Pacific Islander
“I believe the movement is a sham! This group has done nothing positive and, in my opinion, does not care about black lives at all! The killings are indiscriminate, black children’s lives are being taken away by gang bangers all over the country. When you point out that 42% of serious felonies are committed by blacks even though blacks only make up 13% of the country, you are presumed to be a racist!”Female, 75+, Washington County, white or Caucasian
- Many Oregonians who think the Black Lives Matter protests have had a negative impact on their community express the belief that Black Lives Matter is itself racist and associated with Marxism (Q13).
“They are destroying our cities by burning and looting our cities and in some cases murdering people. People are in fear of their lives due to these racist terrorist groups.”Male, age 65-74, Marion County, white or Caucasian
“It’s not a big effect here, but any racism is negative, and BLM is racist and Marxist.”Male, age 65-74, Polk County, Native American or American Indian
“Marxist socialist hate group. Causes tensions, graffiti, and race hate in the neighborhood.”Female, age 45-64, Multnomah County, Native American or American Indian, Slavic, white or Caucasian, and other race or ethnicity
- Among residents who believe the protests’ impact has been at least somewhat negative, 55% say the effects will be long-lasting, compared to 20% who think they will be fleeting (Q14).
Both Positive and Negative
- One-third of Oregonians believe the impact of BLM protests has been both positive and negative (29%). Some people say the BLM protests have had a mixed impact because it has had the effect of pushing some people to become more ardent in their beliefs (Q10, Q12).
- Specifically, some people of color say they now have increased concerns about their personal safety, as white people have become angrier in public.
“More hate crimes, violence, and feeling nervous or scared around certain groups of people when I’m alone in a public setting because people who hate the changes are angry.”Female, age 18-29, Clackamas County, Hispanic/Latino/a/x
“In some, I have seen more visible expressions of fear to other races.”Male, age 65-74, Multnomah County, other race or ethnicity
“White supremacists have been emboldened, have become more threatening as they wield deadly weapons to intimidate. Potential mayhem is more likely to ensue.”Female, age 75+, Clatsop County, other race or ethnicity
Identifying what unites us, understanding what divides us.
- BIPOC residents are significantly more likely than white residents to describe the impact of the BLM protests as positive (27% to 18%) (Q10).
- BIPOC residents are also significantly more likely than white residents to say the protests had both a positive and a negative impact (36% to 28%).
- BIPOC residents are more pessimistic than white residents when it comes to the lasting impact of these protests. Among BIPOC residents who believe the protests have been at least somewhat positive in effect, 27% say those positive effects will be fleeting, compared to 19% of white residents (Q12).
- Given the geographic concentration of communities of color across Oregon, it is no surprise that urban dwellers are more likely to say the protests had a positive impact than rural residents (27% to 13%) (Q10).
- This is not due to overwhelmingly negative perceptions of BLM protests in rural Oregon generally; instead, a plurality of rural residents say the protests had no impact (38%).
This research was completed as a community service by the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center, an independent and non-partisan organization. OVBC is an Oregon charitable nonprofit corporation (www.oregonvbc.org).