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New “United or Divided” poll faults both Republicans and Democrats for dividing country

LatinaLista — The cable channel USA Network is known for its character-driven shows and it’s “Characters Welcome” tagline. So, it makes perfect sense that as part of their community outreach they would play on their character theme and create a “Characters Unite” campaign.

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Characters Unite, USA Network’s community affairs program, was created in January 2009 to address the social injustices and cultural divides still prevalent in our society. It was created on the simple premise that life is richer when people see beyond stereotypes and appreciate individual differences.

To kick off the network’s sponsorship of a national town hall meeting, moderated by former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw on Wednesday, December 2, to explore the country’s divisions and find common ground to these social justice issues, a revealing poll entitled, “United or Divided,” was released today.

In it, Americans across the country had very definite opinions on what the divisions are in this country that pits one side against another and who is not doing enough to heal those divides.

Among the findings:

Fifty-one percent believe that the amount of prejudice, discrimination and intolerance in the country is a very or somewhat serious problem.

A majority (55%) say that the amount of division and lack of unity among Americans has gotten worse over the past 10 years.

Only 5% of Americans believe that race relations are no longer a problem in the United States. Two-thirds (65%) believe that race relations are still a problem in the USA, but that we have come a long way, while half (30%) that many say that race relations are still a problem and we have a long way to go.

African Americans see things quite differently than Whites and Hispanics do on this question. African Americans are divided evenly as to whether we have come a long way (46%) or still have a long way to go (47%), while two-thirds of Whites (69%) and Hispanics (64%) focus on the progress that has been made.

Sixty-two percent said that gays and lesbians experience problems with prejudice because of their sexual orientation very or fairly often, followed by Muslims because of their religion (60%), and immigrants because they were not born in the U.S. (52%).

Language proves to be a real flashpoint; the increasing use of languages other than English bothers many Americans who otherwise are tolerant on issues of race and diversity. Most White Americans (54% unfavorable) express concern about the expanded use of languages other than English in daily life, while Hispanics (55% favorable) and African Americans (58% favorable) see this as a positive trend.

Americans believe that both Republicans in Congress (63%) and Democrats in Congress (52%) are doing more to divide the country than to unite it.

Fifty-five (55%) percent say Obama is doing more to unite the country, while 39% say he is doing more to divide it. There are predictable partisan differences on this question, with 85% of Democrats and 53% of independents describing Obama as helping to unite the country, while 77% of Republicans say he is doing more to divide it.

The town hall meeting, which will have a panel discussion to review the poll’s findings and expand the dialogue on how the country can begin to overcome the challenges created by having a diverse nation, will be available live online from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. EST, Wednesday, Dec. 2. However, all viewers must register to watch it.

Yet, the campaign is more than just the poll and Town Hall event, it’s also about getting people to interact with one another about their feelings on diversity, stereotypes and other issues. At the campaign’s home site, visitors will find 50 different doable suggestions on how to create a more united country, take the pledge to do just that and how to share the message with friends and family.

As Latina Lista has documented, there is an increasing trend of intolerance among certain Americans towards people who are different from the mainstream. This campaign is a good first step in opening the nation’s eyes to just how extent the problem really is.



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