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Poll: One-third of Americans are always or sometimes accepting of blackface being used in a costume

Posted: 1:29 PM, Feb 11, 2019
Updated: 2019-02-11 14:15:25-05

A new poll from the Pew Research Center provides some insight into how Americans really feel about blackface.

Adult Americans were provided the following statement: "A white person using makeup to darken their skin so they appear to be a different race as part of a Halloween costume ..."

They were then asked to select the answer they personally agree with most. The options were varying degrees of acceptance and included: always acceptable, sometimes acceptable, rarely acceptable, never acceptable, not sure and no answer.

Of the participants presented with the aforementioned statement, 53 percent said it is rarely or never acceptable for a white person to darken their skin so they appear to be a different race as part of a Halloween costume. Conversely, 34 percent, or roughly one-third, said it is always or sometimes acceptable.

When comparing how different races feel about blackface, white people were about twice as likely as black people to say it was always or sometimes acceptable.

When comparing how people of different political affiliations responded, half of Republican or Republican-leaning participants said blackface was always or sometimes acceptable. Of Democrat or Democrat-leaning responders, 68 percent said blackface was rarely or never acceptable.

Another statement the poll gave was "A person wearing traditional dress from a country or culture other than their own as part of a Halloween costume ... " and responders were asked to use the same scale of acceptability as the other statement. Overall, American adults are more accepting of this practice than blackface. Almost 60 percent of those polled said it was always or sometimes acceptable for a person to wear traditional dress from a country or culture other than their own as part of a Halloween costume.

The poll was conducted mostly before and partially during multiple scandals last week as it was discovered that Virginia's Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam's medical school yearbook featured a picture of a man in blackface next to a person in a KKK outfit. Northam also admitted to wearing blackface to a party. Separately, the state's attorney general, Mark Herring, also a Democrat, admitted to wearing blackface to a party in college.

You can read more about the poll here and here .

CNN contributed to this report.