Citywide survey collects firsthand accounts of racism

by Walt Maguire
Posted 4/9/21

A new civil rights effort is conducting a survey on Philadelphian attitudes and personal encounters with racism.

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Citywide survey collects firsthand accounts of racism


A new civil rights effort is conducting a survey on Philadelphian attitudes and personal encounters with racism.

The Ending Racism Partnership is co-convened by the Urban Affairs Coalition, Independence Blue Cross, and Rev. Dr. Mark Tyler, Pastor of Mother Bethel AME Church. Their goal is to start a community conversation and policy reforms, using the survey as a starting point.

Currently available in English, Spanish and Chinese, the online survey is designed to collect firsthand accounts of perceptions of racism and its impact. It takes less than five minutes to complete. Questions cover the level of experience with racism in business, education, health, criminal justice, housing and the arts; perceptions of racism; personal examples (optional); and suggestions for change. The survey will be open through the end of April and the results will be published in May.

Partnership co-chair Sharmain Matlock-Turner is the President and CEO of the Urban Affairs Coalition.

"On the momentum of a movement, we have a historic opportunity to level the playing field, eliminate barriers, and rewrite unfair processes," said Matlock-Turner. "I believe that, together, we can turn words into action to reach our goal of ending racism once and for all, creating a more equitable Philadelphia."

The Partnership started with a virtual roundtable, "A Blueprint to End Racism," February 26, with 200 participants from the community. Rev. Dr. Mark Tyler, Pastor of Mother Bethel AME Church, opened the event with a sobering comment: “How appropriate to start this conversation on ending racism in Philadelphia, the birthplace of democracy; If we can’t fix it here, it might not be able to be fixed anywhere.”

Their vision statement calls for "an equitable Philadelphia, where laws, policy, and human interaction are governed by a common belief in our shared equality, opportunity, and equal representation, regardless of race, nationality, ethnicity, or color of skin."

The option to share the details of a personal experience (or several) sets this survey apart from a standard survey based on standardized questions. Though incidents of racism are reported in the press, or pursued in legal circles, there are few metrics based on personal, common experience reported on a large scale in Philadelphia. Special attention will be paid to engage the LGBTQIA+ and immigrant communities, but the wider the response group, the more useful the survey will be. Based on the public sentiment polling results, the Partnership will announce next steps for moving ahead on shared priorities.

The survey was designed by Qualtrics, an “experience management” software developer, and will assist in analyzing the results. The Partnership has also received guidance from Pew Charitable Trusts on best practices for distributing the survey to the community.

Like the rest of the country, the past year saw an increase in incidents and a resulting activism throughout the region. The death of Walter Wallace Jr., the use of teargas on protesters last summer, and a nationwide series of events has increased the visibility of local community groups and made reform not only seem more urgent but also more practical and achievable. The Partnership, with the support of Independence Blue Cross, hopes to serve as a big-picture organizer bringing together existing local groups for reforms.

Take the survey until April 30, 2021. More information at


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