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Monday, 29 October 2012 08:38

Racial Prejudice Has Increased During Obama's First Term

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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT                                            BarackObama16

Forget the post-racial society that so many pundits heralded upon the election of Barack Obama to the presidency in 2008.

In fact, Obama's election was met with a "this-is-a-white-nation" backlash from the moment he was elected.  Using coded language that included bizarre allegations of a Kenyan birth certificate, religion ("Obama is a Muslim") and accusations of socialism, a mighty torrent of racially motivated attacks against Obama have been unceasing to this day.

Indeed, a Washington Post article on October 27 contends, on the basis of poll results, that racial prejudice has risen during Obama's term in office:

Racial prejudice has increased slightly since 2008 whether those feelings were measured using questions that explicitly asked respondents about racist attitudes, or through an experimental test that measured implicit views toward race without asking questions about that topic directly.

In all, 51 percent of Americans now express explicit anti-black attitudes, compared with 48 percent in a similar 2008 survey. When measured by an implicit racial attitudes test, the number of Americans with anti-black sentiments jumped to 56 percent, up from 49 percent during the last presidential election. In both tests, the share of Americans expressing pro-black attitudes fell.

The prejudice is not confined to attitudes toward blacks, according to the survey:

Most Americans expressed anti-Hispanic sentiments, too. In an AP survey done in 2011, 52 percent of non-Hispanic whites expressed anti-Hispanic attitudes. That figure rose to 57 percent in the implicit test. The survey on Hispanics had no past data for comparison.

The AP surveys were conducted with researchers from Stanford University, the University of Michigan and NORC at the University of Chicago.

In short, the last four years, instead of moving the nation toward racial harmony, has resulted in increased bias against minorities.

Of course, even before a black man became president, the Republicans exploited the utterly fabricated notion that the taxes of white people were supporting "lazy" minorities.  This has been the basis of GOP anti-government, anti-tax appeals to the white working class since the inauguration of the party's "Southern Strategy" beginning with Nixon.

With a black man as president, the racial stereotyping in relation to government has reached a feverish pitch, since now a member of that minority sits in the White House.

It is somewhat ironic that this increase in the racial divide comes under a president who has done everything possible to avoid appearing to favor minorities: including having no real urban policy in regards to improving the lot of poor blacks and actually increasing the jailing of undocumented Latinos.

As an October 27th opinion piece in the New York Times observes:

But the triumph of “post-racial” Democratic politics has not been a triumph for African-Americans in the aggregate. It has failed to arrest the growing chasm of income and wealth inequality; to improve prospects for social and economic mobility; to halt the re-segregation of public schools and narrow the black-white achievement gap; and to prevent the Supreme Court from eroding the last vestiges of affirmative action.

The once unimaginable successes of black diplomats like Colin L. Powell, Condoleezza Rice and Susan E. Rice and of black chief executives like Ursula M. Burns, Kenneth I. Chenault and Roger W. Ferguson Jr. cannot distract us from facts like these: 28 percent of African-Americans, and 37 percent of black children, are poor (compared with 10 percent of whites and 13 percent of white children); 13 percent of blacks are unemployed (compared with 7 percent of whites); more than 900,000 black men are in prison; blacks experienced a sharper drop in income since 2007 than any other racial group; black household wealth, which had been disproportionately concentrated in housing, has hit its lowest level in decades; blacks accounted, in 2009, for 44 percent of new H.I.V. infections.

Columbia University Professor Frederick C. Harris, the author of the NYT op-ed, further claims, "Mr. Obama has had little to say on concerns specific to blacks. His State of the Union address in 2011 was the first by any president since 1948 to not mention poverty or the poor. The political scientist Daniel Q. Gillion found that Mr. Obama, in his first two years in office, talked about race less than any Democratic president had since 1961. From racial profiling to mass incarceration to affirmative action, his comments have been sparse and halting."

In the Koerner Report that represented the findings of an official government commission that studied the reasons behind the urban riots following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the major conclusion was that America is still two nations: one white and one black.

Since that time in the late 60s a lot has changed in upward mobility for a select group of blacks.  But for the majority of blacks things have not changed very much at all.

And the irony is that with a black president who symbolizes a march from slavery to the White House, the White House is relatively silent about the plight of minorities.  Meanwhile, racially prejudiced whites have bombarded the nation with racist stereotypes and claims to white entitlement over the past four years.

This election may be about many things, but a large part of what it is about is still the unresolved legacy of racial hostility in America that began with slavery.

(Image: Wikipedia)