Tuesday, September 23, 2008

America's Racial Divide Still Exists

For observers of and participants in history it would be tough to not recognize that the United States has made much progress in recent decades as it pertains to race relations and equality. Racial diversity in the U.S. increases each year, more ethnic minorities are represented in esteemed professions and, for the first time in our nation's history, a black man has a serious short at becoming president. However, a new poll shows that racial division among blacks and whites still exists in many sectors of society.

In conjunction with Stanford University, the Associated Press and Yahoo! News conducted a survey to poll the opinions of how whites view blacks and vice versa. As reported on by the AP's Charles Babington, here are a few notable findings from the report:
"[The study] shows that a substantial portion of white Americans still harbor negative feelings toward blacks. It shows that blacks and whites disagree tremendously on how much racial prejudice exists, whose fault it is and how much influence blacks have in politics. One result is that Barack Obama's path to the presidency is steeper than it would be if he were white.
More whites apply positive attributes to blacks than negative ones, and blacks are even more generous in their descriptions of whites. Racial prejudice is lower among college-educated whites living outside the South. And many whites who think most blacks are somewhat lazy, violent or boastful are willing or even eager to vote for Obama over Republican John McCain, who is white.
The poll, however, shows that blacks and whites see racial discrimination in starkly different terms. When asked "how much discrimination against blacks" exists, 10 percent of whites said "a lot" and 45 percent said "some." Among blacks, 57 percent said "a lot" and all but a fraction of the rest said "some."
Asked how much of America's existing racial tension is created by blacks, more than one-third of white respondents said "most" or "all," and 9 percent said "not much." Only 3 percent of blacks said "most" or "all," while half said "not much at all." One in five whites have felt admiration for blacks "very" or "extremely" often. Seventy percent of blacks have felt the same about whites.
The poll may surprise those who thought Obama's appeal to young voters proves Americans in their 20s and 30s are clearly less racially biased than their parents. The survey found no meaningful differences among age groups in whites' perceptions of blacks, although older whites appear more likely to discuss their views."
That last line is very intriguing. What it may indicate is that although there seems to be a lot of development in how the average European American views African Americans, individuals may have learned to simply not be as vocal about their negative feelings since they are generally not as accepted in mainstream society as in the past. Progress has certainly taken place, but we surely have a long way to go.

Thanks to my friend, Troy, for sending along the article.

No comments: