Sunday, June 22, 2008

3 in 10 Americans Admit to Race Bias

From the Washington Post today...

As Sen. Barack Obama opens his campaign as the first African American on a major party presidential ticket, nearly half of all Americans say race relations in the country are in bad shape and three in 10 acknowledge feelings of racial prejudice, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Lingering racial bias affects the public's assessments of the Democrat from Illinois, but offsetting advantages and Sen. John McCain's age could be bigger factors in determining the next occupant of the White House.

Overall, 51 percent call the current state of race relations "excellent" or "good," about the same as said so five years ago. That is a relative thaw from more negative ratings in the 1990s, but the gap between whites and blacks on the issue is now the widest it has been in polls dating to early 1992.

More than six in 10 African Americans now rate race relations as "not so good" or "poor," while 53 percent of whites hold more positive views. Opinions are also divided along racial lines, though less so, on whether blacks face discrimination. There is more similarity on feelings of personal racial prejudice: Thirty percent of whites and 34 percent of blacks admit such sentiments.

At the same time, there is an overwhelming public openness to the idea of electing an African American to the presidency. In a Post-ABC News poll last month, nearly nine in 10 whites said they would be comfortable with a black president. While fewer whites, about two-thirds, said they would be "entirely comfortable" with it, that was more than double the percentage of all adults who said they would be so at ease with someone entering office for the first time at age 72, which McCain (R-Ariz.) would do should he prevail in November.

Even so, just over half of whites in the new poll called Obama a "risky" choice for the White House, while two-thirds said McCain is a "safe" pick. Forty-three percent of whites said Obama has sufficient experience to serve effectively as president, and about two in 10 worry he would overrepresent the interests of African Americans.

Obama will be forced to confront these views as he seeks to broaden his appeal. He leads in the Post-ABC poll by six percentage points among all adults, but among those who are most likely to vote, the contest is a tossup, with McCain at 48 percent and Obama at 47 percent.

His campaign advisers hope race may prove a benefit, that heightened enthusiasm among African Americans will make Obama competitive in GOP-leaning states with large black populations. But to win in November, Obama most likely will have to close what is now a 12-point deficit among whites. (Whites made up 77 percent of all voters in 2004; blacks were 11 percent, according to network exit polls.)

I'd like to address the issues of the gap as far as race relations between blacks and whites. It seems to me that as far as race relations blacks aren't going to be happy with the state of things. Certainly there are those whites who despite their best efforts aren't going to be able to relate well. There are certainly reasons for that.

Race is obviously an uncomfortable issue. My observations is that blacks don't mind talking about it perhaps more likely amongst themselves and it possible that some might bring it up in an unusual circumstance. Say for example with their white co-workers at lunch or around the water cooler. And sometimes that individual might be defensive although they may not have a great reason to be defensive.

Of course there are those who might have some goofy ideas about race relations. I saw a very dreadlocked, afrocentric black male who said that if there were no white people we wouldn't have problems with race relations. There are those who might see the institutions blacks have built up over the years such as HBCUs, United Negro College Fund, black greek organizations, churches, and probably some other things not easily quantified as racist. Some see the double standard in allowing blacks the ability to base their organizations and what not on race.

Of course I can always argue these institutions existed way before America supposedly became a color blind society. Furthermore it could be argued for example if the United Negro College fund is racist because it's basis is to help blacks students get into college, then why not be up in arms about a so-called United Caucasian College Fund. At the same time it could be said that for whites there are already scholarship opportunities and certainly more creative than using a specific race as the basis for it.

Fact is race is still a touchy subject. People can use it as a means to offend or even worse to generalize. When that happens how can anybody be comfortable?

I don't consider myself an Obama supporters but I will give the Senator credit for breaking some barriers. He is the first man of color to actually win a major party nomination for President of the United States. His campaign isn't exactly seen as a race based on although there are those who through their own reasoning might see it that way. And at that only because of his funny name and his skin color.

Here's more from the article...

Many think Obama has the potential to transform current racial politics. Nearly six in 10 believe his candidacy will shake up the racial status quo, for better or worse. And by nearly 3 to 1, those who think Obama's candidacy will affect race relations said it will have a positive impact. (Four in 10 said it probably will not make much of a difference.)

African Americans are much more optimistic than whites on this score: Sixty percent said Obama's candidacy will do more to help race relations, compared with 38 percent of whites. Two-thirds of those supporting him for president think it will improve the situation.

But sorting out the impact of these and other racial attitudes on the presidential election is not straightforward.

About a fifth of whites said a candidate's race is important in determining their vote, but Obama does no worse among those who said so than among those who called it a small factor or no factor.

Nor are whites who said they have at least some feelings of racial prejudice more or less apt to support Obama than those who profess no such feelings.

Race is important in determining in a vote. I would say that's unfortunate and for me his race is less important as his record. I would want some evidence that the Senator is a leader in addition to some form of executive experience. Indeed the vague concept of uniting Americans whatever that entails. Race wouldn't be factor for me though it's disappointing that it's a factor for some. Even worse if Obama does lose in November, his campaign could make it an issue of his race that he lost that election. That would be an unfortunate excuse.

Another excerpt...
Obama has some convincing to do among the 29 percent of whites who fall into the scale's lowest category. (Twenty-one percent were in the top grouping, 50 percent in the middle.) Almost six in 10 whites in the low-sensitivity group see him as a risky choice, and a similar percentage said they know little or nothing about where he stands on specific issues. Nearly half do not think his candidacy will alter race relations in the country; 20 percent think it will probably make race relations worse.
Yeah not sure if his campaign should be based upon changing race relations in this country. Even so the symbolism shouldn't be lost upon Obama either. Go read the whole article when you get the opportunity.

1 comment:

Michael L. Gooch said...

Concerning race bias in the business world; Let’s all go out and hire a chief diversity officer and create a cultural council to help promote inclusiveness or maybe, just maybe we could apply the ancient wisdom: “There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28. Sad to say, this ancient truth is nowhere to be seen in the modern American arena. Do we discriminate against blacks? What a strange world that we still have issues regarding discrimination. Like sexual harassment, the true victims rarely report it while the abused suffer in silence. This is a problem. Huge Problem. In my book, Wingtips with Spurs, http://www.amazon.com/Wingtips-Spurs-Michael-L-Gooch/dp/1897326882/
I devote a chapter to discrimination and how it is often over-looked or swept into a dark corner. And yes, it still exists in modern America. While we pour more stupid laws into the books to prevent such painful actions, we fail to fix the real problem, that is, the root. In addition, we have been conditioned by lawyers to believe that legal and moral are the same thing. So sad. Whenever a human is treated differently than the masses, we should take a cold, hard look at the situation. A hard look indeed. Maybe even the mirror. Michael L. Gooch, SPHR Author of Wingtips with Spurs: Cowboy Wisdom for Today’s Business Leaders http://www.michaellgooch.com

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