A standard mantra from those who want President Barack Obama out of office states that the reasons are policy-driven, not racially-motivated.
But a new Associated Press polls suggests racism is still strong in America and attitudes towards blacks have not improved since the nation elected Obama.
According to the poll, a slight majority of Americans “express prejudice toward blacks” even though some don’t acknowledge their inherent racism.
In fact, racial prejudice in America has increased since 2008 and much of that prejudice is directed towards the man the nation sent to White House four years ago.
The AP used a survey that measures “explicit anti-black attitudes” and found that 51 percent of Americans now harbor such racism. That’s a three point rise in the last four years.
When an “implicit racial attitudes” test is applied, the jump is more dramatic, from 29 percent in 2008 to 56 percent now.
“Having a black President has triggered the inherent racism that lies just below the surface with too many Americans,” psychologist Derek Ingram tells Capitol Hill Blue. “Unfortunately, too much of such bigotry is fueled by the intolerant rhetoric of the right wing in the nation.
Jelani Cobb, professor of history and director of the Institute for African-American studies at the University of Connecticut, told the AP:
We have this false idea that there is uniformity in progress and that things change in one big step. That is not the way history has worked. When we’ve seen progress, we’ve also seen backlash.
Adds Fredrick Harris, director of the Institute for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia University:
Part of it is growing polarization within American society. The last Democrat in the White House said we had to have a national discussion about race. There’s been total silence around issues of race with this president. But, as you see, whether there is silence, or an elevation of the discussion of race, you still have polarization. It will take more generations, I suspect, before we eliminate these deep feelings.
The poll also found an increase in prejudice against Hispanics, rising from 52 percent to 57 percent in just the last year.