The past week reminded us once again (as if we needed reminding) how racialized American politics has become since Barack Obama became our first African American president four years ago.
For many, President Obama’s historic victory signaled an evident shift toward what some called a “post-racial America.” Even those who rejected such talk conceded that Obama’s election was proof that our nation has grown in a positive direction.
In July, Associated Press reporter Jesse Washington examined the effect that President Obama’s election has had on the nation. According to Washington, shortly before the 2008 election, 56 percent of Americans surveyed by the Gallup organization poll said that race relations would improve if Obama were elected. One day after his victory, 70 percent said race relations would improve and only 10 percent predicted they would get worse.
But once Obama settled into the White House, it became clear that the president’s race — instead of becoming a nonissue in a post-racial era — would become a subtext of his every move and lead many of his opponents to level racially tinged charges against him (e.g., “He was born in Africa,” “He’s a closet Muslim,” “He’s a socialist,” “He’s hates America,” “He hates white people”).
Just this past week alone, the president was described as “a retard” by one high-profile pundit, and accused of “shucking and jiving” by a former vice presidential candidate. Then, after respected Republican statesman Colin Powell again endorsed Obama for president, John Sununu, a surrogate for GOP nominee Mitt Romney, suggested Powell supports Obama because they share the same race. This adds juice to a Washington Post/ABC News poll released on Wednesday that found the 2012 election is turning out to be the most racially polarized presidential contest since 1988.
Now comes word today of a new Associated Press poll that finds racial attitudes have not improved during the four years of Barack Obama’s presidency. In fact, 51 percent of Americans now express explicit anti-black attitudes, compared with 48 percent in a similar 2008 survey.
This leads us to wonder how racial progress might fare under a second term for President Obama. Or, whether things would improve or get worse under a Mitt Romney presidency that, presumably, would not be as haunted by the specter of race the way that President Obama’s has.
What do you think? Has President Obama’s time in office improved or worsened race relations in America?
The column exhibits the most twisted bit of reasoning I’m read all day…. Shame on you….
Ask a similar question. Does letting Black People vote improve race relations?
R U NUTS??
Are we really going to go here? What about the names President Bush was called during his presidency? Here are some of them:
Fascist, war criminal, murderous, racist, etc.
Presidents are going to be called names. If we, as African-Americans, are going to be taken seriously then we need to stop being so sensitive.
Also, most of the opposition the President is receiving is because folks have genuine disagreements with him. To lean on the racism charge is the sign of someone who can’t defend their positions so let’s play the race card. Now these polls come out saying that race relations haven’t improved since our President has come into office. Is this the excuse that will be used if President Obama loses? Could it not be because conditions haven’t improved as the President promised? Could it be that folks are upset he focused on Obamacare first and not jobs? Could it be that many believe that some of his stances and policies are socialistic in nature? Could it be the stances our President has taken on social issues (gay marriage and abortion)?
To try and boil down the troubles our President is facing to racism is small and petty. Is there still racism in our nation? Yes. But our President’s problems are much bigger than this!
I think that his presidency brought to light true race relations in America. Nothing has actually changed.
The black presidency experience has been a good thing in the long term sense because this has pulled the scab off of the improperly healed wound of Racism, White Privilege and the Race Card response that this nation has never clearly dealt with. It is as though an America black president has struck a nerve. Consider accord1.wordpress.com “Strike a Nerve.”
I too had hoped that President Obama’s election would bring some measure of healing to America’s wounds from slavery and segregation. I think many of us pinned too many hopes on one man’s election.
I hope we can maintain a distinction between speculation about President Obama’s motivations (not a wise way to understand any person) and criticism, albeit overheated, of his policies. Anyone can see the racial assumptions in believing that President Obama hates white people, but where is the racially tinged element in accusing him of being a socialist? Socialism has manifested itself mostly in Europe rather than Africa.
I do not believe President Obama is a socialist, or that calling him one helps our political conversation. Let’s remember, though, that many presidents before Obama, including Franklin Delano Roosevelt, have been called socialists. Just as race should not be the “subtext of Obama’s every move,” it should not be seen as the subtext of every criticism directed his way.
Forgive me because i won’t be addressing the topic at hand but what I have to say is related I believe. Here’s my observation: Remembering the words of some Klansmen I saw on at least three different talk shows that were happy to inform “dumb niggers” that they had put down their hoods and crosses, and were now infiltrating every aspect of society from government, to business, to entertainment and every area in between; and seeing a proliferation of hate mongering websites, and the not so thinly veiled racism that continues to be thrown at the president has made me stop and think. I have to wonder: could my friendly local banker, my harmless looking governor, the general of the Armed Forces, or my ever grinning doctor be the Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan? And could the Republican Party be the nesting place for the consummation of their plan to “take back America?” This might be stretching things a bit but the possibility that it’s only a slight stretch is very real, so why is it that the only thing we’re concerned about is”… what am I going to wear to the next concert?”
Would it feel better if he were white and the charges against him were “He was born in Austria,” “He’s a closet Nazi,” “He’s a socialist,” “He’s hates America,” “He hates black people”?
Here are a few problems as I see it:
1. Racism will always exist.
2. Misinformation will always exist.
3. Difference of opinion will always exist.
4. Opportunists will always exist.
5. False dichotomies will always exist.
6. Intellectual slackards will always exist.
7. Poor judgement will always exist.
8. Immorality will always exist.
9. Rules and laws will always exist.
10. Relativism will always exist.
11. Paranoia will always exist.
12. Confusion will always exist.
There’s more of course. But here’s my point: if the real issue at hand is one of these things and we make it about another, we can’t ever have an honest conversation. For his ideology, I think Obama is as sharp as anyone else. I simply don’t agree with his ideology. Some people will say the real reason I don’t agree with him is because he’s black. I won’t waste much of an argument on people like that because I don’t think they really care whether or not I agree with him as long as I vote for him. I sometimes feel like I’m pressured to agree with people I don’t agree with without having been persuaded and with the other person caring less about whether or not I’m persuaded. In my own group I can talk honestly about what I think and agree and disagree based on ideas. That includes people of any race who know me and have already accepted me. When dealing with SOME black folk though, it isn’t that simple. I’ll face criticisms like, “Well, you think that way because you’re white” or “because you’re privileged” etc. Maybe that’s true. But in the meantime if you’re trying to persuade me about something you’re going to have to do better than simply pointing out what color I am and what color you are. Why is what you’re saying right and what I’m saying wrong? Why is what you’re saying better and what I’m saying worse? Persuade me. And don’t just say you’re black and I’m white. I’m not giving any intelligent adult of any race a handicap.
If that’s how I feel, I assume that’s how at least some other white folk feel and not all people will deal with it with the same level of maturity. I think it’s good that we’ve had a black president and I’m optimistic about future race relations. But first we’re going to have to go through some rough periods that force us to grapple with uncomfortable realities.
I didn’t vote for Obama. But I don’t think most people who did voted for him because they agreed with his politics. I think most people voted for him because they felt they had a chance to right a wrong. It wasn’t a political decision. It was a sociological decision. Some people are waking up to their actual disagreements after the fact.
Someone I know said they saw an interview with a black quarterback after he threw an incredible game. For the record, I don’t know if this story is true, but even if it isn’t I think it illustrates something. The reporter, Marv Albert style, asked the QB this question: “So how long have you been a black quarterback?” and then held the mic in front of the guy’s face as he shook his head. Of course, in the form of one question, the reporter was asking two entirely different questions: 1. How long have you been black? 2. How long have you been a quarterback?
To me, that illustrates a major problem, maybe THE major problem, in American race relations. We don’t separate the issues…