“Racial prejudice in America is more widespread now than when President Barack Obama became the country’s first black president in a historic 2008 vote, a new survey has shown.
In a poll of racial attitudes by the Associated Press news agency, researchers found that more Americans have attitudes that are both implicit and explicitly racist than when the same survey was conducted four years ago.
The news comes as Obama is deadlocked in a tight race for re-election against Republican challenger Mitt Romney and surveys have shown strong support for Obama among minorities while white voters favour Romney.
In all, 51% of Americans now express explicit anti-black attitudes, compared with 48% four years ago, the study showed.
When measured by an implicit racial attitudes test, the number of Americans with anti-black sentiments jumped to 56%, up from 49% during the last presidential election.
A majority of Americans expressed anti-Hispanic sentiments, too.
In an AP survey done in 2011, 52% of non-Hispanic whites expressed anti-Hispanic attitudes. That figure had risen to 57% in the implicit test in 2012.”
We know that bad economies tend to increase racial prejudice against minorities from the dominant group (see: Greece, Golden Dawn) but in the case of the US, that is not the whole story. When looking for further explanations, this is what the article had to say:
“Though race has not been played an especially high profile in the election campaign so far America, like many societies, still struggles with racism.
During his four years in office Obama has repeatedly had to contend with untrue rumours that he is a Muslim or was not born in America – a phenomenon of fear of “the other” that some link to his being a black American.”
Wow. And that’s it. Who spread these rumors? Apparently, the Guardian has no idea and did not investigate. It was not just “untrue rumours”, it has been a non-stop barrage of racist bile carefully organized and structured, and cheer-led by right-wing media, steadily, for the past four years. And this torrent of racism has completely been part of the election campaign. It takes a solid amount of denial (maybe thought to be moderate, “objective” writing) to ignore all that.
From the creation of the Tea party, which was never a grassroot enterprise, to the Glenn Beck rallies, to the first posters of Obama as witch doctor (with bone across the nose) to Obama as The Joker, to death panel, to feature films, the right-wing, left moribund after the 2008 election, found its second life by tapping directly and explicitly into racist rhetoric, hiding behind the ironic justification that having a black president meant racism was no longer an issue in the US.
The story that needs to be told is that, not the “neutral” report of statistics showing an increase in racist views. Racism never went away, it just go bolder, better funded and promoted (the Tea Party is a Koch Brothers production, promoted by Fox News).
But the figures in the study should not let us forget the never-disappearing damage done by institutional racism, more invisible but just as devastating:
“Authorities in east Mississippi run a “school-to-prison pipeline” that locks up students for infractions like flatulence or wearing the wrong color socks, a policy that mainly affects black and disabled children, the U.S. Justice Department said Wednesday in a federal lawsuit.
The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Jackson says officials in the city of Meridian and Lauderdale County have policies that allow students to be arrested and shipped 80 miles to a juvenile detention center without probable cause or legal representation.
The school district has about 6,000 students, with 86 percent being black and 12 percent being white. From 2006 to the first semester of the 2009-2010 school year, all the students referred to law enforcement or expelled were black and 96 percent of those suspended were black, the lawsuit said.”
Racism in the US is a deep, entrenched and multi-layered phenomenon. The increase in individual racism has social roots, be they historical and institutional racism, or as manufactured and funded phenomenon that benefit certain powerful segment of the population.
Also see my comrade-in-cranky-sociology Todd Krohn on this.