AP poll: Majority of Americans harbor prejudice against blacks

Reprinted in its entirety is the AP News report about the Associated Press’ poll about American attitudes towards race. I’m not surprised that a majority of Americans harbor prejudice against blacks. Racism against blacks is embedded in the society, our social policies and in pop culture. Because of media and the internet these negative feelings exist worldwide. Every immigrant and tourist who comes to America was given the same advice at the departure gate: “Beware the blacks.” I’ve heard this repeated to me at various times by Germans, Mexicans, Koreans, Arabs, and West Africans.

If the Romney sycophants and Obama-haters can say that President Obama has failed to lead the nation into a post-partisan era, then I can hang the failure for a “post-racial” on the GOP, the “birthers,” the Tea Party rabble and their corporate puppet masters, the banksters, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Mike Huckabee, Sean Hannity, and rest of the talk radio ditto-heads.

This morning, there was a good discussion regarding the AP poll on Washington Watch with Roland Martin on TVOne. One panelist questioned the timing of the poll’s release and intimated that
it was meant to give whites the okay to vote for Romney. I disagree about the timing of the poll’s release. Given the vitriol of the last four years and the coded racial language emanating from the Mormon elder’s camp, I see the poll as confirming what many African Americans and Americans of conscience have suspected for some time.

It’s no coincide that John Sununu has said the things he has said about President Obama. Sununu epitomizes that the attitudes of second generation Americans trying to fit into the American power structure. As a self-hating Arab Christian — whose family has been run out of two countries only to find sanctuary in America — having to find another minority to step on in order to show his “betters” that the shit given him was unnecessary because he’s one of them.

While General Colin Powell was risking his life in Vietnam and elsewhere so America could
remain the beacon of tolerance and opportunity for ethnic and religious minorities fleeing tyranny and genocide in their
homelands, Sununu was free to build a prosperous and public life. Yet, Sununu feels
free to continuously belittle the President and to now relegate General Powell for all his accomplishments and meritorious national service
to being just another “negro” for supporting President Obama over a “severely” underqualified GOP changeling.

So I’m not surprised by the poll’s findings (or voices like John Sununu). Like some of those Americans polled, I’ll exercise my Second Amendment rights and stock up for my own self-defense. Where the federal firearms transaction record Form 4473 asks my reason for the purchase, I’ll write “the AP News poll on American racial attitudes.”

As you read my words and read through the AP story, I suggest that you “check
yourself!” before trying to deny the painful truth. Otherwise, “E pluribus unum” remains an elusive dream and only useful in trivia games.

Associated Press — Published: 27 October 2012

WASHINGTON — Racial attitudes have not improved in the four years since the United States elected its first black president, an Associated Press poll finds, as a majority of Americans now express prejudice toward blacks whether they recognize those feelings or not.

Those views could cost President Barack Obama votes as he tries for re-election, the survey found, though the effects are mitigated by some people’s more favorable views of blacks.

Racial prejudice has increased slightly since 2008, whether those feelings were measured using questions that explicitly asked respondents about racist attitudes, or through an experimental test that measured implicit views toward race without asking questions about that topic directly.

In all, 51 percent of Americans now express explicit anti-black attitudes, compared with 48 percent in a similar 2008 survey. When measured by an implicit racial attitudes test, the number of Americans with anti-black sentiments jumped to 56 percent, up from 49 percent during the last presidential election. In both tests, the share of Americans expressing pro-black attitudes fell.

“As much as we’d hope the impact of race would decline over time … it appears the impact of anti-black sentiment on voting is about the same as it was four years ago,” said Jon Krosnick, a Stanford University professor who worked with AP to develop the survey.

Most Americans expressed anti-Hispanic sentiments, too. In an AP survey done in 2011, 52 percent of non-Hispanic whites expressed anti-Hispanic attitudes. That figure rose to 57 percent in the implicit test. The survey on Hispanics had no past data for comparison.

The AP surveys were conducted with researchers from Stanford University, the University of Michigan and NORC at the University of Chicago.

Experts on race said they were not surprised by the findings.

“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,” said Jelani Cobb, professor of history and director of the Institute for African-American Studies at the University of Connecticut. “When we’ve seen progress, we’ve also seen backlash.”

Obama has tread cautiously on the subject of race, but many
African-Americans have talked openly about perceived antagonism toward them since Obama took office. As evidence, they point to events involving police brutality or cite bumper stickers, cartoons and protest posters that mock the president as a lion or a monkey, or lynch him in effigy.

“Part of it is growing polarization within American society,” said Fredrick Harris, director of the Institute for Research in
African-American Studies at Columbia University. “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.”

Overall, the survey found that by virtue of racial prejudice, Obama could lose 5 percentage points off his share of the popular vote in his Nov. 6 contest against Republican challenger Mitt Romney. But Obama also stands to benefit from a 3 percentage point gain due to pro-black sentiment, researchers said. Overall, that means an estimated net loss of 2 percentage points due to anti-black attitudes.

The poll finds that racial prejudice is not limited to one group of partisans. Although Republicans were more likely than Democrats to express racial prejudice in the questions measuring explicit racism (79 percent among Republicans compared with 32 percent among Democrats), the implicit test found little difference between the two parties. That test showed a majority of both Democrats and Republicans held anti-black feelings (55 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans), as did about half of political independents (49 percent).

Obama faced a similar situation in 2008, the survey then found.

The AP developed the surveys to measure sensitive racial views in several ways and repeated those studies several times between 2008 and 2012.

The explicit racism measures asked respondents whether they agreed or disagreed with a series of statements about black and Hispanic people. In addition, the surveys asked how well respondents thought certain words, such as “friendly,” ”hardworking,” ”violent” and “lazy,” described blacks, whites and Hispanics.

The same respondents were also administered a survey designed to measure implicit racism, in which a photo of a black, Hispanic or white male flashed on the screen before a neutral image of a Chinese character. The respondents were then asked to rate their feelings toward the Chinese character. Previous research has shown that people transfer their feelings about the photo onto the character, allowing researchers to measure racist feelings even if a respondent does not acknowledge them.

Results from those questions were analyzed with poll takers’ ages, partisan beliefs, views on Obama and Romney and other factors, which allowed researchers to predict the likelihood that people would vote for either Obama or Romney. Those models were then used to estimate the net impact of each factor on the candidates’ support.

All the surveys were conducted online. Other research has shown that poll takers are more likely to share unpopular attitudes when they are filling out a survey using a computer rather than speaking with an interviewer. Respondents were randomly selected from a nationally representative panel maintained by GfK Custom Research.

Overall results from each survey have a margin of sampling error of approximately plus or minus 4 percentage points. The most recent poll, measuring anti-black views, was conducted Aug. 30 to Sept. 11.

Andra Gillespie, an Emory University political scientist who studies race-neutrality among black politicians, contrasted the situation to that faced by the first black mayors elected in major U.S. cities, the closest parallel to Obama’s first-black situation. Those mayors, she said, typically won about 20 percent of the white vote in their first races, but when seeking reelection they enjoyed greater white support presumably because “the whites who stayed in the cities … became more comfortable with a black executive.”

“President Obama’s election clearly didn’t change those who appear to be sort of hard-wired folks with racial resentment,” she said. Negative racial attitudes can manifest in policy, noted Alan Jenkins, an assistant solicitor general during the Clinton administration and now executive director of the
Opportunity Agenda think tank.

“That has very real circumstances in the way people are treated by police, the way kids are treated by teachers, the way home seekers are treated by landlords and real estate agents,” Jenkins said.

Hakeem Jeffries, a New York state assemblyman and candidate for a congressional seat being vacated by a fellow black Democrat, called it troubling that more progress on racial attitudes had not been made. Jeffries has fought a New York City police program of “stop and frisk” that has affected mostly blacks and Latinos but which supporters contend is not racially focused.

“I do remain cautiously optimistic that the future of America bends toward the side of increased racial tolerance,” Jeffries said. “We’ve come a long way, but clearly these results demonstrate there’s a long way to go.

The questions and results for this poll are available at http://surveys.ap.org . A closer look at the results of the 2008 study using the same methodology is available here at http://poq.oxfordjournals.org/content/73/5/943.full.

Tell me why you think Americans still continue to harbor prejudice against blacks. Leave your comment below.

About SquarePegDem

A former state legislator turned NY Post editorial board member, thought-leader, public affairs consultant and commentator, columnist and blogger. Michael has appeared on Al Jazeera America Tonight, NY1/Inside City Hall, FoxNews.com LIVE, YNN/Capital Tonight, The Brian Lehrer Show, The Fred Dicker Show, The Capitol Press Room, and The Daily Show. His op-eds have appeared in the NY Post, City and State, The Legislative Gazette, Bronx Times, The Troy Record, Buffalo News, and the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. To schedule speaking engagements, email FOMB08@GMAIL.COM.
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2 Responses to AP poll: Majority of Americans harbor prejudice against blacks

  1. Pingback: parallels to country’s racist past haunt age of obama « dimitri seneca snowden

  2. Dale Benjamin Drakeford says:

    Agreed and so we vote now for better.

    Dale Benjamin Drakeford

    Where Sam and Sandy sing into the storm
    When Ike and Irene victor above the norm:
    First Responders are first to die.

    We cast the dice to question why
    How birds are lost to flight per whence they fly
    What north winds south-west at who shares vast east:
    Soldiers search in a silent cry.

    We dye the tie the lie some vie
    As sure as babies crap their bib
    For the wealth of that piece of cloth
    speaks well of life and how we live:
    Suggests the path and wins we lose
    Impacts the style of death we choose.

    Little things are not always small:
    Sometimes they dye the tie for all.

    Sometimes it seems Americans want to color things dreadful, accept the inevitable choke-hold of those we elect and choose a quiet death away from the cultural contests that truly decide the quality of life. It is scary, not the way my grapevine produced a single ripe grape suitable for eating on All Hallows Day, but scary the way the masses (say 93%) are in group-think of either/or and I follow that way ideology no matter what. Scary the way the Chancellor of Schools for NYC can contact people at near midnight to give them schedules for the next day and expect that to be considered executive leadership. Scary the way local politicians in the Bronx have yet to demand that Bronx sewers get cleaned out and new planted trees find natural earth instead of cement and asphalt. Scary because such action or inaction have much to do with commonsense (or the lack of it) in public service, everything to do with unnatural people disaster and nothing to do with Mother Nature’s scream personified by Sandy. Cement and asphalt grumble, metaphorically like people, but mother earth allows a healthy deep rooted bond, practical for all human-kind.

    Political Philosopher David Easton wrote long before I had an intelligent thought, that America is in “a battle for scarce resources.” If it was true then, it is not now. America has far more than it can ever use. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. The battle now is how to use what we have. How to monitor those in power so that they do not squander, pillage and deny others. The battle now is to get local politicians to focus on real needs of real people (not just during emergencies, but during the hum drum everyday). The battle is to re-energize the likes of John Lewis not to rest on their laurels. The battle now is to demand that the likes of Charles Rangel cease his fat-cat act and share resources with his constituents beyond what the system will assign regardless of who is in office. The battle now is to recognize the lone-wolf Jose Serrano and the like, and refuse to let them stay alone jaded and impassionate, too comfortable with non-activity. The battle now is to make them lead on the hard local questions. For example, in the Bronx, why after so much print and documented study is the Bronx still the lung loser capital of the world? How come they have not done more? How come they are not screaming in the streets? What exactly are they doing in those halls of legislation? The battle now is to look for independent leaders like Cynthia McKinney (even when they sometimes differ in their perspectives or tactics) who not only go against the grain, but also go with a truth that they can support with data. The battle now is to support Kirsten Gillibrand, Dennis Kucinich, Ron Paul and the like, that have history to prove that they could not care less about party politics, nor more about the law of the land and the welfare of the people in it. To not fight those battles is to dye our land in self-destruct, cast the die to social chaos, tie our future to political clubs, and lie dumb and dormant like “Doris the Doormat” until we die.

    Ghost Walker trod onto The Grey
    Vexed Alfa male in nature’s way
    Great spirit broken by despair
    Willed fearsome beast in flux dismay
    Trapped sheep will make the wolf the prey

    I wrote that little poem when thinking trapped in-doors because of Sandy and watching videos until my eyes cried and reading until they closed. It was inspired by such. It was inspired by watching my neighbor struggle to get the water out of his basement and the way sometimes we just need to get earthy. It was inspired by the author Ghost Walker who I think was saying sometimes human-beings have got to fight their way out of their own superficial skin and comfort zones to survive. When his story was turned into The Grey movie his graphic vision of how an accident can be made a tragedy is terrorizing real. We have seen this in politics too. Gov. Christie cancelled Halloween in NJ. Let it not be rescheduled for November 6.

    We have options. The scary thing is that we act like we do not. We act like we do not have free choice and free speech for things political and economic. We act like we are not allowed to think or reject being doormats for the elected we put in power. The citizenship battle is to expand our energy, get off our knees, and reject the Romney message as undeserving entitlement recipients. Sometimes the public contract requires the sheep to animal up like wolves. Romney, the rich and the like are entitled to their big boats and mansions (and they have the property deeds to document it) but the rest of us are not entitled to a cost-of-living increase (although it was them that made the cost of living go up in the first place). Animal up and eject this and the like.

    Legendary politician Tip O’Neill said “All politics is local politics,” long before I thought politics was something worthy to study. The iconic phrase is still true today, but with an addendum: What matters in New York electrifies in Boston. What inspires in Chicago transfers to Denver. What starts in San Francisco finishes in Detroit. What happens in Las Vegas vibrates in Newark. What crawls in Cheyenne consumes in Charlotte. What warms in Honolulu defrosts in Anchorage. What is created in Hollywood is re-imagined in Calcutta. What is taught in Moscow is learned in Tokyo. What is lost in Paris is found in Peking. What is trouble in Cairo is more trouble in Washington, D.C. and vice versa laterally, horizontally and diagonally. The world is literally smaller, but politically it is almost small. This does not mean simple, but that certain things impact faster and with greater intensity. One such thing is the election of your local (do nothing or do something) leader and another such thing is the election for President of the United States of America.

    Another thing that impacts fast with intensity is corruption. “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” warned Britain’s Lord Acton long before I was conceived. This observation of the human condition ties it all up. Regardless of who gets the power, they must be reminded that they work for us. They must be watched for their service to us. Do not let them turn that around. Be careful not to put one in office that will flip that. Do not let them strip you of your mandate to be an action member of society. Do not let them flop in the things that matter every single day just to show up as media heroes during the times of emergency. This is nonsense. Demand they roll up their sleeves and get earthy and get that sewer cleaned now and not wait for an unexpected tsunami. Do not let supposed leaders flop with weak energy in the wrong direction. They will only if you let them.

    How does one flop in the right direction? Let no one dye your brains as an experiment on the living dead. Let no one tie you to the lie that you are in a contest against yourself. It is scary stuff how the ghosts of Halloween past resurface with old ideas dyed to look new, but always blame you; but you can reverse the trend and scare back. You scare back as an informed active citizen. You scare back showing that you know politics is scary when citizens just go along. It is scary, not just like in Erie, Pennsylvania with a growing poverty rate, but also in Dallas, Texas with the growing fervor to discourage and disparage a certain segment of voters. It is eerie the way Arizona cracks down on immigrants and emigrants and New Mexico protects its borders as if humanitarianism is something out of an NFL playbook to beat the drum for underpaid and over celebrated military personnel doing the job they signed on to do. It is eerie like in how nature’s disaster (global warming) Sandy scares us, but the possibility of unnatural tragedy Romney does not.

    It is eerie how many East Coast citizens (shamefully, including myself) sniffed at the danger of Sandy and how few (happily, not including myself) sniffed at the benefits: clean, clear, crisp and fresh air fully inflating our lungs. Give credit to the candidates for not polluting it during the time of crisis. Credit Romney for his charitable efforts in NJ and the president for licensing FEMA to do its job “without bureaucracy,” Romney for learning he never should have hinted at reducing the FEMA budget on siding with those that would label global warming a hoax, the president for executing, not showboating.

    Does anybody really believe that Sandy hit to give Obama a chance to look presidential? Give the Lord credit for knowing there will be no need for divine intervention. You got this! Look at Obama’s record and know he was already presidential. Give him credit on what came before. Give him credit now for recognizing, “There will be no red tape,” in addressing what people need. Give him your vote because he needs no pretense or platform: He has action and record on his and your side.


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