When President Obama was elected, millions of Americans wondered whether the country’s long history of racial turbulence was finally over. But many people, particularly some well-known African-American leaders, were quick to say: It’s a nice thought, but don’t count on it.
And it seems they were right.
A solid majority of Americans outwardly express prejudice toward black Americans, according to a recent poll by the Associated Press. It didn’t matter whether the questions asked were explicit or implicit about racial attitudes; more Americans are prejudiced toward blacks since Obama took office in 2008.
And more have anti-Hispanic attitudes, too, according to the poll.
Disappointing? Yes. Surprising? A little.
But the signs have been apparent for awhile. The Southern Poverty Law Center has reported an increase in the number of Neo-Nazi and white-extremist groups.
We’ve seen the president dogged by questions about his citizenship through much of his term. The prevalence of coded language, referring to him as the community organizer, food stamp, and welfare president, draws little protest from Republicans.
And just days ago, Senator John Sununu said General Colin Powell’s endorsement of Obama for a second term was, like that of many African-Americans, racially motivated.
Maybe the rise of racism is a response to a slow economic recovery that hasn’t been kind to working-class white males. Or maybe the country is coming to terms with a population that is increasingly diverse; a future where whites could someday be a minority is not the America many envision.