A new Associated Press poll finds a disturbing rise in anti-black sentiment in the US over the last four years.
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.
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).
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.
I suspect that the extreme rhetoric used by those to discredit Obama, to portray him as the ‘undeserving other’, has something to do with this rise, coupled with the attacks on the 47% and the ‘food stamp’ dog whistles. If he is re-elected and thus becomes ineligible to run again, I wonder if the rhetoric will die down or if the racism has become so pervasive that it will continue. I suspect the latter. After all, the right hated Bill Clinton with a passion too (even though he was, like Obama, a center-right politician) and the moves to impeach him came during his second term.