August 26, 2013 — The United States voted for its first black president not once but twice in history-making elections in 2008 and 2012. After the first election in 2008, although I didn’t vote for President Obama, I did feel a certain pride that the country was changing for the better in terms of race relations. What other proof do we need that this country has come a long way since the days before the civil rights movement?
Last week, Lee Daniels, the director of “The Butler” said that he believes that since President Obama has taken office, racial tensions have gotten worse. I saw him interviewed recently on “Charlie Rose” and he talked a lot about racism. He made the comment about racial tensions getting worse on “The Piers Morgan Show,” and I came away from both interviews assuming that he believes that the people who criticize the president, and have since the first day he’s taken office are the problem. No doubt there are some people who cannot accept a black president, but if most people who criticize him are racist, President Obama wouldn’t have gotten elected in the first place.
A recent Gallup poll sort of backs up Daniels’ claim by reporting that one in four Americans believe racial tensions are worse now than they were four years ago. I live on the east coast, where races are relatively tolerant of each other, so this is hard to swallow. Interracial relationships and marriages are common, for example, and intolerance may disappear naturally due to the younger generation who often believe race is a nonissue.
This is not true in every area of the country, however. Where tension has escalated, it often appears that the media plays a big role by focusing on our differences, and trying to create racism where there is none. Last week alone, some of the articles that I came across included “Why White People Don’t Have Black Friends,” and “The Politics of Being Friends with White People.”
Still, we can’t blame the media for everything. We have to point the finger at ourselves because we ultimately make the decision about how we feel about people. Here’s a startling glimpse at how we feel right now, according to a recent Rasmussen Reports National Telephone Survey from April:
- Thirty-seven percent of American adults think most black Americans are racist, while 15 percent believe most white Americans are racist, and 18 percent say the same about Hispanic Americans. Overall, 30 percent of Americans believe race relations in the U.S. are good or excellent, while 14 percent describe them as poor, and 29 percent believe they are getting better.
What can we do to improve racial relations? Do we continue to educate our children to believe that we are equal? Do we teach them by example how to get along with those of different races? Do we create more diversity programs?
Perhaps the most important questions of all: What is wrong with us? Why can’t we get along?