This isn’t surprising at all:
Twenty-seven percent (27%) now say black-white relations are getting worse, up 10 points from July 2009, while 33% think they’re staying about the same. (To see survey question wording, click here.)
African-Americans are much more pessimistic than whites. Thirty-nine percent (39%) of whites think black-white race relations are getting better, but just 13% of blacks agree.
It seems to me to make perfect sense that African-Americans are more pessimistic than white people about the status of race relations. Imagine for a second you are black, and look back at the last few years.
A completely qualified black man is a candidate for President, and you endure a grueling primary season where all sorts of shit is dredged up. Crazy black preacher! Kenyan! Black churches! Is he black enough? Is he too black? White people won’t vote for him! He doesn’t think like us! Pals around with terrorists! Secret Muslim! And on and on.
Despite all of that, Obama prevails, and there is a huge sigh of relief in black communities around the nation- finally, a black man can be President! People have a wave of optimism.
And then half the country and the party that represents them completely and totally loses their shit. A guy who on a good day is slightly to the left of Olympia Snowe is now some crazy radical Muslim who who is doing favors for the Black Panthers while shelling money to Acorn. And the worthless shitheads in the media just run with it- “Look- black people suck so much and are so stupid, you can go into their community help centers dressed as a pimp and try to sell white girls!”
Email lists run overboard with Obama dressed up as a witch doctor with a bone through his nose, jokes about no longer being able to call it the White House, and who knows what else make the rounds. Angry white mobs gather around the country screaming about, well, whatever the wurlitzer has them fired up about on any given day. But really, we are told- they are just worked up about deficits. Shirley Sherrod gets smeared. Basically any time black people are in the news for the last year and half, they were being smeared by Fox news and the wingnutosphere.
On top of that, the President is also receiving a level of intra-party scrutiny and attacks that is unprecedented in modern times. There literally has been no honeymoon for this President, as his own party has been after him from day one. This is in large part due to the tensions of the last decade, the rise of the internet and the cable news need for constant shouty types, but if you are black, you might be sitting around wondering “Why the fuck is President Obama getting this much shit from his own team?”
And finally, the economic situation, which has always been dismal for the African-American community, is now ATROCIOUS. Jamelle Bouie had an interesting piece up the other day responding to someone who wonder why the black community in the South doesn’t protest the Confederacy bullshit more. The answer was basically “we’re too fucking hungry and poor to worry about it.” So what you have is a black community that is always, even in good economic times, suffering from staggering unemployment, poverty, and incarceration, but now in this economic downturn they are in a full blown depression, and they turn on the tv and all they hear is elderly white men telling us that food stamps and welfare queens are the real problem.
So, yeah. Not real hard to figure out why the African-American community might be slightly less optimistic now than they were a couple years ago. I know we aren’t very good in this country at putting ourselves in other people’s shoes, but this one is not too hard to see, if you just look.