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Americans Believe Race Relations Deteriorating

Posted by Steve Markowitz on July 23, 2015

A New York Times/CBS poll indicates the deteriorating race relations in America.  Of those who responded, 60%, both black and white, believe race relations are bad with 40% indicating that it has gotten worse since Barack Obama’s election seven years ago.  This is a significant turnaround given that shortly after Obama’s first election approximately 66% of Americans surveyed indicated a belief that race relations were good.

Indicators of America’s poor race relations have been demonstrated through well-publicized events.  Early in Obama’s first term was the incident involving the arrest of African-American professor Henry Gates in Massachusetts, which President Obama commented on national TV as the police acting “stupidly”.  Later came the shooting of Treyvon Martin that was promoted in the media and by some politicians as a race issue.  Then came the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri by a police officer that was initially portrayed in the press as a wrongful and racially motivated shooting leading to significant civil unrest in Ferguson.  The US Department of Justice and a grand jury later determined that Michael Brown was the aggressor and the shooting was justified.

Most recently there has been the civil arrest and significant rioting in Baltimore, Maryland that occurred after the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody.  Six police officers have since been charged and are awaiting trial.  There have been other incidents of African-Americans being shot by police that have also caused strains along racial lines.

The African-American community may have legitimate grievances against some police departments that need to be addressed.  However, this does not explain why race relations have deteriorated in the last seven years, as a New York Times/CBS poll indicates.  Are the police becoming less sensitive to the needs of their local communities?  Are the local communities becoming less tolerant of the police?  Is racism a significant factor in inner cities?  An open discussion on these important questions could only help improve race relations going forward.

After the election of America’s first African-American president, many Americans, irrespective of political philosophies, believed that race relations would improve because of Obama’s election.  The fact that this has not occurred is therefore lost opportunity.  Many factors could be involved with the negative direction of America’s race relations.  At the same time, as president, Barack Obama must accept some responsibility.  It is evident that he overpromised the benefits of his economic policies under which less advantaged Americans have not fared well.  In addition, the President’s rhetoric has placed blame for the failed policies on others including the Congress (Republicans) and by inference wealthier Americans and racism.  This has not led to viable economic solutions, but have instead fanned the flames of racial division.


One Response to “Americans Believe Race Relations Deteriorating”

  1. Foundation for Defense of Democracies

    Americans Believe Race Relations Deteriorating « EnduringSense

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