Racial profiteering is prevalent in American society, and sadly, before Rev. Al Sharpton & Co. stoked the fires of hatred during the Zimmerman trial, race relations in America were improving.
Before the announcement of the “not guilty” verdict, Gallup had found about half of blacks – 52% – were feeling dissatisfied with the way blacks are treated in the U.S. In contrast, 47% of black Americans were satisfied. While the gap is still negative, these views are significantly better than what Gallup found from 2001 through 2008, before Barack Obama became the first black U.S. president.
The election of Barack Obama – the nation’s first black president – had a profoundly positive impact on black perceptions, dropping just over 12% since Obama was elected. That is not to say there was not dissatisfaction, but even though “strong views” are a bit more pronounced, the trend is still clear.
Measuring views of intensity, many more blacks are “very dissatisfied” juxtaposed to “very satisfied” – 22% vs. 9% – but the deeply negative perception is at a low point relative to the prior decade. Perhaps this is a bit superficial, however, it is clear that President Obama did have quite a lot to be proud of in this area. Unfortunately, we can all but declare that this trend will either be reversed or at least arrested, and that is a travesty.
Taking into account other surveys, both from Gallup and others, we can dig a little deeper into the status of race relations, or at least before the circus trial. How does black perception differ from the perceptions of white and non-white Hispanic Americans?
Blacks’ views on this question differ with those of whites and Hispanics. Whites and Hispanics are largely satisfied with how they believe blacks are treated in American society – 67% and 61% respectively – but Hispanics are more positive about the treatment of blacks now more so than they were from 2001-2008. Whites’ views haven’t changed significantly since Gallup began asking the question.
That would not surprise those who subscribe to Coulter’s theory, which holds that the OJ verdict ended white guilt over the treatment of black Americans in the past. Indeed, the highest measurement – 68% – of Americans saying black-white relations would always be a problem was measured in 1995, shortly after a California jury found O.J. Simpson “not guilty” – despite overwhelming evidence – of murdering Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman.
To find where deep emotions are simmering, we can additionally look at a pair of recent Rasmussen surveys pre-trial found that both Hispanics and whites viewed blacks as more racist than other races, but 64% thought that we could have an honest discussion about race in this country. Other races clearly observe the double standard and black unwillingness to outweigh prejudice with facts in each case. These results mirror those of the Gallup Minority Rights and Relations poll, conducted June 13-July 5, and completed before last week’s verdict in the George Zimmerman trial.
As we can see below, the observable positive trend among Americans who are optimistic that a “solution will be worked out” was clearly on the uptick prior to the trial despite the recognitions of the prior mentioned realities. In fact, aside from the perceived race-based OJ verdict, the trend had not been on the decline since the horrific assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Measurements, prior to the verdict, were on par with sentiments in December 1963, one month after John F. Kennedy’s assassination and four months after Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
Also, while relatively few whites and Hispanics reported that they are “very satisfied” with the treatment of blacks, the intensity gap is optimistic, with more reporting they were very satisfied than “very dissatisfied.” Interestingly, Hispanic perceptions are similar to black Americans for themselves, yet they do not feel that black treatment is as bad as they think it is. Among Hispanics, 51% are satisfied and 49% are dissatisfied with the treatment of U.S. Hispanics.
In other words, it not as bad for you as it is for me? Looks to be the case, unfortunately. In fact, while much is made now of the relations between white and blacks, black and Hispanic relations are the least positive in the country. Even still, race relations in America were improving across the spectrum before the circus in Florida, an enormous problem for those who make a living off of poor racial relations.
As I stated in my election analysis surrounding the new census data, the Hispanic turnout did not reelect Barack Obama, but black turnout, specifically black women, did. It doesn’t surprise me in the least to see that there is a 24% gap between black men and black women, with a majority of black men expressing satisfaction by a 12% margin 54% – 42%, and 12% margin among black women who express dissatisfaction by 57% – 45%.
While young and middle-aged black men are more likely than those who are 55 and older to be satisfied with their treatment in society, young black women are the least satisfied, and the trend in sentiment between men and women holds despite age.
I will confidently go out on a limb to claim it is clear the Zimmerman verdict will force Americans to re-evaluate their views of race relations, and in the short-term will sour those relations. It is less clear what the implications will be in the long-term. There is absolutely precedent for a significant short-term change in perceptions of race relations i.e., after the O.J. Simpson murder trial. However, according to Gallup, that was a much higher-profile case than the Zimmerman case.
Last year, shortly after Martin was killed, 61% of Americans said they were following the news about the story closely, roughly average for a news story in Gallup’s records. At that time, blacks were much more likely than whites to be following the case, and much more likely to believe race was a factor in Martin’s death. That would certainly suggest that it probably would do so more to sour views among blacks than among whites.
What we can conclude for sure, is that racial profiteers had an enormous incentive to stick their fingers into the nation’s racial wounds to keep them from healing, which clearly that was the direction we were moving in as a country. Bill O’Reilly, over the last couple of days, had made the claim that the media are also enormously invested in souring racial relations in America, and it appears that the data adds validity to that claim.
That being said, the evidence from both trials taken in concert with black perceptions on each case demonstrates that race-mongers, such as Rev. Al Sharpton, have been effective in their efforts. However, It is apparent that white America, through the media and other venues, are largely responsible for allowing their success. When allowed to rectify race relations in America, the people themselves are clearly capable of repairing damages done by elites, but they are not allowed.
Help Us Stand Up To Rev. Al Sharpton!
Institute for Educating Civil Society