Poll: Racial Prejudice Has Risen Since 2008

Brendan Smialowski/AFP
Brendan Smialowski/AFP

(The Root) — America is just as prejudiced as it was four years ago — maybe a even a little bit more, says an Associated Press poll released recently.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Racial attitudes have not improved in the four years since the United States elected its first black president, an Associated Press poll finds, as a slight majority of Americans now express prejudice toward blacks whether they recognize those feelings or not.

Those views could cost President Barack Obama votes as he tries for re-election, the survey found, though the effects are mitigated by some people's more favorable views of blacks.

Racial prejudice has increased slightly since 2008 whether those feelings were measured using questions that explicitly asked respondents about racist attitudes, or through an experimental test that measured implicit views toward race without asking questions about that topic directly.

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. In both tests, the share of Americans expressing pro-black attitudes fell.


I remember in 2008 when they announced that race may play a part in the election, and my absolute shock.

Let's be honest here: Things haven't gotten worse since 2008. What's happened is that many people have grown more comfortable expressing their prejudice since everyone was told how much things are so different now. Racism is over! America is a meritocracy! Affirmative action is a problem! So yeah, things seem worse, but in the end we're just being allowed to see what was underneath the surface all along.

There is the rise of voter suppression, a presidential candidate speaking about how blacks want free stuff, his surrogate explaining how a high-profile black Republican is voting for Obama because he's black, another surrogate attempting to force Obama to release his birth certificate and now trying to shame him into showing his school records … I could go on. The point is that obviously prejudice and racism haven't gone anywhere.

But by constantly saying it has gone somewhere, we've allowed it to be more acceptable. America. F—- yeah.

Elon James White is a writer and satirist and host of the award-winning video and radio series This Week in Blackness. Listen Monday to Thursday at 1:30 p.m. EST at TWIB.FM and watch at TV.TWIB.ME/LIVE. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Tumblr.