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Racism in the United States: The Election of President Barack Obama, Essay Example

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Essay

The election of President Barack Obama in 2008 and again in 2012 appeared to some people to signify the end of racism in the United States. However, in truth, his victory appears to have unleashed a barrage of racism in the country that many people believed had been long gone. A recent article from The New York Times, however, indicated that racial prejudice cost Mr. Obama to lose a significant proportion of white votes. This paper will discuss the fact that despite the victory of an African-American president twice, racist attitudes in America are far from over.

The author of the article, called “Campaign Stops: How Racist Are We?” concluded that despite the fact that President Obama won the popular vote as well as the vast majority of the electoral college, racial hostility caused him to lose many more votes than people realize (Stephens-Davidowitz, 2012.) By developing an instrument that examined Internet searches, which used racially charged search terms; he found that from 2008 onward, the term “Obama” was a prevalent term in racially offensive searches. He also learned that the state with the highest racially charged search rates was West Virginia, and that the next higher percentages were in Pennsylvania, Ohio, upstate New York and southern Mississippi. The author also discovered that the higher the racially charged search rate in any area, the worse Mr. Obama did in the election.

This article did not actually address the history of racism and its legacy in the United States, but specifically President Obama’s performance in both elections in the context of race. The discussion about race focused only on black and white animus; the article draws conclusions about certain areas of the country where there was a concentration of racially prejudiced search terms surrounding the presidential election. This article did not delve into the issue of racism in depth, only looking at election results so that what was missing was any information about the population of people who did not vote for president Obama because of racial prejudice: who were they? Who were the people in those states who did end up voting for President Obama? Have other minority candidates in those states fared better than the president in their elections, or did they even run for office in those states? There were many issues missing from this article, which only address the racial issue from a superficial perspective.

Another article about the president’s victory took a more in-depth look at racism in view of the president’s victory. This article discussed studies which indicated that because of long-held negative stereotypes about African-Americans, such as that most black people are dangerous, dumb, or prefer welfare to work, many people have anti-black prejudice, but are unaware of it (Associated Press, 2012.) These biases, according to the article, exist in people of all backgrounds, not only for white people. This unconscious prejudice has been a part of the history of the United States, it found.

The clear indications that racism has not only disappeared in the United States, but has actually been more overtly expressed since the president’s election were cited in an article by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Hundreds of racially charged incidents involving verbal harassment, physically threatening behaviors, and derogatory racial slurs written on public property have been reported since Obama was elected in 2008 (Keller, 2009.) These clear indications of racism and ignorance make it more important than ever to continue a discussion on racism and discrimination since so many people believe that because we have a black president, racism is over. President Obama did not win the majority of white voters, and it is clear that there has been a backlash against him and other African-Americans after both elections. It is very naïve to think that with the election of Barack Obama, the country has seen the end of racist attitudes; rather, they are alive and well and thriving in certain circles.

References:

Associated Press. (2012, September 9). Racist Politics: Why Can Some People Get over Obama Being Black? Retrieved November 26, 2012, from News One: http://newsone.com/2035230/barack-obama-racism-presidentialelection-2012/

Keller, L. (2009, Spring). Racist Backlash Greets President Obama. Retrieved November 26, 2012, from Southern Poverty Law Center: http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2009/spring/white-heat

Stephens-Davidowitz, S. (2012, July 9). Campaign Stops: How Racist Are We? Retrieved November 26, 2012, from The New York Times: http://campaignstops.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/09/how-racist-are-we-ask-google/

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