"Racism/Incident at Little Rock".)
I lived the first 19 years of my life before the civil rights laws were passed, and I vividly remember the incident pictured above from my childhood. It occurred when the government tried to enforce the Brown vs.Board of Education decision of the Supreme Court (which unanimously held that separate schools were "inherently unequal") at Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. Nine exceptionally brave young African-Americans tried to enroll at the high school, but were turned back by a rabid crowd of white monsters and a racist governor. President Eisenhower finally had to send in the 101st Airborne troops to get the students enrolled and to protect them.
I, and many others, had hoped the United States had progressed in the 55 years since the Little Rock incident. After all, we have had a series of civil rights laws passed, affirmative action has integrated African-Americans into our society a bit more, and we have even elected an African-American as president. Some even said the election of President Obama showed the country was entering a "post-racial" era. Most of us knew that was not true, but we still hoped it showed that progress was being made. Unfortunately, it just seemed to give the racists an impetus to once again publicly exhibit their hideous views (just look at the signs exhibited at any teabagger gathering).
While some progress has been made legally, not nearly enough progress has been made in changing the views of the American public. This is verified by a two-part survey by the Associated Press. This survey studied both explicit (overt) racism and implicit (hidden) racism. The explicit racism was uncovered in a poll done by AP/GfK, done by surveying 1,071 adults between August 30th and September 11th of this year. The implicit racism was uncovered with research conducted by researchers from Stanford University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Chicago. The results of this two-pronged effort was not encouraging.
First, the explicit racism. While these people may claim not to be racist, the views they express clearly show this is not true. This group of racists include slightly more than half of the United States population -- about 50.9%. Think about that. More than half of the people in this country still hold openly racist views! And instead of decreasing, this segment of the population seems to be growing. The same poll done in 2008 had pegged the explicit racists at 47.6% -- a growth of 3.3 percentage points in the last four years.
And the figures for implicit racism are even worse. In 2012, about 55.7% of the population exhibited an implicit (or hidden) racism. This is a 6.4 percentage point growth since 2008, when 49.3% of the population exhibited this implicit racism trait. This seems to show that, instead of marking our entry into a post-racial period, the election of an African-American president has actually increased the racism in America.
One of the more interesting aspects of this study is the difference in racist attitudes along the political spectrum. Democrats are significantly less racist than Republicans, and Independents fall between those two groups. Here are the numbers:
Explicit Racism - 2008
Explicit Racism - 2012
The levels of implicit racism between the political groups showed them to be a little closer, but still showed significant growth of this type of racism in the last four years. Here are those numbers:
Implicit Racism - 2008
Implicit Racism - 2012
Frankly, I find this report very disturbing. It shows that this is still a country with a serious problem of racism -- with at least half of the population still harboring both explicit and implicit racist views. We have not made nearly as much progress in the last 55 years as some of us had hoped -- and we still have a long way to go before we can put the pernicious disease of racism behind us.
Be ashamed America. Be very ashamed.