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Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > Palabra Final > Diversity > New poll searching for racial bias in America reveals subtle feelings run deep on both sides of the questions

New poll searching for racial bias in America reveals subtle feelings run deep on both sides of the questions

LatinaLista — As much as some of us would like to think that this election is all about the issues, there’s no denying that a major issue for a lot of voters boils down to black versus white.

In fact, the issue has become such a hot topic that there are reports that at the London and South African book fairs, a new e-book titled “America the Racist?” gained some unprecedented interest.
It seems the rest of the world wants to know as much as Americans if we can shed our prejudices and actually vote for a person of color.
Unfortunately, that will be a question that will continue to haunt the world until the polls close in November.
In the meantime, we will have to suffer through poll after poll that will attempt to gauge our feelings to predict our actions in the booths.
The latest poll, a Washington Post-ABC News survey, claims that 3 in 10 Americans admit to racial bias.
That’s not surprising, nor new. In fact, most analysts on the topic of race would probably believe the number is higher than that because not too many Americans like to admit they have hang-ups about race.
Yet, what was a more interesting revelation of the poll were two questions that show there is an inherent racial lens that the media looks through and probably needs to wipe clean before a clear picture gauging the public’s racial barometer can be measured.


In the poll, the question read:

When it comes to representing the interests of [ITEM] do you think that as president Obama would do too much, too little or about the right amount? (IF TOO MUCH OR TOO LITTLE) Is that a big concern to you, or not a big concern?

The two items for Obama were: African Americans and Middle Class Americans.
The same question for McCain contained the items: Large business and Middle Class Americans.
If this survey is to be fair, then all three items should have been presented to those surveyed, but by differentiating along racial lines in the questioning it seems that there is an implication planted that because Obama is black people would expect him to overrepresent their interests over everyone else’s.
And for whatever reason that appears more ominous than representing the interests of large businesses.
Zeroing in on what makes a particular candidate different has long been a media tactic. It is said that when John F. Kennedy ran for office the media asked the same about how much influence the Catholic Church would have in the Oval Office.
By planting such a connection, it makes the candidate appear less reliable to be a President for ALL the people. Somehow, big business and ethnic and religious groups just aren’t on equal footing in people’s minds. Could be because big business doesn’t have a human face to it.
However, if there is truly something to be gleaned from this poll on how voters will vote come the fall, it may be the answer to the question: Do you think Obama’s candidacy will do more to (help) or more to (hurt) race relations in this country, or won’t it make much of a difference?
Whites: 38% said it would help.
Blacks: 60% said it would help.
Now, why wouldn’t more whites see a black president as being more of a help with race relations, especially if he’s the first black president in the history of this country?
It just might be because they can’t see him in the White House.
You think?

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Comment(18)

  • Avatar
    Frank
    June 23, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    Gee if 3 out of 10 Americans admit to racial bias, that means that 7 out of 10 don’t! What are we looking for? A perfect world? We have come a long ways baby as the saying goes but racism will always be with us in one form or another just to a lot lesser degree than 50 or so years ago. Of course all the focus is on white racism while the new and emerging racism is among another ethnic group.
    In the case of Obama, I would say NO he won’t help racial relations in this country because he is a racist himself. So we exchange white racism for black racism instead? Big deal! Put up a black man like Colin Powell and he would surely get my vote!
    Obama will more than likely be elected so how can one claim that white racism might come into play when whites are the overwhelming majority in this country? He can’t get elected with just the minority vote and all the polls say he is leading by a big margin over McCain (the white guy, lol).

  • Avatar
    Frank
    June 23, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    Here is what you conveniently left out of the article, Marisa:
    At the same time, there is an overwhelming public openness to the idea of electing an African American to the presidency. In a Post-ABC News poll last month, nearly nine in 10 whites said they would be comfortable with a black president. While fewer whites, about two-thirds, said they would be “entirely comfortable” with it, that was more than double the percentage of all adults who said they would be so at ease with someone entering office for the first time at age 72, which McCain (R-Ariz.) would do should he prevail in November.

  • Avatar
    Mike in NYC
    June 23, 2008 at 7:27 pm

    “It seems the rest of the world wants to know as much as Americans if we can shed our prejudices and actually vote for a person of color.”
    I’m not convinced that this is what “the rest of the world” thinks.
    Most of the world is racist, in the sense of putting their own kind first. It’s only when whites do it that it’s considered evil.
    Asians, for example, who are literally one half of the world’s population, tend to have a decidedly negative view of blacks. So they would probably view a white voting for a black as being weak or self-hating.
    And I wouldn’t be able to say that I disagree with them.

  • Avatar
    Marisa Treviño
    June 23, 2008 at 8:45 pm

    No Frank, didn’t leave it out. Just didn’t find it as valid as the other one I mentioned.

  • Avatar
    Teresa
    June 23, 2008 at 11:04 pm

    Personally, I did not see Barack Obama as a popsicle or hard candy; you know, a flavor or a color.
    Anyone who cannot appreciate Barack Obama’s gift for, and ability of speech giving must be deaf.
    The initial negative question that came to my mind about Barack Obama was due to the reaction expressed by Susan Rice about Geraldine Ferraro’s statement; about Barack Obama being lucky to be who he is.
    It was alright for the media and supporters to talk about “the first” African American.
    But, Geraldine Ferraro was called a racist?
    Oh, Come now.
    Then when Barack Obama was questioned about his Pastor’s seemingly less- than-loving religious sermons; Barack said he was not in the church, nor had he ever heard his Pastor speak those words.
    Okay, maybe Barack exaggerated his close relationship with Rev. Wright in his book, to squash any concern about his faith, and who he is because he has a “funny” name. (?)
    Hey, I’m open-minded.
    But then Barack Obama gave that Pennsylvania speech, in which he included Geraldine Ferraro; he compared it to/noted that his “white grandmother” said less than favorable things about “black men on the street”.
    So, Barack Obama also implied that Geraldine Ferraro is a racist.
    Yet, in the same speech, Barack Obama said he could no more denounce his Pastor or his community, than his “white grandmother”. (?)
    It was Barack Obama who said the race should not be about ‘race’, and that he is a unit-er?
    In my opinion, Barack Obama did not exhibit fair-mindedness,honesty or his ability to unite.
    Barack Obama’s skin “color” was not a detriment to him or a concern of mine.
    I found Barack Obama and his wife Michelle interesting to listen to.
    Racism has become such a an issue because of:
    – Barack Obama/ his campaign people crying racism unfairly,
    – John Lewis switching from endorsing Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama because of race,
    -Congressman James Clyburn expressing concern about what might happen if the nomination was “stolen” from Barack Obama by the super-delegates, but not having the same concern about the “theft” from Hillary Clinton,
    -The media.
    I think race has become unfairly polorized /focused on.
    Is it possible that people just don’t want to vote for a candidate because they either don’t like, trust or believe in that candidate.
    Just because someone is African American and you don’t vote for that person does not have anything to do with race.
    If you do not vote for Barack Obama, you are a racist?
    Wrong.

  • Avatar
    Eric
    June 23, 2008 at 11:39 pm

    Its kind of sad that none of you guys realize that blacks has and still are at the bottom, and the reason for that”racism”. Who invented it whites, and why because they feel that they superior. Now that a black man get the chance to be in the oval office the green eye monster raises again but in a smaller portion of america. And I would guess its that portion that was in the days that lynching was the going thing.

  • Avatar
    Evelyn
    June 24, 2008 at 2:14 am

    Surprising coming from a news paper in AZ. See and I was the one who said all people in AZ. were racist. Guess I was wrong.
    Our Opinion: Feds should put a stop to cattle-call prosecutions
    Tucson Citizen
    letters@tucsoncitizen.com
    In Washington, D.C., some 2,000 miles from the Arizona border, officials in air-conditioned offices tout the “success” of Operation Streamline.
    That’s the government’s name for the mass prosecution of illegal immigrants in federal courts, where the vast majority plead guilty, receive misdemeanor convictions, little or no jail time and a stern talking-to from the magistrate.
    On the scorching Arizona-Mexico border, however, there’s little evidence of “success.” Tens of thousands of impoverished Mexicans and Central Americans continue to try to enter the U.S. illegally.
    Hundreds die annually. Four migrant deaths were reported in three days this week. At least 45 migrants have died since Oct. 1.
    The federal government has announced that it will devote even more resources – nearly 100 prosecutors and support staff – to Operation Streamline in the Southwest.
    We wish it wouldn’t. An expanded Operation Streamline merely would mean more cattle-call justice costing taxpayers millions of dollars a year, including $2.5 million for defense work by Tucson attorneys.
    All to pay for deterrence that does not deter and could be better spent on bringing real criminals to justice.
    U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff crows that Operation Streamline is creating “striking” reductions in border crossings.
    But if such declines really are occurring, they more likely are because of Arizona’s employer sanctions law, the recession and meltdown in the home building industry, all of which lessen the chances of finding work here.
    A recent analysis by the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies shows that immigrants are far more concerned about the risks of crossing the desert than about border enforcement.
    The study also found that, despite Operation Streamline, more than 90 percent of immigrants from the Mexican state of Oaxaca still were able to enter the United States.
    What’s undeniable is that immigration is dominating the federal caseload: Immigration prosecutions outnumber drug-offense prosecutions by nearly 4 to 1 and white-collar crime prosecutions by 13 to 1.
    We would rather the feds go after drug dealers and corporate thieves than economic refugees.
    Most immigrants being arrested are not drug kingpins or gun-runners. Of the 360 immigration convictions in Arizona federal court in March, more than 70 percent were of immigrants whose sole offense was attempting to enter the U.S. after having been deported earlier.
    Yet Operation Streamline will continue, because it’s a public, if not effective, display of federal muscle that deflects attention from the government’s failure to enact comprehensive immigration reform: a federal mechanism holding employers responsible if they hire illegal immigrants, a guest worker program, and a path to citizenship – not amnesty.
    Operation Streamline is one show that shouldn’t go on.

  • Avatar
    Frank
    June 24, 2008 at 8:07 am

    Well, when the polls say that 9 out of 10 whites would be comfortable with a black president, I think it pretty relevant to the topic about the extent of racial bias in this country when it comes to electing a person of color to the presidency.

  • Avatar
    Marisa Treviño
    June 24, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    Frank, it’s not the numbers, it’s the question. I view this question as an example of one that illustrates the Bradley Effect (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bradley_effect).

  • Avatar
    laura
    June 24, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    Nice find, Evelyn!
    Regarding voters not choosing Obama because of race, for sure it happens. But I am more worried about all the people who believe he will save our country from all the Bush disasters, and if only he gets elected, all will be well.
    I am very worried that people are pouring all their energy into getting him elected, and none into the causes dear to their hearts – like ending the war, like ending the ICE raids.
    He will do nothing for us that he doesn’t have to do. The power machine that financed Bush will make sure of that. Did you see how Obama is suddenly for the FISA “compromise”?

  • Avatar
    Evelyn
    June 24, 2008 at 11:02 pm

    I think under the circumstances he is correct. It will tie the hands of the out of control DHS & CIA and make them abide by the law…..unless??? their is something I am missing here, please let me know.
    Obama Backing FISA “Compromise”
    By Greg Sargent – June 20, 2008, 3:52PM
    Obama’s statement on the FISA “compromise” is in, and suffice it to say that it won’t make opponents of the Dem cave-in very happy. He’s supporting it.
    Here’s the key part:
    “Under this compromise legislation, an important tool in the fight against terrorism will continue, but the President’s illegal program of warrantless surveillance will be over. It restores FISA and existing criminal wiretap statutes as the exclusive means to conduct surveillance — making it clear that the President cannot circumvent the law and disregard the civil liberties of the American people. It also firmly re-establishes basic judicial oversight over all domestic surveillance in the future. It does, however, grant retroactive immunity, and I will work in the Senate to remove this provision so that we can seek full accountability for past offenses. But this compromise guarantees a thorough review by the Inspectors General of our national security agencies to determine what took place in the past, and ensures that there will be accountability going forward. By demanding oversight and accountability, a grassroots movement of Americans has helped yield a bill that is far better than the Protect America Act.
    “It is not all that I would want. But given the legitimate threats we face, providing effective intelligence collection tools with appropriate safeguards is too important to delay. So I support the compromise, but do so with a firm pledge that as President, I will carefully monitor the program, review the report by the Inspectors General, and work with the Congress to take any additional steps I deem necessary to protect the lives — and the liberty — of the American people.”
    Full statement after the jump.
    Late Update: My take on his decision is here.
    “Given the grave threats that we face, our national security agencies must have the capability to gather intelligence and track down terrorists before they strike, while respecting the rule of law and the privacy and civil liberties of the American people. There is also little doubt that the Bush Administration, with the cooperation of major telecommunications companies, has abused that authority and undermined the Constitution by intercepting the communications of innocent Americans without their knowledge or the required court orders.
    “That is why last year I opposed the so-called Protect America Act, which expanded the surveillance powers of the government without sufficient independent oversight to protect the privacy and civil liberties of innocent Americans. I have also opposed the granting of retroactive immunity to those who were allegedly complicit in acts of illegal spying in the past.
    “After months of negotiation, the House today passed a compromise that, while far from perfect, is a marked improvement over last year’s Protect America Act.
    “Under this compromise legislation, an important tool in the fight against terrorism will continue, but the President’s illegal program of warrantless surveillance will be over. It restores FISA and existing criminal wiretap statutes as the exclusive means to conduct surveillance – making it clear that the President cannot circumvent the law and disregard the civil liberties of the American people. It also firmly re-establishes basic judicial oversight over all domestic surveillance in the future. It does, however, grant retroactive immunity, and I will work in the Senate to remove this provision so that we can seek full accountability for past offenses. But this compromise guarantees a thorough review by the Inspectors General of our national security agencies to determine what took place in the past, and ensures that there will be accountability going forward. By demanding oversight and accountability, a grassroots movement of Americans has helped yield a bill that is far better than the Protect America Act.
    “It is not all that I would want. But given the legitimate threats we face, providing effective intelligence collection tools with appropriate safeguards is too important to delay. So I support the compromise, but do so with a firm pledge that as President, I will carefully monitor the program, review the report by the Inspectors General, and work with the Congress to take any additional steps I deem necessary to protect the lives – and the liberty – of the American people.”

  • Avatar
    laura
    June 28, 2008 at 10:20 am

    Evelyn,
    I am sorry – but Obama is not backing a reasonable compromise to protect Americans. He is supporting legislation that according to Amy Goodman of Democracy Now, “gives the government new powers to eavesdrop on both domestic and international communications. The American Civil Liberties Union has warned it would allow for the mass, untargeted and unwarranted surveillance of all communications coming into and out of the United States. ” Please see the full interview with Senator Russ Feingold about the bill that Obama supports at
    http://www.truthout.org/article/senator-feingold-will-filibuster-fisa
    I would love to think Obama is a principled fighter for what he believes in, and that he wants to stand up for the poor, the disenfranchised, the powerless, those who don’t have millions or billions of dollars backing their voices.
    Let’s be realistic: How likely is it he would be the nominee for president if he was such a person?
    Sure, McCain would be much, much worse.
    But we need to keep our eyes open to reality, because we can’t hope that Obama will address the issues important to us. If we don’t make him address them, he won’t.
    His goal is not to help the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free, be they American citizens or not. His goal is to get elected, amass as much power as he can, and then get re-elected. If his goal requires him to throw us some bones, he will do it. That is why we must work for what we need. Honestly I am not spending any more time or money on that campaign. I need both to work for my specific goals: stop the ICE raids, fair immigration reform.

  • Avatar
    Frank
    June 29, 2008 at 7:50 am

    Neither one of the candidates are going to deliver what you raza want. They are both throwing you some bones to get votes. The president has little power in immigration matters. It is congress who will ultimately honor the will of the majority of Americans and that isn’t you raza.

  • Avatar
    Evelyn
    July 1, 2008 at 11:41 pm

    Keep DREAMING, you only have a few months left to do that. Then you will have to face reality.

  • Avatar
    Frank
    July 2, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    No, you will have to face reality that law abiding Americans are not going to allow yet another amnesty to happen. Employers are going to be forced to hire only legal workers and with no jobs the illegals are going home.

  • Avatar
    Evelyn
    July 3, 2008 at 2:28 am

    I couldn’t agree more, that is why the immigrants who are unauthorized to be here will have their status changed to legal.

  • Avatar
    Frank
    July 3, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    Dream on! Not over law abiding American’s dead bodies. No amnesty again!

  • Avatar
    Evelyn Chavez
    August 9, 2008 at 2:05 am

    Tell that to OBAMA and McSame fool!

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