September 20, 2008

40% of White Americans Have Negative View of African Americans


I used to worry about how race would impact on Barack Obama's chances of being elected. If a recent AP/Yahoo poll is to be believed, I need to worry about how race impacts on my personal opportunity for success in America.

40 percent of all white Americans hold at least a partly negative view toward Blacks. This poll wasn't limited to rednecks ... this was your average everyday white man or woman that pass by us in restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations, little league baseball stands and commuter driving.

Let me repeat that statistic for those that didn't read it right the first time: 40 percent of all white Americans hold at least a partly negative view toward Blacks.

I'm not making this ish up! You can download or read the full poll here.

We have had studies with horrible conclusions like this in the past. However, I remember how glad I felt earlier this year when Barack Obama asked us all to engage in a more honest discussion about race. Do you remember his speech in Philadelphia?

You would think they would hold negative view of bankers or mortgage lenders since those are the causing all the confusion in the nation recently. I can see if they had such a high negative view of OJ Simpson. But, c'mon America -- 2-out-of-every-5 white people are looking at me with negative mindset before we even meet?

If you told me this poll was taken in 1948 or 1958 or 1968 or 1978 ... maybe I would see how it could be that way .... but, brothers and sisters ... this is 2008! We are 45 days from electing a Black man to be President of the United States ... and 40% of the white folks in America are still thinking of Blacks as 'lazy', 'violent' and 'irresponsible'.

One political scientist who examined the polling results concluded, "There are a lot fewer bigots than there were 50 years ago, but that doesn't mean there's only a few bigots."

Not all whites are prejudiced. Indeed, more whites say good things about Blacks than say bad things, the poll shows. But, you can't get around the fact that the next five white folks I see ... it is likely that two of them are thinking negative thoughts about me as a Black man in America.

I'm convinced that I need to redouble my efforts to ensure that my children have a healthy dose of self-worth and self-love.

Parents, we cannot let our children be defined by other people ... because 40% of white people will define us in a negative manner. We must continually self-validate our worth as citizens. We cannot rely on the mass media. We cannot rely on the public education system. We cannot rely on our colleagues or our clients. We must pump up our own self-conscious system with positive affirmations. We must define ourself.

Personally, I need to go get a dose of 'kugichagulia' to do battle with the daily grind of interaction with those 40% of the white population that harbor negative thoughts about me due strictly to the color of my skin.

This poll tells me that less than 1 in 6 white Republicans feel that Blacks in school are 'intelligent'.

Some will remind me that White folks have been saying that we are less intelligent for many years. Recently, a Pulitzer Prize winner said it.

Villagers, it feels different this time. My two youngest go to school here in suburbs of Cincinnati. Our congressional representative is Republican. It is fair to say that I live in a community that is majority Republican. Is it unfair for me to worry that my young nubian children are facing an uphill battle if they enter into a school system where less than 1 in 6 white teachers or administrators feel that they are 'intelligent'.

I need some help Villagers! Talk me down! Tell me that I should not be as concerned by this poll as I am at the moment. The poll was designed to figure out why Obama isn't doing better in the presidential election polling. But, they speak to a much deeper issue and concern as it relates to race relations.

Talk me down! What say u?

17 comments:

ElisaC said...

As I tweeted, this poll is entirely suspect, and I say this as someone who is a member of the online panel fielded by the survey company mentioned.

You can read my entire take on it and experience has a panel member here, but here's the bottom line:

Who actually completes a survey with questions like this? Someone who can stomach completing it!! Someone who already feels they can take a survey asking us to attribute single adjectives to an entire race in a blanket fashion. The rest of us would have abandoned this survey, and there's nothing you can do to force a panel member to complete an online survey.

So, it's not that racists and racism don't exist in the U.S., but you can bet that *anyone* who got all the way through the survey described had to harbor a baseline of bigotry to begin with.

Talktotisha said...

I'm so going to get in trouble for saying this ... :/

I will admit that I, too, have a negative view of a certain segment of the African American population. Things are getting particularly disgusting in our community and I'm tired of it.

Our legacy is consistently being tarnished by segments of the community that either:

1. Don't know any better
2. Don't care about themselves or others
3. All of the above.

Y'all what type of view would you expect "white folks" to have when we do things like this:
this
and this

Now I know that we have the media portraying us in negative fashion - I KNOW IT! But as a community, we need to stop giving the media ammunition. They can't write stories about us not taking care of our kids, IF more of us actually took care of our kids. They wouldn't be able to report on astronomical drop out rates in our community IF we stayed in school and graduated.

I know there are more of us who go out there and take care of business - we need to stand up and make a BIGGER spectacle of ourselves than the fools we see on the news each and every night!

I could go on and on but I think you get the picture.

Hang in there- don't jump off the ledge. It doesn't matter what they think about us, what really matters is what WE think (and know) about us!

Woozie said...

Calm down, it's just a poll. Polls are notoriously inaccurate and considered among the scientific community one of the most unreliable means of data gathering.

Villager said...

Elisa - I'll come by and check out your take. I must admit that the poll was depressing for me as i read thru the results...

Tisha - Your point is well-taken. Actually, I imagine that there is a poll out there somewhere that says that 40% of Black folks have a negative view of other Black folks. We do need to take care of business in our own community. In fact, my blog is based on the premise that we need to do so...

Woozie - I feel ya'. However, polls do provide indicators ... and this indicator is very disturbing for me as a Black man in America...

SjP said...

OMG Villager you're sounding like me! What happened to the enternal optimist?

But, I must say that I don't find these statistics alarming at all. In fact, I would suspect that they are even higher. I also suspect that if that very same survey was given to Black folks about White folks, the stats would be similiar if not higher.

With respect to our children, we have to be on the schools, teachers, administrators, etc. like white on rice letting them know exactly "who you are" and that our chidren have parents who care about them and who THEY have to answer to. Bottomline here is that we are not a colorblind society and until we are we MUST continue to "arm" our children with the knowledge they need to be and do their very best. Look, Sarah Palin's daughter can be a sexually active teenager and get impregnated by an 18 year old and that translates to "shyt happens". Let the same thing happen with the Obama's and "all hell breaks loose". If you're white and get a couple of college degrees you're brilliant. If you're Black an do the same thing "you're an uppity negro". I know it appears that we can't win for loosing! Sure they can show the knuckle-heads in our communities acting fools and damned fools - but they can't show a darn thing about the hundreds of black women, men, and children who are missing and endangered; or the knuckle-heads who go on beating sprees, tweek-fests, or drug dealings in white communities.

Feels different? Yes. But is it different? No, except for one thing and that is the nomination, candidacy, and probably presidency of an African American. That's just a little more than the average everyday white man or woman can take. But, coming from my side of the plantation, let me tell you, that its a little more than a significant number of college-educated-three-degreed everyday white man or woman can take too.

Come on back, Villager...I ain't use to "seeing you" in this frame of mind...you got to leave that to me :>).

Marenda MAGNETIC said...

I cannot say that I'm surprised by the stat, but what I can say is I'm thankful that there are bloggers like you making daily "electronic" contributions to help change the perception that some have us...

Villager said...

Marenda - I was surprised that the number was so high. As I noted in my blog post ... I can't even get around to considering impact on Barack Obama ... I'm still trippin' on the impact on my young 'uns....

Villager said...

Sojourner - A'ight sista! You are doing good job of talking me down. I appreciate your perspective and I definitely agree with your sentiments about what we need to do about our children as well as the double standards in America when it comes to Blacks and whites.

I need to think a little longer on your assertion that Blacks would have the same high level of negative view of white Americans...

Thank you for taking time to share your village voice with us...

KMyles said...

I recently came across an article written by a white educator who described the very notion that all children could learn and achieve as "Educational Romanticism".

I'm always a little skeptical of statistics, but I have no doubt that the phenomena is real; and its particularly onerous in the field of education.

I wrote a pretty detailed post about the "Educational Romanticism" comment and concept. You should stop by and check it out when you get some time.

Villager said...

KM - I'll be by to check out the post you suggested momentarily...

clnmike said...

I got to say that polls are like statistics full of BS.

Prometheus 6 said...

Villager, don't reinterpret your whole past based on an Associated Press poll. The world hasn't changed and you know whether what you do works or not already.

Eyes on the prize (and enemies on the radar, right?)...

Villager said...

Mike and Prometheus - I feel ya' both! Thanx for talking me down...

Spirited Strider said...

I always try to look at the bright side of things. Let's see, so here goes. If Iowa is any example (where I believe 97% of the population is white, or something like that), then the fact that they voted for Barack in the caucus doesn't fit these poll results. (I'm a native Iowan now in NYC.)

I think we can find "evidence" for all kinds of theories and even believe what we find, if we worry about something too much. It's called a self-fulfilling prophecy or the law of attraction...

It's a poll. I'm white and I certainly don't have these views. I am choosing to believe that this poll result isn't so. I choose to believe that Obama will be our next President and will lead this country in ways that will promote healing for everyone in the area of race relations.

I choose to believe that "Yes, we can!" Warmly, Barbara

Villager said...

Spirited Strider - You moved from Iowa to New York City, huh? That is truly a change in cultures! Anyhow, thank you very much for the upbeat view of the situation. My personal belief is that Obama will win in a landslide. McCain, Palin and the republican party haven't earned another four years in the White House.

My concern is more about the attitudes of white folks. I appreciate that you are in the 60% from this poll that don't have a negative view of Blacks from the get-go. I'm still concerned that this poll shows so many that are still willing to think of Black people as 'lazy' and such. I thought we had moved beyond those thoughts. I guess I should be happy that they are only thoughts on a poll ... and not actions or behaviors that impact my daily activity...

Kristi K. said...

The day this poll was published on yahoo was the same day I began to ponder yanking my kids out of the rural school that I once thought was a good place for them. The day my son was jumped at lunch and called every name in the book, including the "N" word....the day the boys responsible were given a whopping 1/2 day suspension for the incident. This was the day I spent two hours on the phone with the principal...and hung up wondering how I could ever get any justice for my son. I felt sick. I still do. I think I'm losing my faith in America...and the world as a whole.

Villager said...

Kristi - If you live in a rural area, then your options are limited. One option to consider is a strong regimen of positive self-love and self-knowledge from home. Books, videos, discussions about uplifting aspects of our culture. If we do our jobs right then we can succeed despite the prejudice of white folks as defined in this poll...