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Response to Segami (Original post)

Mon May 18, 2015, 12:20 PM

145. Racism in the Age of Obama

 

Racial tensions in the United States have changed since Obama’s election as president, and for the worse. As judicial opinions since 2008 have revealed, both the word “Obama” and the president’s image have become tools for harassing and otherwise discriminating, in the workplace and in places of public accommodation, against blacks and against whites in romantic relationships with blacks.

For instance, while at a company picnic, one white employee sat down next to his co-workers, held a watermelon slice in his hand, and asserted, “I’m going to sit down to eat my ‘Obama fruit.’” In a different court case, a plaintiff complained that the company’s C.E.O. once said he had a “gift for you for all the Obama people outside” — while handing a rifle to another employee. In yet another case, a white employee derided an African co-worker, calling the co-worker “boy,” threatening his life and telling him he should take Obama back to Africa to vote for him.

For other individuals, President Obama’s election has become a basis for denying and ignoring the realities of racism, both conscious and unconscious, in our country. Soon after Obama’s election, conservatives such as Gregory Coleman, a Texas lawyer, argued that the election demonstrated the obsolescence of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 — a point reiterated by the U.S. Supreme Court in its June decision invalidating a section of the act.


http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2013/11/20/racism-in-the-age-of-obama/obama-has-become-a-code-word-for-racists


Over time, the hostility toward Obama grew dramatically, and so did racist statements. Actually, it did not take very long. One year into his presidency, ABC News catalogued an array of racially tinged and overtly racist statements or actions taken against Obama. They came from election and party officials and media figures, including Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh. In the years since, the number of prominent figures using race as a wedge only grew. They include a New Hampshire police commissioner using the "N" word to refer to the president, a Montana federal district judge sending racist emails, and many others.

Most troubling is that some of the most loathsome comments have been enabled and legitimized. After Ted Nugent called the president of the United States a "subhuman mongrel"—a term CNN's Wolf Blitzer noted was used by the Nazis to justify the extermination of Jews—Texas gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott welcomed this incendiary and hateful figure at a campaign event. And Colorado Senate candidate Tom Tancredo excitedly announced that he had gotten Nugent to contribute one of his assault weapons for Tancredo to auction off to help finance his campaign.


snip:
Now, of course, racial divisions and the sharply different perceptions whites and nonwhites have about policing and fairness have come to the fore. We know from the most recent Pew Research Center survey that reactions to the Michael Brown and Eric Garner decisions are starkly different by race. On the Ferguson case, 64 percent of whites believe the grand jury made the right decision, while 80 percent of black respondents believe it was wrong. Sixty-four percent of blacks said race was a major factor in the decision, compared with 16 percent of whites. On the Staten Island case, the results were not as stark but still striking: 47 percent of whites said the grand jury made the wrong decision, as did 90 percent of blacks. The more general perceptions about police discrimination in behavior toward minorities show whites generally feeling police are fair, and nonwhites believing by large numbers that they discriminate against minorities.


http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/12/obamas-challenge-building-a-bridge-over-americas-racial-divide/383649/

More than skin color or even the growing racial wealth gap it is this fear that remains one of the greatest unspoken gulfs between racial minorities, and everybody else. I say this because I -- someone who is occasionally criticized for presenting an optimistic view of race relations in my writing that is increasingly common among my generation -- have experienced this gulf with my white friends. They will simply never know what it's like to assume that the overly attentive sales associate following you around the store (without ever offering to assist you), is following you because she's worried you may steal something because of your race. It's a thought that will simply never cross their minds. (And yes for the record this has happened to me more than once. I've even been followed out of a store so an associate could "double check" that I had "remembered to pay," and this was after I had begun appearing on television regularly and had actually patronized the store several times before.)

But when your parents grow up in the segregated South and you grow up in the age of The Cosby Show, you remain conscious of the fact that being followed in a store will always pale in comparison to being called the n-word every day at school (which happened to my mother) or taunted with the threat of lynching (which happened to my father.) Yet the further along we go into the Obama era, which many assumed would mark the start of a new chapter in American race relations, a provocative question has emerged: Is subtle racism actually more damaging to black Americans than blatant racism?


http://www.alternet.org/story/152581/is_racism_worse_in_the_age_of_obama

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