June 23rd, 2008
05:55 PM ET

American racial prejudice and impact on election

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/06/23/art.vert.flag.hand.jpg width=292 height=320]
Marisa Treviño
Latina Lista

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 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.

Read the full article...

Filed under: Race in America • Raw Politics
soundoff (32 Responses)
  1. Tommy in Florida

    At a time when everything that's important to the survival of our democracy is on the line, faithful racist here in America will help
    to push us over the cliff of destruction. While Obama's plans for America is a sure remedy to get us on the right track. Unfortunately,
    there is still a large number of ignorant, anti-American,spiritual
    hypocrites who may not vote for Obama because of his color. If McCain win the election, Bush policies will be continued and
    America will experience events that will surely bring this country to
    its knees. So, is the survival of America worth risking?

    June 24, 2008 at 7:02 am |
  2. Sinclair

    It's amazing that in 2008, we as Americans, still get so wrapped around race. I'm not so naive to think that the race issue's in the American fabric is unjustified, but it is interesting that it consumes such a big part of our psychic. Think about it, how do most American identify an individual out of group of people; the tall guy, the guy with glasses, the guy in the red shirt... No, most us would indenfy him by his race, and if there were several individuals with the same ethnic background, then we would distinguish him by refering to him as "the black guy with the sweater" or "the white guy with glasses". Considering how much influence race has on most of us, it's no surprise that Obama's ethnic background is still an issue. The media also does it's part in feeding the machine.

    June 24, 2008 at 5:14 am |
  3. Mike in NYC

    Jennifer wrote:

    "Why do people continually discount the fact that he is a BIRACIAL MAN?"

    Because he has referred to himself as "black" or "African American" on innumerable occasions.

    June 24, 2008 at 12:52 am |
  4. Suzanne

    Marisa of Latina Lista, please first deal with the racism the Hispanics have with Black Americans before you come preaching about white/black. I was born in Southern California, raised in Miami, Florida, lived many years in Phoenix and then in San Diego. I grew up with Cubans in Miami, lived beginning in my mid-twenties for 10 years with a Mexican-American man while in Phoenix, and have been back in Southern California, free of his/his family's racism against Blacks for a healthy, happy time now. When Vincente Fox made those nasty statements about Black Americans before he left the presidency of Mexico, he just spoke for many, many, Mexicans. The Cubans in Miami were not prejudiced against the color of the black skin because many beautiful Cuban people have black skin and it made no difference to the Cuban Americans I know. But, Latina, please tell yourself the truth before you try to preach to white america.

    June 24, 2008 at 12:21 am |
  5. Lucy

    I am an Obama supporter and think he will bring unity and a wonderful new spirit to this country if he wins. I have never, once, thought he should not be President because of his bi-racial parentage. I think most people honestly do not care what race someone is.
    This is from a senior, white woman.

    June 24, 2008 at 12:01 am |
  6. lakenya williams

    It makes me so mad that people are still having proplems about color people our color african american have succeded in alot of things, it was ages ago color was a problem get over it, if Obama wins i will be happy, i will jump out my shoes because i know for a fact that Obama will make a difference, he will make a change. So alll the people that dis like Obama because of his color jump off a cliff.

    June 24, 2008 at 12:00 am |
  7. charles

    this country is full of racists because most of them are from other countries of the world and they are still loyal to the race they left, or their parents or grandparents left to come to America, if they were true Americans they would be loyal to America first then their homeland second. in some peoples eyes everyone is a racist, everyone has an opinion, you can believe thiers, mine, yours, most people now days think that if something is right in their on eyes it makes it ok to do it or say it. there is always a right and a wrong whether we want to believe or not

    June 23, 2008 at 11:44 pm |
  8. Angry Man

    "If Obama was white he would have beaten McCain already" I love this kind of thinking, if he were white he would be gone a long time ago and the Democrats would have an electable candidate.

    June 23, 2008 at 11:36 pm |
  9. Georgia Cole

    Yes, the election has been about race on both sides. Some people are trying to make you vote for someone based on race. It's sad , but it goes both ways. We cannot accuse just one group for being racist. The media also had a hand in this. Everyone seems to be so set on making history instead of looking at the person and the issues. History takes care of itself when a person sets out to do what is best for himself/herself and others. You don't need to try to MAKE history. That seems to be the main thing this election season and that's sad. I don't think Dr. King and Susan B. Anthony or others had making history as their primary goal. They tried to right some wrongs and that's history worth making. Voting for someone because of race or gender should not be the main thing. That seems to be driving this election. And we wonder why the candidates are not discussing the real issues. Others are upset because they don't think people are taking enough time to reflect on the historic nature of the election. It could be because the media and everyone else has pulled every string they could to help MAKE history instead of letting the person make history through great accomplishments and sacrifice. That's why it is somewhat hollow to me as an African -American.

    June 23, 2008 at 11:35 pm |
  10. charles

    what if people do not like obama because of the things he stands for,
    does that make them racist?

    June 23, 2008 at 11:28 pm |
  11. Mike in NYC

    "It’s good that a black person and a woman were so successful in politics."

    Considering the rogues' gallery that is the American body politic, that's not saying very much.

    kamil wrote:

    "Our most proud moments are in the past.... America is a runaway train that cannot be stopped, sad to say it will collapse, and probably in our life time."

    Quoted for truth.

    Let's hope it's succeeded by something better.

    June 23, 2008 at 11:28 pm |
  12. kamil

    This election is not about race, but most black people are making it that way. If Obama was white he wouldn't have a chance in hell. He lies about how he and his wife really feel about America. No true American can say they have never been proud until today to be an American. Our most proud moments are in the past. Today we are in the crapper, our government is destroying us and its only going to get worst. Whoever gets in office will fix nothing, neither one of these clowns will do a damn thing except make things worst. America is a runaway train that cannot be stopped, said to say it will colapse, and probably in our life time.

    June 23, 2008 at 11:06 pm |
  13. Cactus

    It's good that a black person and a woman were so successful in politics. That is progress no matter who wins.
    What concerns me is that what seems to be looming is the possibility that If Obama does not win, we will be hearing that he did not win because he was black. If I vote for Obama, it will not be because he is black. If I vote for McCain, it will not be because he is white. I will vote for the man I feel is best at the time of the election. Running mates will be a factor.

    If McCain wins, I'm concerned that he will be saddled with the claim that he won because he was white. I sincerely hope that if Obama gets elected, it will not be because of his race but because of his qualifications.

    June 23, 2008 at 11:04 pm |
  14. gary

    I'm sorry but if asking what race a person is after hearing all the times he has been in trouble with the law makes you a racist....I'm guilty...leave me alone Sharpton....

    June 23, 2008 at 10:50 pm |
  15. lampe

    Race, is going to be a factor. When a white person for what ever the reason is say they can not vote for Obama right away we are called racist. When black people 90-95% vote for Obama they do not think that is racists,they say it is because this is the first time they have an AA, who might become POTUS,and they are proud. So if you can vote for him only because of the colour of his skin, then you are just as racists as the person who can not vote for him ,because of the colour of his skin.

    June 23, 2008 at 10:28 pm |
  16. cathy

    I will not vote for color. I will not vote for gender. I will not vote for a political party. I will vote for the person I think has the right ideas. Neither candidate has everything I want regarding taxes, Iraq, immigration, health care, etc.; but, I will absolutely NOT have a person's color, religion, gender or political party be the basis for my vote. Unfortunately, I think I'm in the minority, and I will have to live the next 4-8 years with a President chosen without voters really knowing their true stance on the issues; and the media certainly isn't informing us.

    June 23, 2008 at 10:23 pm |
  17. Jennifer

    Anytime there is a black person involved, it is always about race. But it amazes me that Sen Obama was RAISED by his WHITE MOTHER and abandoned by his BLACK FATHER. Why do people continually discount the fact that he is a BIRACIAL MAN? Yeah, this is historical and all that, but look at the man's character, heart, soul and not just the color of his skin. If you couldn't tell whether he was black or not, would all this be said about race? NO! Still judging by the color of skin and not content of character. That's what Mr. King preached, lived and died for. Mr. Obama personifies all that MLK, MX and others lost their lives for. Unfortunately, if you're white and not voting for Obama, chances are you weren't going to vote for him in the first place. You can't change a racist heart if it doesn't want to change. If you REALLY don't believe in the change he offers then vote for McCain. But ask yourself WHY you're voting the way you are.

    June 23, 2008 at 9:49 pm |
  18. Annie Kate

    3 in 10? that is actually better than i thought it would be. Growing up it probably would have been 9 in 10 or maybe even 10 in 10. I'm tired of the racial talk – we are all Americans and we should as Americans elect the person who can do the best job – no matter what the race or gender are.
    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    June 23, 2008 at 9:46 pm |
  19. Brad - Ohio

    The press loves this election. A young black man against the oldest white guy ever – you can't make this stuff up. Even for someone who doesn't believe he's prejudice, it's really hard to know if your just rooting for the historical underdog.

    June 23, 2008 at 9:44 pm |
  20. Mike, Syracuse, NY

    Why is it that this election has become a referendum of whether America is racist or not? The prevailing theme seems to be that if you don't vote Obama you are racist. The fact that he is probably the least qualified candidate in either party in over 100 years doesn't seem to count. This isn't about black vs. white; it's about unqualified vs. qualified, extreme liberal vs. centrist, inexperienced vs. experienced.

    June 23, 2008 at 9:30 pm |
  21. Alex

    I find it simply amazing, that some who rant and rave about racism cannot deal with the notion that people can disagree with someone's political views and not base it on the color of his skin. That alone proves there is still plenty of racists to go around. I don't buy into Barrack Obama's liberal views on several issue (because the numbers don't add up) and yet support some of his ideas. The color of his skin is IRRELEVANT to me!

    June 23, 2008 at 9:26 pm |
  22. Cynthia

    Racism is alive and well in this country today but should not be. In this election there will be people who will not vote for Senator Obama just because he is considered African American (biracial). Some will use excuses as to why the won't vote for him – it gives them a way to ease their guilt and yet another group won't care whether you know it or not. African Americans have been voting for white candidates every since they were given the right to vote. There really needs to be some honest conversations about race.

    June 23, 2008 at 9:09 pm |
  23. Mike in NYC

    Cindy wrote:

    "I can see that this election is gearing up to be a black against white issue even though it shouldn’t be."

    Should/shouldn't is irrelevant. Race has always been an issue, and will continue to be. It’s not a social construct, but a biological reality – the hardest kind of reality to ignore.

    "It seems that they try to keep the race issue front and center ..."

    They try to avoid it whenever they can. When they can't, the "noble blacks vs. white oppression" theme is trotted out. I have yet to see a local news story which deviates from this in any significant way.

    June 23, 2008 at 8:39 pm |
  24. georgia

    Let us not miss another opportunity to disect & destroy the elephant in the living room.

    June 23, 2008 at 8:29 pm |
  25. Marla OK

    How many churches are in the USA that teaches Black Liberation Theology such as Trinity Church? Unfortunately, members of this church embrace racism and hate against Whites. Until all people are taught from a young age that racism is wrong, it is not going away very soon.
    Racism, sexism, MSM and big money has so far determined the outcome of the election more than issues. Character traits and policies on issues has been tossed aside.

    June 23, 2008 at 8:24 pm |
  26. Vince

    America is so far behind other western countries it makes no sense. America has never voted a Native American, Hispanic, or African-American in history. Not only that no woman has been voted to that position either. Any vice-presidents? I dont think so. After 8 years of Bush policy honestly whats the worst that can happen? The economy is on life support, gas is at the olympics this year in the 100m dash, and are troops are still in harms way for an oops maybe he didnt have them. Why not give him a chance? Would it really take 4 years before a man of color or woman is president? 2012. In a nation over 400 years old wow

    June 23, 2008 at 7:45 pm |
  27. JC- Los Angeles

    Racism and bigotry unfortunately exist in most cultures, however, the application of race to all subject matters is deeply disturbing. Colin Powell, Condolezza Rice and Clarence Thomas have all reached the highest levels of their chosen professions; I'm confident that whether people like them or dislike them, it has nothing to do with the color of their skin. The media was quick to ask if the American people were ready for a black President. Once the general public was introduced to Rev. Wright and Rev. Pfleger, the question for many became is Barack Obama ready to accept all Americans? It's very interesting to see the media and the candidates use race for convenience but then struggle to explain their positions on race when race is brought to light by their bigoted associates. The American tapestry of 2008 encompasses all colors and consists of contributions from all races. I'm confident that on election day, all races will turn out, be heard and their votes will be cast with race hopefully, a distant afterthought.

    June 23, 2008 at 7:23 pm |
  28. Kristen- Philadelphia, PA

    Mason I agree with you. Racism still exists but it has just been more undercover than in the past. Many people will be revealed as racist if not to us at least to themselves. And yes the media has racist tendencies also. Have you ever seen this many black people and women on cable news channel giving commentary? Never before this election till they had to because of a black and female candidate. One commentator even referred to Michelle Obama as Barack's "baby mama". I would bet a million dollars that you would never hear Cindy McCain referred to and John’s “baby mama”.

    Yes, this country progressed quite a bit, but if anyone thinks racism will not play apart in this campaign they are a fool. So in my opinion Barack did the right thing by stating his piece on the issue before folks even had a chance to try something.

    June 23, 2008 at 7:08 pm |
  29. Terry

    There are some people in the media who seem to conviently forget that Obama is multi-racial, black and white, but the emphasis seems to be on his African american heritage when it suits their needs. Based on his multi-racial background, one would hope that he would be able to improve racial relations on that alone. His parents seemed to be able to look past the racial barriers that are so ingrained in this society, and create a child. All of this aside, what in the world does it have to do with his ability to run this country, in my mind ,absolutely nothing. Lets look past the color of this man's skin and get down to what's really important, his qualifications, and he has yet to impress me or earn my vote!

    June 23, 2008 at 7:00 pm |
  30. Larry

    As long as Barack denies his white heritage, as much as he embraces his Kenyan heritage, then I think that he will continue to have problems with the white vote. Even when he talks about about being raised by a single mother and her parents, its like he's ashamed that they were white and seems to omit fact. I don't know if he's afraid of losing the 92% african-american vote.
    Maybe its not a question of whether or not we are willing to elect a biracial person as president; could be more that do we really want Michelle Obama as first lady?

    June 23, 2008 at 6:55 pm |
  31. Cindy

    Racism unfortunately is out there, always has been always will be. It will be extremely hard to ever eradicate it. It is passed from generation to generation and I see no way to stop it unless we get to the kids at a very young age and try to teach them the reality of life and that someones race really doesn't matter. But then we still have to deal with what they learn at home. Unfortunately it will be a hard battle to win.

    I can see that this election is gearing up to be a black against white issue even though it shouldn't be. And I think the media plays a huge role in that by what they show and say on their shows, blogs or papers. It seems that they try to keep the race issue front and center and not what really matters...the issues. That was done in the primaries when it was Obama against Hillary. I hope that it can be avoided in the general election but I won't hold my breath!


    June 23, 2008 at 6:21 pm |
  32. Mason

    Yes this country is still very much racist. If Obama was white he would have beaten McCain already. But the voters rather shoot themselves in the foot than see a black person in the white house. I like this moment because all the people that walk around and thinking they weren't racist, now know they are. Even the media are racist. Only in a racist country, with the history we have, the only candidate that needs to prove he's not racist is black. Crazy...................

    June 23, 2008 at 6:20 pm |