Dare We Hope That Racism Has Gone Away?

The election of Barack Obama as president of the United States is a historic milestone of monumental proportions. Obama won Virginia, the state which held the capital of the Old Confederacy. He also carried Indiana, where a Democrat hadn’t won since 1964. The results in these two states demonstrate the major change that has occurred.

Some commentators and editorial writers have put forward the notion that Obama’s election demonstrates that America has finally overcome its 400-year-old struggle with race. But it’s unlikely that America has put aside its racial problems.

Consider these facts:

• In a year in which Democrats had everything going for them, Obama lost the white vote by a landslide margin. McCain won 57 percent of the white vote to Obama’s 43 percent. Among white men the margin was even greater.

• Exit polls from across the nation show that nearly one in every five Americans admitted that the race of the candidate played a major role in their decision on whom to vote for.

• On the night Obama won the presidency, the phrase “Obama assassination” for the first time became one of the top 100 search terms nationwide at Google.com. Also among the top 100 terms searched that day were “Obama AntiChrist,” “KKK Obama,” and “Uncle Tom.”

• The extent of the continuing racial divide was most apparent in the states of Mississippi and Alabama. In both states McCain won 88 percent of the white vote. Obama won 98 percent of the black vote. In Louisiana, McCain won 84 percent of the white vote and only 4 percent of the black vote.

• Immediately after the election, JBHE’s sister publication, The Race Relations Reporter, found a huge surge in hate-related incidents. Several incidents occurred on college campuses including Baylor University, North Carolina State University, and Purdue University.