Whatever you think of Barack Obama’s presidency, the first African American to hold the highest office in the land has dramatically changed the way we view race in our country–or, at least, what it is acceptable to say about race in public.

As a people who believe that all humans are made in the image of God, that before Christ there is no distinction between races, that part of the mission of ambassadors for Christ is to act as reconcilers between people, and that we are called to care for the poor and needy and oppressed, Christians have a deep responsibility to seek racial reconciliation, not just in our churches (but especially there), but also our neighborhoods and country. And given the history of racism in our country and the ways in which our Faith was abused to justify it–and still is in some corners (See: Kinism–better yet, don’t)–we have a unique calling to live in and promote peace with our neighbors. And four years after Obama’s election, I think there’s a lot for us to consider and reconsider regarding the current state of race relations in America.

There’s good reason to believe that America is more divided over race today than it was the day Obama took office. At that time, many tried to herald his election as the beginning of a post-racial America. After all, we had outlawed slavery, given minorities the vote, and ended Jim Crow laws. In fact, we were so sensitive to racial issues that we had gone to the opposite extreme, according to some. We were so worried about not racially discriminating against black people that we began to discriminate against whites in retaliation. But, by electing Obama, we proved to the world that we were so over that whole racism thing.

Image: Michael Fleshman/flickr (cc by-sa 2.0)

But over the last four years it quickly became clear that things weren’t getting better. Obama used his race to sympathize with Trayvon Martin’s parents, and people took offense as I wrote about previously. And he spoke out in defense of Henry Louis Gates when he was arrested by a white police officer. And black people started to act out across the country, according to some. They became more dependent on government aid. And there were reports of black mob violence against whites going unreported by the Main Stream Media*. Rather than heal our racial divide, Obama supporters’ constant use of the race card seemed to create significantly more conflict between white and black people. And a study has provided evidence for escalated conflict.

The AP, in conjunction with some actual researchers, studied racial prejudice in the US over the last four years. They looked at explicit and implicit racism and found some troubling signs:

In all, 51 percent of Americans now express explicit anti-black attitudes, compared with 48 percent in a similar 2008 survey. When measured by an implicit racial attitudes test, the number of Americans with anti-black sentiments jumped to 56 percent, up from 49 percent during the last presidential election. In both tests, the share of Americans expressing pro-black attitudes fell.

Add to this study other recent research and reports that suggest that whites believe they suffer more racial discrimination than black people and it is clear that race relations in the United States are poor and have gotten worse during Obama’s presidency. And with his reelection, we should question if things might digress further.

I’d like to suggest that the rise in racial conflict during Obama’s presidency is actually a good and necessary thing, and that much of the anger over this issue stems from deeply flawed understandings of race and history. Specifically, I reject the claim by some that Obama has divided our nation across race lines. In fact, I’d say that for the first Black President, he’s basically ignored racial issues entirely. Rather, I suspect that the rise in anti-black attitudes can be primarily attributed to three factors: a misguided and simplistic view that “racism” is an issue of the past and therefore any cry of “racism” should be treated with skepticism or derision, the vileness of American politics which encourages voters to hate politicians, and a fringe-conservative campaign which portrayed black people as lazy people who would vote for Obama to keep the free stuff coming. Rather than increase racial prejudice, I believe the Obama presidency has revealed how far we still have to go.

The Destructive Myth of a Post-Racial America

When President Obama claimed that Trayvon Martin could have been his own son, he brought on a wave of criticism from conservatives who felt that the president should represent all people equally. The objection, as I understand it, was that Obama was publicly acknowledging his blackness and pointing out that his race still mattered–as a black father, he could empathize in a unique way with other black parents. This was not the black president we elected in 2008.

We wanted a president who would usher in a post-racial society, but what we needed was one who would usher in a post-racist society. There is no such thing as a “post-racial” society, because it would require us to be disembodied and torn from history. I will always be caucasian of European ancestry whether I mark “White” on a job application or not. If you are the descendent of an African American slave, you wouldn’t suddenly not have that heritage if I promised to not see you as “black.” Our history and our genetics don’t determine our fate or define our worth, but they do shape our identities. That is part of what it means to be human.

So when we talk about the virtues of a “post-racial” society, we are describing a myth. To be “post-racial” in this sense is to collapse all differences into one generic humanity with the same history and environment and experience, which can only be done by ignoring the reality of contemporary prejudice. A “post-racial” society is not a post-racist one, in fact, it can only exist this side of paradise (if ever) as a silently racist society.

As long as Obama didn’t mention race, didn’t treat it as a current problem, we were fine with having a black president. But what was unacceptable was a president who would claim that racism was still a real and serious issue in our country. And when he empathized with the Martins, he implied that this wasn’t a post-racial society.

The “post-racial” myth sees any acknowledgement of difference as hypocrisy, despite the reality of difference.

Underlying this line of thinking is this naive and dangerous idea that America is far enough past racism that we ought to be “post-racial”–meaning that we ought to be able to stop talking about race as a significant and contemporary problem. We want to be able to have “white pride” and praise the confederacy and southern tradition without being accused of racism or unintentionally offending someone. We want an end of affirmative action and a moratorium on evocations of the history of “slavery,” because all races were enslaved at one point and America outlawed slavery a long, long time ago. According to this view, in other words, the path to racial reconciliation is paved with silence over past atrocities and current wrongs–and by publicly noting a current wrong (the reality the black parents in American today still reasonably fear that their children will suffer for being black), President Obama disrupted our reconciliation.

But the reality is that racism is alive and well in America, as I have written about previously:

An incredible percentage of the black male population of the US is incarcerated.

According to one study, white men make 11% more hourly than black men, even when you take factors like education into consideration.

As if that weren’t bad enough, black unemployment is usually around twice white unemployment. Yeah, you read that right. Think 8% unemployment sounds bad? Try 16%.

Have a traditionally black name? It could be harder to find a job.

Are you a black woman? You will probably not get married, in part because many eligible black men are in jail.

Young black man in New York? You’re probably going to get stopped and frisked by the police. Try not to look suspicious. And remember to respect and trust the police.

Our sense of History as Americans also contributes to this naive belief. It’s well known that Americans suffer from the peculiar delusion that ancient history refers to something that occurred 300 years ago. To Europeans, our “ancient” buildings and traditions and documents are from the very recent past. Americans have a very poor sense of historical time, and nowhere is this more evident in our own time than in our perception of racial history.

Many of us act as if slavery and socially accepted and government sanctioned racism was a thing of ancient history, but let’s put this in perspective:

The Thirteenth Amendment outlawed slavery 147 years ago, which just happens to be almost exactly within two lifespans of the average African American (73.6). The “last proven African American slaves living in the United States” died in 1948. If you are over the age of 70, you could have met and talked with a woman who lived as a legal slave in our country.

image: tedeytan/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

It wasn’t until 1964 that Jim Crow Laws were effectively ended by the Civil Rights Act. Black Americans over the age of 50 lived through a period when our government required them to live separately from us, as inferiors. Whatever great strides we might have made in our country, as long as State-mandated racism was occurring less than a lifetime ago, we simply cannot talk about a “post-racial” society. And we can be confident that the effects of that bigotry are still reverberating through our country and will continue for some time.

The expectation that “race” is no longer a legitimate issue in our country; that we can “move on”; that black people should stop “blaming” racism; that black children are born having the same essential opportunities for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as others; that we should all see each other as identically race-less is dangerous. It hides the reality of modern racism. It prevents us from confronting and overcoming this racism. And it sets up unreasonable expectations for our society, so that when a tragedy happens that forces us to acknowledge the continued presence of racism, and our president speaks out on this tragedy, we lash out in frustration and anger that our expectations about a “post-racial” society were not met.

Hating the President and the Color of His Skin

By the time George W. Bush left office in 2009, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, and Richard Dawkins had made New Atheism into a New York Times Best Seller’s List success. While some of their success certainly came from their great skills as writers and, for the latter two, their authoritative British accents, it has always seemed to me that the rise of New Atheism could be largely attributed to George W. Bush’s evocation of Christianity to justify what came to be seen by many Americans as horrible political decisions, like when he allegedly said that God told him to invade Iraq. Bush was not merely a Christian president (as they all have claimed to be), but a very vocal evangelical Christian, and one who was warmly welcomed by other evangelicals as such. So as many Americans began to hate him, it seemed natural for them to also turn that hatred towards the cultural force he so identified with and which had helped him maintain power: evangelical Christians.

Just as evangelical Christianity became the target for vitriol during Bush’s second term because of the unpopular president’s close identification with the faith, I believe that racial prejudice against black people has risen in the last four years in part due to a transference of hate that conservatives have felt toward Obama. Of course, I can’t begin to offer the kind of empirical psychological/sociological evidence needed to prove this claim, but I do think that it is reasonable and at least circumstantially evident.

How is the First Lady “crass?” She has her mouth open? She looks angry? She’s a black woman?

As Obama’s first term came to an end, the anti-Obama rhetoric on the far right became increasingly explicit in its racism. It was not uncommon to see some fringe conservatives sharing photos mocking the size of the First Lady’s butt, describing her as “crass” in comparison to Ann Romney, or commenting on her “ghetto” style of dress–the implication being that she was too black to have such a position of honor. Similar thinly-veiled bigotry could be seen in some fringe attacks against the President. Mia Moody, a professor of Journalism and Media Arts at Baylor University, has done an amazing job studying the use of social media to spread racist messages about the Obamas. Here are her findings:

Although historical stereotypes focusing on diet and blackface have all but disappeared from mainstream television shows and movies, they have resurfaced in new media representations. Facebook hate group portrayals incorporate negative viewpoints of black people and their perceived roles in society that storytellers have used for generations. Findings demonstrate that historical representations of the group are still strong and have an impact on modern portrayals.

Similarly, Facebook users play up shallow, patriarchal representations of Mrs. Obama, focusing on her femininity, appearance and personality. Facebook members who have a hard time accepting a black woman in the role of first lady of the United States attempt to explain the occurrence in a recognizable package by focusing on physical appearance instead of her capabilities. From a patriarchal viewpoint, sexist rhetoric implies although she is in a prominent position; she is not important to mainstream society because she “looks like a man” and does not fit their ideal of a first lady. This “us” versus “them” imagery found in Facebook portrayals suggests a step backwards in civil rights gains.

While it is entirely possible that this prejudice existed prior to Obama’s election, I suspect that in many cases our modern political rhetoric–which encourages incendiary, hateful, inhuman attacks on all political figures–naturally led to the racial bigotry; it is only a small step from hating someone to hating everything about him or her, including race. Once we decide that it is socially and morally acceptable to mock, dehumanize, and hate politicians in public, it is very difficult to draw some line at racism. Once we choose not to love them as our neighbors, made in the Image of God, there is nothing keeping us from producing all kinds of bigotry.

Unfortunately, the specific kind of hateful rhetoric Obama has been subject to because of his race compounds our country’s racial problems. As Dr. Moody says, “This ‘us’ versus ‘them’ imagery found in Facebook portrayals suggests a step backwards in civil rights gains.”

The Lazy Coon wants an Obama Phone

Perhaps the most harmful racial narrative of this election season has been that Obama won reelection because lazy black people wanted more free handouts. Around 90% of black people voted for Obama in November, which fed right into the extremist theory that the 2012 elections constituted a take over of our country by minorities. Whether or not you buy Think Progress‘s argument about this narrative’s popularity amongst conservatives, you probably witnessed some example of this narrative this year.

“[T]he coon was portrayed as a lazy, easily frightened, chronically idle, inarticulate, buffoon” (image: YouTube)

The most notable recent example was the infamous “Obama Phone” video. I highly recommend the Atlantic’s articulate explanation of why this video was racist. Here’s their summary, but it’s worth reading their original post and their response to the flood of commenters who were angered that anyone would call the video racist:

“Because a video of a black woman with bad teeth and a poor grasp of the history of the Universal Service Fund proves that Democrats are stupid, lazy, and, oh, black. ‘That is a real Obama voter.’ We say, that’s racist.”

What Elspeth Reeve is getting at in this post is that the video played perfectly into a vicious historical black stereotype; specifically, the “Coon”:

The coon caricature is one of the most insulting of all anti-black caricatures. The name itself, an abbreviation of raccoon, is dehumanizing. . . [T]he coon was portrayed as a lazy, easily frightened, chronically idle, inarticulate, buffoon. . . . The coon acted childish, but he was an adult; albeit a good-for-little adult. . . .The coon, although he often worked as a servant, was not happy with his status. He was, simply, too lazy or too cynical to attempt to change his lowly position. (Dr. David Pilgrim, Professor of Sociology, Ferris State University)

The “coon” stereotype is nothing new, but what is disturbing is to see how it was evoked, subtly, but nevertheless evoked, in the political rhetoric of some on the far right–even some Christians I know. What makes this so powerful is that the stereotype was used to attack what many perceive to be an existential threat to our country and our faith: Barack Obama and his followers.

In other words, what should alarm us is not that the stereotype is still around, but that it was used so vocally in such a central and essential public discourse in our society: the presidential elections. My fear is that by appealing to the “coon” stereotype, we make it a bit more socially acceptable to be racist.

The Importance of a Racial Society

As bad as race relations have become in the last four years, I’d like to suggest that we need this crisis in order to continue growing, healing, and reconciling. For many Americans, racial discrimination had been identified, condemned, and ended, and although it might come up every now and again in the form of white supremacy, we felt as if was not a significant problem for our time. But that is the insidious nature of racism; it’s quite possible to be conceptually opposed to all forms of bigotry while being complicit with them in practice–particularly when you consider factors like confirmation bias. We stand no chance of addressing our hateful thinking if we cannot identify and talk about it in public. Regrettably, the right has largely ceded discussions of racism to the left, so that it is considered “politically correct” (which is ironically politically incorrect to conservatives) to acknowledge the seriousness of racism in our society.

This presidency has created the perfect conditions for America to begin rooting out racism by acknowledging and challenging it. The tremendous rise of social media has encouraged people to voice prejudices which would otherwise been restricted to private settings. The social nature of these sites has provided widespread support for prejudicial rhetoric from a global community of likeminded people. Obama’s race forces us to face our flawed expectations about a post-racial society and the naive view of history that undergirds it. And a controversial presidential election provided an opportunity for socially-sanctioned hatred, which easily spilled over into racism and evocations of historical racial stereotypes.

What this should reveal to us is that we are nowhere near the mythical “post-racial” society and we still have great work to do towards a post-racist society (which ought to be our ideal, although we’ll never reach it completely due to our fallenness). Our prejudices run far deeper than we realized. Our willingness to hate affects us more than we know. Our faith shapes our relationship to our neighbors less than it should.

Obama finished his first term in a more racially divided America than the one in which he began. And I believe that the next four years could be worse still. But I also believe that reconciliation–forgiveness–is preceded by repentance. So long as we believe ourselves to be past racial prejudice against African Americans as a nation, we wont be. Lord grant us to use this opportunity to take account of our hearts and repent.

Illustration courtesy of Seth T. Hahne. Check out his graphic novel and comic review site, Good Ok Bad.


*These reports at WorldNetDaily, as with everything there, are horribly and deceptively written. But they are a good example of the kind of sensationalistic race-war fears that have been spread over the last four years. See this Salon post on Colin Flaherty’s book at work at WND for more.


  1. Alan, do you think you should express a little reservation about whether Bush *actually* said that God told him to invade Iraq, given that the only source for this was a Palestinian foreign minister two years after the meeting in question, and the Palestinian foreign minister kind of backed off the specificity of the claim when pressed on the matter: “We felt he was saying that he had a mission, a commitment, his faith in God would inspire him.” And, of course, the White House denied that he said anything of the sort?

    Can you flesh out a bit of why you blame Bush for the rise of the New Atheism? Is it Bush’s fault, or the fault of those who caricatured him and his faith, or both?

    You say, “It was not uncommon to see conservatives sharing photos mocking the size of the First Lady’s butt, describing her as “crass” in comparison to Ann Romney, or commenting on her “ghetto” style of dress–the implication being that she was too black to have such a position of honor.” I actually didn’t see that, although I don’t doubt it was out there. “It was not uncommon to see,” however, seems a little…well, it seems like the kind of thing a writer says when he doesn’t really know whether it was common or how to source it or gauge its frequency.

    I haven’t read this whole post — I have to run to a meeting — so I’m sure the post has many virtues. I always enjoy your writing, even when I disagree. But I wonder too whether there’s any blame to share with those who were too quick to label criticism of Obama as racist. Even in the Democratic primary in 2008, the Clinton campaign was accused of racism from time to time — and it seemed like certain folks on the Left were way too quick to label legitimate criticism as racist. Does that have anything to do with fostering racial tensions? Or what about all the anti-white stuff from African American Obama supporters in this last election cycle, like:


    A lot of the stuff about assassinating Romney and “hate-f***ing” Paul Ryan was racially tinged as well:


    Granted, these are not representative. But it’s “not uncommon to see” them, either. So does it go both ways? Should we call these sorts of things out for fostering racial tensions too?

    My two cents, offered in friendship.

  2. Alan,

    Overall, I think the broad-strokes case you make is important and a cause for serious reflection, repentance, and reconciliation work amongst Christians. I really don’t have too many criticisms because I’ve see a lot of what you’re talking about and it needs to be called out. I would register a couple of points of pushback:
    1. There have been questions about that AP study on racism. This is minor, though.
    2. I don’t think you give enough focus to the way the Left treats the issue of racism the burnout factor on the issue. Let’s be honest, I’ve read for years about the often-times ridiculous charges of racism lodged by the left against conservatives on issues where there are legitimate differences of policy opinion, or off-hand comments about the President being “skinny” as code for “black” and other such nonsense. The fact is, a lot of left-leaning types need the race-problem to justify themselves against conservatives on issues where, it’s really not an issue. There is a real racism problem. Still, the Left’s constantly boy crying wolf and bad-faith accusations on the issue for partisan game has probably left some people with a bad taste in their mouth–people who aren’t really racists, who might under other circumstances be moved to think more clearly on the issue, who now won’t because they’re unimpressed by the charge. They have trouble now because of this, and some of their naivete on a couple of the points you raised above, to see somebody raising this issue as anything but and the bad-faith partisan, race-card wielding. In fact, this is probably one of the main responses you’ll get to your article.

    Well, again, mostly agree, but I think we have to acknowledge the corrupt use of the issue on the part of the some leaders on the Left as a part of the problem. Otherwise, dialogue won’t go forward.

  3. Also, this sentence: “They have trouble now because of this, and some of their naivete on a couple of the points you raised above, to see somebody raising this issue as anything but and the bad-faith partisan, race-card wielding” should be:
    “They have trouble now because of this, and some of their naivete on a couple of the points you raised above, seing somebody raising this issue as anything but bad-faith, partisan, race-card wielding.”

  4. The light that confounds and at the same time placates us is the light of Privilege. Some of us fight to eradicate it and some of us fight to preserve it. But somehow this sweet-smelling temptation of Privilege is the false light that in various ways, hypnotizes all of western culture especially in this country into a narcissistic desire to worship at its altar by turning our whole life into nothing more than a temporary diversion away from the bright shiny object of privilege.

    Once introduced, Racism becomes the social equivalent to the “nuclear option”, therefore striking a nerve on all sides of the ethnic divide. Many times, after this marginalizing term is inserted, communication stops. This begins to lock people into camps, clicks and factions.
    Conclusion: let’s not talk about it. Absolutely untrue; acting like it doesn’t exist is akin to giving it free reign to unravel society. The Race Card nerve is struck with many ethnic minorities. Be it right or wrong; this Race Card becomes the default response to the clandestine “great protector” of Privilege. The fact is that people of the dominant ethnic group rest comfortably under its shadow while not really being protected at all. Regardless, members of this group on the lower to middle economic rungs are only operating under the illusion of protection and are in essence.

    America is not a finish project but we are a song; one that sings strongly an Idea. Through its meandering chord progressions, of seemingly aimless and lost yearnings of emotions, fears and justifications, the Idea moves on, many times ahead of the understanding of the notes themselves as they are played. The goal of the writers of the Preamble to the United States Constitution was “to build a more perfect union.”

    This is where we find ourselves today. Like the Samaritans, we are caught in the cycle of responding to the latest social/racial tragedy. Rather than proactively change our direction, we wait for the next tragedy to occur. Because we are stuck in this cycle, we don’t move towards the horizon. Empathy must trump xenophobia by focusing attention on a vanishing point of reciprocity, and then real change can happen. Real and genuine bridge building can only take place in an atmosphere of selflessness on all sides. You have brought up some very insightful and thought provoking discussion. May we all strive to change the trajectory, knowing that “The moral arc of the universe is long but it bends towards justice” Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Great Post!!!

    Kevin Robinson

  5. Timothy,

    Just a quick comment. The statement about Bush should have read, “Bush allegedly said,” not “Bush alleged…” I’ll fix that. That was my mistake.

    My statement about it not being uncommon to see conservatives posting these images should have been qualified, which I’ve done. Outside of a thorough study, it’s hard to gauge how prevalent this was. However, I saw it often enough in Facebook pages that were decent sized to make it worth commenting on. Also see Dr. Moody’s study.

    1. Great article, Alan. The last “won’t” needs an apostrophe. The most important takeaways here are:

      1. Racism is still alive and well in America.
      2. By denying that you’re contributing to it.


    2. I think how often you see things like images of the First Lady’s backside depends on who you follow, “Like” or “a Friend”. I tend to not follow the fringe, hence I rarely see images like that. However, if you do, it tends to be in your face-and often.

  6. As for the left crying wolf or claiming that any criticism of Obama is racist, I guess I’m not tuned in enough to notice it. I don’t at all doubt that it exists, but I’m just not familiar with it. That is to say, I feel like I remember this happening, but I can’t think of any examples.

    The Twitchy posts could be (and have been) balanced out with Buzzfeed posts showing people on twitter making horribly racist or violent comments about Obama: http://www.buzzfeed.com/jwherrman/17-people-talking-about-assassinating-the-presiden

    Honestly, I think both sites are pretty lame. If you search long enough, you can find anyone saying anything about anyone famous on twitter. I’m much more troubled by anti-Obama FB Pages with tens of thousands of followers who post racially charged pictures that get hundreds of shares. Of course, we’re still talking about a fraction of the US voting population, but it seems notable enough to be worth commenting on. Perhaps not?

    However, Twitchy helps make my point exactly: our political discourse is so hateful that we dehumanize all candidates. What this meant in Obama’s case in particular was an increase (I suspect) in racist comments. But the fundamental problem here is that we are willing to hate politicians in the first place.

    1. “As for the left crying wolf or claiming that any criticism of Obama is racist, I guess I’m not tuned in enough to notice it.”

      Count your blessings. It’s happened to me more than once. The latest occurrence was just a couple of days ago.

    2. I saw the race card played just last week-it was a Facebook shared graphic. And by one of my friends that I thought knew better.

  7. Thanks for sharing this article Alan. You bring up some very good points. I encourage you to continue this vein of research. It is up to our generation to document this phase of communications history. You add a unique perspective with your discussion of the intersection of religion and racism. Good luck in your studies.

  8. For what it’s worth, I don’t even pay attention to most political posts from friends on Facebook, but even I am aware of a certain segment of my friendslist’s inordinate fascination with the size and shape of Michelle Obama’s backside. Which leads me to think the meme is not uncommon.

  9. I predicted that Obama would set race relations back at least 25 years. He and those like him get their power from playing the race card. Unless you have spent a lot of time in the urban hood, you or anyone else really do not have a handle of the issue. To sum some thing up by the view of someone that actually is in the hood I offer this:

    1) Unemployment 2x of non-blacks … that’s easy. Government programs have encouraged it for blacks more so than for non-blacks. Welfare, stamps, housing allowances and the like have actually killed the work ethic of at least half of the black population.

    The blacks that I know (a lot) are hard workers and not lazy. The problem is with those that bit the apple of government and ‘leaders’ that continue to tell them that they are not responsible, need help, can’t do it without them … etc. What other group have ‘leaders’. Do the Asians? The Whites? The Browns? Nope … perhaps the Browns soon as they seem to be biting that same apple.

    2) Unmarried females with children – see #1 above same deal.

    3) Black men in jail … drugs drugs drugs and the effects thereof … and see # 1 above.

    4) Interview Walter Williams or Thomas Sowell next time. These guys know better than most what the problems are.

    5) Race issues are not going away until blacks quit being ‘victims’ and thinking that way. It took the PROGS about 40 years to complete their work on the blacks, it will take longer than that for them as a people to turn back. My bet, they won’t and the PROGS having captured this ‘group’ will move on to the next … look out browns, they are coming for you next.

    6) Personally, I could care less the color of your skin! Character is all that counts on this earth. Be the best you can and you can do well in the US. It is not easy, but then again He did not promise an easy ride. Work … work … work … His example shows 6 days a week.

  10. Mike:
    Doing well in the US is not a good measure of character. Also, which article are you responding to? Your comments seem pretty unrelated to this one.

  11. Mike,

    One serious problem with your comment is that you assume a zero-sum responsibility for actions. So, if you want to hold blacks responsible for their situation you can’t hold society and the government responsible. But that is simply not how the world works. In reality, culpability is not zero sum. It is always the case that society and the individual are responsible. People make choices and are influenced or forced to make choices. One does not negate the other.

    So, is the individual responsible for getting jailed for smoking weed? Yes, if he is guilty. Is society and the government also responsible for laws, law enforcement, and court systems which persecute blacks disproportionately for petty crimes? Yes.

    In any case, whether or not you are from the hood, the social reality of black poverty is a lot mo complicated that you make it out to be, and it’s also not the point of this feature, as Seth has observed.

  12. I think the article is very good, but question the headline. Your discussion is about the naked racism of America, which existed prior to the current president and will continue after 2016. The headline implicates the president, and yes, you are probably doing it as a bit of irony, but I find it off-putting in any case. To those who love to paint Obama as race-baiter, I only shake my head and see him as the recipient of (and not participant in) horrendous racial vitriol.

  13. I think the point of the headline is to draw attention to the concept that a lot of this preexistent racism has been magnified and brought more explicitly to light in an America with a black president. American racism encouraged by American willingness to demonize political opposition unveils a lot of distasteful things about this specific era of the American culture. The title invokes Obama because while not the cause, his presidency is the catalyst for a lot of racial negativity.

  14. Alan, I am in fact holding government responsible for part of the problem. Maybe more so in the attracts of character. Starting in the 60s (go check out LBJs comments), the PROGs have been hell bent in destroying character. But this is not an excuse. The actions of the PROGs in government have made it a lot easier for the bad behavior of the black culture. My point is that character comes in too when society does evil. You simply do not need to fall victim to their methods. A zero sum gain – you are correct if you take character out of the equation!

    You say ‘People make choices and are influenced or forced to make choices’ – you are correct people are FREE to make the choice, BUT based upon character, even if influenced by others or ‘forced’ by wrong choices, will still make the right choice. So I guess by your understanding it is OK for a man to rob or kill another because his family is hungry, or he need a fix or whatever … no difference other than the ‘level’ of lack of character.

    Take in point a look at FDRs depression. Crime and anti-social behavior was not nearly like it is now – even though FDRs depression was much worse than Obama’s. BUT weird thing blacks actually had much BETTER social behavior then non-blacks back then. That is a statistical fact. Blacks not only were more in poverty then BUT had much a lower rate of out of wedlock births and lower divorce rates then non-blacks of the time. Racism was also much higher then – even sanctioned by government. I would say that blacks had a higher character than non-blacks of that day. They may have been prejudged because of skin color, but were gaining respect. Because of the present anti-social behavior, truthlessness, etc all are additional excuses for non-blacks to point to and to contribute to the allusion of more racism.

    Just talk with some old blacks that were young adults in the 30’s … I’ve been blessed by knowing a few out here in the hood over the years. They will tell you all about the lack of character – what they have to see and put up with on a daily basis. As they will tell you, poverty is no excuse. How you are treatment by others is no excuse. Lack of character is. They will tell you that as a group, they have gone in reverse. They will tell you how they did not loose their character because of the way they were treated after WWII (a Tuskegee Airmen ground support was one of those friends).

    The old timers will tell you that the fact is blacks need to clean up their house if they want respect. The newer generations are the most racist of all folks out there (including the current occupant of the White House). That is one of the reason why there appears to be more racism now. Non-blacks are reacting to that. Spend some time in the hood and you will see & hear what I mean. Listen to what the actually say – not what is reported.

    Maybe blacks are picked on more than whites say for smoking a joint. So the solution to that is not to smoke that joint. That is what character is about. That is what free choice is about. Last I looked, now one was forcing one to smoke a joint! There are MUCH MORE opportunities now for non-whites than ever. That is if you are willing to do the work and sure up your character. I have yet to find one authentic discriminatory event that has kept any non-white out of work. I am sure it exist somewhere, my guess you can find more of it in the opposite direction. America even elected a partial non-white to the presidency twice … so I guess that makes America more racist or maybe they simply voted for his white half – right?

    Any group that has broken out of the stereotype that society has painted for them has been because of character. Character and respect is EARNED on this earth. And that my friends can only be done by the the folks that are prejudged because of their skin color, heritage, or any number of other stupid reasons.

    As an example, it was not too long ago that all ‘wops’ (I can say that because I am part Italian) were considered by society at large as greasy, lawless, and belong to the mafia. The end to that was handled by the character of my forefather keeping their nose clean, telling the truth, and working hard. They did not have group leaders. Just about the same with all other groups that broke out – including Asians that practically were slaves well after 1865. They simply showed by their actions and behavior that they deserved respect. Are there still folks that hate Italians/Chinese/Jews/etc in America? Of course, but almost disappeared …. all because of the perception of character of the group.

    So, to sum things up, racism is a way for evil to flourish more – one way or the other. Yes, racism is on the rise in America – again as I predicted because of lack of CHARACTER … and right now it is lacking from the top down. Starting at the top, the increase is due to the LACK of character and is trickling down. Had a non-white person of real character been elected, the situation would be quite different – it would not be an issue and neither would this ‘increase’ in racism. A real leader would not add to the problem by his actions. Again, part of the PROGs methods is to destroy and make worse. That way, they gain more all the while blaming others for their actions. Unrelated to the article? I don’t think so.

  15. Interesting comments about the Obama Phone lady but mistaken. I must not be racist because someone told me that story over the phone and the person only talked about a someone being happy because they would get a free phone. I didn’t think of color, or gender, age, size, ugly, cute, and my mind didn’t conger a black women but instead an entitlement mentality that is cursing our nation.
    I then thought of a indolent man and women in my own church whom were happy at Pres. Obama’s first election because as they said at the time, “now all the rich people would feel the squeeze like they did”. What has happened to them since 4 years ago? Financial disaster, lost their home, divorced, and has hit rock bottom. See, when you attack a class like the rich and drive gas prices, food prices, and all energy prices sky high it rains on the rich and the poor, the poor get hit the hardest still.
    So what have we learned, Obama is actually a class divider which in turn aggravates racial relations. He is also an ignorant vs informed divider, keeping the ignorant in the dark instead of enlightening. When I heard the comment in my church I truly hated the comment not the person. If I had a proclivity toward racism against a white or a black, or asian, or Muslim, or Mormon, etc. I may have equated the comment to the person, and many people may do that. The truth, I hate the Devil like thinking , ever hear of the expression “The Devil Loves Company”? Now some ignorant types out there may still be thinking I can’t hate the thinking and lover the person, see how Obama has brainwashed you into hating a group?, that would be me. I may be a women, I may be black, I may be white. What I am is concerned for a country that is being divided as we go off the social, economic, and logic cliff pointing a finger at statistics of racism instead of fixing problems and coming together as a nation.

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