Did Obama’s Election Make Race Relations Worse?

April V. Taylor

For anyone who was holding out hope that the euphoria the country experienced after Barack Obama’s historic election would somehow magically improve centuries of racism, the reality has set in for many that this is just not the case.  As the nation watched Obama be inaugurated as the 44th President and the first President of color in 2012, many felt that he was ushering in a new era of race in America, one where black people had finally achieved some real, tangible sense of equality.  Commentators and political pundits talked of a post-racial America, but as Clarence Page recently pointed out in the Chicago Tribune, the racial divide in the United States is actually much deeper than many, even Obama, may have realized.

A recent Politico poll found that almost half of voters in battleground election states believe that race relations have actually gotten worse since Obama’s 2008 election.  If anything, Obama’s time in office has revealed just how impossible it is for one person to somehow heal the historic racial divide in America.  From the “beer-gate” fiasco when people overreacted to Obama’s statement that Cambridge police had behaved “stupidly” by arresting black Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. outside of his home to his inability to adequately acknowledge the brutality and violence so many people of color suffer at the hands of law enforcement, Obama just can not seem to get it right in a way that moves the nation forward.

Perhaps Walter Lippmann summed it up best in his 1922 book, “Public Opinion,” in which he states that, “Democracy has never seriously faced the problem which arises because the pictures inside people’s heads do not automatically correspond with the world outside.”  In many ways, the reality of race relations in America is starkly different from the rosy picture many paint when they consider the lofty ideals of American equality.  Maybe part of Obama’s legacy will be having laid bare this contrast, so America can no longer deny the reality that black people and people of color are still not treated as equal and that racism in the United States all too often lends itself to human rights violations and inequalities that cannot be allowed to continue.



22 Comment

  1. President Obama’s re-election to President of the United States proved that there are without a doubt quite a number of white folks willing to believe in Black people. The problem is that he happened to take over at the worst possible time for any president in the history of this country. Even during the Depression years there was still hope that we would someone find our way out of the mess we were in. But in today’s world of global warming, tremendous financial deficits, outrageous cost of living, and educational inequities, the hope that we will ever get out of this quagmire is diminishing each day. And, unfortunately the President takes the hit for this demise more that any other. But I still believe that the image of a Black man in the White House did lot for many minorities in this country and will manifest itself in the future out come of this country.

  2. President Obama'a election simply pulled the covers off of the racism that has always existed.

  3. I have never been lulled into believing that the days of race hatred towards blacks, were over. Never fooled me…

  4. No, what it did in fact was show that ameriKKKa is still the racist bitch she has always been and nothing more.

  5. To diplomatic, to eloquent in his speeches, allowing his own cabinet to talk bad towards him, being called a lie on national television, I wished he would have learned his leadership skills at Parris Island, SC, in 1972, the Press and all Congress me and women and Senators, would run for there lives, if he had only been trained as a United States Marine and had that mentality of a Ruler. To set the standards in any organization it starts at the top, whatever you allow people to get away with they will take advantage and run over you, whether its race or anything else, never play the victim of racism when you are the H–C, kick butt.

  6. This i s a stupid story. Race relations are in fact worse, the reason being the insistence by so called "leaders" to agitate certain cases where race truly was NOT the issue at hand. The Harvard professor is a minor example, but Trevor Martin is a far more serious failure of Obama and other "leaders" — the police were correct, there wasn't t sufficient evidence, but they forced the issue anyway. The net effect is that both black and white people became agitated.Then there was the extreme over reaction to Paula Deen. It didn't help that Oprah made up that silly story about her trip to a fancy store in France. Perhaps there is something to the Ferguson case, but there's an old story about a boy who cried wolf . . . and all those fools using it as an excuse to loot and burn . . . .

  7. Obama's double-back from his populist campaign certainly let everything fly-He should have another beer this time with the Ferguson PD. The US president have unrestricted authority & infinite urgency in dealing with issues(unlawfully)that doesn't concern the US outside of America but can't plug in the simplest way laws that will pinpoint and criminalized racism especially from & within America's institutions,the closest branches under its control. US Interest are more important than the rights of its people. Like a father abandoning his family(children)to keep his job-which is so easy for Americans-"Home of the Brave" my arse

  8. Rob, your response to this article only substantiates the authors point. The election of a ALPHA MALE only provoked and un-hooded ALEC, CITIZENS UNITED AND THE KOCH BROTHERS!

  9. Absolutely it has gotten worse because all of the racist have become even more angry therefore more willing to express and put those racist views on display.

  10. he didn't make it worst, the racist just cane out of the rocks they were hiding under

  11. Not his actions but, his lack of actions against those that showed blatant racism towards him. His lack of strength has given the people who would misuse us the nerve to do what they have been too afraid to do. THE RASH OF MURDERS AND NO CONVICTIONS SPEAK FOR THIS FACT.

  12. Sir that you actually believe what your saying invokes fear in all rationally thinking people that there are millions more out there like you…we as a nation won't survive until you open your eyes

  13. Rhetorical question?

  14. Obama's election victory made it worst for Black People internally, by division with-in our Race. While we were all proud of his victories in both elections, some of us allowed that pride to supersede their rational and logical minds and therefore forgetting about the struggles, the inequality's of life, the police brutalities, the unfair discrimination in the labor force and the mass incarceration of Black Men and became comfortable, just by knowing we have a Black Man in the White House. Anyone who spoke about the President "not doing anything for Black people", were critically ridiculed and given excuses as to why's and why nots. Many people have said "he was not the President just for Black People, but was indeed the President for all of Amerikkka". I must remind them that Black people are part of Amerikkka and their votes should have gained them something from the Presidency, like all of the other groups have. In my opinion, Obama was not the right man for the job. We however did get to hear some great promises about "changes needing to be made in Washington and in Amerikkka", all wrapped up in very eloquent, inspirational and poetic speeches, during the campaign trail. Obama is a good Man, but was doomed from the very minute, when Romney shut him down in the first debate and he should great weakness.

  15. When Barack Obama stated that "he is not a black President, he set the course………..

  16. Ronald T. Powers OK, you gave me rhetoric . . . . "open your eyes" . . . "invokes fear" . . . "rationally thinking people" . . . . If you would be kind enough to explain why my statements invoke fear (presumably in you?) I would appreciate it. In what way did I threaten you personally or black people in general? I don't understand why what I said makes you fearful of me; do you fear for your life? your property? your freedom? I genuinely would like you to explain. My eyes are open; to be fair, people often see the same situation, and draw different conclusions; still, why do you suggest that my eyes are not open? What is it that you don't believe I don't see? Do you truly believe that people who reach the same conclusions that you do are the only people who fit the definition of "rationally thinking people," and all others must be irrational simply because they come up with a different conclusion? I would also like to know what you thought of Julius' response to my comments, in which he basically said that anyone who disagrees with Barack Obama's political policies is a Klan member; is that what you believe, too?

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