Two Race Stories
I ran across two stories this week involving race in this country, and both made me think. So I thought I’d share them with you, in the hopes that you’d have some stimulating thoughts as well.
First is what has happened to the opinions of African-Americans in the United States with respect to same-sex marriage. A recent Public Policy Polling poll shows that support for same-sex marriage in Maryland has increased by 16 points in two months, where now a majority support it. What happened during that time? President Obama announced his support for same-sex marriage, and then the NAACP announced their support as well.
This led me to ponder a few things. Why did it take Obama’s statement to change their minds? Why did it have such a dramatic effect on the African-American community and no others? If nothing else, this strongly suggests that, not only did Obama’s statement not hurt him with that demographic, the tail wagged the dog here. How far could the President take that power?
The other race story is how badly Obama did in the West Virginia and Arkansas primary elections. Much hay was made about the number of West Virginia votes received by Keith Judd, a felon serving time in Texas. In terms of counties carried, Obama did worse in Arkansas, where attorney John Wolfe, Jr., won about half of the square miles of the state. Could this have to do with the President’s race?
Frequent readers may recall that I have often stated that, with respect to criticism of the President, I think the cries of racism are overblown. Nonetheless, we can draw upon some exit polling from four years ago. In 2008 in West Virginia, 21 percent of Caucasians — more than one in five — said that the race of the candidate was an important consideration. Among that group, only nine percent voted for Obama. Similarly, in Kentucky, 18 percent of Caucasians said that the race was important, and again nine percent of them voted for Obama.
This didn’t carry into the deep South — it was not anywhere near as much an effect in Mississippi, Alabama, or Georgia…and, obviously, Arkansas had too much of a home-state effect to see any other effect in its 2008 results — it was concentrated in the Appalachian Mountains, which resulted it a minor reflection in Indiana and Ohio.
It does indicate, then, that racism isn’t a nonissue. It’s less dominant than it once was — Obama’s election is evidence for this — but clearly it’s not gone.
- Arkansas Protest Votes Against Obama Are Going to an Occupy Supporter (theatlanticwire.com)
- Obama almost loses Democratic primaries (EndtheLie.com)
- Obama loses 42 percent of Kentucky, Arkansas primary vote. Should he worry? (csmonitor.com)
- President Obama Has A Tough Night In Arkansas Primary Against Unknown Challenger John Wolfe (theamericanteaman.com)
- Where Obama-phobia is rampant (salon.com)
- A Familiar Stripe of Anti-Obama Discontent Runs Through the South (theatlanticwire.com)
- The Washington Post: What’s the matter with Ky. and Ark.? Racism, natch (twitchy.com)