I’ve really struggled with how to write about the results of two polls on race released this week. So, let me just toss out the two findings that have induced this paralysis.
According to the Reuters-Ipsos poll, “Supporters of U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump are more likely to describe African Americans as ‘criminal,’ ‘unintelligent,’ ‘lazy’ and ‘violent’ than voters who backed some Republican rivals in the primaries or who support Democratic contender Hillary Clinton.”
According to the Pew Research Center’s survey on race, “About six-in-ten (59%) white Republicans say too much attention is paid to race and racial issues these days, while only 21% of Democrats agree.”
That folks harbor anti-black views is nothing new. An Associated Press poll from 2012 showed that negative views of African Americans jumped from 48 percent in 2008 to 51 percent in 2012. And that number jumped to 56 percent when implicit racial attitudes were factored in. But the Reuters-Ipsos poll still shocks the conscience.
Trump’s supporters are overwhelmingly white. Many of them proudly say he won them over by “telling it like it is” and “not being politically correct” with his racist, xenophobic and nativist presidential campaign. So, I’m hardly surprised that the followers of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee lead the pack in thinking that African Americans are “less ‘intelligent’ than whites” (32 percent), “more ‘lazy’ than whites” (40 percent), “more ‘violent’ than whites (nearly 50 percent) and “more ‘criminal’ than whites (nearly 50 percent).
That’s why I cocked an eyebrow when I read some of the results of the Pew poll. That 59 percent of Republicans think too much attention is paid to race or racial issues is as absurd as it is willful blindness to their contribution to the nation’s race problem. And the consequences of the attitudes expressed in the Reuters-Ipsos poll are revealed in the Pew poll.
The graphic says it all: “About half of blacks say they’ve been treated like they were suspicious or not smart.” Forty-seven (47) percent of African Americans said in the last 12 months “people acted as if they were suspicious of [them].” Two percentage points fewer (45 percent) said “people acted as if they thought [the respondent] weren’t smart.”
Now, I don’t need no stinkin’ polls to tell me what I know from my personal experience. Still, it stings when you see how little folks think of you and your people and how that manifests itself in harmful ways.
Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @Capehartj