Blacks, Latinos agree racism a ‘major problem,’ whites say no
Nearly two years after the nation elected its first black president, Americans remain deeply divided on how big of a problem racism is, a new survey finds, with most blacks and Latinos saying it’s a “major problem” and most whites saying it’s not.
Sixty-nine percent of African Americans and 51 percent of Latinos said they consider racism a “major problem,” according to the findings of the University of Chicago study released last week.
That compares with 29 percent of whites and 32 percent of Asian Americans.
That “polarization” suggests that President Obama needs to do more to bridge that gap, said Cathy J. Cohen, a U. of C. political science professor who was one of the survey’s lead investigators.
“This is another missed op- portunity on the part of the president,” Cohen said. “I’m a supporter of the president . . . but his unwillingness to lead around issues of race, instead of just reacting to crises, has left a void there that has been filled by the right wing, in many ways.”
The project — sponsored by the Ford Foundation — included surveys of a nationally representative 3,000 people from 2008 to early this year, according to the researchers.
The survey also asked whether the growth of minority populations strengthens the United States. Sixty-four percent of Latinos said yes, along with 51 percent of blacks, 50 percent of AsianAmericans and 18 percent of whites.