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Will the Election of Obama Change Racism in America and Canada?

By Carol Forsloff     Feb 11, 2009 in Lifestyle
Barack Obama’s election to the Presidency of the United States was heralded everywhere as a breakthrough in race relations. But has it changed speech and daily behavior? It hasn't if observations and scientific study are correct.
It will likely take more than an election to do that.
Recently at a public gathering a woman was overheard to describe someone who had been standing in the door blocking traffic of customers coming in and out. She was described as African American. Someone said that’s what “those people do.” No one said anything about the remark at the time, nor later. There were those who had nodded agreement and others who kept silent. This happened after Obama’s election and shows that racial remarks and apathy about them continues, but what does science say?
A recent study shows that there is a remarkably high tolerance for racism. Even though there is a high stigma associated for racism, and many folks proclaim they are free of it, there has been an ongoing concern about why discrimination towards African Americans continues anyway.
In the study, 120 graduate students were exposed to an experiment where a black person accidentally slightly bumped into a white person. The white confederate either said nothing, or "I hate it when black people do that," or said, "clumsy n____." These students were divided into groups, some of whom had the incident described, some watched it on video, and still others saw the incident when it happened. Specifically, a white person has been shown to have made a racist comment about a black individual after he leaves the room.
After the experiment, students were asked to respond by selecting a partner to work with on a subsequent experiment. It was found that those students who had not watched the incident but only had it reported to be upset by the white individual’s racist remarks enough not to want to work with the individual. If they witnessed the incident and actually heard the racist comments, they were still willing to work with the person who had made those comments.
Kerry Kakami, a professor who led the research, said that the research shows is this: "What we found was that students were more likely to choose the white confederate as a partner (63 per cent), despite the fact that the white person had made a racist comment about the black person And the racist comments ranged from moderate to one of the most powerful anti-black slurs in the English language."
The study was a joint Canadian – American one done at York University, and one blogger in news and politics said that the results were realistic based upon observations of such situations, although disturbing nonetheless. Nevertheless, this writer observed that countering racist remarks isn’t always easy to do. Sometimes a boss will say negative in general about African American to an employee, putting the employee in an awkward situation. There are similar situations where countering racism can be difficult.
Rush Limbaugh’s approach is different. He is concerned about racism from the African American community since Barack Obama became President of the United States. But the issue is racist speech referencing African Americans. Rush believes the mere election of Obama won’t make changes in racism, however; and that seems supported by the study, at least when it comes to racism involving whites towards African Americans..
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