To whites ... it has been shocking to hear [Barack Obama's pastor, Jeremiah] Wright suggest that the AIDS virus was released as a deliberate government plot to kill black people.
That may be an absurd view ... but a 1990 survey found that 30 percent of African-Americans believed this was at least plausible.
“That’s a real standard belief,” noted Melissa Harris-Lacewell, a political scientist at Princeton (and former member of Trinity church, when she lived in Chicago). “One of the things fascinating to me watching these responses to Jeremiah Wright is that white Americans find his beliefs so fringe or so extreme. When if you’ve spent time in black communities, they are not shared by everyone, but they are pretty common beliefs.”
Occasionally, we’ve had glimpses of this gulf between white and black America. Right after the O.J. Simpson murder trial, a CBS News poll found that 6 out of 10 whites thought that the jury had reached the wrong verdict, while 9 out of 10 blacks believed it had decided correctly. Many African-Americans even believe that the crack cocaine epidemic was a deliberate conspiracy by the United States government to destroy black neighborhoods.
Much of the time, blacks have a pretty good sense of what whites think, but whites are oblivious to common black perspectives.
Friday, March 21, 2008