Friday, March 21, 2008

America in Black and White

Nick Kristof reminds us of the legacy of the Tuskegee syphilis study:

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.


Anonymous said:

Lets not focus our attention on race issues. This country is divided enough without it. We need to stay focus on the real issues that affect us all: education, jobs, income, housing, health care . . . Must I go on. Let's keep the race card out of the political race. We need good leadership and good governement to pull this country out of the war, the mortgage crisis, the gas hikes, the recession that we are in denial about. Let's stay focus on the real problems. Color, creed, and race are not political issues. Let's stay focus, America!