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Poll: Six in 10 Americans Say Race Relations Bad

  • VOA News

The words “Black Lives Matter” spray painted on a monument to former Confederate President Jefferson Davis in Richmond, Va., June 25, 2015.

The words “Black Lives Matter” spray painted on a monument to former Confederate President Jefferson Davis in Richmond, Va., June 25, 2015.

A recent U.S. poll indicates America has not entered the post-racial "world of harmony" that so many had envisioned with the election of the country's first African American president.

Almost six in 10 Americans, including large majorities of both blacks and whites, say they think current race relations are bad, while nearly four in 10 think race relations in the country are getting worse, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll conducted last week.

Shortly after Barack Obama's election, two-thirds of Americans said they thought the country's race relations were "generally good."

In 2008, during Obama's first presidential campaign, almost 60 percent of African Americans described race relations as "generally bad." That number was reduced by half right after his election.

Now, however, 68 percent of African Americans say they think relations are bad.

The report on the poll in The New York Times says this is the "highest level of discontent among blacks during the Obama years and close to the numbers recorded in the aftermath of the riots that followed the 1992 acquittal of Los Angeles police officers charged in the beating of Rodney King."

The poll comes after the mass media attention and demonstrations following a number of killings of black men at the hands of white police officers, as well as the killing of Bible study group members in an AME church in Charleston, South Carolina by a young, white man.

Only a fifth of those surveyed they they think race relations are improving. Forty percent of both blacks and whites said race relations are "essentially the same."

Nearly half of those surveyed said the election of the country's first black president has had no effect on bringing the races together. A third said it had driven them further apart. Fifteen percent said race relations have improved.

A hefty 72 percent of African Americans said they approved of the way Obama is handling race relations, compared with 40 percent for whites.

There was a stark difference in the responses to whether most Americans had judged Obama more harshly because of his race. Eighty percent of African Americans said yes, compared to only 37 percent of whites who agreed.

In Obama's eulogy for Reverend Clementa Pinckney, the pastor of Emanuel AME, the site of the Bible study group massacre, the president said, "For too long we've been blind to the way past injustices continue to shape the present."

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