Not so long ago in January 2009, America’s view of race relations was at a high 77%. This was following the inauguration of the first African American president, Barack Obama. This was seen as a victory in the fight against racial inequality and as evident as the 77%, Americans were beginning to feel as though racism could soon be a thing of the past.
But ever since January of 2009, that 77% has continued to drop. According to data pulled from a new Wall Street Journal/ NBC poll, today only 34% of Americans feel that race relations are fairly good or very good. So what is responsible for the decline in sentiment?
This drastic decline really started with the incident and the trial State of Florida v. George Zimmerman, whereas Zimmerman, was charged with second-degree murder in February 2012 for shooting Trayvon Martin, but was found not guilty in July 2013. This trial became a monstrous controversy of race due to the parties involved, Martin was a 17-year-old African American, while Zimmerman was a white Hispanic.
The acquittal of Zimmerman was the beginning of the Black Lives Matter campaign. Since then, BLM has brought to light a series of police killings of unarmed African Americans. Ferguson Unrest and more recently, the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore both sparked violent riots.
But it’s not the incidents themselves that have fueled the American public to protest in a violent outrage, instead it is how Obama’s administration has responded. Obama has made it clear to where he stands regarding BLM. “I think that the reason that the organizers used the phrase Black Lives Matter was not because they were suggesting that no one else’s lives matter … rather what they were suggesting was there is a specific problem that is happening in the African American community that’s not happening in other communities,” said Obama.
Obama also publicly responded to Baltimore and blamed it on society. “If our society really wanted to solve the problem, we could. It’s just it would require everybody saying this is important, this is significant — and that we don’t just pay attention to these communities when a CVS burns, and we don’t just pay attention when a young man gets shot or has his spine snapped,” said Obama. Although, he condemned the violent riots, he also criticized the way the Baltimore police department handled the situation. Since then, he has started to prohibit the federal government from providing certain equipment to local departments. Making it more difficult for police departments to defend themselves.
This is just one of the many examples of how he has amplified racial issues as president. Instead of uniting the country on these issues, he is radically dividing a nation by consistently race-baiting. Obama, along with Attorney General Eric Holder, has always been rather critical of the American public on how they have handled racial matters. Holder has even used the term “nation of cowards.” So it’s safe to say- that Obama may not be solely responsible for the demise of the American sentiment towards race relations, but he continues to add fuel to fire any chance he can get. This has evidently caused the country’s diminished view of race relations.