A year out from the 2008 presidential election, the high hopes Americans had for race relations right after Barack Obama’s victory at the polls have yet to be fully realized. Currently, 41% of Americans believe race relations have gotten better since Obama’s win; another 35% think they have not changed, while 22% say they have gotten worse. Last November, 70% thought race relations would improve as a result of the landmark outcome.
Fifty-three percent of blacks and 39% of whites think relations have improved overall, but only 11% of blacks and 7% of whites think they have improved a lot.
Then as now, 24 percent of Americans believe President Obama “will go too far in promoting efforts to aid the black community.” In fact, more Americans think “Obama’s policies to aid blacks will not go far enough.”
Among African Americans, 32 percent now say Obama hasn’t done enough, up from 20 percent in June 2008.
It bears repeating: Black folks have to stop hoping for “the big payback.” They must push for the change they voted for in November 2008.
During a recent National Action Network weekly rally, the Rev. Al Sharpton observed:
We voted for the possibility of change. You can’t have one vote and think that’s the end of your contribution. There is no one-vote revolution.
To bring about change, one must stay engaged. Civic engagement is a process; voting is an event. You can have a record turnout on Election Day and record unemployment one year later.
So, while Gallup focuses on the perception of racial inequality, the reality is that in the age of Obama, blacks still do not enjoy the same opportunities that whites have.