Once upon a time, Americans of all races wanted to believe that the election of the first African-American president would mark the moment when the past would be put behind us and usher in a new era of mutually beneficial racial relations.

The election of Barack Obama was, indeed, historic, but now, eight years later, a new poll reveals that both black and white Americans believe relations between the races have deteriorated during his two terms as president.

When Obama won the White House in 2008, 71 percent of all Americans regardless of race believed that the election of the country’s first African-American president was “one of the most important” possible steps forward for blacks. Today, only 32 percent believe that to be true.

In 2008, an overwhelming number of Americans expected relations between the races to improve after Obama’s election; today, only 29 percent say that turned out to be the case.

On Inauguration Day 2009, only 10 percent of Americans thought Obama’s election would worsen race relations; today 46 percent, nearly half, say they are worse than before his election.

Even more significant, is the decline among blacks that Obama’s election was among the most important advances for African-Americans from 71 percent in 2008 to only 51 percent.

That drop reflects the belief among blacks that Obama did not do “enough to further black issues,” with more than half agreeing with the statement.

With violent encounters occurring with greater frequency and seriousness between white law enforcement officers and black suspects giving rise to the Black Lives Matter movement, many African-Americans see a return to the pre-civil rights era despite having Obama in the White House.

The sharp rise in the unemployment rate among African-Americans, especially young men, and the deadly gang warfare in urban areas like the South Side of Chicago, St. Louis, Baltimore and Kansas City point to worsening conditions for blacks as the first black president parties with rapper royalty like Beyoncé and Jay-Z, and holds news conferences for his March Madness picks.

 

 

 

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