Race and Ethnicity
June 28, 2013
Is racial prejudice on the rise in the United States?

Racism persists in the United States, according to recent polls, even as the country is projected to become a majority-minority country within 30 years. Except for Asians, ethnic groups continue to trail white Americans on most economic indicators, but minorities are flexing their electoral muscle, with blacks and Hispanics largely attributed with handing President Barack Obama his win last fall over Republican challenger Mitt Romney. As a result, both major political parties are courting Hispanic voters. Many also predict that the growing power of the Hispanic voting bloc could finally prod Congress to overcome its longstanding divide on comprehensive immigration reform and overhaul the nation’s immigration laws. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court on June 25 effectively eliminated a key provision of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965, considered the civil rights movement’s crowning achievement.

Supporters of the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act rally at the
            statehouse in Columbia, S.C., on Feb. 26, 2013. (Getty Images/Richard Ellis) Supporters of the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act rally at the statehouse in Columbia, S.C., on Feb. 26, 2013. The next day, the U.S. Supreme Court heard a case challenging a section of the act requiring South Carolina and other states with histories of discriminatory voting practices to obtain federal approval for any changes in their voting laws. (Getty Images/Richard Ellis)

Despite the re-election of America’s first African-American president, recent surveys reveal that racism still exists among Americans, along with a general perception that race relations have not improved since Barack Obama was first elected in 2008. Minorities continue to lag behind whites in most conventional measures of success. And by 2043 whites will no longer make up the majority of the U.S. population. Both major political parties are courting minorities’ favor after political analysts credited Obama’s comfortable 2012 win over Republican candidate Mitt Romney to overwhelming support from black and Hispanic voters. Immigration reform, long on Washington’s back burner, has become a congressional priority, while some state legislatures are enacting laws aimed at limiting immigration. As those laws are being challenged in the lower courts — usually successfully — the U.S. Supreme Court made major rulings on the Voting Rights Act and affirmative action, two of the bedrock accomplishments of the civil rights movement.

Disparities Continue

A 2012, a Newsweek-Daily Beast poll, taken before the president’s re-election, indicated that most Americans felt that race relations had stagnated or deteriorated during Obama’s first term, even though his 2008 election as the nation’s first African-American president was hailed by some analysts as evidence that the country had entered a “post-racial” era. At the time, 70 percent of Americans said they were optimistic that relations between blacks and whites would improve under his presidency. 1