October 30th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Why hasn't Obama had a greater impact on race relations?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Race relations have not improved as much in the U.S. as many hoped they would with the election of our first African-American president. When Barack Obama was elected, we heard a lot of talk about all the good it might do for racial tensions.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/10/30/art.obamas.jpg caption="Barack Obama and his family arrive on stage for his election night victory rally at Grant Park in Chicago on November 4, 2008."]
Well, maybe not... Consider this: 56 percent of Americans think a solution to this country's race relations problem will eventually be worked out. But that's exactly the same percentage of people who felt this way when Gallup first asked this question 46 years ago in December of 1963. So despite all the progress we've presumably made in the last half century - much has not changed.

Gallup conducted a one-night poll on November 5 of last year - right after President Obama won. At that point, 67 percent of those surveyed thought race relations would get better. They haven't.

Not surprisingly, blacks are much more pessimistic about this question than whites. Among blacks, optimism has decreased since last summer from 50 percent to 42 percent.

Gallup also found that 79 percent of Americans say blacks have equal employment opportunities to whites. That number is up since last summer. But - here again - blacks are overwhelmingly more pessimistic about equal job chances.

Lastly, the poll shows 51 percent of those surveyed agree that there's widespread racism against blacks in the U.S.

Here’s my question to you: Why hasn't the nation's first African-American president had a greater impact on race relations?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

B. from Georgia writes:
I am sorry, but only white Americans would believe that race relations would improve because Barack Obama was elected president. Black folks know the deal. They don't see things according to polls and the like. They see things according to American history and the reality of everyday living.

Patricia from Georgia writes:
I am a white older woman who thought when Pres. Obama was elected that we as a nation had overcome the racist thing. However, upon watching tea party signs and comments by talk show hosts, it is clear to me that it was deeply hidden and has now surfaced because we have a black president… I am sadly disappointed in us as a nation because of this and wonder if it will ever go away.

Q. from Massachusetts writes:
It’s because Pres. Obama won't address it. He keeps as far away from the subject as he can, or until pushed by media to speak on it. What ever happened to the great debate on race relations following the "beer summit"? How did I miss that?

Derrick from Redondo Beach, California writes:
Because white people have never been interested in having a serious conversation about race and feel they bear no responsibility for any past transgressions by members of their race. And, whites have no interest in general in rectifying the current effects of a racially-biased government if it in anyway inconveniences them. Whites tend to live in a world willfully blind to the black experience in America. Merely electing a black person changes none of that.

Pat from North Carolina writes:
Jack, Being a white, 67-year-old woman from Western North Carolina, I can tell you that there is nothing President Obama can do to change the behavior or attitudes of bigots from this part of the county. It will take divine intervention!

Keith from Ohio writes:
Martin Luther King he ain't! Every opportunity he has had, he blew it. But, it makes for great beer parties on the South Lawn.

soundoff (124 Responses)
  1. Andy in Vancouver, BC

    Easy – because racial strife has been an issue since this country was founded. To think that one person could solve this problem is silly at best.

    October 30, 2009 at 1:05 pm |
  2. Joey from Ellenton, Fla

    What is Obama supposed to do, Jack? Enter the minds of every American and let them know that racism is stupid, evil and un-American? No, it will take generations for racism to die... and with racists teaching their children to hate, it takes even longer.

    October 30, 2009 at 1:13 pm |
  3. DT from Fort Walton Beach, FL

    Basically becasue many of the poorer minorities are still struggling to keep the lights on and food on the table. They trusted the talk of change that he promised but their hasnt been any as of yet...its' the same ol story they've always dealt with whether a democrat or a Republican in the White House. All his campaign promises are like cars and real life is the train it's going head on with......we see how this will turn out...

    October 30, 2009 at 1:20 pm |
  4. John from Alabama

    Jack: President Obama has been to busy to handle race relations in America. Or maybe President Obama believes he represents all the people of America. There are plenty who will take up the banner of race relations in America, and those view civil rights has a passion and quest. But look at those folks appointed to his cabinets and White House staff, and you will see a very diversified group of humans.

    October 30, 2009 at 1:23 pm |
  5. Teresa

    Dover, Afghanistan, healthcare, Iraq, Iran, deficits, unemployment, Pakistan, and countless other things for him to "fix", we cannot expect him to do it all!
    ...without receiving the majority of the white vote; he wouldn't be president; it's that simple. That is all proof we should need that race relations have improved in this country. Of course ignorance will always exist in this country, we can't legislate that only intelligent people have children!

    October 30, 2009 at 1:41 pm |
  6. Dennis North Carolina

    he has not set up the national council on race which he said he would before he was elected.

    October 30, 2009 at 1:42 pm |
  7. Mitch from Minneapolis

    He hasn't had a greater impact on race relations because if he tried to do anything, right-wingers would accuse him of favoring African Americans. It's a double standard. If a white president worked toward better race relations, they would be regarded as a hero. A black president would be regarded as someone working out of self-interest.

    October 30, 2009 at 1:42 pm |
  8. Rick OH


    Our President has made a choice to avoid that fray. And, probably wisely. We've seen a lot of progress in race relations over the last generation. Nothing is ever finished, but for Obama to step in now would question what we as a nation have accomplished. You do not have to look long or hard to find ugliness, but you also have to acknowledge that as a nation we've grown.

    Rick, OH

    October 30, 2009 at 1:48 pm |
  9. Jerry Johns Creek, GA

    I disagree that President Obama has had a diminimous impact on race relations. His impact is not only felt within the USA but also worldwide. I think he has had a particularly positive impact on Black people and has given them an example of what can be done if you are motivated sufficiently to seek your goals. No one is stopping you.

    October 30, 2009 at 1:52 pm |
  10. Tom in Desoto, Tx

    If it was up to one individual it would be less of a problem. Since it involves over 300 million people things will move a bit slower. One person cannot command everyone to think one way.

    October 30, 2009 at 1:54 pm |
  11. Ed Tallahassee

    I think he has had a great impact, but problem of Race Relations didn't happen over night, so it won't be solved over night. I think that 10 years form now, and 20 years from now you'll see the true impact. When you have a whole Generation of Americans that their whole life there has been a Black President that generation will have a completely different view of the Race. That and all of the older people who are racist will be out of power or dead.

    October 30, 2009 at 1:57 pm |
  12. Tom, Avon, Me, The Heart of Democracy

    Au contraire, mon ami, he has had an amazing impact in just a matter of months. Less than a year ago America was despised in the world. Now we are loved.

    Within America, racists used to say and do anything without fear of consequence, ask Limpbough if they get away with it now.

    October 30, 2009 at 1:58 pm |
  13. Charleen

    He has improved relations...we elected him didn't we?
    Columbia SC

    October 30, 2009 at 2:01 pm |
  14. George from Tennessee

    President Obama has indeed had a tremendous impact on race relations in this country, but that's not the focus of media. All the media outlets choose to focus on is the negativity pouring out of the far right of the Republican Party, who are so far out there they have to have sunlight pumped to them, and all kinds of nut-jobs from palin (small p) to Limpbaugh (limp is correct) to joe the fool. If more focus would be placed on the POSITIVE impact his administration has had on the nation and the world, the nonsense will fade away and become insignificant...Can you say "Nobel?" The world is listening.

    October 30, 2009 at 2:12 pm |
  15. Doug - Dallas, TX

    Because he's been too busy fixing the mess the Republicans left for him and because race relations are like local politics, one on one. So until the general public decides to change, everything stays the same. Sad state of affairs, but unfortunately, true.

    October 30, 2009 at 2:26 pm |
  16. Nancy, Grand Ledge,MI

    Those who are racist don't like him and never did, so he doesn't have any impact on them, and those who are not racist don't dwell on the fact that he is black. We are just glad that we have a President who is not an idiot!!

    October 30, 2009 at 2:28 pm |
  17. Conor in Chicago

    If you don't like a particular race of people one of them suddenly becoming the most powerfull person in the country hurts relations instead of helping them. Obama being President isn't going to have an impact on race relations until the folks who are kids right now grow up.

    October 30, 2009 at 2:34 pm |
  18. Richard, Syracuse, NY

    First of all the President is a bit busy with the Economy and Health Care. And Second, because the very same people who are against him on his solution for the Economy and Health Care are the very same ones who do not want to see any progress on Race Relations.

    October 30, 2009 at 2:35 pm |
  19. Larry from Georgetown, Tx

    He is but one man and it takes all peoples of all races to solve the problem and most people don't want to do better.

    October 30, 2009 at 2:35 pm |
  20. Richard McKinney, Texas

    Jack I am not sure there is a gage that can really tell what impact Obama has or has not had on race relations in America. Being half white and half black does not make Obama wiser. It does not make Obama any more desirable or persuasive. Being president does not make Obama anything but the president who was elected by the people. Those people were of all races and colors. If only blacks had voted for Obama he would not be president today. Race relations in America have come a long way and we have gotten this far without Obama and will continue long after he is gone.

    October 30, 2009 at 2:36 pm |
  21. JD In NH

    Actually, I think his election has had an impact, but not necessarily a good one. It has brought the dirty, little secret to the surface: America has more racist individuals than we ever suspected we had and they come from both ends of the economic spectrum. A doctor in Florida felt it appropriate to send an offensive picture around depicting the President as a witch doctor and there are racist postings all over the Internet from people too stupid to get out of their own way. It's very sad.

    October 30, 2009 at 2:39 pm |
  22. Don - Northwood, Ohio

    Come on now, This Country Elected Obama, That right there should show you that the Majority of us could care less about Race in this Country today. A Human being is a Human being, Honesty has no Racial or Ethnic Boundaries but neither does Corruption.
    Think about It.

    October 30, 2009 at 2:41 pm |
  23. Mike S., New Orleans

    This president inherited the Bush deficit, the Bush economy, two Bush wars, a foreign policy in shambles, and you expect him to cure race relations too? Give me a break. He's been in office one year. I think the fact that he got elected in the first place improved race relations.

    October 30, 2009 at 2:48 pm |
  24. Michael Alexandria, VA

    It has had an impact, since it aggravated the closet biggots just enough to reopen the conversation. For a while, it was more acceptable to not talk about the underlying racism which is often under the surface in American society. Now it is a bit more obvious. Talking about it is not a bad thing, by the way, if the conversation educates people on their unconcious biases.

    October 30, 2009 at 2:55 pm |
  25. Frank from Peterborough

    From my observations Obama has had a tremendous impact on race relations as the racists have emerged front and center and those more tolerant and intelligent people have out numbered the racists and been more vocal about it all over the country.

    October 30, 2009 at 3:13 pm |
  26. Paulette from Dallas,PA

    Because Obama's Presidency is the one to be transitional. It will take society a while to accept this more openly. Openminded people are already in the groove but the old timers and conservatives take a while to adapt to change. It's just part of the natural evolution.

    October 30, 2009 at 3:15 pm |
  27. Dottore Giorgio in Italy

    President Obama has won the Nobel Prize for Peace! That is one of the greatest accolades that any human being on this earth can obtain! The reasons for his apparent no show on race relations are willfull in nature, and carefully planned not to further create undue criticism from borderline, inherent white supremacists, who are just waiting for serious errors to be dealt out by his presidency! After having worked, a few years ago in an all black neighborhood, in Brooklyn, N.Y., much to my chagrin, most of the black administrators, seemed to be qite comfortable in their middle class roles, and were against some black leaders of New York City who were advocating better social reforms for, poorer black, latino, and other impoverished groups! Jack, just being elected to the presidency of the United States of America has in itself had a great impact om race relations! Don't you think?

    October 30, 2009 at 3:23 pm |
  28. Mari Fernandez, Utah

    Wow..... that's a tough one. Our Nation is still racist, still has plenty of people who hate anyone who are different from them. President Obama's election was amazing and historic, but let's not be fooled...... we still have racism in our Nation!

    Since President Obama's election, I have witnessed pure hate from conservatives that claim to be Christian. The conservatives on the far-right are angry that an African American is president and that we love the guy!

    If you are black, brown, Jewish, Gay, Mexican, anything that's different you know what I am talking about.

    Our last name is Fernandez, we are 100% Spaniard, yet you should see the looks we get!

    I am saddened that in the 21st Century, our Nation is still prejudice.

    October 30, 2009 at 3:25 pm |
  29. Jackie in Dallas

    What really makes you think he hasn't, Jack? I think he has. But no one man, be it Martin Luther King or Barack Obama, can change the inertia and inbred prejudice alone. All they can do is offer positive role models that establish that race should not be used to judge people and their abilities.

    October 30, 2009 at 3:27 pm |
  30. Ray in Nashville

    Because there are still millions of people out there who have not evolved.

    October 30, 2009 at 3:29 pm |
  31. Carolyn, Pensacola, FL

    He already is. You just don't know it yet. Being the FIRST anything, be it black, Indian, or woman, is always going to be a hard path to take. Look at the first black baseball player, first black boxer, first black basketball team and see what happened next. Each second person has it a little easier until it becomes commonplace.

    October 30, 2009 at 3:36 pm |
  32. David Richards

    I think his plate is a bit full at then moment. Maybe he'll get to it later.

    October 30, 2009 at 3:38 pm |
  33. Jack in Florida

    What impact should he have had? He is an American president. He is above the hyphenated American crowd. He has more things to concern himself with than his ethnic background. He has a whole nation to lead not just a segment of it. Questions of race should no longer be raised.

    October 30, 2009 at 3:41 pm |
  34. Tina Tx

    Gee Jack give him a chance. He has to fix the horrible mess that was left behind and get everyone back to work then he can hopefully mend some race relations but from what I am hearing we are a long way off.

    October 30, 2009 at 3:44 pm |
  35. Albert K.. L.A, CA

    Obama’s work on race relations is persuasion by example. In ten months he has slowed Bush’s failed economy, saved or created hundreds of thousands of jobs, rolled back our involvement in one war while redefining another, is addressing the energy crises and global warming. He won the Nobel Peace Prize, improved the Supreme Court and even hosted a White House beer party after he acted stupidly over the Cambridge matter. But hate is blind!

    October 30, 2009 at 3:55 pm |
  36. Katiec Pekin, IL

    You keep expecting and demanding miracles from our president.
    Consider the 3 R's. Racists, radicals and the extreme religious right.
    Add to that the media continuing to keep racism in the forefront and
    you have your answer.

    October 30, 2009 at 3:56 pm |
  37. Lance, Ridgecrest, Ca

    Jack, he has had a major impact on race relations. At least he has on the ultra right and ultra left where race is an issue. The 80 % of Americans that don't live/die race on a daily basis, have other issues much more important than race to occupy our minds/time/efforts! Like JOBS, like DEFICIT, like the TREMENDOUS GROWTH OF GOVERNMENT in our lives. Race doesn't enter into this realm, because these 80% of the population are going to get hit just as hard regardless of race and we are smart enough to know that. I HOPE!

    October 30, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  38. Linda Williams San Francisco

    Jack, There are some people in this world that you are never going to change their minds about African Americans being equal. The man has only been in office for nine months and as some of you would like him to be, he is not super-man. There were many in the media said when he became president, that proves that racist doesn't exist. You and everybody that has a brain know that is not true. As a 63-year-old African-American female, I don't ever think that we will be racism free. It will be left up to the young generation to try and fix it, but I don't expect to see it in my lifetime. Some of the younger people are being influenced by their racist parents, therfore; it will exist forever.

    October 30, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  39. Brian Delray Beach, FL

    President Obama has made a significant impact on black youngsters simply by being elected. The story of his life is a blueprint for success for all young Americans who aspire to greatness. It is the young who will understand and appreciate what has happened in our Country not the old who live with some degree of prejudice. The complete nut cases will eventually die off and be replaced by thinking Americans who will look back in history and recognize that this mixed race human being was intelligent and dedicated to the improvement of the lives of all Americans. His critics today will be seen for what they are by future historians. Not for nothing the people we share the planet with in other countries already think more of us for his election than we do ourselves.

    October 30, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  40. JWC in Atlanta

    Greater impact? Are you kidding? The haters are out there and more vocal than ever. I've never heard such a stream of hate, masked behind the faces of poor losers and conspiracy theororists, all led by the usual parade of talking heads. To paraphrase Jack Nicholson.....Oh....we got race relations. We got a beauty.

    October 30, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  41. southerncousin

    I really think and hope that the majority of America is beyond the type of racial politics that are the lifeblood of people like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton and the liberal media. We hopefully have moved beyond that and are now unhappy with a president for the content of his character rather than the color of his skin. There are many of us who are tired of being called racists and other demeaning and hateful names for disagreeing with the policies of this president, his administration and the Congress. This is one are where the liberals have made and are continuing to make huge mistakes that will cost them dearly in 2010 and beyond. Their meaness and bigotry, as well as their hypocrisy have polarized so many in this country.

    October 30, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  42. Melissa

    Because there is a certain segment of the population that is simply determined to hate no matter what.

    October 30, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  43. Patty.D. Bristol, Pa.

    Dear Jack, I think he has had a positive impact. But if you listen to all the Right-wing commentators, you would think we are in a race war. I prefer to look at the glass half-full. These Right-wingers not only see it half-empty, they see it shattered.

    October 30, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  44. Donald in CA

    Because race is like raising taxes, no one wants to talk about it. If you bring up race you are accused of playing the race card. The right wing of America have Obama in a box where he cant bring up race.

    October 30, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  45. Ryan from Wisconsin

    These things take time. It is not like he can just throw a switch and have everything the way he wants. Peoples' habits need to change and most are unwilling. Its a battle, and will take time.

    October 30, 2009 at 4:20 pm |
  46. Allen in Hartwell GA

    Ah, but he has. Now that we've shown that we aren't a racists nation any longer the racists are out of the closet.

    October 30, 2009 at 4:37 pm |
  47. brenda

    President Obama being seriously considered and elected has had a tremendous impact on race relations...He could not have been elected if all the people had not voted for him.
    It has definitely brought out the haters in a vicious form. Just listen 2 the "tea party" group. Associating the President of these United States to Hitler goes beyond the pale. What the President and his family has shown it's citizens is that He is a President of the People no matter what the race.

    October 30, 2009 at 4:41 pm |
  48. Jim in Alabama

    Are you kidding Jack? Because it's difficult to find the time to drain the swamp when you're up to your ass in alligators! The man hasn't had time to address anything except the most threatening and serious national problems. Although racism is serious, it shouldn't involve a nuclear bomb.

    October 30, 2009 at 4:42 pm |
  49. Angie

    He has done more for race relations than you can ever know.
    There is a new can do message being spoken, you just don't hear it. There is a change in the attitude of the American people, you just don't see it.
    There is a new mood of possibilities, you just don't feel it
    And this message is being spoken by children of all races and backgrounds in America who are saying that since Obama became president, they the children are able to believe for the first time "No matter what I look like or the sound of my name, I can do it too!"
    My son in-law used to give excuses for everything negative that happened in his life. And believe me, he did use his race as an excuse for a lot of things.
    But now even he says "I can do it too. I need to do it for my children!"
    But the message and possiblities and attitude are very new, and like all new things it will take time to touch all Americans. And when it does, look out because even you will feel it too.

    October 30, 2009 at 4:48 pm |
  50. Ed'sKate

    Maybe because people don't want to accept the fact that we have a Bi-Racial President and not a full blooded African-American one. For some people, due to their prejudices, a Bi-Racial person is worse than a full-blooded African-American so they do not want to allow that person to have a great impact on anything let alone race relations.

    October 30, 2009 at 4:49 pm |
  51. Maria

    Do we know he hasn't? Why would we expect he would? And how can you measure the re-education of ignorant bigots in such a short time? Give us a couple of generations, for heaven's sake.


    October 30, 2009 at 4:51 pm |
  52. luci - Peoria, Il.

    How can our President have an impact on race relations when many people are racist, want to kill him, call him bad names, tell lies, will not stand behind him. He is our President of the U.S.A. We did not care for Ragean, and G. Bush but accepted they were voted in, so we lived with it. The Media are already looking to see who they can get to beat Obama and the Democrat Congress. Can any of you quit being so lop sided? Disgusting.

    October 30, 2009 at 4:56 pm |
  53. B. Jackson

    I am sorry but only White Americans would believe that race relations would improve because Barack was elected President. Black folks know the deal. They don't see things according to polls and the like. They see things according to American history and the reality of everday living.

    October 30, 2009 at 5:03 pm |
  54. Sheena1a

    On the contrare, I think he made a big big impact on race relations, its worse than ever now, thats all you hear about now.....

    October 30, 2009 at 5:05 pm |
  55. frankie

    I think that yes, there has been a change and we really needed it. Right now, you just proved this by starting a discussion about racism. On TV, I see black Americans being interviewed about their thoughts on topics that have nothing to do with race, this didn't use to happen that much even two years ago. And, the media has noticed that inner-city black children can have unbelievably horrible problems walking home from school or going to a school homecoming dance. And, most people who criticize this Administration, do so for reasons that have nothing to do with race. This all isn't much, but, it is one day at a time, progress not perfection.

    October 30, 2009 at 5:07 pm |
  56. Laura Springfield, MO

    Still too many conservative white middle and older age people who feel they are better than black people and don't have the courage to change, its terrible and i see it big time were i live here in the mid-west. We as a country still have a lot to learn, were very behind when it comes to race, and sex.

    October 30, 2009 at 5:08 pm |
  57. Brandon - Olympia, WA

    Four words, Jack: That's not his job.

    October 30, 2009 at 5:09 pm |
  58. Pete

    Jack, because ignorance and stupidity, unfortunate as it is, will never go out of style...

    October 30, 2009 at 5:10 pm |
  59. Ken Deminick

    Because there are still a lot of bigots in America, Jack. Because we allow people like Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck and others to spread hate & fear.

    October 30, 2009 at 5:11 pm |
  60. Kevin in Chicago

    Race relations will never improve in our country until we first admit to ourselves, on a personal level, that we hold prejudges in our heart. Then we have a willingness to eradicate those prejudges from our being. We are so comfortable saying "America is the Greatest Nation on Earth"; this belief engrained in us from birth does not afford us the opportunity to grow, evolve and seek a more perfect and equal Union for all people.

    October 30, 2009 at 5:11 pm |
  61. Andrew Raines, Houston

    It's not his resopnisbility to fix each person's individual response to racism.. It is each person's responisbility to take ownershihp of their own actions.. It's a grassroots individual problem, not a Presidential problem!

    Andrew, Houston Tx

    October 30, 2009 at 5:12 pm |
  62. Patricia/Georgia

    I am a white older woman who thought when President Obama was elected that we as a nation had overcome the racist thing. However, upon watching tea party signs and comments by talk show hosts, it is clear to me that it was deeply hidden and has now surfaced because we have a black president. Many consider him inferior while he is actually smarter than many white men. I am sadly disappointed in us as a nation because of this and wonder if it will ever go away.

    October 30, 2009 at 5:12 pm |
  63. Diane Dagenais Turbide


    I do not have the answer...but if I were to be honest with you Jack, when following the campaigns where everyone expressed that America was ready to elect an African-American as President, every single day of the campaigns I never beleived of this readiness but I definitely knew I wanted to see that change happen in America and America did elect and African-American as President : America is now just learning living with such great change at the top because that is the change that will trickle down!

    October 30, 2009 at 5:12 pm |
  64. Jeremy Johnson, Myrtle Beach South Carolina

    Race is major problem anywhere you go. It will continue to always be a problem. You cant look at just one race anymore. It's from all sides of every race and there isn't one side you can blame. Issues of race are never going to end.

    October 30, 2009 at 5:12 pm |
  65. Stephanie

    He and his election are having an impact. If you think impact looks "no more racism" and peace and harmony, you need to look again. We're talking about it, there are discussions over dinner table and conference tables about it, and those who perpetuate racism are coming out of the insect-infested cracks in the woodwork and exposing the depth of the problem in ways that that been largely hidden for the the few decades.

    I call that the beginning of the end. It just may not be pretty along the way.

    October 30, 2009 at 5:12 pm |
  66. Theodore R. Wade Jr.

    Race relations have not improved because America has not changed as much as you think. As a matter of fact many more white males feel more threatened with the election of a Bi-racial President than they did before the election. If you have not noticed racist events have increased in the past year.
    Trust me on this. I am a Bi-racial male, married to a White female for 47 years and things have not improved all that much in that time.
    On the other hand I have found that Germany is far more race indifferent that the United State has ever been.

    October 30, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  67. Dwight

    Repulicans, Teabaggers, Birthers, Fox, Economy, 2 wars,Rush,Glen!!!!!!!! I could go on. He"s one human not a GOD.

    October 30, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  68. Lisa

    I believe that the President has inspired more black Americans to reach for the stars, but it seems that since he has been elected, I have heard people make more racist comments than ever (mostly Caucasians.) It seems that since there is an African American in charge who is making drastic changes to our political climate, people are no longer able to suppress their racist ideas.

    October 30, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  69. John, Fort Collins, CO

    President Obama's positive influence on race relations has to be huge, but the measurable effects will likely take many years to be realized. In our society we tend to evaluate success on a quarter-by-quarter basis, take General Motors for example, but the true impact can only be determined over the long run. You probably won't have to ask this same question ten years from now.

    October 30, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  70. Donald Hennig

    How can race relations improve, Jack, with liberals running around yelling that any opposition to Obama's policies must be racism? It just adds weight to the claim that certain people don't want race relations to improve.

    October 30, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  71. Tantoo Cardinal

    Because we are "in process". To me, it seems like he's a walking poultice at this point.
    Since it's difficult for folks to readily admit racism we go through this time pretending that it's all these other things bothering. With racism is an intrinsic mistrust and innate feeling of superior intelligence.
    I doubt that there has been a wiser leader but he has to buffet all these old "leaders" who are sure he won't get it.
    He warned that this is a big ship to be turned around and already, in the first 8 months people are saying -"what about all those promises he made!". I'd like to see THem turn the ship on a dime.
    I think he is doing incredibly well.

    October 30, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  72. Chrisitna

    I believe that Americans have a very skewed idea about "race". There is no basis for racism, except that it has become a part of our political system with the advent of slavery and our desire to exert power over people. I think that in order to begin to unravel the notions of inequalities based on this race myth we need much more than a black president. It would require redefining how we view PEOPLE as a whole, not individuals based simply on skin color.

    October 30, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  73. jace

    its going to take more than nine months and one black man to change racism in America and around the world. Remember, Rome wasn't built in a day. Obama is just a piece of the change, not THE CHANGE.

    October 30, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  74. Ali - Ann Arbor, Mi

    Because racism is learned behavior taking years and decades to take root in the mind of an individual. The president being partially black for the next 4-8 years will have little immediate effect on race relations in this country. However, the next generation will be effected the most and you will note a clear difference in attitudes.

    October 30, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  75. billy

    He is just one man. Looked at twice everyday just like the rest of us. Black and a man. He just brings to the surface what some people have been feeling all along. Until salaries are equal to that of the majority, then to me he has done no more than the previous Presidents.

    October 30, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  76. Jonathan Locke

    President Obama is only one person. Simply being Black and being president does not alter the institutional racism that has been built into this country since the founding in 1776. You cannot separate race from class, gender, and sexuality. There is not such thing as multiculturalism without equality. And there is no such thing as equality without the redistribution of wealth. And yes, I understand how radical that sounds but we need to be more critical of our democracy and ourselves in order to have progressive change.

    October 30, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  77. Gail

    Jack, unfortunately Obama was overwhelmingly supported by progressive thinking citizens ages 18-50 with a moderate amount of baby boomers beyond 50. The fear of a majority "minority" population in America changing policies and the perceived privilege of the majority dimenishing fuels the continued hatred, disrespect and ignorance.

    October 30, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  78. Ben in New Mexico

    Racism had cooled since the civil rights movement of the 1960's but the racists have still been there. Now, they've been shocked with the fact of a Black Man heading the highest office of the land and seem to have gotten additional motivation from particular radio talk hosts and a few fundamentalist preachers.

    October 30, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  79. David A Whitaker

    Jack racism is so interwwined into all parts of our society. It doesn't matter that we have a African American President, we still have people in society that start their kids at a young age to hate. How can we change that with a African American President, they have call President Obama all kind of names in the book. They have disrepected him on all level, people have verbally said that they want this president to fail. What type of country is this, its a disgrace for some the so called american, and their answer is I want my country back. This is our country too


    October 30, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  80. Derrick in Redondo Beach, CA

    Obama's race does not end prejudice, bias mortgage lending practices, unequally funded black schools, police brutality, make racist whites anymore enlightened, or erase the effects of a government that spent hundreds of years declaring that nonwhites where not entitled to equality under the law.

    October 30, 2009 at 5:16 pm |
  81. Carlos

    Just because the majority of American people elected an African American president doesn't mean racisim just went away. Racist people don't just stop being racist because they have a black president, it's what they've been taught all their life. Racism has been around for a long time and I don't believe it will ever go away completely.

    October 30, 2009 at 5:16 pm |
  82. michael zerebnick

    Greater than what? His position as president is in itself the greatest impact he could ever have on racial relations. The responsibility for resolving racism is in the hands of all of us, not in the hands of any one person in public office- no matter what their position, race, or title.

    October 30, 2009 at 5:16 pm |
  83. Mike

    Racism is there and a black man being president isn't going to change that but it does underline that barriers are broken and you can't blame all your personal failures on the color of your skin. Some people will not like you no matter what you look like or do and no matter what color you are there is going to be some idiot out there who does not like it.

    October 30, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  84. Steve in Ohio

    If white people had to take a mandatory course in African American studies, then perhaps race relations would improve. To think that Obama's election would improve race relations in this country is a fairytale that whitefolks embrace to help forgive themselves and their ancestors' racist behaviors and attitudes. Think of all those who came before Obama who tried and failed: Martin Luther King, Ghandi, and Rodney King ("Can't we all just get along"). Just kidding on that last one...
    Ignorance and fear is what drives racism. Black people live in "white America" every day, its time for whitefolks to spend a little classroom time in Black America to do away with those fears and attitudes.

    October 30, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  85. Pat from North Carolina

    Being a white sixty-seven year old woman from Western North Carolina, I can tell you that there is nothing President Obama can do to change the behavior or attitudes of bigots from this part of the county. It will take divine intervention!

    October 30, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  86. Jesus Aguilar

    It took a Civil war, the full integration of African-Americans into the armed forces after World War 2 and robust civil rights movements to try to give equality to all Americans. But yet, that didn't solve the problem. The problem does not lie with the politicians but within ourselves. Maybe if we took less time of watching what we wish was "reality" on t.v., we could overcome our American racial issue.

    October 30, 2009 at 5:21 pm |
  87. Susan from Twin Falls Idaho

    The impact we all make on society is not what race our president it's how we conduct ourselves.

    October 30, 2009 at 5:21 pm |
  88. a.c. of La.

    Contrary to what you think Barack Obama does not have "magic Powers", he cant wave his pen and make all unpleasantness go away...Racism is passed from one generation to another, it becomes so second nature that people dont even realize they are racist...they will deny it in one breath, and make a racist remark in the next......we as Mothers, Fathers, Grandparents, brothers, sisters, have to stop it. and set a better example.

    October 30, 2009 at 5:21 pm |
  89. Ingrid, NYC

    barak obama is a great man, and will likely be a great president. he evoked all the hope and optimism that is in each of our hearts, the expectations rose until you could no longer see where they began. expectation that he will change washington, fix the economy, resolve the wars, fix health care, fix don't ask don't tell, and fix all discrimination in this country and that this was going to magically happen as soon as he took the oath of office. so my answer to the question is that we all do need to come to grips that while hope and expectations that things will change help keep us going, the process does take much much longer. how do we really expect 200 years of racism to change in a night, or how we really expect to fix an economy that took eight years to ruin, or how do fix wars when there was no clarity about why we are in them. maybe we all need to grow up a little, and deal with the disappointment that our dreams did not come true immediately, we need to be patient because i think in the end we may well be surprised.

    October 30, 2009 at 5:22 pm |
  90. P.J.

    The election of Barack Obama showed that signifigant progress has been made, however that does not mean that certain peoples individual situations have changed. What has happened is that the true colors of certain people have now come forward, with the birthers, teaparties and bad people like Limbaugh and Glen Beck. The people who focus on negativity will always be the most outspoken and it gives a strong perception of racism. As things continue to get better and situations change attitudes may adjust but with people like the ones mentioned above it will continue to be difficult.

    October 30, 2009 at 5:22 pm |
  91. Daniel Hickey


    I can understand the views and fears of the minority communities with regard to 'race relations' not improving since our President Barack Obama started his run for the Presidency.

    The ugly face of the racist extreme right wing elements of our society, which has had no reason to be as vocal over the 8 years of the last administration; 'he was there man'! but they are now themselves feeling threatened because their 'extremely small' minds cannot accept a reality of their worst fears; "A President other than a white male".

    Doesn't matter that he, Barack Obama, could be, and most probably will be the best President of all our Presidents, and will take this country into its best years.

    'Country First' ? Not if those extreme right wingers have their say.

    Thank you

    Dan Hickey

    October 30, 2009 at 5:23 pm |
  92. art thompson

    Sorry my fellow Americans,
    Our way of thinking has festered for hundreds of years.
    People who hate people for what ever reason, are not going to change overnight.
    The thought of calling the president of the united states a lair on worldwide tv.
    A.Thompson (A Black Man in America)

    October 30, 2009 at 5:23 pm |
  93. jonathan

    The man has more important things to worry about ..than weather o not we as Americans get along ...If the race relations have not improved ...the world really has not change...51 percent voted not for Obama ...We as people should not judge him as black or white ...just as President ...Obama ....

    October 30, 2009 at 5:23 pm |
  94. Dianne of Paducah

    Electing Obama bought the racist out in full force. I live in Kentucky. Race relations has gotten worse. Electing an african american president has not and will not change ones heart. Only "God" can do that.

    October 30, 2009 at 5:24 pm |
  95. Lance Conley


    Those on the far right are constantly trying to bait the President into an argument about race. (see Glen Beck, Roy Blunt, Rush..etc. etc.etc.) The good thing is that he is frustrating them by not taking the bait. If he were to make the slightest reference to race, it would get spun and turned around saying that the President hates white people (insert Glen Beck here) I think if he keeps to make rational decisions about people regardless of race, then he can do more to mend race relations then any other president that we have had since JFK.

    October 30, 2009 at 5:25 pm |
  96. Steven

    In recent years there have been a number of "Implied Association Tests" devised which consistently demonstrate that almost everyone has prejudices of which we may not even be aware. Only increased familiarity can ameliorate this underlying phenomenon. For instance, the increased presence of minority faces in movies, commercials and videos has helped to make "white America" more comfortable with what were once only stereotyped rarities. Citizens of cities that have seen minorities do well in elected political office are more comfortable electing others. If President Obama demonstrates competence the "novelty factor" will fade, but it takes time, especially when some people are alarmed at the prospect of no longer being the majority and some see opportunities to exploit those fears for political or economic gain.

    October 30, 2009 at 5:26 pm |
  97. Lance Conley


    Those on the far right are constantly trying to bait the President into an argument about race. (see Glen Beck, Roy Blunt, Rush..etc. etc.etc.) The good thing is that he is frustrating them by not taking the bait. If he were to make the slightest reference to race, it would get spun and turned around saying that the President hates white people (insert Glen Beck here) I think if he keeps to make rational decisions about people regardless of race, then he can do more to mend race relations then any other president that we have had since JFK.

    Lance C

    Kansas City

    October 30, 2009 at 5:26 pm |
  98. tim

    Obama’s election as president stands as a symbol that most Americans are actually willing to give any one a chance to do an important task. However, his election does not represent an improvement in race relations. These relationship dynamics are too far engrained and deep rooted to shift as a result of this significant, yet singular moment. He is a symbol of the ideal; actual daily interactions between different groups are a separate issue.

    October 30, 2009 at 5:26 pm |
  99. Todd, Washington DC

    Why hasn't the nation's first African-American president had a greater impact on race relations?

    He has had a GREAT impact on race relations, however, not the optimistic one that I and many other people wanted. The election of President Obama has brought out the worst of many of our white, conservative citizens. We have all seen the rise of Glenn Beck's bigotry and continued slander of Rush Limbaugh, and the ads showing non-minorities saying that they "want their country back".

    Those wanting their country back seem to be alarmed that a non-white person has ascended the the highest office. The bottom line is that President Obama is CLEARLY the best person for the job and we need to embrace and support our leader.

    I support our President wholeheartedly, am focused on the issues and not politics, and strongly believe that ALL Americans should be doing the same. Continuing to accept the faux supremacy and imperialism of the past does not help us get closer as a country and should be considered treason.

    Patriotism is supporting our country unequivocally and that starts by supporting our President. Let's get there America.

    October 30, 2009 at 5:28 pm |
  100. Phil, Georgia

    Pres. Obama trully isn't the Messiah!! His election kind of like a Big Downpayment on better race relations. Many people hearts have opened to greater possibilities but there is still tons of "Obama's" to be elected and discussions to be had.

    October 30, 2009 at 5:29 pm |
  101. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    I never expected the first African American President or any President to have an impact or change in race relations. It's a moral responsibility of our religious leaders to be more involved in making a difference in race relations. If you look back, we called Rev. Wright out for teaching hate, so why can't our religious leaders be called on to impact change.

    October 30, 2009 at 5:29 pm |
  102. Torre

    A lot of it has to do with the fact that the minority is slowly becoming the majority. And the fact that white people fear losing political power and influence (well Rush Limbaugh does anyway). There's also persistent fear of minorities changing policies to benefit them etc...It's kinda hard for the more optimistic white Americans to see the problems black people see. Or is some cases it could be just bitter denial.

    October 30, 2009 at 5:29 pm |
  103. Roland-St George,UT

    He was elected to be president. I know that race relations is an important issue, but as president, sometimes there are bigger fish to fry, and I'm sure Mr. Obama (and those working for civil rights) realize this as well. Nobody has given up on civil rights, but Mr. Obama can't be two places, doing two things, at one time.

    October 30, 2009 at 5:29 pm |
  104. Harry Lime

    No single person and no one moment in time will correct this cultural feeling. It will take generations to squeeze this out of mankind.

    October 30, 2009 at 5:31 pm |
  105. David, Tampa, Fl

    Simply, bad economic conditions bring out some of the best and worst in us. Those who are sharing our misery we tolerate, those we preceive as competitors we don't and our baser instincts take over. And we are supposed to be the intelligent species on this planet?

    October 30, 2009 at 5:35 pm |
  106. Henry from Atlanta

    Unfortunately, his election has emboldened the right wing and the conservative fringe to express their hatred. They were so fearful that they would lose whatever advantages they thought they had. They imagined that an African American President would favor Blacks to their detriment. They also feel that he doesn't belong in the White House simply because of his race.. The Republicans aren't helping either by fanning the flames of hatred and saying NO to whatever he says or does. They would rather have their constituents suffer than allow him to succeed. Seeing this has made African Americans depressed after being so elated at his election. The sight of them cheering because the US lost the 2012 Olympics was the last straw.

    October 30, 2009 at 5:36 pm |
  107. LaVerne E Brison

    Jack: What is one person to do? Barack Obama is not God. He has been called every name in the book from racist to communist by the people in this country who are truly the racists. I don't expect him to fix everything that is wrong with this Country. Why do you? We have come very far in this Country, after all, we did elect him. I say that we , the people in this Country , or the one's who should work on this issue not the President.

    October 30, 2009 at 5:36 pm |
  108. jon - Crystal Lake, IL

    Who says he hasn't? I disagree with your conclusion. Race relations can only be judged on an individual basis. To lump people together based on race is irrelevant. It's gives you something to talk about. Obama has made great strides in regional relations; (those that really matter) bringing Cubs Fans and Sox Fans closer together...regardless of Race.

    October 30, 2009 at 5:38 pm |
  109. Sid

    Jack, we've had to watch our tongues for eight years. The freedom of speech is back. Eight years of silence causes a lot of hated, and as always you hurt the ones you love. Give us time to learn how to be human again. Obama is changing things, but its slow. Its a trust thing that the GOP stoled for each of us.

    October 30, 2009 at 5:38 pm |
  110. art thompson

    I stil encounter racism in some form on a regular basis, but have learned to consider the source. My father always said"two wrongs do not make a right". So I continue to to do what I know to bh the right thing.(Golden Rule)

    October 30, 2009 at 5:39 pm |
  111. Ken in NC

    He has made an impact but Jack it is not in his job description. He's also not in the position to speak out very much on that issue as he must always demostrate to the American people that he is the President of the United States and not just the President of the Black United States.

    October 30, 2009 at 5:39 pm |
  112. pstills -montpelier va

    people's minds and hearts will have to change more, before we see real change in race.Obama is just an instrument sent by GOD.

    October 30, 2009 at 5:40 pm |
  113. Chris

    We can legislate racism all we want. We CANNOT legislate what is in people's hearts and minds. I and my family run into racist behavior from many white people on a fairly regular basis including the local school system despite my daughter pretty much being at the top of her grade. We have decided not to keep quiet and to fight back. We just got a store supervisor fired for her racist behavior towards my wife at a local fabric store. Unfortunately the management discovered numerous other problems at the store and fired the entire staff. We are hard working immigrants and we are as American as any other American born in America. What we have achieved in a short 17 years on our own is not attainable by many Americans in their entire lifetime.

    October 30, 2009 at 5:40 pm |
  114. Dominic

    Having an African-American president naturally thrusts racial issues to the forefront adding much pressure and high expectations. People then tend to scrutinize more and increase judgment toward individuals and then entire groups. Divisions deepen and alienation worsens as people abandon civility and responsibility to our fellow man because the notion that now minorities have their hero, caretaker or token.
    Furthermore, politically motivated attacks against the President fuels hatred and intolerance by giving fallacious reasoning to the prejudice. Poisonous mouthpieces unite the dark spirit that wishes for President Obama's failure and not out of anything noble.
    What do we expect to result when fair minds are rejected and replaced with venom?

    October 30, 2009 at 5:43 pm |
  115. Sophia

    Come on Jack, do you really have to ask? There are over 300 million people in the US, only a small percentage participate in elections and they are usually the more educated citizens. So that still leaves millions of bigets and uninformed individuals who unfortunately still have a voice and unfortunately speaks the loudest.

    October 30, 2009 at 5:44 pm |
  116. Marion Williams

    Race relations have not gotten any better and possibly even have gotten worse since the Honorable Barack Obama was voted our 44th President of the United States of America because so many influential people in high places (entertainment, media, political arena) are perpetuating and feeding all of us with negative, nasty, and out-right prejudice feedback from all the critics who did not vote for him and who would desire to see him fail. What they fail to understand is that the entire world has their eyes on us; they see all of the envy, jealousy, prejudice, hate mongering, and serious begrudgingness we see and hear on a daily basis. We have freedom of speech and we've run it into the ground!

    If President Obama does not act on or answer a crisis situation quick enough, he's too slow. If he receives accolades from the world for what he has begun to do to bring about a better relationship between the United States of America and other nations, he did not deserve it. If he is serious about making sure every American receives the opportunity to have affordable health care coverage–he is fought tooth and nail.

    He is our President. It is time for our nation to come together and prove all of the naysayers wrong! Stop fighting every petty situation that may come our way; the back-biting; the we vs. them (when the we vs. them is still us...USA).

    What are we going to do when the real serious, real mountainous realities hit home? I mean, REALLY hit home? It is time for our nation to come together as one–a United State! It is time for 'racism' to become a word of the past. We better wake up. While we're stuck on race relations and who we can hate on next, the world is passing us up in every area that we were number one.

    October 30, 2009 at 5:44 pm |
  117. athompson

    Sorry my fellow Americans,
    Our way of thinking has festered for hundreds of years.
    People who hate people for what ever reason are not going to change overnight.
    The thought of calling the president of the united states a lair on worldwide tv.
    A.Thompson (A Black Man in America)
    this the comment I intended to send

    October 30, 2009 at 5:45 pm |
  118. Katiec Pekin, IL

    Perhaps if our president was given a little more respect by you and the media, perhaps if he was not dammed if he does and dammed if he doesn't, perhaps if we had a political party that was not inciting hate, anger, fear mongering our country would not feel so much
    Perhaps if they would be able to look at the issues as they are,
    not as they are told they are, get fair and unbiased reporting, less
    senationalizing from the media things might be more stable.

    October 30, 2009 at 5:51 pm |
  119. Lu Morgan

    Racism has been an issue since this country was founded. It is unrealistic and unreasonable to expect that Obama will influence the overal views involving race relations in this country. He has been busy attempting to restore a fallen economic system and 8 years of abuse on many angles from the former Chief Executive which has terribly effected the view of the United States for its citizens and those abroad. Obama being elected as President has shown great strides have been made for some and they personally act to improve themselves and racial views. For others that don't approve Obama, whether it be racial prejudice or political, this is an opportunity for them to sound off and try to justify their discontent. People need to remember why they felt race relations would change after his election and manifest this in their everyday lives.

    October 30, 2009 at 5:53 pm |
  120. Shelia Horn

    When has President Obama addressed race relations? Seriously. I am African-Amercian, and I have no expectations of immediate change for African-Amercians; because the president happens to be. I have the same problems that were there a year ago and will be there through, and after Obama's presidency. I think President Obama is trying to be president, an yes he is African-American, but it ends there.

    October 30, 2009 at 5:56 pm |
  121. David in Raleigh, NC

    Racism is over in this country. The only racists are those that call others racists to shame from disagreeing with President Obama.

    October 30, 2009 at 5:57 pm |
  122. PeaceMaker

    I would like to respond to what the white older lady said.
    " I am disappointed in us as a nation".
    My responce to that is:
    "I am dosappointed in us as a species.We should be A-Shamed of ourselves".

    October 30, 2009 at 5:58 pm |
  123. Whatawhit

    Obama has had a profound effect on race relations in America. He has forced the racist bigots to come out of the closet and reveal the fact that they don't even consider Blacks to be Americans. This is why we so often hear the euphamism, "Real Americans". Obama's presence is a major affront to them.

    October 30, 2009 at 6:00 pm |
  124. Brian

    i dont think that after 11 months on the job that anyone could "fix" the race relations problems in this country. Pres. Obamas' impact on race relations wont be felt until the young men and women of this country who are being impacted by him grow to lead this country and leave the "old guard" of bigots and racist behind and finaly a thing of the past. I have felt a difference both good and bad.

    October 30, 2009 at 6:02 pm |