To deny that racism is still prevalent in the US is to deny reality.

To deny that much of the vicious hatred of Barak Obama exists on a foundation of racism is also to deny reality.

Melissa-Harris-Perry is one of the best, most insightful commentators on social and political issues that I know of.

Here she discusses the effects of racism on the perception of Barak Obama.

Black President, Double Standard: Why White Liberals Are Abandoning Obama

by Melissa Harris-Perry

The Epistemology of Race Talk

Those of us who attempt to talk about racial bias encounter a few common discursive strategies that are meant to discredit our perspectives.

Electoral racism in its most naked, egregious and aggressive form is the unwillingness of white Americans to vote for a black candidate regardless of the candidate’s qualifications, ideology or party. This form of racism was a standard feature of American politics for much of the twentieth century. So far, Barack Obama has been involved in two elections that suggest that such racism is no longer operative. His re-election bid, however, may indicate that a more insidious form of racism has come to replace it.

The 2004 Illinois Senate race between Obama and Alan Keyes, two African-Americans, was a unique test of the persistence of old-fashioned electoral racism. For a truly committed electoral racist, neither Obama nor Keyes would have been acceptable—regardless of policy positions, biography or qualification—because both were black.

One way to determine how many people felt this way is to measure the “roll-off.” In presidential election years, a small percentage vote for the president, but then “roll off” by not casting ballots for state and local offices. A substantial increase in roll-off—larger than usual numbers of voters who picked John Kerry or George Bush but declined to choose between Obama and Keyes—would have been a measure of the unwillingness of some to vote for any black candidate. I tested this in 2004 and found no increase, statistical or substantive, in roll-off in Illinois. Faced with two black candidates, white voters were willing to choose one of them.

The 2008 general election was another referendum on old-fashioned electoral racism—this time among Democratic voters. The long primary battle between Hillary Clinton and Obama had the important effect of registering hundreds of thousands of Democrats. By October 2008, it was clear that Obama could lose the general election only if a substantial portion of registered Democrats in key states failed to turn out or chose to cross party lines. For Democrats to abandon their nominee after eight years of Bush could be interpreted only as an act of electoral racism.

Not only did white Democratic voters prove willing to support a black candidate; they overperformed in their repudiation of naked electoral racism, electing Obama with a higher percentage of white votes than either Kerry or Gore earned. No amount of birther backlash can diminish the importance of these two election results. We have not landed on the shores of postracial utopia, but we have solid empirical evidence of a profound and important shift in America’s electoral politics.

Still, electoral racism cannot be reduced solely to its most egregious, explicit form. It has proved more enduring and baffling than these results can capture. The 2012 election may be a test of another form of electoral racism: the tendency of white liberals to hold African-American leaders to a higher standard than their white counterparts. If old-fashioned electoral racism is the absolute unwillingness to vote for a black candidate, then liberal electoral racism is the willingness to abandon a black candidate when he is just as competent as his white predecessors.

The relevant comparison here is with the last Democratic president, Bill Clinton. Today many progressives complain that Obama’s healthcare reform was inadequate because it did not include a public option; but Clinton failed to pass any kind of meaningful healthcare reform whatsoever. Others argue that Obama has been slow to push for equal rights for gay Americans; but it was Clinton who established the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy Obama helped repeal. Still others are angry about appalling unemployment rates for black Americans; but while overall unemployment was lower under Clinton, black unemployment was double that of whites during his term, as it is now. And, of course, Clinton supported and signed welfare “reform,” cutting off America’s neediest despite the nation’s economic growth.

Today, America’s continuing entanglements in Iraq and Afghanistan provoke anger, but while Clinton reduced defense spending, covert military operations were standard practice during his administration. In terms of criminal justice, Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act, which decreased judicial disparities in punishment; by contrast, federal incarceration grew exponentially under Clinton. Many argue that Obama is an ineffective leader, but the legislative record for his first two years outpaces Clinton’s first two years. Both men came into power with a Democratically controlled Congress, but both saw a sharp decline in their ability to pass their own legislative agendas once GOP majorities took over one or both chambers.

These comparisons are neither an attack on the Clinton administration nor an apology for the Obama administration. They are comparisons of two centrist Democratic presidents who faced hostile Republican majorities in the second half of their first terms, forcing a number of political compromises. One president is white. The other is black.

In 1996 President Clinton was re-elected with a coalition more robust and a general election result more favorable than his first win. His vote share among women increased from 46 to 53 percent, among blacks from 83 to 84 percent, among independents from 38 to 42 percent, and among whites from 39 to 43 percent.

President Obama has experienced a swift and steep decline in support among white Americans—from 61 percent in 2009 to 33 percent now. I believe much of that decline can be attributed to their disappointment that choosing a black man for president did not prove to be salvific for them or the nation. His record is, at the very least, comparable to that of President Clinton, who was enthusiastically re-elected. The 2012 election is a test of whether Obama will be held to standards never before imposed on an incumbent. If he is, it may be possible to read that result as the triumph of a more subtle form of racism.

Melissa Harris-Perry is professor of political science at Tulane University.

Original post on The Nation

44 Responses to “Melissa Harris-Perry On Racism”

  1. I am grateful to see more intelligent women (and to mention women of color!) adding their political perspectives to this debate for both the national news and cable tv! Refreshing!

  2. smitschack way says:

    Uterus?? Why are you against Children..You must be a racist because more women of color may choose to keep their babies instead of killing them. I think you can Maxine Waters and you must want children to be hung from a tree. Killing children is wrong and if this help You should be for it or Do you agree with killing of innocent children of misinformed girls. If they want an this does not stop it it just informs (Why is that a problem)

  3. I say it had anything to do with cap n trade.

    should we kill the internet because it leaves a large carbon footprint?

  4. yes, as did Ronald Reagan. Most presidents, democrat and republican, hope for a zero nuclear future. That’s a red herring.

  5. deboldt wata says:

    Racism still exist today , how crazy is that ? How one can just completely judge you over the color of your skin ?

  6. One of the weirdest of every GOP debate is when candidates insist Obama is cowing to liberal groups that are actually furious with him

  7. dudlo duekawahns says:

    Hoping Mark Anthony Neal, Imani Perry, Melissa Harris-Perry, someone rips this man anew. Unbelievable the drivel pubs will run for hits.

  8. the liberal only has 20 followers? GTFOH! Racist patriarchal sexist fool! Get a life! F Ron Paul & Kelly C 🙂 –

  9. A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, a debt he proposes to pay off with your money.-G. Gordon Liddy

  10. This is old news!  said that even before this Forced take over of health care was approved!
    It also is driving up the costs of everything related to the healthcare Field.
    As with everything else this is another PROVEN LIE pushed by the Copulsive Liar {Current President} and his Cast of Clowns! {Democrat’s and Cabinet}

  11. Well usually when someone like Jared Taylor or fringeelements debates equality fanatics in public, the EVIL RACIST explains their veiws in a coherent and nonhateful manner, while Gaurdian of Equality blatantly lies about the opposition, spouts some nonsequiter like “science says we are all African”, and calles anyone who disagrees a RACIST who wants to wipeout black people.

  12. Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell and MSNBC’s Melissa Harris Perry join The Last Word to discuss Santorum’s rally against “Romneycare.”
    Add this to your queue
    Added: Fri Jan 27 06:13:13 UTC 2012
    Air date: Fri Jan 27 00:00:00 UTC 2012
    Duration: 05:11

  13. sollen bar says:

    And WWII ended how many years ago? Yet blacks (and every other race imaginable) are still flocking to the UK, Canada, Germany, and elsewhere they currently being “invited” but are let in due to faulty immigration laws. My country was built by my people. Brittain was built by Celts, Vikings and Anglo Saxons, and Germany by Germanic and Gothic people. Blacks may have contributed a little manual labor, but that mean you own the country.

  14. genicousto sman says:

    They teach little to none hand to hand combat in the Marines, their training is predominantly shooting. And they were probably friends, me and my friends box all the time but we really go on each other as our goal is to have fun and not each other.

  15. hamm tring says:

    ATTENTION USERS: Right Wing Daily Caller is trying to go after for telling the truth. Media Matters have proof, FOX have Lies. –

  16. rfir gimonthann says:

    The Jews didnt slavery, dont blame the Jews for the way USA is , with Race relations between Blacks and Whites. White people could have not slavery at ALL.

  17. billstrou says:

    Is it news to anyone that is left wing and liberal? Like saying the Irish Times has a teensy crush on the EU.

  18. Can any of my Liberal/Democrat followers explain to me how its fair/moral to take from those who earn,to give to those who havent

  19. jerkamann philiadenb says:

    If you read Hayek on capitalism vs. statism, you have to constantly remind yourself that liberal in his book meant conservs

  20. wendzel remonds says:

    Make sure you have a say. Fill in the Anti Racism Strategy survey at We need to hear your views.

  21. hikolley tantee says:

    Ontario’s New Democrats want to see the province’s most affluent residents pay higher taxes, the first in a series of proposed amendments they have for the Liberal government’s recently introduced budget.

  22. aribbs catherali says:

    “omg the constitution is so great wow” sure if you like a document that enshrines racism, classism, and sexism it owns

  23. shuistinge says:

    Give a man a fish, and he can eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you lose a Democrat voter.

  24. I’m too sensitive to handle blatant racism. But I also have no respect for those who dislike me for shallow reasons

  25. voting democrat vs. republican is like voting jekyll vs. hyde. same thing, different name. vote neither an ass or pachyderm. –

  26. Time to name the names of all the Democrat Congressman who meet with terrorist in their offices & treat him like royalty

  27. the President of the United States, and it was only about 8 years ago that I finished paying off my student Obama

  28. The problem with our liberal friends is not that they are ignorant its that they know so much that just so! Reagan

  29. …& although I am not a Democrat, have used it as a source of wisdom, & passed it on to others. (I almost wrote this that day but didn’t.)

  30. searner says:

    RT If a Republican doesn’t like guns, he doesn’t buy one.
    If a Democrat doesn’t like guns, he wants all guns outlawed.

  31. Memo to and other liberal blacks, if your premise is that I should Obama because he’s black, don’t complain about racism.

  32. rhknott – You, Chrystia and Jason Alexander may very well be correct in suggesting that Americans are prepared to be led by a new master narrative, the conservative master narrative tying gun ownership to the Founders, the U.S. constitution, free speech, representative democracy, free markets, traditional Judeo-Christian family values, faith in God, etc. I would like to think that you are right. This is not just a political or economic issue. It is a moral issue. However, all the research suggests that conservative think tanks, the business community, professional organizations, churches, the NRA and gun clubs have more resources and are better organized than those representing the liberal/progressive master narrative on this issue. So it is not surprising to me that the pervasive neocon arguments linking gun regulations to a free citizenry — and the equally pervasive neoliberal arguments linking gun regulations to free markets — have been more successful at reaching…

  33. gotnoviche says:

    MSNBC Host Uses Racism and Class Warfare to Attack Declaration of Independence: It isn’t easy to reconcile the o –

  34. blomasapon says:

    “Justin: I’m normal. Beliebers: No. Pattie: No. Scooter: No. Alfredo: No. Kenny: No. Ryan: No. Obama: No. Justin: Haha. I was just kidding”

  35. Obama nutts CHEERED when Obama said “You didn’t build that” because THAT IS WHAT HE MEANS #dnc –

  36. dibbettel says:

    Last Sunday, MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry dedicated the second hour of her show to trans issues, in a segment called, “Being Transgender in America.” For one of the first times, trans people got to outline to the public at least of the trans political agenda for ourselves.
    Sharice Richbourg liked Mara Keisling: Reflections On A National Media Moment For Trans People (VIDEO) on 21 April 2012 (3 months ago).

  37. miss bayle says:

    Clinton didn’t give a speech. It was a Matrix-like upload of what every Democrat has been trying to say for months. …

  38. bevils tulomquinc says:

    Vote Obama Biden and also vote Democratic ticket or risk war, the rich getting richer, thinly veiled racism, and BUSH Years on steroids. –

  39. Gene Robinson, columnist for the Washington Post, talks with Melissa Harris-Perry about the factors at play with just days before the Iowa caucuses and no clear Republican frontrunner.
    Add this to your queue
    Added: Sat Dec 31 13:02:12 UTC 2011
    Air date: Sat Dec 31 00:00:00 UTC 2011
    Duration: 13:05

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  42. watene buschestof says:

    I stan pretty hard for Melissa Harris-Perry. Ever since she called Bush a criminal on some BET panel back in the day lol

  43. stingeman mec says:

    Democrat Poll Worker Who Voted Multiple Times For Obama Says There’s No Voter Fraud (Video) | The Gateway Pundit … –

  44. DOES NOT HAVE THE INTERESTS OF SENIORS AT THEY ARE AN ARM OF THE DEMOCRAT AND ARE PROFITING OFF SENIORS F …

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