In the aftermath of the 2008 election of Barack Obama, the country's first African-American president, a national survey of racial attitudes before and since the election found "stark racial divides" remain.
Sixty-nine percent of blacks were most likely to believe racism remained a "major problem" in American society, while only 29 percent of whites thought so, according to the survey released Tuesday by the Mobilization and Change survey project at the University of Chicago. Fifty-one percent of Latinos and 32 percent of Asians agreed it was a major problem.
The survey found differences among minorities in how they felt about political alliances across various racial and ethnic groups. Blacks and whites were "substantially more optimistic" about such prospects than Asians and Latinos.
But the survey found that a large majority of all racial groups saw a connection between their own lives and the fate of racial minorities, and that, the report authors said, "suggests some basis for intergroup coalition-building."
Patrick Young, legal director of the immigrant advocacy group CARECEN, based in Brentwood and Hempstead, was optimistic, noting such coalitions already exist. He said New York was a "perfect example" of alliances being made "across racial lines."
The survey - at 2008andbeyond.com/findings/ - also charted attitudes on immigration, voter mobilization, trust in government and how race, age and political events affect the sources of news people use.
With the 2010 midterm elections approaching, project director Cathy Cohen, a political science professor at the University of Chicago, told reporters in a conference call Tuesday, "this project attempts to explain the psychology of people" who may vote and why others may stay home.
Lawrence Levy, executive dean of Hofstra University's National Center for Suburban Studies, said the center's polling of suburban residents found 72 percent of Hispanics and 69 percent of blacks saw racism in their neighborhoods and workplaces, while only 44 percent of whites felt that way. He said income and education gaps "remain wide enough to actually threaten not only the future of families but of regions, such as Long Island, where an increasing share of the workforce will be minorities educated in some of the poorest performing suburban schools."
Tracey Edwards, the NAACP's Long Island regional director, said the findings "validate" that no one election or person can change an entire nation's mindset in a short period. She added, "While optimism exists, equity in education, housing, jobs and health care must change in daily lives for true change to occur."