Throw the confetti and drop the balloons: Racism in America is over.
Or at least that was the impression given by a poorly phrased tweet over the weekend from the Republican National Committee, which lauded civil rights icon Rosa Parks for "ending racism."
Today we remember Rosa Parks' bold stand and her role in ending racism. pic.twitter.com/uxIj1QmtkU— RNC (@GOP) December 1, 2013
The remark was meant to commemorate the 58th anniversary of Parks' historic arrest. Yet the dubious wording prompted immediate, typically snarky responses from those who challenged the idea that racism had "ended."
Within hours, the RNC tweeted a correction:
Previous tweet should have read "Today we remember Rosa Parks' bold stand and her role in fighting to end racism."— RNC (@GOP) December 1, 2013
The revision certainly made sense from a political standpoint. Claiming racism is over is unlikely to aid the Republican Party's revamped minority outreach efforts, since it only bolsters the impression that conservatives believe claims of racism are overblown. The sentiment was given its clearest expression this summer when the Supreme Court, led by its conservative faction, struck down an important provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act by claiming that its protections for minority voters were outdated.
But most voters know that racism is far from being a thing of the past.
A 2008 Gallup survey found that a majority of Americans believed racism against blacks was "widespread" in America. Among blacks, almost eight in ten held that belief, while even a slim majority of whites (51 percent) said the same.
Further, pluralities felt racial discrimination was a "major factor" in African-Americans' level of education, income, and life expectancy.
Meanwhile, more than four in ten said whites, too, faced widespread racism in America.
More recently, a Pew survey from May found that majorities of Americans believed there was at least some discrimination against blacks and Hispanics in America, as well as Muslims and women. And while a 57 percent majority of white Americans said there was discrimination against blacks, a staggering 88 percent of blacks said the same, with 46 percent saying there was "a lot" of it.
Racial tensions only worsened in the wake of the George Zimmerman verdict. After Zimmerman was found not guilty, the percentage of Americans who said race relations were "very" or "fairly" good fell to 52 percent, its lowest mark in two decades, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- After Ferguson: Stop deferring to the cops
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Ferguson riots were terrible — but this racist reaction was worse
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- Don't argue about politics this Thanksgiving. Just don't.
- Is it now OK to have sex with animals?
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- In Ferguson, Michael Brown lost his life — and America's police lost the benefit of the doubt
- How to survive a spaceship disaster
- The hilarious hypocrisy of Republicans complaining about the imperial presidency
Subscribe to the Week