Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Recognition of Racism Growing in US, Says Poll. What's Fueling the Shift?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Recognition of Racism Growing in US, Says Poll. What's Fueling the Shift?

Article excerpt

Roughly half of Americans believe racism is "a big problem", according to a new poll conducted by CNN and the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The 49 percent of 1,951 respondents who feel this way suggests a growing recognition of racism across America. Four years ago, the last time the poll was done, just over a quarter of respondents described the state of racism in the US that way. According to CNN, the percentage is also higher now than it was two decades ago, a time when the country was caught up in the O.J. Simpson trial, and just a few years after the brutal beating of Rodney King drew national attention, when 41 percent of Americans described racism as "a big problem," the news station reports.

The poll results raise the question: Is racism getting worse, or is public awareness growing?

Social media and video (by smartphone or dashboard cameras) of actions by law enforcement are playing a role in creating rapid awareness of racially-fueled incidents and protests, according to CNN. High-profile cases of black men killed such as Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Freddie Gray, have all raised public awareness of what black men face when confronted by law enforcement, and have galvanized the Black Lives Matter Movement.

On college campuses across the country, students are responding to acts of discrimination and lack of diversity with demonstrations, and the Black Lives Matter movement is currently protesting instances of police violence in Minneapolis and Chicago.

About 400 people attended a rally on Monday at the University of San Diego after The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that a white man grabbed the headscarf of a Muslim woman in a campus parking lot and made racist comments. The rally included a list of demands from several female Muslim students that included coursework on Islam and a new zero-tolerance policy for hate speech.

The outcry in San Diego echoes actions by five graduate students at the University of Kansas who filed a complaint when an assistant professor of communication studies, Andrea Quenette, used the N- word during a discussion about race in a class on pedagogy. …

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