The Right Opinion

Obama Re-elected -- 9-Year-Old Black Kid Can Breathe Easy

By Larry Elder · Nov. 8, 2012

Brandon, a 9-year-old black kid, attended a campaign rally hosted by Michelle Obama. A cameraman interviewed Brandon, who was there with his dad. “Why does (Obama) need to win?” he was asked. “Because if Mitt Romney wins,” he replied, “we'll be going back to the crop fields. We'll be picking crops.” Off-screen, his father could be heard laughing.

From whom does a 9-year-old hear that Obama's opponent is a racist who, to quote the Democratic National Committee chairwoman, wants “to literally drag us all the way back to Jim Crow laws”?

Brandon's father might alert his son to a recent column by Douglas Wilder, the black ex-governor of Virginia and himself a former presidential candidate. Although former Secretary of State Colin Powell's re-endorsement of President Obama got more attention, a far bigger deal is the refusal by Wilder to endorse President Barack Obama for re-election. Wrote Wilder: “The classic question, 'Are we better off than we were four years ago,' leaves a mixed answer for many people I meet when traveling around Virginia and the country.”

Artur Davis, a black former Alabama congressman and co-chair of Obama 2008, switched his support to Romney. An opponent of ObamaCare, Davis said, “A comprehensive, 2,000 page, near $1 trillion dollar overhaul of the health care system is just too cumbersome and too costly in a time of trillion-dollar deficits.” When he was first criticized for his stance against ObamaCare, Davis said, “I vigorously reject the insinuation that there is a uniquely 'black' way of understanding an issue.”

The Associated Press, however, wants people like little Brandon to know that, yes, had Obama lost, it was racism that did him in. Indeed, the AP says its online survey shows that many Americans possess negative “racial attitudes” toward blacks – enough to hurt Obama's re-election.

How does the AP uncover negative “racial attitudes”?

In addition to extensive questions about the presidential candidates and political attitudes, the AP asked “overt” questions. These include things like, well, certain words or phrases – “friendly,” “law abiding,” “intelligent at school,” “lazy” and “complaining” – to describe blacks, whites, Hispanics and so on.

The AP also used “subtler techniques” because “some (people) may not be aware of their own biases.” And employing “affect misattribution,” the survey showed “faces of people of different races quickly on a screen before displaying a neutral image that people were asked to rate as pleasant or unpleasant.”

Then after applying what sounds like a small universe of “mathematical formulas” to the survey answers (to account for “likelihoods” and “attitudes” and “characteristics,” and “models … to estimate the impact each factor has,” while “controlling for other factors”), the AP announced its findings: A majority (51 percent) of Americans possess “negative views” of blacks.

Case closed, right? Wrong.

What happens when these questions are asked of blacks about blacks? How do blacks answer these negative assertions about blacks? In 1991, researchers for the National Race and Politics Survey asked the same questions of both blacks and whites. Blacks, for example, were also asked if they considered blacks “aggressive or violent,” “boastful,” “complaining,” “lazy” or “irresponsible.”

While 52 percent of whites agreed with the statement “blacks are aggressive or violent,” 59 percent of blacks also agreed. On the question of blacks being boastful, more blacks than whites agreed, at 57 percent and 45 percent, respectively. On “blacks are complaining,” 51 percent of blacks agreed, while fewer whites, at 41 percent, agreed with that statement. Fewer whites (34 percent) than blacks (39 percent) agreed that “blacks are lazy.”

Stanford University's political scientist Paul M. Sniderman and survey research specialist Thomas Piazza examined the 1991 survey. They write: “In every case, blacks are at least as likely as whites to hold a negative view of blacks. … Indeed, when it comes to judgments of whether blacks as a group exhibit socially undesirable characteristics, where there is a statistically significant difference between the views of blacks and whites, it always takes the form of blacks expressing a more negative evaluation of other blacks than do whites.” Are blacks, who consistently score higher than whites on self-esteem tests, racist against themselves? According to the National Race and Politics Survey, apparently so – thus the absurdity of branding someone racist merely for holding “negative” racial views.

I was about Brandon's age when my mother and I watched the 1960 convention, when John Kennedy was nominated. In my new book, “Dear Father, Dear Son,” I write about my Democratic mother and Republican father. Neither of them accused Richard Nixon of seeking to re-impose Jim Crow. They talked about issues, policy differences. During vigorous political arguments over the kitchen table, neither my mother nor father played victim. Neither thought the opposing party was “out to get them.” Mom and Dad considered America an imperfect country in a constant – mostly successful – struggle to live up to her ideals.

Man, was I fortunate.



Dave in SoCal said:

When you examine the exit polls, it's quite clear that whites were more evenly split between Obama and Romney than any other racial group:

Whites: 39% Obama/59% Romney
Blacks: 93% Obama/6% Romney
Hispanics: 71% Obama/27% Romney
Asians: 73% Obama/26% Romney

Who is voting based on race?


Thursday, November 8, 2012 at 9:48 AM

Dave Eichler in North Pole, AK said:

By the way, what is wrong with working in the fields? I did from age eight. White boy son of two college-educated white parents.Can't do that now because of child-labor laws. But it helped make much better adults than we produce today. May be that there is something en-nobling about work that we miss today?

Thursday, November 8, 2012 at 10:00 AM

Brian in Newport News replied:

Good question. I remember doing the same. When I was in high school in Eugene, Oregon, I remember getting out of school a week or so early so we could go out and pick strawberries since the crop came in a little earlier than expected. When I was 13, I spent a summer picking beans to earn extra money. I am sure I benefitted more from that experience over my lifetime, far above the pittance that I earned that summer.

Thursday, November 8, 2012 at 10:35 AM


And corn tassling in Illinois! We need more people not afraid to work! Work, get dirty, feel good about the days work! Instead, people feel "entitled". Sad!

Thursday, November 8, 2012 at 2:52 PM

Rod in USA said:

Mr. Elder;

I hope you read these comments.

I am a fan of yours for many reasons and for the record, I am caucasian. All that I can say to this article really is "Thank You!".


Thursday, November 8, 2012 at 10:37 AM

Wayne in Hinesville, GA said:

I grew up on a farm in Georgia and was helping in the fields as soon as I was old enough. My brother and I knew that if you wanted something you had to work for it. I can remember chopping cotton for $3.00 a day. When tobacco was ready we were paid $5.00 a day to gather it. My friend and I would go into the corn fields and pick up the ears of corn that the picker had left and sell it for seed corn. We didn't ever think we were being abused by having to work in the fields. It was a way of life that was damn sure better than what we have today. Parasites living off the work of others because working in the fields or for minimum wage is beneath them. They have no pride and no shame just as long as the freebies keep coming.

Thursday, November 8, 2012 at 10:45 AM

Abu Nudnik in Toronto said:

Great article, especially on the dangers of cherry-picking statistics.

Thursday, November 8, 2012 at 2:41 PM

Janet Stumpf in Calimesa, CA said:

I used to teach and I recall one of my students saying to me, "Why should I work when I can get a check every month?" I believe that the gov. we have in place now encourages this kind of thinking. This gov. holds people back from achieving their true potential by paying them to stay home and do nothing. I feel that this gov. wants people to believe they are all victims of some alledged unfairnes. If little Brandon is afraid of going back to the fields, where does he and his father think they are now. They are shackled to the gov. by a check.

Thursday, November 8, 2012 at 9:20 PM

Greg in Cherokee-nation Mass. in Weymouth, Ma. said:

I was once told that an apple doesn't fall far from the tree Larry. In your case, Larry, your tree is not an apple tree, your parents were of the mighty, tall Oak version. I enjoy all your articles.
Querie, an idle thought, "Do you ever think that the Rev. Al, Jesse, the black congressional caucus ever take the time to read your artticles?????????????????"

Sunday, November 11, 2012 at 12:52 PM