race still rules us politics

WASHINGTON - Since America's birth, Americans have discussed race and avoided it, organised neighborhoods and political movements around it, and used it to divide and hurt people even as relations have improved dramatically since the days of slavery and legal segregation.

WASHINGTON - Since America's birth, Americans have discussed race and avoided it, organised neighborhoods and political movements around it, and used it to divide and hurt people even as relations have improved dramatically since the days of slavery and legal segregation.

Now, in what could be a historic year for a black presidential candidate, a new Associated Press-Yahoo News poll, conducted with Stanford University, shows just how wide a gap remains between whites and blacks.

It shows that a substantial portion of white Americans still harbour negative feelings toward blacks. Blacks and whites disagree tremendously on how much racial prejudice exists, whose fault it is and how much influence blacks have in politics.

One result is that Barack Obama's path to the presidency is steeper than it would be if he were white. Until now, social scientists have not closely examined racial sentiments on a nationwide scale at a moment when race is central to choosing the next president.

More whites apply positive attributes to blacks than negative ones, and blacks are even more generous in their descriptions of whites.

Racial prejudice is lower among college-educated whites living outside the South.

And many whites who think most blacks are somewhat lazy, violent or boastful are willing or even eager to vote for Obama over Republican John McCain, who is white.

The poll, however, shows that blacks and whites see racial discrimination in starkly different terms. When asked "how much discrimination against blacks" exists, 10percent of whites said "a lot" and 45percent said "some". Among blacks, 57percent said "a lot" and all but a fraction of the rest said "some".

Asked how much of America's existing racial tension is created by blacks, more than one-third of white respondents said "most" or "all".

Only 3percent of blacks said the same. - Sapa-AP

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