Conversation Of The Week XXXV: The Election Aftermath

November 26, 2012
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A national map illustrating the highest concentration of racist tweets against the re-election of President Obama. Photo Credit: Bet.com

If there was any doubt of a racial component during the past election after the coordinated attempts at targeted voter ID laws to disenfranchise racial minority voters, a number of events following the election have shown that racism seems to run deeper than thought and that a post-racial change in our cultural-political society has a long way to go.

“I wonder how many students sat in their dorm rooms tossing around racial slurs and racial threats?,” wrote Dr. Ibram H. Rogers, assistant professor of Africana Studies at SUNY Albany and author ofThe Black Campus Movement: Black Students and the Racial Reconstitution of Higher Education, 1965-1972 ,” in a commentary for diverseeducation.com. “I wonder how many people sat in their homes privately protesting the re-election of a Black man?”

You would think with the historic re-election of America’s first African-American President that would be the end of the remaining racial split in this country. The same electorate that helped re-elect the president also voted in the most diverse Congress in history - more women, more LGBTs (including the first openly gay person of color), as well as more religious and racial diversity, according to ThinkProgress.org. In fact, the House Democratic caucus is no longer a majority of white males for the first time while the Republican caucus grew less diverse.

But since the 2008 election, there was also a drop in Obama’s share of the white male vote. Nevertheless, America’s first African-American President was re-elected, and since then the extent of racial divide has surfaced in a variety of forms. Speaking to donors on November 14, Mitt Romney attributed his loss to “gifts” President Obama gave to minority voters, the Los Angeles Times reported. Romney noted Obama had been “very generous” to blacks, Hispanics and young voters, re-enforcing his earlier comments that “47 percent” of Americans are “dependent upon government.” And in his first interview since losing the election, VP candidate Paul Ryan attributed the loss to the large turnout of the “urban” (code word for “black”) vote. Meanwhile, the state chairman of the Republican Party in Maine told an NBC affiliate he thinks there may have been voter fraud because “nobody in town knows anyone whose black,” but “dozens of black people” came to vote.

While the frequency of racism among rightwing politicians and in many Southern states is well known to most Americans, many were stunned to find it among the “future” of the country: College students.

Within hours of Obama’s re-election, about 40 students rallied outside the Minority Student Union at private, all-male Hampden-Sydney College near Richmond, Virginia, shouting racial epithets, throwing bottles, and threatening minority students with physical violence.

altDeeper in the post-Civil War South, a small number of students who also gathered to protest Obama’s re-election at the University of Mississippi soon swelled to over 400 as word spread through social media. Students yelled racial slurs and “The South will rise again,” burned an Obama campaign poster, and sang “Dixie.” Mississippi's chancellor, Dan Jones, issued a statement Wednesday, November 7, denouncing the students for damaging the school's reputation and promised “a thorough review” of the incident. “The gathering seems to have been fueled by social media, and the conversation should have stayed there,” Jones said.

But the racist social media campaign didn’t end on those campuses.

Online hate speech calling the president a "monkey" and other slurs continued to emerge. NBCNews.com reported that one of the more contentious comments came from a 22-year-old white California woman, Denise Helms, who called the president the N-word on Facebook election night noting, “Maybe he’ll get assassinated this term” Later, Helms insisted she’s “not racist” and was “simply stating my opinion.” She was fired from her job and is being investigated by the U.S. Secret Service.

The spike in social media hate speech prompted Floatingsheep.com to use geographic-based software to map the origins of the racist tweets since election night and found they originated mostly from Alabama and Mississippi, followed by the surrounding states of Georgia, Louisiana, and Tennessee forming a "fairly distinctive cluster in the southeast." But their research also found a significant number of racist tweets from states such as North Dakota, Utah, and Missouri.

This same cluster in the southeast - the post-Civil War states - Floatingsheep outed also represents most of the nearly 20 states that recently filed petitions for permission to leave the union led by Texas, an outspoken advocate of secession. Writing in a recent Tea Party newsletter, Texas’ Hardin County Republican Treasurer, Peter Morrison, reportedly called Obama supporters “maggots” who voted on an “ethnic basis.”

altThese are not events that happened four years ago when then-Senator Obama became the first black president. And the “riot” on election night at the University of Mississippi occurred just five weeks after the 50th anniversary of the riot that awaited James Meredith when the National Guard escorted him to class during desegregation of Ole Miss in 1962.

“The fact of the matter is that for a lot of students their knowledge of social change and how it has taken place in our society is quite shallow, and we would all benefit, I think, from a deeper understanding of our own history,” Beverly Tatum, president of Spelman College, and author of “Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria and Other Conversations About Race,” told Inside Higher Ed.

Though only two students were arrested election night, the incident prompted U of M to post an open letter on November 15 penned by the student Chairman of the Mississippi Federation of College Republicans, and the Presidents of Ole Miss College Democrats, Associated Student Body, Interfraternity Council, National Pan-Hellenic Council, and the Black Student Union.

“The hateful, small-minded actions committed by some students are unacceptable,” wrote the student leaders. “That type of mentality is the reason inequality, injustice, and prejudice still exist – and to move forward, we need to have meaningful dialogue with one another, face-to-face, not by tweets or text or Facebook.”

To check out more of the racist tweets since the 2012 election visit:

http://www.google.com/search?q=racist+tweets+since+2012+election&num=10&hl=en&tbo=d&imgrefurl=http://www.complex.com/pop-culture/2012/11/most-ignorant-tweets-election-2012/racists-are-your-favorite&imgurl=http://cdnl.complex.com/m.php/CHANNEL_IMAGES/POP_CULTURE/2012/11/the-most-ignorant-tweets-of-election-2012/screenshot20121106at4.52.12pm_376469.png&w=620&h=400&sig=114025033439840870694&ndsp=19&tbm=isch&tbs=simg:CAESEglkQQOw9ILqWiEHTj-nW9eRyg&sa=X&ei=dE2mULjtOYznigKE8oBI&ved=0CAQQ0gU4IA&biw=1024&bih=634

 

 

Comments

Race unfortunately, played a huge role in this presidential election, and most likely will continue to affect future elections. This past election, was one of great racial polarization. A great majority of white voters cast ballots for Romney, while Obama's support from African-Americans, Latinos, and Asians. This polarized vote based on race is disturbing, more over, the outright racism that seems to have erupted in the post election, is terrifying. American's time and time again seem to prove the world right, most of the people that populate our nation are MORONS! The amount of racism on peoples social networking pages is disturbing. I find nothing funny about the racist anti obama bumper stickers i have seen on cars at the campus i attend school! This all seems to me to be reactionary, fear based. It is no secret that the White majority in the elctorate in our country is shrinking, and at a rate ever steady. Could the fact that the white vote is becoming less significant cause fear? YES. Which party's fair and balanced news seems to only report biased, pseudo-news? There is a huge gap in what American's want. It seems that the white majority does not want to lose that advantage, and the others want an opportunity.

Until there actually is more diversity in politics, I don't think that we will see change in people voting according to race. It isn't right or accurately representative of our nation, but the majority of our government officials, especially federally, are white. People want to identify with their government and race is a very personal, unchangeable way for people to relate. Because of that, particularly minority people that are wanting to challenge the majority status quo will vote for who they feel they most identify with and chances are that that will be the one who share their race. If the diversity of our government officials were greater people would not pay as much attention to it and people would most likely look for other ways to identify with candidates, but for now that is not the case.

Racism is still pretty big and it is 2012, but compared to when and how we started, we have definitely improve racism biases, and although we still have a long way to see better changes based on our diverse congress and our president it is a big step. Romney could not have put it in better words after all this is America and we are here to receive gifts. Not really! Many people decide to move here because they believe they will do better economically or maybe education is better, but many work, so I do not think people get gifts but what they deserve. If the people are asking for certain help, who else is going to come and help but the leader and in this case it is President Obama. I wonder if Romney had won what would have been his “gifts”? I am very disgusted about online postings, and just because we have freedom of speech it does not mean it makes it alright for someone to demeanor someone else. It is just not right. Students must become educated of the social changes because knowledge is imperative and history will be a big step for this to take place.

The aftermath of the election for some ended with good results and for some not so good. However it did not mean that we should bash a man with racial slurs for winning. President Obama won both elections fairly. Racism still exists and here and there I do admit to saying some things about certain groups of people that we should not be saying in the first place. However I think that when people get angry they use their words to express that anger and say things to hurt another person to make themselves feel better, like the example of Governor Mitt Romney stating that the reason he lost the election was President Obama promising gifts to the minorities. With the reelection of President Obama, it is a start to a new America however others aren’t ready to accept it. The article stated that social network users were posting on Facebook and Twitter racial slurs about the reelection of the President but what they found was the locations of these users were from the south, where cultural diversity is very scarce there. Overtime if the American people continue to put people in office of different race, religion, and views on issues then America will adapt and accept others.

It is absolutely unbelievable to me that a country like the United States could come so far and regress so much in just four years. I thought that the election of 2008 was quite an interesting and by far, one of the most fascinating elections. I learned a lot about myself that year and a lot about my friends and co-workers as well. Of course it was always the topic of conversation, especially as we came closer to Election Day. But people who I once had such interesting conversations with and playful banter over what we disagreed on, really became ugly this election. I once learned a lot from my friends who have different views than me, but seeing as how their only way to describe their dislike for President Obama is now expressed through racial slurs and derogatory comments; it has made me realize how they must have always felt about the president. It saddens me that now their frustrations (along with other dissatisfied citizens) have built up so much that the only way they feel they can express their anger and aggravations is by calling the president a “monkey” or a “nigger.” You can’t say anything else worthy? There are so many words and so many other intelligent phrases people can spin, but just because the president is black, people have to first criticize THIS THING about him, as if it’s a bad thing or a character flaw.

Although we have just recently re-elected Barack Obama as the President of the United States, it is not safe to say yet that we are not a racist country. I thought it was interesting how Obama had less support of white men this time, so race plays a big role in our country and it played a big role on electing our president because the minorities came out and voted. Historically more Africa American voters came out this election than in any other election and African Americans tend to vote for the Democratic Party. I thought it was funny how a State Chairman of the Rep. Party of Maine stated that there was a big chance of voter fraud because black people came out and voted, yet nobody has seen any black people around town. There is still racism in politics today it is just that people are much more discrete about it.

I couldn’t believe the reactions on Facebook after the election. To be honest, the posts around the country, especially in the south, did not surprise me. But the posts from people who I personally know, who live with me in this state that I considered to be progressive, appalled me. Obama was an incumbent; I did not think his re-election would create such tension. The angry posters were so quick to attack not only Obama as a person, but our country. I lost count of the posts that used racial slurs, blamed the Electoral College (even though Obama won the popular vote), and mentioned moving to Canada (because it is certainly a more conservative country). I was under the impression that is taboo now to be openly racist, but all hell broke loose. In all sincerity, I was extremely optimistic about our country after the 2008 election. But after the ridiculous amount of voting legislation since 2010 and backlash from fellow Americans, I feel that we are just regressing.

Unfortunately, race played a major role the 2012 U.S. presidential election. This election also proved that racism still exists in society,due to the fact that voter ID laws were used to intimidate minority groups from voting.Shockingly, I couldn't believe the blatant racist posts that were displayed on Facebook and Twitter after the confirmation of President Obama being re-elected.Personally,I find the social networking posts disturbing and ridiculous.President Obama won both elections fair and square. Also, I thought Mitt Romney's comments about President Obama winning the election because he giving them "gifts," implying that President Obama was giving African Americans and Latinos welfare checks was very disrespctful.Romney's remarks showed that he's a sore loser and needs to eat humble. Although we just re-elected Barack Obama as the President of the United States, I still think we have a long way to go as far as racist attitudes. On the other hand, I feel that United States is making postive, gradual changes regarding race. Historically, African Americans, Latinos, and Asians made their voices heard with record-breaking voter turnout rates, which shows that diversity is changing the fabric of America.Ultimately,the re-election of President Barack Obama restored hope that anyone can be the U.S. President regardless of your race or the color of your skin. Overtime, I think if Americans continue to elect people in office of a different race, religion and creed, then we will learn to adapt and accept people of all walks of life.

Coming on to this website and reading about how everyone is just as surprised as I am about these racist issues in the election makes me realized that I am not the only one who is shocked or worried about these issues that are going on around our nation. I read the news and find it unbelievable in the way people talk about politics and their reactions to our president’s re-lection. As an American I feel embarrassed by the way we talk about our leader who has been the first African American president in United States history. With one of the most diverse populations in the world I find it hard to believe we have become so intolerant of a president because of the color of his skin. I understand that racism does not disappear overnight or within a generation, but to see EDUCATED young Americans in University’s around our country making references to the south or posting racial slurs on Facebook is just simply wrong. I personally wanted to delete my Facebook until the end of elections because I could not believe the amount of racism I would read on there. Things like “I will leave the country if Obama wins” made me realize how far our society has to go until we completely overcome racism. Agreeing with many of the users on this page, I do feel that America took 10 steps forward in 2008, but 5 steps back in 2012. I felt so much excitement in everyone’s reactions in 2008. Positive statements could be heard all over campus and the social media. I felt proud to be apart of such a progressive country. However, with everyone’s negative reactions in the 2012 elections, It feels like our country has forgotten all about finding solutions to our countries issues and rather go back to our “southern” ways.