Something is shifting in this country’s understanding of race

Current Affairs

It feels like this moment in America’s racial divide is different than the moments that have gone before. There have been racially motivated shootings and violence in the last decade or so here in America, but after a few weeks of protest, most of us move on to the next issue.

Yet this year, the data indicates that there’s a real and measurable shift in the way white American’s view discrimination. The data is presented in an article in The Washington Post. The article ends with this:

The Floyd protests have changed public opinion about race and policing. Here’s the data. – The Washington Post:

In fact, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. justified his 2013 decision to dismantle key sections of the Voting Right Act by writing, “Our country has changed, and while any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions.”

Americans, however, no longer reflexively agree with the chief justice’s argument. At the time of his 2013 ruling, only 19 percent said there’s a lot of discrimination against African Americans; just 20 percent thought we haven’t made much real progress against racial discrimination since the 1960s. Those figures are now up to 50 percent and 41 percent respectively.

Fifteen years ago I would have never imagined that public opinion would shift so rapidly on same-sex marriage. But it did. Five years ago I wouldn’t have imagined a shift on racial justice could happen suddenly. But it seems to be.

There’s lots to lose heart about right now, and lots to worry about. But take heart. Perhaps in the midst of the turmoil something new and hopeful is starting to emerge.

That’s my prayer for us today.

The Author

Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...