GOP: Racism Is Over. Most Americans: Nope.

A tweet from the Republican National Committee on Sunday suggests racism is no more. Most Americans think otherwise.

President Obama after unveiling a statue of Rosa Parks in Statuary Hall on Capitol Hill February 27, 2013 in Washington, DC. 
National Journal
Matt Berman
Add to Briefcase
Matt Berman
Dec. 1, 2013, 7:27 a.m.

Some things are best left un­tweeted. On Sunday morn­ing, the Re­pub­lic­an Na­tion­al Com­mit­tee’s @GOP ac­count tweeted this in com­mem­or­a­tion of the 58th an­niversary of Rosa Parks’s ar­rest after re­fus­ing to give up her bus seat to a white man: “Today we re­mem­ber Rosa Parks’ bold stand and her role in end­ing ra­cism.”

Of course, there’s noth­ing con­tro­ver­sial about cel­eb­rat­ing a wo­man today who played a big role in the Amer­ic­an civil-rights move­ment. What is both­er­ing some people today, though, is the sug­ges­tion that ra­cism has been, you know, ended.

It’s an idea that most Amer­ic­ans just don’t have.

A sur­vey from Pew Re­search this May shows that a ma­jor­ity of white and black Amer­ic­ans be­lieve there is a least some dis­crim­in­a­tion against Afric­an-Amer­ic­ans. Eighty-eight per­cent of black Amer­ic­ans saw dis­crim­in­a­tion against Afric­an-Amer­ic­ans, with 46 per­cent say­ing that there is “a lot” of it. The per­cent­age of white Amer­ic­ans who see dis­crim­in­a­tion against Afric­an-Amer­ic­ans is smal­ler but still a ma­jor­ity: 57 per­cent say there is dis­crim­in­a­tion against Afric­an-Amer­ic­ans, with 16 per­cent say­ing that there is a lot.

A 2008 Gal­lup Poll found that 56 per­cent of adults na­tion­ally be­lieve that there is “wide­spread” ra­cism against black Amer­ic­ans. That in­cludes 78 per­cent of black Amer­ic­ans who held that be­lief.

And it’s not just that Amer­ic­ans hold a vague sense of dis­crim­in­a­tion. Nearly 70 per­cent of black Amer­ic­ans be­lieve that the U.S. justice sys­tem is biased against them, ac­cord­ing to re­cent Gal­lup polling. A quarter of white Amer­ic­ans, and a third of all adults na­tion­ally, agree.

So while it’s def­in­itely fair for any­one to give cred­it to Rosa Parks for her role in im­prov­ing the lives of black Amer­ic­ans, it is a bit of a stretch for the na­tion­al Re­pub­lic­an Party to sug­gest that she helped to “end” ra­cism in Amer­ica. Un­less they just know something that the ma­jor­ity of Amer­ic­ans do not.

Up­date: A Re­pub­lic­an Na­tion­al Com­mit­tee spokes­per­son emailed over a state­ment not­ing that the RNC meant to cel­eb­rate Parks’s role in “fight­ing to end ra­cism,” not just end­ing it. The @GOP ac­count has since tweeted out something to that ef­fect.

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