Is political opposition to Obama partly based on racial bias?

Does Obama face political opposition because he is black? Would he experience less challenges from conservatives if he were white? These are the kinds of discussions being raised in this election–questions that Jesse Washington explores in his latest Bloomberg Businessweek article “Does racial bias fuel Obama foes? How to tell?”. To be clear, we are reporting this news from a nonpartisan position. As a co-sponsor of the Smashing Bias Prize for hidden bias research, we have an ongoing interest in how implicit bias plays a role in different processes. Given the overlap with our civic engagement work, this article brings up important points to think about in trying to understand and uncover hidden bias and its pervasiveness in our country–particularly in an area which is not too often explored like the political arena.

Implicit bias refers to the unconscious assumptions or prejudices that individuals carry with them about race or gender which results in practices or policies with unequal outcomes and opportunities.

The article does well to discuss how prejudices or implicit biases could likely be influencing opposition towards the President and highlights the different ways that race is being played out in this election.

“[The question of whether race fuels opposition to President Barack Obama] …is sowing anger and frustration among conservatives who are labeled racist simply for opposing Obama’s policies and liberals who see no other explanation for such deep dislike of the president… Four years after an election that inspired hopes of a post-racial future, there are signs that political passions are dragging us backward.”

To read the full article, please click here.

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