As we all know by now, this presidential election is likely to be one of the most historic and significant ones in recent American history. With that in mind, it’s probably not surprising to know that this election has also captivated the attention of many people from all around the world. So which candidate do people from other countries favor? As Andrew Lam at New America Media reports, the answer probably isn’t that surprising:

The Economist . . . has an interesting interactive map of the world showing which candidate would win if people in various countries voted in the American election. The total cast so far shows 86 percent for the Obama/Biden ticket and 14 percent for McCain/Palin.

Here are samples of a few countries: Russia: 86 percent for Obama and 14 percent for McCain. Germany: 88 percent for Obama and 12 percent for McCain. Vietnam: 91 percent for Obama and 9 percent McCain. . . .

This finding is consistent with several other polls. The BBC conducted a poll on September 10 and found that global citizens preferred Obama 4-to-1, out of 22,000 people surveyed in 22 foreign countries.

A Reader’s Digest magazine poll, released Oct 6, asked 17,000 people in 17 countries – including the U.S. – whom they would like to see elected president. It concluded: “It’s a good thing for John McCain that only American citizens can vote in U.S. presidential elections. If the election were held overseas, or even in the rest of North America, the Republican nominee wouldn’t stand a chance.”

Besides being overwhelmingly for Obama, the polls also found that – on the average – more than half surveyed are fixated on the American election. Basically, the world is following the American election with vested interest, as if it were the World Cup. World poverty and environmental issues rank top as their concerns.

The trouble for Senator McCain is that he is perceived overseas as continuing the legacy of George W. Bush administration – one in which preemptive strikes are the norm, and whose unilateral actions helped isolate it from the world. . . . McCain becoming the next president would mean the American empire remaining steadfast on its warpath, and therefore, keeping the world out of balance.

The collective voice of the world seems to be pretty clear in terms of their preference for Obama over McCain to be the U.S.’s next President. For McCain supporters who scoff at such preferences, they should remember that these countries around the world include many of the U.S.’s best allies.

In other words, the U.S. does not live in a global vacuum. The world is getting smaller, every country is increasingly interconnected to every other country, and globalization is happening all around us, and the go-it-alone politics of the past will not work any longer.

The rest of the world seems to recognize these facts and they apparently feel that Obama does as well, much more so than McCain.

As the 2008-2009 season of the National Basketball Association (NBA) prepares to start later this week, NBA fans should already know that when Yao Ming began playing in 2002, he opened up professional basketball to aspiring Chinese back in China, and to Chinese Americans as a potential fan and marketing segment for his team, the Houston Rockets, and the NBA in general.

Following in his footsteps is Yi Jianlian, the second high-profile NBA player to come from China. After playing his rookie season last year for the Milwaukee Bucks, Yi was traded and is now set to play for the New Jersey Nets.

The Nets happen to be located in the New York City metropolitan area, home to an estimated 650,000 Chinese Americans. As the NY Times reports, these numbers and the potential revenue from the Chinese American fan base in squarely in the minds of the Nets organization:

Yi’s name recognition runs high, and people in Chinatown said they would go watch him, if time and funds allow it, but would not necessarily go out of their way to cross the Hudson River. . . .

The Nets are hopeful that Yi connects with the nearly 650,000 Chinese-Americans in the New York area and beyond, reeling in a coveted new fan base. And like Yao, the Houston Rockets center, Yi carries global appeal in hailing from the world’s most populous nation. . . .

“He has to build a relationship with the community,” said Sunny Moy, president of the Asian American Youth Center. “Right now, everybody is more into Yao because Yi is still nearly a rookie. Yi is a good player, I’ve seen him play, but he has to donate tickets, connect with the kids in order to have an effect.” . . .

The Nets are offering a four-game package aimed at the Chinese-American community for games against the Rockets, the Golden State Warriors, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Rockets and the Lakers feature the league’s two other Chinese players in Yao and the rookie Sun Yue.

The Nets hired a multicultural marketing agency and are planning game-night promotions that include a night serving as Yi’s interpreter and a celebration of the Chinese New Year.

As I’ve said before, whether Americans like/want it or not, the world is getting smaller and the many manifestations of globalization will only continue to become more prominent in American society. In this case, it comes in the form of the Nets trying to market Yi to the Chinese Americans in the NYC metro area and the 1.3 billion Chinese back in China.

It’s also nice to see Asian athletes continue to become more popular in professional sports. At the same time, as I’ve also said in the past, it would also be nice if Asian American (as opposed to international Asian) athletes get to enjoy the same kind of popularity.

Fortunately, with the recent rise and fame of athletes like professional golfer Anthony Kim, to name the most recent example, we (hopefully) seem to be moving slowly in that direction.

I’ve written several times recently about how the issue of race has affected the presidential campaign. Much of the conventional wisdom, on which many of my posts are based, is that Whites who hold racist views would never consider voting for Obama. However, as CBS News reports, a new study argues that “racism” not so cut and dry and that quite surprisingly, many Whites who hold racist views actually support Obama:

The poll asked voters whether they agreed with the statement that “African Americans often use race as an excuse to justify wrongdoing.” About a fifth of white voters said they “strongly agreed.” Yet among those who agreed, 23 percent said they’d be supporting Obama.

“This result is reasonable if you believe that race is not as monolithic an effect as we might easily assume,” Franklin said, noting that 22 percent of those who “strongly disagreed” said they’d be supporting McCain. . . .

Some argue that elements of Obama’s story and persona make him specifically acceptable to voters who hold broadly negative views of African Americans. “Not all whites associate the generic African American with Obama,” said Ron Walters, an aide to Jesse Jackson’s presidential campaigns. “They give him credit for having half a Caucasian ancestry, and give him credit for his education, and give him credit for his obvious ability to take complex subjects and parse them.” . . .

“Obama’s personality – his speech, his look – he provides [white voters] with a non-threatening way to move forward on this issue, and that’s a very positive development,” said David Waymire.

Those last two paragraphs that I quoted above are worth highlighting. They suggest that while many Whites hold racist views of African Americans, they don’t see Obama as a “typical” African American — he is not uneducated, or on welfare, or a street criminal like what they tend to see in the media.

Instead, they see Obama as “not like the rest of them” — he breaks the mold of their traditional, stereotypical image of Blacks.

In fact, my guess is that many Asian Americans have probably been in situations in which Whites may be criticizing Asians/Asian Americans but will turn to them and say, “But you’re not like them — you’re different.”

Obama seems to be in that position. Combined with economic concerns being at the topic of the list for many White voters, that may explain why so many Whites who would otherwise have quite racist views of Blacks are willing to support Obama.

So the question becomes, is this situation good or bad for American society? Does the fact that so many “racist” Whites see Obama as an “exceptional” Black mean that the glass is half full or half empty?

To be honest, I’m still thinking this through. In the meantime, let me know what you think, and whether that means American society is becoming less racist, or just more of the same kind of racism.

I’ve received several emails seeking to publicize the candidacy of various Asian American political candidates around the country, so I’ve decided to group them all together in this post.

As always, these links are provided for informational purposes only and do not necessarily imply my endorsement of the candidate and/or his/her beliefs and policies.

Ed Chau (California)
www.edchau.com

Hank Eng (Colorado)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMls9vWuAlA

Sue Chan (California)
www.suechanforfremont.com

American racism is getting more coverage on the mainstream news than it has since the Civil Rights era.   And, that’s not surprising given antics like this image included in a mailing from the Chaffey Community Republican Women, a regional arm of the GOP in California (more on the story and image source here).  For her part, the group’s president, Diane Fedele, draws on the rhetoric of “race-blindness” to defend her actions.  She reportedly said that she received the illustration in a number of chain e-mails and decided to reprint it for her members in the group’s newsletter because she was offended that Obama would draw attention to his own race. She said she doesn’t think in racist terms, pointing out she once supported Republican Alan Keyes, an African-American who previously ran for president. She continues this “race-blind” rhetorical strategy when she says:

“I didn’t see it the way that it’s being taken. I never connected,” she said. “It was just food to me. It didn’t mean anything else.”

Now, the somewhat encouraging news is that lots of people are pointing out this overt racism and calling it what it is, including those on rather mainstream (albeit left-leaning) blogs and cable news networks.

However, the way stories like the one about the circulation of this image of “Obama bucks” are overly focused on individual racism, rooted in psychological explanations.  For example, Fedele made the top of Olbermann’s “Worst Person” list on his nightly broadcast, as have others in this political season who’ve been guilty of engaging in the most overt racist tactics.  And, in a perfectly fine piece at the Huffington Post, Peter Wolson has a thorough discussion of the psychology of “othering.”   I don’t disagree with either of these. Indeed, I welcome more discussion of American racism in as many venues as possible.  The problem with these is that the focus on the individual and psychological aspects of racism within a larger political discourse of “race-blindness” elides the way in which racism is systemic, built in, institutionalized, and structural.

The focus on the individual expressions of overt racism and the psychological roots of such expressions also forestall any sort of discussions about responses to racism by society as a whole. To illustrate this, note the contrasting response to individual racism in Denmark recently.  A 33-year-old woman was convicted under Danish laws against racism after posting racist remarks on her personal web page (she was given a fine).   Unfortunately, in the U.S. we seem reluctant to adopt such a societal-level response to overt expressions of racism, even in this political season and even when many, many people see such expressions as wrong and immoral.   Instead, there is a knee-jerk, libertarian response to any call for accountability under the law for such expressions in the United States.  In point of fact, the U.S. Supreme Court has made a number of decisions that restrict certain types of racist speech that don’t make a contribution to the public sphere.    Yet, prominent figures such as Rush Limbaugh, get away with what amounts to enciting racist hatred with their speech, such as this recent tirade against black children allegedly “raised as militants.”

Identifying individuals who engage in overt racism is important, and understanding the psychology of such expressions is valuable, but coming to terms with American racism takes much more than that.  And, dealing with it will require a broad-based political will and systemic social change.   We’re not there yet.

The post American Racism appeared first on racismreview.com.

Today is Blog Action Day — an effort among bloggers around the world to use this day to draw attention to a social issue that affects all of us, regardless of our race, ethnicity, nationality, or politics. The theme for this year is poverty and for my contribution to this effort, I would like to take a break from focusing primarily on Asian Americans and instead, give a basic lesson in Poverty 101.

Poverty is almost inevitable in any type of economy but because of the nature and structure of the American economic and political system, American poverty seem to be more likely, persistent, and damaging. According to the Census Bureau, as of 2007, the official poverty rate is around 12.5%, which translates into about 37.3 million people living below the official poverty line.

However, many scholars and critics argue that the official rate underestimates the true extent of poverty in the country. In simple terms, the government’s official poverty line is based on their estimate of what it would cost to provide an individual or a family with a “minimally nutritional diet” (MND), multiplied by three (with the assumption that families spend about 1/3 of their income on food).

But critics argue that an MND was intended only for emergency situations, not long-term use and that an adequately nutritional diet would cost more (much more these days as the cost of groceries continues to rise). Further, most low-income families spend less than 1/3 of their income on food — more like 1/5.

Instead, in today’s economic climate, most low-income families need to divert more of their income to other expenses that have risen significantly in recent years, such as fuel/gas, housing, child care, health care, and education, to name just a few.

Therefore, if these considerations were put into effect to create a new poverty line, it would likely show that the real poverty rate would increase from the “official” amount of 12.7% to something closer to 20% (and instead of 37.3 million Americans living in poverty, there would really be about 61 million).

So who are the poor these days? The traditional image that most Americans generally have of someone in poverty is the down-and-out homeless person, sleeping in back alleys and under freeway bridges. But the reality is very different. As scholars will tell you, increasingly, people who live in or very close to poverty generally look like average Americans — you and me.

In fact, sociologists are increasingly focusing on “The New Poor” — people who have been displaced from blue collar jobs and who don’t have the skills/qualifications necessary for well-paying jobs. In today’s postindustrial economy, there aren’t a lot of jobs in the middle levels anymore; the jobs being created are increasingly located either at the bottom or the top (this what sociologists call the “segmented labor market”).

You need lots of education and skills for the ones at the top and the ones at the bottom simply don’t pay enough, are not stable enough, or offer any meaningful benefits to allow workers to achieve social mobility. This situation makes the “New Poor” different from the “Old Poor” — the opportunities to escape poverty are becoming increasing scarce.

Further, many of the “new poor” are also the “Working Poor“: even having a full-time job is not a guarantee from living in poverty. For example let’s use one scenario: a single parent with two kids who works 40 hours/week, for 50 weeks/year, at $7.60/hour (remember that federal minimum wage is $6.55) would still live below the poverty line.

In fact, studies show that one-seventh of all poor people work full-time for the entire year. Some estimates point out that there are about 15 million Americans who work regularly but who still below or near the poverty line. Once again, the reason why poor people who work cannot seem to escape poverty is because they generally work at low-paying dead end jobs at the bottom of the labor market.

The working poor are at a further disadvantage because since they work, they are not eligible for public assistance such as subsidized housing, medical care, and food stamps — they are penalized for trying to be productive citizens. In fact, in contrast to the stereotype of the “welfare queen,” only about 1/4 of all poor families receive any form of public assistance (payments or non-cash such as food stamps, free or reduced lunches, public housing, or Medicaid). In other words, the vast majority of poor people receive absolutely zero public assistance at all.

In further contrast to “traditional” perceptions of the poor, recent Census reports also note that for first time in U.S. history, most people in poverty live in suburbs, not central cities. Also, in terms of age, the group with the highest poverty rates are children (17.6% of all poor are children, or about 13 million) and among all poor people, 36% are children. Children are also the group most likely to be “severely poor” — living in families that are below half the poverty line.

What all of this means is that poverty is much more complex than what we normally see portrayed in movies, television, and other popular media. And increasingly, poverty is an issue that affects not just low-income Americans, but average middle-class Americans as well.

I’ve written elsewhere about how class/wealth inequality is getting worse in the U.S. and how the gap between the rich and everyone else keeps getting bigger. To sum up this situation, you should know that:

  • Today, the richest 1% of American households own about 40% of all wealth in the country
  • Stated differently, the richest 1% of U.S. families have more wealth than the entire bottom 95% of Americans combined.
  • Since 1979, the median family income for the bottom 60% has barely risen at all while for the richest 1%, it’s gone up 201%.
  • After adjusting for inflation, in the bottom 60% of U.S. families have less wealth today than in 1973

I hope you can recognize the magnitude of that last point — the bottom 60% of American families are doing worse today than in 1973 — they’ve experienced downward mobility. In other words, for the first time in a very long time, perhaps ever in American history, today’s generation of workers are likely to be doing worse than their parents.

This should explain why so many average, middle class families are struggling to make ends meet these days — why so many can’t seem to escape debt, or to pay their bills on time, and are basically living from paycheck to paycheck.

In other words, these days poverty is not just about the destitute. Their situations are clearly severe, but increasingly, poverty is beginning touch the middle class. And with the economy going down the toilet like it’s been doing, it’s likely to get worse before it gets better. One of my best friends recently told me that because of the recent economic troubles, he’s had to close his restaurant and declare bankruptcy.

Sadly, his situation is become all too common in American society. While I wish I could have written a positive and uplifting post about poverty for Blog Action Day, I will say that we can take action to begin addressing this problem — starting with Election Day on November 4 and who you will choose to be our next President.

As the economy continues to worsen and as average American families encounter more difficulties trying to make ends meet, two “social trends” that have been constant through these recurring cycles of bust and boom are that (1) getting a good education is crucial to social mobility and financial security and (2) each succeeding generation has been able to improve their rates of getting a college degree.

But now, as Inside Higher Education reports, new data from the American Council on Education shows that perhaps for the first time in American history, some racial groups may actually be doing worse then their predecessors in terms of achieving a college education:

The latest generation of adults in the United States may be the first since World War II, and possibly before that, not to attain higher levels of education than the previous generations.

While White and Asian American young people are outpacing previous generations, the gaps for other minority groups are large enough that the current generation is, on average, heading toward being less educated than its predecessor. . . .

For Black and Latino women, for example, the most recent generation outperformed the prior ones, but the opposite is true for men. And across racial and ethnic groups, women are achieving a higher educational attainment than men.

Educational attainment by age group and race

To summarize, the data basically show that comparing the percentage of adults with at least an associate’s degree, younger Whites and Asian Americans (those between 25-29 years old) had slightly higher attainment rates than their older counterparts (those who are age 30 and older), and this corresponds with the long-established trend that succeeding generations improving their educational attainment rates over previous generations.

However, the opposite seems to be true for African Americans, Latinos, and Native American Indians — those in the younger group have lower educational attainment rates than their older counterparts, which means the younger generation seem to be falling behind the older generation.

The data also shows that across all racial/ethnic groups, women have higher rates of having at least an associate’s degree than men.

So what are some possible reasons behind this trend of African Americans, Latinos, and Native American Indians falling behind, in contrast to Whites and Asian Americans? It may be tempting, especially among nativists and those who are racially ignorant, to say that these three minority groups are less qualified, motivated, and/or intelligent enough to complete college and attain social mobility.

However, the rest of the Inside Higher Education article provides more details for us to understand this situation more fully. Specifically, the article also notes that high school graduation rates for these three groups of color have remained constant over the past two decades (even though they still trail that of Asian Americans).

Further, the article notes that “Total minority enrollment increased by 50 percent, to 5 million students, between 1995 and 2005.” This tells us that after graduating high school, Black, Latino, and Native American Indian students are still entering college in large numbers.

So the problem seems to be, once they get into college, somewhere along the line, these minority students are not able to complete their associate’s or bachelor’s degrees.

Is it because they are unprepared for the academic demands involved? That is one possible reason. But more likely, and as other studies have suggested, since these three racial minority groups tend to be less affluent than Whites or Asian Americans, the main reason may be that as college expenses keep skyrocketing, these students eventually are unable to afford completing their college education and are more likely to drop out of college because of lack of finances.

As other studies also show, there are still gaps at many colleges in terms of racial inclusion — cultivating a welcoming atmosphere and social environment in which students of color feel supported and secure:

Intolerance, threats and verbal insults pervaded the campuses of three predominately White institutions, the University of California, Berkeley, Michigan State University, and Columbia College, according to a student survey in the recently released report, “If I’d Only Known.”

The report reveals that more than 60 percent of students at MSU reported witnessing or personally experiencing such incidents of violence based on intolerance, followed by 49 percent of students at UC Berkeley and 43 percent of students at Columbia. . . .

Research shows that comfortable environments play a major role in minority persistence. Scholars agree that isolation and racial violence contribute to the high minority drop-out rates at some institutions.

Ultimately, this trend of Black, Latino, and Native American Indian students beginning to fall behind their older counterparts in terms of educational attainment involves many factors. While some reasons undoubtedly relate to individual abilities or motivations, as studies continue to show, there are still many institutional inequalities and barriers that make it more difficult for these students to complete their degrees.

Whatever the causes, this is a disturbing trend that all of us as Americans should be concerned about.

As the 2008 Presidential campaign heads into the final stretch, two recently-released studies shed light on the nature of civic engagement and political attitudes among Asian Americans.

The first one is an electronic book entitled The State of Asian America: Trajectory of Civic and Political Engagement, published by the non-profit organization Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics. It contains several articles on various aspects of political participation and civic engagement among Asian Americans, written by several well-respected scholars of Asian American Studies.

For example, there are articles entitled “Political and Civic Engagements of Immigrants,” “Asian American College Students and Civic Engagement,” “Asian American Panethnicity: Challenges and Possibilities,” and “The Usual Suspects: Asian Americans as Conditional Citizens.” This free e-book can easily be used as a textbook by faculty like me who teach introductory/survey courses on the Asian American Experience and is certainly a valuable resource for anyone interested to learn more about the dynamics of political empowerment among Asian Americans.

The second report is entitled “2008 National Asian American Survey” and is jointly authored by scholars from Rutgers University, UC Berkeley, UC Riverside, and the University of Southern California. In conducting a comprehensive national survey of political attitudes and presidential preferences among Asian Americans, the major findings of this report are:

  • Japanese American citizens are the most likely to vote (82%), followed by Asian Indian (73%), Koreans (72%), Filipinos (67%), Vietnamese (65 %) and Chinese (60%).
  • 41% of Asian American likely voters support Barack Obama while 24% support John McCain. However, 34% remain undecided.
  • 32% of all likely Asian American voters identify with the Democratic Party, 14% identify with the Republican Party, 19% identify as Independent, and 35% are non-partisan, saying they do not identify as Democrat, Republican, or Independent.
  • Chinese, Filipino, Asian Indians, Japanese, and Koreans tend to affiliate with the Democratic Party and therefore to support Obama, while Vietnamese are more likely to identify as Republicans and support McCain.
  • Asian American Democratic primary voters supported Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama by a 2 to 1 margin. More than half of former Clinton supporters (59%) plan to vote for Obama while 10% plan to vote for McCain and 29% are undecided.

These results confirm those I discussed in my earlier post on Asian American Presidential Preferences and reinforce the trend that among those showing a political preference, Asian Americans are overwhelmingly Democratic, although a significant number remain undecided.

Taken together, these two studies provide scholars like me and non-scholars like with valuable information and insight into the very important issue of political participation among Asian Americans. I would like to thank and congratulate everyone involved with both studies for their hard work and contributions.

My wife and I just finished watching the second debate between Obama and McCain and I feel compelled to write about what I thought was the one moment that stood out the most for me in the entire debate — when McCain called Obama “That one.”

McCain seemed intent on belittling Obama all night, which by itself is very disrespectful and juvenile. But it was about halfway through the debate and McCain was talking about environmental policies when he said something to the effect, “You know who voted for the Bush-Cheney energy bill? That one!”

Excuse me?!? “That one?!?”

Mr. McCain, please tell us what exactly did you mean by calling Senator Obama “That one?”

Here’s my guess — deep down, McCain really wanted to call Obama “That boy” or even worse, “That nigger.”

In other words, calling Senator Obama “That one” goes way beyond being impolite or even condescending — it was downright racist.

We all know no one wants to openly talk about the undercurrent issue of race, but whether we like it or not, race has stuck its head into the campaign in so many ways — from recurring references to Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s comments, to lingering beliefs that Obama is really a Muslim terrorist, to outright and direct incidents of racial discrimination against Obama’s campaign.

It’s within this context that we might begin to understand where John McCain is coming from, and some of the unconscious motives he may have had for referring to Obama as “That one.” We know that he is trailing in almost all polls and that he is slowly watching his claim to be our next President slip away.

And we also know that when people feel cornered and threatened, they become desperate, and when they become desperate, they revert to basic emotional instincts — like believing that his opponent is nothing more than a glorified house slave, certainly not worthy of being on the same social level as him, or even being a “real” American.

What else could he have meant by calling Obama “That one?”

In case you did not already know, there has been much discussion about John McCain’s use of the racial slur “gooks” when he used that term back in the 2000 presidential campaign in talking about his North Vietnamese communist captors when he was a prisoner of war: “I hate the gooks. I will hate them as long as I live.”

So in other words, McCain has a history of racial prejudice. In this instance, in a desperate fight for political survival, just like his desperate fight for his physical survival almost 40 years ago, he has apparently showed us his true colors by derogatorily dehumanizing Obama and calling him “That one.”

While the focus of this blog is on race issue inside the U.S., I think it’s important to (1) recognize how such issues have globalized and transnational connections and (2) understand the state of race relations in other countries. With that second point in mind, the BBC News has an article about a new report on racial attitudes in Australia:

The study, titled “Challenging Racism: The Anti-Racism Research Project”, interviewed 12,500 people over almost a decade. A key finding was that while Australians in general are welcoming of diversity, the view of national identity remains narrow.

The group most often singled out as “not belonging” in Australia was Muslims or people from the Middle East, Professor Dunn told reporters on the weekend. . . . Professor Dunn said indigenous Australians were the next group on the “not belonging” list.

He added there was evidence of an emerging antipathy towards black Africans after higher immigration from countries such as Sudan and Somalia. About one in 10 people said they did not approve of intercultural marriages – about the same number who said they believed that not all races were equal. . . . .

“It’s better than in many other parts of the world, certainly in parts of western Europe where three in 10 people would hold those views,” he said. . . . However, more than 80% of people see cultural diversity as a benefit “and that’s a good thing for Australian society,” the professor said.

His findings also suggested that New South Wales is the country’s most racist state. This was explained by Mr Dunn as due to Sydney’s role as the largest recipient of immigrants.

My first reaction is, I find it rather ironic and actually, pretty outrageous that indigenous Australians can be seen as “not belonging” in Australia when in fact, they were the first ones there and it was the European colonizers who basically took over the country and oppressed the Aborigines. That is about as arrogant as you can get.

Beyond that, it’s probably difficult to understand these numbers in isolation. That is, while a significant portion (80%) of Australians see diversity as a benefit for their country, 10% still believe that some races are superior to others. So the question is, if we use a very simplified interpretation and say that 10% of Australians are “racist,” is that 10% a big number, or a small number?

In other words, is the glass half empty or half full? Should we focus on the 80% who think diversity is good, or the 10% who apparently hold blatantly racist opinions?

To try to give you some perspective and a point for comparison, back in January 2008, I posted about two repots on racial attitudes in the U.S.. One of the results was that of all American adults surveyed in one study, 75% believed that Whites and Blacks got along “very well” or “pretty well, while 20% believed it was more like “not too well” or “not well at all.”

Results from the other study that I posted about indicate that around 40% of Latinos and Asian Americans hold stereotyped beliefs about African Americans. Nonetheless, other results from the same study showed that 86% of Asians, 89% of African Americans, and 92% of Latinos agreed with the statement, “African Americans, Latinos, and Asians have many similar problems. They should put aside their differences and work together on issues that affect their communities.”

So in other words, there seems to be some ways in which race relations in the U.S. may look somewhat negative or discouraging while at the same time, other ways in which they look positive and encouraging. What that tells us is, race relations is a very complicated issue and not one that can be easily reduced to a single question or even a single survey.

Sociologists like me make it our career to examine and analyze race relations, and judging by the hundreds of posts I’ve written on this subject on this blog, you should get the idea that there is a wide variety of points, angles, and interpretations for any particular issue related to race relations.

With that in mind and going back to my original question, it does not look like the data on racial attitudes in Australia is that much different than that in the U.S. Both countries are westernized, industrialized, and majority White, so there are many historical, demographic, and cultural similarities.

For my readers who have been to Australia, or any other “western” country, have you noticed any notable differences in terms of race relations/racial attitudes between there and here in the U.S.?