Was the election of an American president of biracial heritage evidence that the United States has come a long way and that racism is over?

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kipling2448 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When Barak Obama was elected President of the United States, it was a watershed moment in American history.  The symbolism of the first African-American president was substantial, and the election was widely perceived as having marked a dramatic social advancement for the American public.  Whether President Obama's election constituted an epochal break from a history replete with instances of overt, institutionalized racism, however, is an entirely other matter.

To a large degree, racism is endemic in the human race.  It can be encountered in any part of the world.  Races too numerous to list believe in their innate superiority over all other races.  Its most extreme manifestation was the Holocaust, perpetrated by Germany and other nationalities out of a firm belief in both the racial superiority of their own, and of the racial inferiority of Jews.

It would be wrong to suggest that the election of President Obama marked the end of racism in America.  Few would accept such a conclusion.  A 2012 public survey commissioned by the Associated Press found that a slim majority of Americans continue to harbor "anti-black attitudes" four years after Obama's election.  Particularly disturbing, according the AP article describing the survey results, "a majority of both Democrats and Republicans held anti-balck feelings, ad did about half of political independents."

Racist attitudes towards blacks hardly constitutes the full picture of enduring racism in America.  Racial animosity between blacks and Hispanics has long been a serious problem, as has racist attitudes towards Asians, Jews, and others.  Blacks are not immune to racist attitudes, either, evident in the views of many African-Americans toward Jews.  The Anti-Defamation League, which tracks such data and trends, conducted surveys that showed that more than one-third of blacks are antisemitic.  

In conclusion, while the election of Barack Obama to the presidency was certainly an important milestone, it could hardly be considered the end of racism in America.