GOP: Racism Is Over. Most Americans: Nope

National Journal

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.

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

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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.

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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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