A poll released this week shows what the media likes to call a Racial Divide® on whether the shooting of unarmed 17 year-old Mike Brown was justified, but just how many area white people think it was? Well, a lot. Despite the fact that every single eyewitness says that Brown was shot to death with his hands up, surrendering to Officer Darren Wilson, 62% of white St. Louis County residents think the shooting was justified. To be fair, though, 50 of them are probably Ferguson police, but that’s still a lot. An August Pew poll showed an alleged Racial Divide® nationally, but even there, white reaction to the events surrounded the shooting was much more evenly divided.
That high percentage, while maybe a little bit surprising, isn’t exactly a shock. What is rather shocking, though, is that 35% of black St. Louis County residents thought the shooting was justified. Here’s how Chauncey DeVega at We Are Respectable Negroesexplains that:
The power of white supremacy as a cultural force is also revealed by how 35 percent of black respondents also supported Wilson’s killing of Michael Brown.
White supremacy is one of the most powerful ideologies and inventions in the modern era: people of color are not immune to it; some people of color, most notably black American conservatives, even seek out its approval.
He also goes on to offer a helpful breakdown of the different types of racists who make up the 62% of white people who have decided that Brown’s killing was justified, the descriptions of which are sure to elicit twinges of recognition. I wonder what a similar breakdown of the 35% would yield, since obviously, very little of that is due to conservatism, at least not political conservatism. I’d venture a guess that some of that is embedded in the name of Chauncey’s blog, a desire to intellectually get along, but how much of it is due to relentless media messaging about black men, particularly young black men, as inherently threatening?
Then again, how much of it is due to the fact that the pollsters, in this instance, don’t appear to have given respondents the chance to answer “I don’t effing know!” Such a poll might clear some of these questions up, but wouldn’t be nearly as satisfying. Another result I’d be interested in knowing more about is the fact that everyone seems to agree that Gov. Jay Nixon (D-MO) shit the bed with his handling of the issue. Only 30% of black respondents viewed Nixon’s handling of the situation favorable, while a slightly higher 38% of whites approved. I would have liked to have seen the “more tanks/fewer tanks” crosstabs on that one.
Speaking of crosstabs, though, I’d like to once again challenge the Racial Divide® that’s being peddled by pollsters. The Remington Research Group only published crosstabs by race, and it appears they only sampled white and black registered voters. According to the poll, they based their sample on 2010 census figures, so while St. Louis County has a higher-than average black population of 23.3%, a sample like this would need to include about 33% black respondents in order to achieve the correct ratio of black-to-white respondents. That means there would have been 402 white respondents. If you just count everyone who isn’t black as white, then it’s 461, although I don’t know why you would do that.
If you apply the results of the 2012 election to this sample, assuming that 93% of black voters voted for Barack Obama, then roughly 41% of whites voted for Obama, 59% for Romney. If black voters are overrepresented in the sample, then the proportion of white voters who voted for Obama is even smaller. I’ve asked Remington for their party and ideological crosstabs, and I will include them if and when they respond.
Once again, what we essentially have here is not a Racial Divide®, but a political one. That is not to say that it isn’t driven by race, but the dividing line is not racial, it is political. This is an important distinction because, as I’v said before, the Racial Divide® narrative that the media pushes serves only to obscure the truth. When the media gets ahold of polls like this, the narrative that it reinforces is either that black people are hypersensitive to racial issues, and the wider world is more level-headed, or that white people are necessarily, and naturally, disconnected from the concerns of black people. The truth is that only those most committed to maintaining a white status quo view things this way.