14 Dec 2006 Project 21 Press Release: Black Activists Criticize CNN Report on Racial Bias
A CNN December 12 news report and poll data implying that Americans are racist is being criticized by members of the black leadership network Project 21.
Results of a survey of 328 blacks and 703 whites conducted for CNN by Opinion Research Corp. found that 84 percent of blacks and 66 percent of whites considered racism a “very serious” or “somewhat serious” problem, and 51 percent of blacks and 26 percent of whites claim to have “been a victim of discrimination.” Percentages were lower when people were asked if they knew anyone who was “racially biased,” with only 31 percent of blacks and 21 percent of whites saying they did. Only 12 percent of blacks and 13 percent of whites surveyed further admitted to being racially-biased themselves.
“I think all of this had a predetermined outcome, needing only anecdotal comments to lend a veneer of credibility,” says Project 21 Chairman Mychal Massie. “The CNN report serves only one purpose, and that is to convince the public at large – specifically white people – that they are evil racists. It is a vulgar exercise to try to find racism in the fiber of every white.”
“Racism is based on ignorance. Hard work, perseverance and accomplishments on the part of individuals can evaporate racial bias,” notes Project 21 Fellow Deneen Moore. “For example, Troy Smith, the black Ohio State quarterback, received a record percentage of votes from sports journalists to win the Heisman Trophy last week. What mattered most were Smith’s superior accomplishments on the field and not his skin color. During World War II, white bomber pilots called for the help of the Tuskegee Airmen because of their success in combat and not because of their skin color. When individuals excel at what they do, others will see them for their accomplishments not their skin color.”
Project 21’s Massie adds: “Racism and ignorance are not synonymous, but racism has unfortunately too often become a catch-all for anything a person of color does not like. We dislike for a plethora of reasons. It is entirely possible for a white person to be critical of a black person who wears ‘gangsta’ attire and listens to violent and misogynistic rap music. That doesn’t make them a racist. Even if popular culture leads them to believe that the majority of blacks subscribe to gangsta rap’s anti-social mannerisms, it makes them ignorant and not necessarily racist.”
To apparently offset the lack of admitted racists in the survey, CNN reported one researcher’s claims that an estimated 80 percent of white Americans are racist but don’t realize their bias. Professor Jack Dovidio of the University of Connecticut said “racism is like a virus that has mutated into a new form that we don’t recognize” that “is not conscious” and “expressed in indirect, subtle ways.” This new, subtle alleged racism is said to occur when realtors steer clients toward racially-homogeneous neighborhoods and in employment discrimination against non-European names.
Project 21’s Mychal Massie responded to the latter allegation by noting, “The only ‘discrimination’ I have ever faced because of the spelling of my name is from people who think it is a woman’s name. When I owned my own business, my clientele was 100 percent white, and my retention rate was over 90 percent. I don’t think these people chose me because of my color, but because of the quality of service I provided.”
Noting the bias in the means with which CNN tested people for its televised report to prove inherent racial prejudice, Project 21’s Moore adds: “The racial bias test touted by CNN last night only proves what we already know – when given a choice, individuals will prefer individuals of common ancestry. This is basic human nature, not racism. There is a huge difference in a computer test where individuals must make a split-second choice based on color versus real life experiences.”
Project 21, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization, has been a leading voice of the African-American community since 1992. For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 507-6398 x11 or [email protected], or visit Project 21’s website at http://www.project21.org/P21Index.html.