It turns out most black people in Virginia don’t care much about the offensive yearbook photos featuring Gov. Ralph Northam. Yes, you read that right. A recent poll revealed that white Virginians are more upset about the pictures than blacks.
With the racially charged atmosphere in American political discourse, the findings of this survey might seem shocking. In truth, these results should not be surprising, but there is a reason why they might be. Therein lies a critical lesson for everyday Americans when it comes to the media influences that shape our thinking.
Whites More Offended by Blackface Than Blacks
The Washington Post recently collaborated with the Schar School at George Mason University to conduct a study analyzing the attitudes of Virginians concerning the Northam scandal. The poll measured a number of different metrics, but one of the most striking addressed people’s opinions about Northam remaining in office.
Perhaps the truth is different from what our media establishment wants us to believe.
According to the study, about 60% of black Americans in Virginia want the governor to keep his position despite the controversy. The results for whites were evenly divided. Put simply, a higher percentage of whites than blacks wish to see Northam resign.
So what gives? After all, according to what we see on television and read on our favorite news sites, majority of black Americans are hypersensitive to race issues — especially when they are on the left. Perhaps the truth is different from what our media establishment wants us to believe.
A False Impression?
It might be tempting to assume that blacks favored keeping Northam in office because he is a Democrat, not because they genuinely are unconcerned about the offensives photos. But the truth is something much different. In reality, black Americans are not as sensitive to such issues as one might think.
The Post interviewed some of Virginia’s black residents, and the ones quoted in its article stated that while they did not approve of the governor’s yearbook photo, they recognized that it was taken 35 years ago, and that they believed his policies demonstrated that he does not carry animus toward blacks. One of the black Virginians said he thought Northam should resign, but not because of the photo; it was because of the governor’s handling of the scandal. “Initially, I could have forgiven him, and I think he could have gotten past it. It was something that was 35 years ago,” he said. “What really bothered me was the change in story.”
So why would the majority of blacks in Virginia be willing to forgive Northam for his past behavior? Perhaps it is the same reason why so many Americans believe that foolish antics in one’s younger years should not cost one opportunities decades later. Unfortunately, the picture of black Americans painted by both conservative and leftist media outlets is one of perpetual resentment based on perceived racist slights.
If one took the media’s depiction at face value, one would likely believe that the black community is full of rabid race baiters who think all whites are bigots. But everyday black Americans are not as obsessed with race as so often portrayed. They do not see racism lurking in every single circumstance. Unfortunately, the ones fixated on racial issues garner the most attention from the media, because they tend to scream the loudest.
The findings of this survey reveal yet another way in which the media have shaped the views of the American public — and, regrettably, their tactics have worked to a significant degree. Most people have busy lives and are unable to remember to second-guess each narrative the media perpetuate. As a result, news organizations have an easier time clouding the public’s perception of reality. Perhaps as trust in the media continues to melt, the media’s potency will weaken, and the misconceived narratives they perpetuate will be revealed as inaccurate.