The U.S. may have its first black president, but these have not been the best of times for African-Americans. Recent shootings of unarmed black teenagers and the murder of two New York City police officers have inflamed racial tensions. A Bloomberg poll in December found that 53% of respondents believed that race relations have declined since Obama was elected in 2008.
Even if the results were not skewed by the immediate, impassioned responses to the recent tragedies, the persistent economic gap between whites and blacks is a more serious and deep-rooted problem. The unemployment rate for African-Americans stood at 10.4% in December, more than twice that of whites, as it has been for most of the past 40 years.