Racing backward? 

New study shows discontent with ongoing discrimination, even in "post-race" America

Of all the pernicious things Kwame Kilpatrick did, none was more destructive than his use of the race card in his ultimately futile attempts to silence his critics and save his career.

Remember the infamous lynching ad that included our colleague Jack Lessenberry, or the high-profile claims of being called a "nigger" by his detractors? We decried the tactic, warning that false claims would only hurt others who were truly the victims of discrimination.

And for those who think that the election of an African-American president signals that we have put our prejudices behind us, a new poll shows we have far to go before people of color can say they are facing a level playing field.

In fact, many say that ground is being lost.

Commissioned by the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion — a nonprofit civil rights group located in Detroit — the poll of 567 Michigan voters found that more than 46 percent of those polled said people of color "have worse opportunities when it come to education and employment compared to whites." In a similar poll conducted in 2008, 32 percent of the respondents held that view.

It's not just people of color either. More than half the respondents — 53 percent, to be exact — said that discrimination against gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or transgendered people occurs either all the time (20 percent) or frequently (33 percent). Nearly half of all the women polled said that discrimination against women occurs all the time or frequently.

"I don't want to overstate the importance of the issue, but there is a bubbling cauldron of discontent that Michigan's leaders would do well to address," Michigan Roundtable President and CEO Thomas Costello said in a release announcing the poll's results.

For a closer look at the poll and to learn more about the organization that commissioned it, see miroundtable.org.

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