That’s Great, but . . .

In an AFP story headlined “Obama’s presidency improving US race relations,” we read:

As the US leader approaches 100 days in office, the survey found that about two-thirds of Americans — 66 percent — said race relations are generally good, compared with 53 percent in July.

That’s well and good. Then comes the very next sentence:

The survey found that Black Americans remain among Obama’s staunchest supporters, with 70 percent of US blacks saying the country is headed in the right direction, compared with 34 percent of whites

So Americans report that race relations are improving, yet blacks and whites dramatically disagree on the direction in which the country is headed. This is an important detail that’s been widely overlooked in all the hoopla about the right-direction number passing 50 percent. It’s heartening that 70 percent of black Americans feel their country is doing the right thing. But doesn’t this stark difference of opinion between the races signal the very opposite of improved race relations? And does it not also undermine the enthusiastic talk of Obama’s ability to instill widespread optimism?