An insightful story by our Post colleague Robert Samuels this morning showed that whites in Ferguson were often surprised by the racial fault lines exposed by the shooting and the sometimes angry protests that followed. They said they had no idea of the simmering tensions between African Americans and police. They did not know that many black residents felt unfairly targeted by the police and unrepresented by city government. And they bristled when protesters portrayed their town as racist.
It turns out that whites' limited awareness about racial problems in Ferguson goes well beyond the St. Louis suburb. A series of surveys in recent years about Americans’ perceptions of the very existence of racism and racial disparities in our society shows that white people believe the problem of racial bias against blacks has effectively faded as a national issue.