While U.S. Government Fights Foreign Terrorists, Poll Shows Young Blacks ‘Very Concerned’ About White Homegrown Terror

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Kearston Farr hugs her 5-year-old daughter Taliyah visiting a memorial in front of the Emanuel AME Church on Friday, June 19, 2015 in Charleston, S.C. Photo by Curtis Compton. Atlanta Journal-Constitution/AP
Kearston Farr hugs her 5-year-old daughter Taliyah while visiting a memorial in front of the Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church on Friday, June 19, 2015 in Charleston, S.C. Photo by Curtis Compton, Atlanta Journal-Constitution/AP.

A recent poll has revealed heightened fears among young Blacks and Latinos concerning acts of terror committed by white, homegrown extremists — more so than acts of violence committed by foreign terrorists.

According to a GenForward Poll, 65 percent of Blacks and 65 percent of Latinos surveyed expressed grave concern over the threat of terrorist violence at the hands of white extremists compared to just one-third of whites and 41 percent of Asian-Americans.

The poll also found that acts of violence committed by foreign extremists were particularly unnerving for young Latinos: 56 percent of Latino respondents said they were very concerned, while 49 percent of African-Americans, 40 percent of Asian-Americans, and 41 percent of whites expressed the same sentiment.

Carried out by the University of Chicago’s Black Youth Project, in conjunction with the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, the GenFoward Poll is a monthly survey aimed at addressing “the absence in voice of young people, specifically those of African-American and Latino backgrounds.” According to the poll’s official website, a custom panel of young Americans is utilized in the oversampling of Black, Latino and Asian-American respondents.

“The GenForward Survey is the first of its kind—a nationally representative survey of over 1750 young adults ages 18-30 conducted monthly that pays special attention to how race and ethnicity shape how respondents experience and think about the world,” the website states.

The heightened fear expressed by respondents in the recent poll is likely due to the string of mass shootings committed by homegrown terrorists over the last two years. In June 2015, a self-professed white supremacist gunned down nine Black parishioners during Bible study at the Mother Emanuel A.M.E Church in Charleston, South Carolina. The gunman, 22-year-old Dylann Roof, told investigators he wanted to start a race war.

Almost one year later, a lone gunman opened fire on a crowd of unsuspecting LGBT club-goers at the Pulse Nightclub in Miami. Forty-nine people were killed that night, making it the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. Although the shooter, Omar Mateen, was American-born to Afghan parents, an autopsy report labeled him as a white male, the Associated Press reports.

According to the news site, the majority of respondents labeled both the Charleston church shooting and Orlando night club massacre as hate crimes. However, differing views of the tragedies were ultimately shaped by the respondents’ racial backgrounds.

For example, the majority of white young adults described the Orlando nightclub shooting as a terrorist attack; 58 percent of whites labeled it as such, compared to just 32 percent of African-Americans, 40 percent of Latinos, and 44 percent of Asian-Americans, poll results showed.

In stark contrast, AP reports that a third or less of young people in each racial and ethnic category considered the Charleston attack an act of terrorism; only 30 percent of African-Americans, 27 percent of Latinos, 32 percent of Asian-Americans, and 29 percent of whites labeled it as that.

Latina college student Darsi Vazquez, 25, describes herself as someone who fears domestic and foreign terrorism equally, but says her anxiety is often exacerbated by constant news coverage of mass shootings across the U.S. and the racist rhetoric often spewed on social media sites.

“A few years back, technology wasn’t where it’s at now, so you couldn’t see things like this happening like you see it now,” Vazquez told AP. “I don’t know if it’s necessarily getting worse, but we’re seeing it more now. We don’t just see what’s happening outside our window, we also see what’s going on outside other people’s window.”

Rather than measure the fear of homegrown and foreign terrorism, a 2015 report by the Southern Poverty Law Center measured the potential threat posed by lone wolf, white extremists. According to the analysis, lone wolf racists posed a far greater threat to Americans than did jihadist extremists, particularly during the age of the nation’s first Black president.

Titled “Age of the Wolf: A Study of the Rise of Lone Wolf and Leaderless Resistance Terrorism,” the report examined the period of time Barack Obama has served as president, Atlanta Black Star reports. It found that a terrorist incident took place or was disrupted every 34 days between 2009 and 2015. Other studies similar to the SPLC’s have also indicated that since the 9/11 terror attacks, more people have been killed in America by non-Islamic domestic terrorists than by jihadists.

“Since 9/11,…the government has focused very heavily on jihadists, sometimes to the exclusion of violence from various forms of domestic extremists,” the SPLC report stated. “That was first apparent in the immediate aftermath of the Al Qaeda attacks, when almost all government resources were channeled toward battling foreign jihadists. A stark example of that is the way the Justice Department has allowed its Domestic Terrorism Executive Committee to go into hibernation since that day.”

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