WASHINGTON—A majority of African-Americans surveyed in a nationwide poll this week reported feeling "deeply disturbed" and "more than a little weirded out" by all the white people now smiling at them.
First witnessed shortly after President Obama's historic victory, the open and cheerful smiling has only continued in recent months, leaving members of the black community completely unnerved.
"On behalf of black people across this nation, I would like to say to our white brethren, 'Please stop looking at us like that,'" said Brown University psychology professor Dr. Stanley Carsons. "We're excited Barack is president, too, and we're glad you're happy for us. But giving us the thumbs up for no reason, or saying hello whenever we walk by, is really starting to freak us out."
Added Carsons, "We just want to be able to stand in line at Home Depot without getting patted on the back."
According to the poll, more than 92 percent of African-Americans have noticed a dramatic increase in the number of beaming Caucasians in their vicinity, as well as a marked rise in the instances of white people making direct eye contact with them on the bus, engaging them in pleasant conversation, and warmly gazing in their general direction with a mix of wonder, pride, and profound contentment. All respondents reported being "petrified" by the change.
"Yesterday, I'm pretty sure the cashier at the Giant Eagle winked at me," said Eddie Wilkes, a Pittsburgh resident who described himself as "not a politics person." "Then she said something about what a happy day it was and tried to bump fists. The whole thing gave me the willies."
"I can't even be at a bar anymore if they have the news on," said Chicago native and small business consultant Jarell Brown. "Obama gives a speech on the economy and people act like my team just won the Super Bowl. I didn't even vote for the guy. I'm a Libertarian."
Although poll respondents said that the regularity of jovial white strangers greeting them in elevators has risen approximately 450 percent since mid-January, the incidents are reportedly nowhere near as frequent as they were on Nov. 4, 2008. On that day, the country was temporarily seized by an epidemic of unsolicited white-on-black hugging.
In an attempt to return the nation's interracial interactions to their preinauguration level of stilted awkwardness, the NAACP and the ACLU released a joint statement Monday addressing the issue. In the four-page address, the activist groups call for normalcy and urge the nation's whites to immediately desist creeping everybody out with all the nodding and warmth and raised eyebrows.
"If you could all stop acting like you're generally pleased to see black people walking around, out in the open, that would be better for all of us," NAACP president Benjamin Jealous said to a smiling and misty-eyed press corps that was "just thrilled" to have him there. "It's very kind of you to be so enthusiastic about our achievements, but if it's still on the table, we'd like to return to the times when your reactions varied between unfounded apprehension and complete indifference. To be honest, you people are kind of terrifying when you're happy."
Added Jealous, "Oh, and please stop e-mailing us that picture of Jesse Jackson crying. We've seen it."
While experts couldn't predict how long this unsettling new trend would continue, at least one citizen, who wished to remain anonymous, said he had given up hope of ever feeling comfortable around white people again.
"Everywhere I go, there they are: offering me pancakes, laughing at all my jokes, even bursting into tears when they see me," said the Washington, D.C. resident and father of two. "I know you mean well and all, but seriously, knock it off. You're giving my children nightmares."
As of press time, the nation's Arab-Americans have reported no discernible change in all the angry, reflexive scowling.