Whites Believe They Are Victims of Racism More Often Than Blacks

Whites believe that they have replaced blacks as the primary victims of racial discrimination in contemporary America, according to a new study from researchers at Tufts University’s School of Arts and Sciences and Harvard Business School. The findings, say the authors, show that America has not achieved the “post-racial” society that some predicted in the wake of Barack Obama’s election.

Both whites and blacks agree that anti-black racism has decreased over the last 60 years, according to the study. However, whites believe that anti-white racism has increased and is now a bigger problem than anti-black racism.

“It’s a pretty surprising finding when you think of the wide range of disparities that still exist in society, most of which show black Americans with worse outcomes than whites in areas such as income, home ownership, health and employment,” said Tufts Associate Professor of Psychology Samuel Sommers, Ph.D., co-author of “Whites See Racism as a Zero-sum Game that They Are Now Losing,” which appears in the May 2011 issue of the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science.

Sommers and co-author Michael I. Norton of Harvard asked a nation-wide sample of 208 blacks and 209 whites to indicate the extent to which they felt blacks and whites were the targets of discrimination in each decade from the 1950s to the 2000s.   A scale of 1 to 10 was used, with 1 being “not at all” and 10 being “very much.”

White and black estimates of bias in the 1950s were similar. Both groups acknowledged little racism against whites at that time but substantial racism against blacks. Respondents also generally agreed that racism against blacks has decreased over time, although whites believed it has declined faster than blacks do.

However, whites believed that racism against whites has increased significantly as racism against blacks has decreased. On average, whites rated anti-white bias as more prevalent in the 2000s than anti-black bias by more than a full point on the 10-point scale. Moreover, some 11 percent of whites gave anti-white bias the maximum rating of 10 compared to only 2 percent of whites who rated anti-black bias a 10. Blacks, however, reported only a modest increase in their perceptions of “reverse racism.”

“These data are the first to demonstrate that not only do whites think more progress has been made toward equality than do blacks, but whites also now believe that this progress is linked to a new inequality – at their expense,” note Norton and Sommers. Whites see racial equality as a zero sum game, in which gains for one group mean losses for the other.

The belief that anti-white bias is more prevalent than anti-black bias has clear implications for future public policy debates and behavioral science research, say the authors. They note that claims of so-called reverse racism, while not new, have been at the core of an increasing number of high-profile Supreme Court cases.

4 COMMENTS

  1. I think blacks are given everything now. i see blacks with these big beautiful houses and fancy cars. They still cry poor. It’s a joke. Whites are discriminated against all the time now. God forbid you correct a black about anything. You will be the one ending up in trouble for saying anything to them. I regret ever helping the blacks become equal. They do nothing but abuse the opportunities whites have given them. If it weren’t for white people blacks would have never gotten anywhere. And the blacks go around shooting their mouths off all the time. They are so loud and obnoxious. I just rather live away from them. I don’t see why blacks always want everything that whites have. I don’t see why they insist on living with us. I mean why not create your own life. Why do you have to bug us about everything.

  2. One question I want to ask the whites who took that questionnaire: would you like to trade places with the blacks? I mean all the positive and negative factors.

  3. @momo: So… if you weren’t a democrat, you wouldn’t have such vast knowledge, eh? ;P Lol… when all you see is bigotry everywhere you look, the next place you should check is in the mirror.

    @the article: Honestly, I think it’s true. I think that in an effort to even the odds and level the playing field, the societal majority is discriminated against to give a leg up to the minorities. You look at things like Equal Opportunity laws in the workplace. In many circumstances, it removes talent and experience as qualifications for the job and replaces them with a requirement for ethnic minority bloodlines. There are quotas for how many workers of minority origins you need to employ, which force the employers from time to time to set aside actual job worthiness in order to meet said quotas. Another area of concern would be educational institutions and scholarship funding. A certain percent of admissions are required to be given to minorities, along with a certain percent of scholarship funding, without taking into consideration who is more qualified. A higher qualified white male will be left out so that a less qualified Afro-American female can be admitted so that the school can say it’s not biased. This, of course, is a lie. They are simply biased in the opposite direction due to external pressures. Now, don’t put words in my mouth. There are many, many, highly qualified minority candidates who deserve the places they take. But in order to correct previous societal injustices, society is pushing back the majority to make room for the minority, in cases at the expense of the more qualified individual. Do I think the African American community is on equal footing with regards to income, etc., with the white community? No. But the disparity is not what it used to be, either. I’m not agreeing or disagreeing that the current state of things is correct for the moment… you don’t have to agree with one side or the other to have an opinion in a two sided argument. Without more knowledge of the full implications of what this means, I can’t decide if it’s right or wrong.

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