Discrimination

Via Digby, this is indeed depressing:

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 from a fairly small sample (only 417 people in total), but the results are crazy–whites now believe we are now discriminated against more often? Really/

It also led me to the blog by one of the authors (Sam Sommers ) here which is quite interesting and has some relevant articles.

This one notes that we’re often hesitant to believe people are racist so deny that a particular instance is racism:

• Most employers aren’t racists, so racial disparity in a company’s hiring tendencies must result from other factors, like there simply not being enough strong applications from qualified minority candidates.

• Few attorneys or judges are bigots, so what look to be racial differences in  say, how they evaluate potential jurors must result from other, race-neutral considerations in their jury selection calculations.

• The arresting officer used to run diversity training sessions for his colleagues, so race couldn’t have played a role in his decision to arrest the Black professor who was legally inside his own home–the professor must have been a disorderly jerk who warranted arrest.

• Race has nothing to do with it; we just don’t believe that the dark-skinned president with the funny name was born in this country (or that many of his supporters are “real Americans,” for that matter).

and he notes that we can test to see if there is inherent racism in certain cases:

Résumés with Black-sounding names get 50% fewer call-backs than résumés with White-sounding names.  The same juror background is seen more positively by a prosecutor when the juror is White than when the juror is Black.

In another post, he notes that most people don’t think they’re racist so asking whether a person is racist can be counter productive:

 A few years ago I and a colleague published a series of studies looking at how people define “racist.”  The answer?  We set the bar just past where we ourselves are.  So what makes someone a racist?  You may not know, but you do know it’s not you.

and he gives more examples of studies that show that racism still exists:

this is also what the behavioral science does tell us:  That respondents in a study who first see a Black face are more likely than those who first see a White face to mistakenly think an ambiguous object subsequently presented is a gun.  And participants completing a video game-like police simulation perform similarly, becoming more likely to mistakenly push the “shoot” button when an unarmed suspect is Black than when he’s White.  For that matter, subliminal presentation of crime-related images–shown to respondents so quickly that they don’t consciously know what they’ve just seen–makes people pay more attention to Black faces shown next, the mere unconscious suggestion of crime being enough to activate visual processing related to race.

In a partially unrelated post (this one is about sexism), we see that perception isn’t always about reality (the study based on video surveillance found that women parked better in some objective criteria):

And if you ever need a reminder about the power of expectation and assumption with respect to sex difference, just look at the poll at the bottom of the MSNBC story about the parking garage research.  When asked which sex is better at parking, even after reading about the garage study, 38% go with men and only 25% pick women.  When it comes to sex differences, we often let our intuition cloud our judgment, data be damned.

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