Study: Whites say they face more racism than blacks

By David Edwards
Tuesday, May 24, 2011 15:01 EDT
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Whites in America now believe that they face more racial bias than blacks, according to a recent study.

Samuel Sommers of Tufts University and Michael I. Norton of Harvard asked 208 blacks and 209 whites to use a 10-point scale to indicate how much they thought blacks and whites were a target of discrimination each decade from the 1950s through the 2000s.

Less than 2 percent of blacks and whites gave anti-white bias the maximum score in the 1950s. More than 9 percent of both groups also gave anti-black bias the maximum score for that same decade.

Blacks and white agreed that racism against blacks decreased as the decades progressed. But whites, unlike blacks, felt that anti-white bias had increased along with the drop in anti-black bias. Eleven percent of whites rated anti-white bias at the maximum during the 2000s, while only 2 percent of blacks did.

“We propose that Whites’ belief about the increasing prevalence of anti-White bias reflects a view of racism as a zero-sum game,” researchers wrote (PDF), “which can be summed up as ‘less against you means more against me.’”

“[N]ot 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,” they concluded.

“While affirmative action advocates don’t perceive of such preferences as anti-white discrimination, many whites do,” George Mason University Law Professor David E. Berstein told The New York Times.

“Given the overt nature of such preferences, and many whites’ own perceived self-interest in the matter, it’s not terribly surprising that whites subjectively perceive discrimination against members of their own group as an especially significant and growing problem, even though, objectively speaking, bias against blacks is far more pervasive, problematic and ill-intentioned,” he added.

The study “Whites See Racism as a Zero-Sum Game That They Are Now Losing” was published in the May edition of Perspectives on Psychological Science.

Image credit: Flickr/bandita

[H/T: The Daily Mail]

David Edwards
David Edwards
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
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