You Might Be Racist and Not Even Know It

From ScienceDaily:

A new study from the School of Science at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis looks at how much African Americans and whites favor or prefer their own racial group over the other, how much they identify with their own racial group, and how positively they feel about themselves.

The work, by Leslie Ashburn-Nardo, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology in the School of Science at IUPUI, looked at both consciously controllable sentiments and gut feelings about social stigma and found a significant difference in both groups between what people say they feel and their less controllable “gut feelings.”

“The Importance of Implicit and Explicit Measures for Understanding Social Stigma” appears in the current (September 2010) issue of the Journal of Social Issues.

Many studies of stigma have been conducted since the end of World War II but until recently they have looked primarily at explicit (recently learned) attitudes and did not include implicit measures of deep seated feelings acquired earlier in life and not consciously accessible.

To explain the difference between explicit and implicit measures, Ashburn-Nardo uses an illustration from everyday life. “You may be asked how you feel and you respond, “I’m okay,” yet your body is showing signs of distress (e.g., high blood pressure or fast pulse rate). You’re not necessarily lying when you say ‘I’m okay.’ It’s more likely that you just may not realize how stress is affecting you. Explicit measures are much like your ‘I’m okay’ response to how you are whereas implicit measures are like the blood pressure cuff or stethoscope findings. It’s important that we don’t rely exclusively on the asking and neglect the less easy to access information if we hope to increase our understanding of stigma and be in a position to help people.”

In her study Ashburn-Nardo found that African Americans consciously reported that they favored their own race, identified with their own race and felt very good about themselves at a rate much higher than whites. However when tested on non-conscious feelings, that was not the case. African Americans favored their race less and less strongly identified with their own race than whites.

Read more here.

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  • Tuna Ghost

    How is this news? Most of the racist people I know have no idea they’re racist.

    • Andrew

      You just answered your own question.

      • Tuna Ghost

        Hah. Rather, when something is common knowledge I don’t see how it counts as “news”. The headline “Scientists Report:’Water is Wet’” comes to mind.

        • Andrew

          You just pointed out in your first comment that it’s not knowledge to a lot of people. Does the fact that you and I already know something mean it shouldn’t be reported on? Just because it’s not news to us doesn’t mean it’s not news to anybody.

  • Tuna Ghost

    How is this news? Most of the racist people I know have no idea they’re racist.

  • Andrew

    You just answered your own question.

  • Tuna Ghost

    Hah. Rather, when something is common knowledge I don’t see how it counts as “news”. The headline “Scientists Report:’Water is Wet’” comes to mind.

  • Andrew

    You just pointed out in your first comment that it’s not knowledge to a lot of people. Does the fact that you and I already know something mean it shouldn’t be reported on? Just because it’s not news to us doesn’t mean it’s not news to anybody.

  • Anonymous

    Self race identity is racism. If I say “I am white” or black or a Jew or an Arab or whatever, I have just said I am different from most of the rest of humanity, therefore I am racist. We all try to avoid being racist, but we are asked to be just that whenever we fill out a form, the census for example, asking for our race. I always write in “human.”

    • Tuna Ghost

      to quote A Softer World, that’s basically saying “I mean well, but fuck I’m stupid”.

  • Anonymous

    Self race identity is racism. If I say “I am white” or black or a Jew or an Arab or whatever, I have just said I am different from most of the rest of humanity, therefore I am racist. We all try to avoid being racist, but we are asked to be just that whenever we fill out a form, the census for example, asking for our race. I always write in “human.”

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    Bad title. Bias…especially cultural bias…is distinct from genuine racism. People have widely varying levels of comfort regarding their own social groups and stepping outside them, ranging from confident people whose experience in multi cultural areas has made them comfortable in many different situations…all the way to the raging xenophobe who shudders at the thought of even marginal differences.

    Point is…racism is the belief that one race is inherently superior to another…while bias or discomfort around other races is almost inherent to being human…and mixing the two blurs the line about when to use a highly charged word. Most people who “don’t know they’re racist” aren’t remotely racist in the literal sense…they’re just more culturally biased than they may realize. Nothing makes people dig in their heels and become MORE xenophobic and isolated like being falsely and inaccurately accused of racism…so lets all be thoughtful about how that word gets used, eh?

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    Bad title. Bias…especially cultural bias…is distinct from genuine racism. People have widely varying levels of comfort regarding their own social groups and stepping outside them, ranging from confident people whose experience in multi cultural areas has made them comfortable in many different situations…all the way to the raging xenophobe who shudders at the thought of even marginal differences.

    Point is…racism is the belief that one race is inherently superior to another…while bias or discomfort around other races is almost inherent to being human…and mixing the two blurs the line about when to use a highly charged word. Most people who “don’t know they’re racist” aren’t remotely racist in the literal sense…they’re just more culturally biased than they may realize. Nothing makes people dig in their heels and become MORE xenophobic and isolated like being falsely and inaccurately accused of racism…so lets all be thoughtful about how that word gets used, eh?

  • Liam_McGonagle

    People somehow assume that “Racism” is a somehow absolute trait–that you either are or are not racist, full stop.

    Let’s just be honest and say that like any other attribute, it’s a continuum. Use of the term ‘racist’ should indicate a person who, relative to others in society, places an undue importance on racial assignment in evaluating the worth and acheivement of others.

    That’d mean that we’d have to make explicit attempts to articulate a consensus view of society’s current views vis-a-vis race. And I think we have: We’ve outlawed race-based chatel slavery, we’ve outlawed many specific types of legal, political, economic discrimination based on race.

    So that means that use of the term ‘racist’ isn’t just up for grabs, that it’s a totally subjective judgment call or that just any opinion is as valid as any other. Facts are facts: Rand Paul and the Tea Baggers may try to cameoflage their calls to repeal the Civil Rights Act and the Fourteenth Amendment as some quasi-constitutionalist bullshit, but they cut against the grain of our national traditions of racial inclusion. The Tea Party is just racist.

  • Liam_McGonagle

    People somehow assume that “Racism” is a somehow absolute trait–that you either are or are not racist, full stop.

    Let’s just be honest and say that like any other attribute, it’s a continuum. Use of the term ‘racist’ should indicate a person who, relative to others in society, places an undue importance on racial assignment in evaluating the worth and acheivement of others.

    That’d mean that we’d have to make explicit attempts to articulate a consensus view of society’s current views vis-a-vis race. And I think we have: We’ve outlawed race-based chatel slavery, we’ve outlawed many specific types of legal, political, economic discrimination based on race.

    So that means that use of the term ‘racist’ isn’t just up for grabs, that it’s a totally subjective judgment call or that just any opinion is as valid as any other. Facts are facts: Rand Paul and the Tea Baggers may try to cameoflage their calls to repeal the Civil Rights Act and the Fourteenth Amendment as some quasi-constitutionalist bullshit, but they cut against the grain of our national traditions of racial inclusion. The Tea Party is just racist.

  • E Clark

    Does the study look at who black Americans prefer or did they just look at African Americans? Most people of color I know, are not from Africa. They are from South Beach.

  • E Clark

    Does the study look at who black Americans prefer or did they just look at African Americans? Most people of color I know, are not from Africa. They are from South Beach.

  • Tuna Ghost

    to quote A Softer World, that’s basically saying “I mean well, but fuck I’m stupid”.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kody.adams3 Kody Adams

    saying that saying “i am white is a racist comment” is like saying that if someone said theyre christian then they said i hate all other religions. you are what you are, regardless of how “colorblind” you try to be about it. its a good step towards unity and away from thoughts that cause a subconcious division between races, but its also more of a step towards an ignorance is bliss outlook on life, which is what starts these kinds of things in the first place.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kody.adams3 Kody Adams

    saying that saying “i am white is a racist comment” is like saying that if someone said theyre christian then they said i hate all other religions. you are what you are, regardless of how “colorblind” you try to be about it. its a good step towards unity and away from thoughts that cause a subconcious division between races, but its also more of a step towards an ignorance is bliss outlook on life, which is what starts these kinds of things in the first place.