Politics

Whites Victims of Racism More than Blacks, Say Confused White People

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A new study reveals that white people suffer from a more sharply rising rate of racism and discrimation than black people, at least according to white people.

The study, from Harvard and Tufts' researchers, asked respondents to rank the amount of racism different racial groups have faced since the 1950s on a scale from 1 to 10. Each person answered the same question: "Indicate how much you think blacks/whites were/are the victims of discrimination in the United States in each of the following decades."

Black respondents largely saw racism against them declining, from 9.7 in the 1950s to 6.1 in the 90s, but White participants painted a very different picture. Not only did Whites believe discrimaintion against them had increased from 1.8 in the 1950s to 4.7 in the 2000s, but 11 percent said that racism against them was currently at a maximum 10 out of 10.

Let's pause for a moment. That means a significant percentage of white people (1 in 10!) believe that they're currently more discriminated against than black people believe they were in the 1950s, when lynchings were routine and Jim Crow laws ran the South.

While the gap is certainly closing, by any logicial and statistical measure Blacks still face far more discimination that Whites. Income, education, health, unemployment numbers, you name the cateogry and the gap between Whites and Blacks is sadly large.

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That means the response of Whites in this study is, of course, purely psychological. In short, they're confusing a loss of privilege with a rise in discrimation. What has declined sharply for Whites in the past five decades are the overt advantages and automatic privileges they had over Blacks -- advantages and privileges that still very much exist, but not to the same degree.

To use the simplest analogy possible, if my daughter grabs five cookies from the cookie jar and I take three of them away, she'll feel like a grave injustice has been done. To make matters worse, if she then sees me give my son, who already has one cookie, another cookie, she'll feel like she's been unfairly targeted, even though she still has more total cookies than my son.

In the end, perhaps the best lesson we can draw from this study is that we're all human, and as humans subject to the biases of our emotions. It looks like the pain of losing something really is greater than the pleasure of gaining it.