In a shocking study conducted by sociologists from Harvard and Tufts universities in America white Americans now see themselves as victims of racism and believe that black people have ‘gained’ the advantage over them despite African-Americans still being subjected to racial discrimination in the job market, and suffering poverty rates at nearly twice the levels of whites. This white perception that they are victims is part of the new racism resistant to any gains by black people, economically, socially and politically.
Reported in the Daily Mail online today (‘Whites suffer more racism than blacks’: Study shows white American people believe they are more discriminated against: 24 May, 2011) a study by Harvard and Tufts university sociologists revealed that white Americans believe that they are victims of racism, and that black people had ‘gained’ an advantage over them.
The study was conducted by Michael Norton and Samuel Sommers who asked 209 white and 208 black men and women to rate racism on a scale of 1 to 10 since the 1950s.
According to the Mail report, “Whites believe…the pendulum has now swung beyond equality in the direction of anti-white discrimination.”
Whites believe that equality for black people has been achieved at their expense and also believed that race equality had progressed much more than the black respondents of the study.
White lies: The government and media’s deceptions
The attitudes that some whites in America have which are reflected in this study is representative of the attitudes that whites in the West have in general towards race equality.
In April 2010, the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) revealed in a report that an average of five race murders occur in the UK every year since the race murder of Stephen Lawrence in April 1993 by a gang of racists. (Read Five racial murders per year says race institute) More significantly the report rubbished claims that the British media has been claiming for years that whites were the predominant victims of racist attacks.
Positive discrimination or affirmative action as it is called in America is not there to favour black and ethnic minority groups but to provide some sort of restitution in a hostile job market which has a long history of discriminating against these groups. This is what the media and the governments of Western countries will not properly explain to their white citizens.
According to the Washington Informer (Poverty Rate Among African Americans Nearly Double that of Whites: Saturday, 18 September 2010) “In 2009, the poverty rate for African Americans reached 25.8 percent—almost twice as high as that of the general population. One in three African-American children now lives in families that have trouble providing for them.”
The report also said that there are “High rates of poverty and long-term unemployment among African Americans…”
Dr. H. Roy Kaplan, author of The Myth of Post-Racial America: Searching for Equality in the Age of Materialism, said “Wealth disparities are falling disproportionately on people of color, especially their children. More than a third (34%) of African American and 29% of Latino children live below the poverty level in the U.S. Nearly half of African Americans born into middle-class families have spiraled down into the bottom 20% of income distribution compared to 16% of white children. Between 1984 and 2007 the wealth gap between blacks and whites increased four- fold.” (Racism Review: March 31)
How whites in America can perceive that blacks have the advantage over them considering the statistics above is questionable. Two possibilities can explain this. The first possibility is that the white public has been deceived by the media and government who continue play one group against the other, and the second possibility is more controversial. Perhaps some whites are opposed to equality for black and minority ethnic groups.
The same perceptions in the American study can be found in Britain as well. For a long time multiculturalism has been blamed for society’s ill in Britain, whether it be terrorism, the rise of the far right or racial tensions between communities. There is a perception that black and minority ethnic groups in the UK receive favourable treatment in housing and employment etc., the reality however is actually bleak for these groups.
According to a report by the former Commission for Racial Equality (CRE), titled, A lot done, a lot to do “Currently, 67% of people from ethnic minorities live in the 88 most deprived wards in England.” (P.50)
Leslie Manasseh, Chair of the 2007 Black Worker’s Conference the unemployment rate for black workers is double that of whites due to racial discrimination in the employment market. He also said that once in employment black and minority ethnic workers face racial barriers to job-related training, education and promotion. (TUC: May 2009) (Read The failure of multiculturalism is the failure of race relations)
The new racism
The statistics reveal quite evidently that racial equality is far from realised in America or Britain, yet attitudes are prevalent among some whites that black and minority ethnic groups have the advantage.
A dangerous new form of racism against black and minority ethnic groups has taken root in America, Britain and Europe. This new racism gives the impression that whites are now the victims of racial discrimination and racist attacks. Given respectability in the media and used by governments during political campaigns this new form of racism attempts to erode the crumbs that black and minority ethnic groups receive in the form of positive discrimination.
Take away positive discrimination and the meagre gains black and minority ethnic groups have made in America and Britain would most likely not exist. Take away positive discrimination and the employment levels between whites and other races would widen to drastic proportions. The poverty levels would be outrageous. Is this how the whites who have these perceptions want to see black and minority ethnic groups live? Perhaps there is some truth in that question.
These attitudes reveal a simple truth, that some whites have been opposed to equality for black and minority ethnic groups from the outset. It also reveals a troubling future between whites and other races, as the growing affluence of these groups will clearly aggravate racial tensions.
This new racism is actually rooted in the old white supremacist racist ideology, the belief that Europeans should have the best jobs, best homes, more money, more opportunities etc.
The American study has only brought to the surface the animosity some whites have had towards racial equality for a while.
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