Sunday, June 2, 2019

Is Racism Declining?

I know we're supposed to believe that everything is getting worse and worse in this regard....but maybe not. A new study by political scientists Daniel Hopkins and Samantha Washington indicates a decline in racial prejudice among whites since Trump's election (and not much change for that matter even during Obama's second term). How can this be? As quoted in the Washington Post article on these findings:
"Hopkins told The Washington Post that the results initially surprised him. Upon reflection, however, “it’s quite conceivable that Trump has simultaneously galvanized a small number of highly prejudiced white Americans while also pushing millions more to affirm that they are not as prejudiced,” he argued.
In other words, Hopkins believes the study provides evidence that the racially incendiary rhetoric and policies issuing from Trump’s White House have pushed the majority of Americans in the opposite direction....
[T]he political scientist points to the increasing isolation of an extremist minority whose prejudices have intensified in the face of a broader shift away from the sort of opinions aired in Trump’s White House and on his Twitter feed."
The article points out however:
"The specialist in race and political behavior acknowledged that his findings speak only to professed bias and not to concrete behavior, such as whether Americans are moving into heterogeneous neighborhoods."
Ah, but more good news: they are! From a recent Times Upshot article:
"[S]ince 2000, according to an analysis of demographic and housing data, the arrival of white residents is now changing nonwhite communities in cities of all sizes, affecting about one in six predominantly African-American census tracts. The pattern, though still modest in scope, is playing out with remarkable consistency across the country — in ways that jolt the mortgage market, the architecture, the value of land itself.
In city after city, a map of racial change shows predominantly minority neighborhoods near downtown growing whiter, while suburban neighborhoods that were once largely white are experiencing an increased share of black, Hispanic and Asian-American residents....
[D]isparities in incomes and mortgage access aren't apparent in suburban neighborhoods with a growing share of Hispanic, black and Asian-American residents. Minority borrowers in those places have incomes similar to that of their new neighbors. They receive mortgages proportionate to their share of the population."
Lastly, are the Hopkins/Washington findings an outlier? Nope:
"Although he was surprised by the results, Hopkins said his discovery is not out of step with other assessments. In fact, his conclusions are in line with recent scholarship suggesting that bias, both implicit and explicit, has declined when it comes to race and sexual orientation, though prejudice has remained steady regarding people with disabilities and actually increased regarding obesity."
Kind of complicates the current narrative doesn't it?

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