In an astonishing change of tide in Americans’ view on race, a majority of white people think they face racial discrimination. They also believe that anti-white bias is more prevalent than the discrimination faced by African-Americans.
A 2017 NPR poll found that 55% of white Americans people believe they are discriminated against in America today.
However, according to the poll, the vast majority of white people have never personally experienced this racism. Only 19% said they’ve been discriminated against while applying for a job. Thirteen percent say they were discriminated against when being considered for a promotion, and only 11% say they believe they faced racial bias while applying to college.
Another study out of Tufts University’s School of Arts and Sciences and Harvard Business School found that both white and black people believe that racial discrimination against black people is on the decline since the 1950s. But white people now believe that in the new millennium, anti-white racial bias is stronger than anti-black.
“These data are the first to demonstrate that not 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,” the researchers said.
These views on race are closely linked with support of President Donald Trump. Seventy-five percent of Republicans believe that white people face discrimination versus only 38% of Democrats.
According to the Tuft and Harvard study’s authors, the white people who believe they face discrimination see it as a zero-sum game. They assume that black people are facing less bias because the tables have turned on white people.
It’s a bizarre form of logic that suggests that racism is like a pie chart, and if one group experiences less, it’s because the racism is directed at another group.
The idea that white people face greater discrimination in America than black people contradicts recent studies that show black people are far more likely to experience racism.
A 2009 study by sociologist Devah Pager sent pairs of participants, one white and one black, to apply for 340 jobs in New York City. They had identical qualifications, they said the same things when turning in their applications, and even dressed alike.
All things being equal but their ethnicities, the black applicants received half of the call backs the whites received.
This study inspired another regarding apartment rentals. Researchers responded to 14,000 online rental ads with names that either implied the applicant was white (Alison Bauer) or black (Ebony Washington.) The black applicants were 66% more likely to be told the apartment had already been rented.
This new trend in white people believing they are victims of discrimination has created a sense of white fragility in America — and it’s dangerous. Here’s a great explanation from Dr. Robin DeAngelo:
White people in North America live in a social environment that protects and insulates them from race-based stress. This insulated environment of racial protection builds white expectations for racial comfort while at the same time lowering the ability to tolerate racial stress, leading to what I refer to as White Fragility. White Fragility is a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium.
As America becomes more diverse and an increasing number of non-whites begin to ascend to positions of power in the country, this sense of fragility may only increase. This new racial dynamic will yield great benefits to the country by making it a more inclusive place for all.
However, with the election of Trump, we’re beginning to see a backlash and, hopefully, it serves as a warning of what happens when these dynamics are mismanaged and it’s not a sign of a new, regressive status quo.