We Are All Lowkey Racist.

Do people subconsciously harbor racist ideas and attitudes? How is this possible? Do certain social situations provoke different responses in racism?

These were the questions that seemed to drive the research I so desperately sought to find, especially considering the recent events that have made American history. After this past election, so many ideas and racist thoughts have been brought to light that I assumed had been abolished decades ago; it turns out I was wrong. People still seem to hold discriminatory thoughts; the only difference is that people in today’s world appear to conceal it better. However, although I found research that supports some people harbor racist ideas, this does not mean you are racist! It just shows the the subconscious mind is much stronger than you believe!

Warning: Do not be offended by the results!

In April of 2009, a study was done that had some scary implications: there are still negative associations and connotations surrounding the black race. Even more is that when people hear racial slurs being spoken, less people had the confidence to speak up than you would think.

Associate professor of psychology at York University, Kerry Kawakami (the author of the study) divided 120 non blacks into different roles for the experiment: experiencers and forecasters. It was the experiencers job to sit in a room where therigaud_2 fabricated altercation was to occur while the forecaster had the job of predicting how he would feel if he was in the situation. When a black person “accidentally” ran into a caucasian (part of the experiment), the white person would utter sentences from either one of three stages: weak, mild, and extreme. In the mild case, the white man would say nothing, and in the moderate case, he would say something along the lines of “Typical, I hate it when black people do that.” In the most extreme cases, he would shout, “Clumsy n*****.” It was the experiencers who essentially were observed in this study (thus making this an observational study), and what the author found was chilling.

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As even the most racist of the comments were said, the amount of discomfort the experiencers felt was astonishingly low; then as soon as the experiment was over, the participant had to choose either the white or black person to be a partner for an anagram test, and still, greater than 50 percent of the people chose the white person. This was even considering the fact that the white person had said some very nasty and derogatory comments. Now, even when no comment was made by the white person, people were still likely to choose him.

In that same article, the author goes on to explain the decades of research that seem to point to the same conclusion: when people are placed in certain sensitive situations, they tend to act opposite of what they accordingly believed. Back in the early 1960’s, a man by the name of Stanley Miligram performed the Miligram experiment; there is a psychological correlation between this study and Kawakami’s study. Watch the video below if you are interested in this correlation and the actual Miligram study; you will find that under certain situations, humans seem to act callously and maliciously when provoked, or, surprisingly, even when they are not.

Possible Flaws and Conclusions:

Throughout studying this experiment, I realized that there were a number of possible flaws with it. For example, it says that all the participants were non black, but what exactly does this mean? Does this mean that they were all white, or perhaps that they were simply minorities other than African American? There is too much ambiguity. Furthermore, this article seems to imply that the lack of discomfort the experiencers had is an example of them being racist, but is this necessarily the case? The way I see it, there is not correlation between these two variables; and furthermore, lack of discomfort does not equate to racism, so causation is not involved either. Lastly, confounding variables, although not a flaw, might definitely have played its role in this experiment.

So, what should you be taking away from this article? If you are learning anything, its that certain aspects of science, and even in everyday life, are not always as they appear. You might believe that you have made up your mind on something, and there might be evidence to prove it, but the subconscious is powerful; there are things that it can hide from you, and when certain situations arise, your innermost thoughts come out to play.

2 thoughts on “We Are All Lowkey Racist.

  1. Kateryna Okhrimchuk

    Your topic was very eye grabbing and although the research that you used to back up your claim seems like it’s coming from a credible source, I have to disagree with the fact that we all harbor some sort of racism. In fact, I believe that this is the type of point of view is what keeps racism alive. I’m also surprised that you thought that racism had “been abolished” decades ago, considering the fact that there have been countless surveys, statistics, and facts showing that black people get paid less than white people, are treated poorer in the workplace, and have incredibly prejudicial laws that specifically target them, like the stop and frisk laws in New York City. I can also see a lot more flaws in the study than what you mentioned in your blog. In general, liberal areas like New York City are very diverse and accepting of all colors and cultures, while rural states in the south like Alabama tend to have a more racist population. It would’ve been helpful to know where the people participating in this survey are from, as well as their political views as well.

  2. Marielle Concetta Ravally

    When scrolling through the blogs, your title immediately grabbed my attention. Though I disagree with your blanket statement that most people are somewhat racists but appreciate the clarification regarding the focus on subconscious, I do think that your research raises an interesting question. As you mentioned, I think it is very important to further look into the subjects being studied. There are many factors that can factor into one’s reaction to race. Age, geographic location, upbringing, socioeconomic standing could all have an effect on the outcome of what is being measured in this study. Without controlling for this, the study is gathering skewed data. A study of white upperclass men over the age of 60 would have a much different outcome of a study of working class millennians of different races. The results of the study being presented is incredibly dependent on the people being studied.

    Here’s an interesting video I found discussing kid’s views on race in our country: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9OKgUdQF-Fg

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