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I don’t support racism, I just don’t do anything about it when it happens in front of me

January 9, 2009

A York University professor led a study to find out how white people think they would react to racism, compared to what they actually do when someone is racist. Seems that some folks need to do more homework about the difference between nice thoughts and real actions.

Kerry Kawakami found that “People do not think of themselves as prejudiced, and they predict that they would be very upset by a racist act and would take action. However, we found that their responses are much more muted than they expect when they are actually faced with an overtly racist comment.”

Kawakami’s findings have been published in the September 9 issue of Science, in a piece called Mispredicting Affective and Behavioral Responses to Racism.

According to co-writer Elizabeth Dunn, a professor at the University of British Columbia, “People often make inaccurate forecasts about how they would respond emotionally to negative events. They vastly overestimate how upset they would feel in bad situations such as hearing a racial slur. One of the ways that people may stem the tide of negative emotions related to witnessing a racial slur is to re-construe the comment as a joke or as a harmless remark.”

Yes, I see. This is what privilege looks like.

See the links below for more details about the study and how it was conducted.


external website iconStudy exposes tolerance of racism, by JOSEPH HALL, Toronto Star | January 9, 2009

external website iconReactions to racism not as strong as we think: York study, York University | January 8, 2009

external website iconStudy: Racist Attitudes Are Still Ingrained, by EBEN HARRELL, Time | January 8, 2009

external website iconSurprisingly High Tolerance For Racism Revealed, ScienceDaily | January 9, 2009


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