4 in 10 Whites Think Racism is Over – Now What?

July 6, 2016

By Angelica Walker


“Make America White Again” Photo credit: Amy Hines Woody

Over the past 50 years, America has slowly cycled through phases of socially accepted public racism, to behind-closed-doors racism, and then back again. After a decade of relative harmony and “political correctness” in the wake of the new millennia, Trump has capitalized on the boiling frustrations of whites that were, up until now, “totally not racist.”

“Politically correct” has become the antithesis of conservatives everywhere, and “Making America White Again” is totally in vogue. Minorities are blamed on a regular basis for everything from ruining the economy to destroying the sanctity of Kennywood – and unlike 10 years ago, people are doing this under their real names for all to see. The KKK just celebrated their 150th anniversary by announcing rising membership rates and campaigning for Trump.

Despite this, according to the latest Pew survey on race, 38% of white Americans believe “our country has made the changes needed to give blacks equal rights with whites.” Only 8% of black Americans agreed, while 43% said it would never happen.

According to almost half of white America, racism is a shared delusion, and any perceived effects of it are due to blacks’ own personal inadequacies. Assaulted by cops? –  You shouldn’t have been out at night. Passed up for a job? – You just weren’t good enough. Poisoned water? – It was a simple mistake. Harassed because of your hijab? – Take it off or get out.

Even the most concrete, proven racial disparities are met with eye rolls and denial. University studies on racism are disregarded because of their “liberal, ivory tower bias” just as often as people with lived experiences of racism are ignored for being “uncredible”. For some reason, the everyday white man is routinely seen as the paramount source of hard facts disproving racism; facts like, “one time, a black woman got the job instead of me!”

The title to this article is a bit off. It’s pretty clear that racism isn’t over, even to most of the 38% who said, “our country has made the changes needed to give blacks equal rights with whites.” Because to them, “equal rights” doesn’t mean an end to racism – it just means an end to whites caring about racism.

Angelica Walker is an intern for The New People covering LGBTQ rights and criminal justice reform. She is a junior at the University of Pittsburgh studying social work, legal studies, writing, and political science.

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