Whites' reluctance to talk about race Dec 16, 2011 16:02:21 GMT -5
Post by Bozur on Dec 16, 2011 16:02:21 GMT -5
October 07, 2008
Whites' reluctance to talk about race
Race is just one of many variables about the world, but a wrong step in its use has potentially catastrophic consequences (vide the James Watson affair). It is, thus, not surprising that people adopt a race-agnostic stance to avoid such consequences, the most extreme expression of which is the "race doesn't exist" meme.
In my opinion it is better to discuss race rationally and openly. Such a stance puts it in its proper place (a fact about human variation with some predictive potency), and is also the only way to avoid both irrational non-factual stereotyping about race on the one hand, and voluntary blindness to its reality on the other.Seeing race and seeming racist? Whites go out of their way to avoid talking about race
In one study, 101 white undergraduate students were paired with either a white or black female partner who pretended to be another participant. The pairs were presented with 30 photographs of faces that varied in race, gender and background color. Each white participant's objective was to guess which of the photographs the partner was holding by asking as few yes-or-no questions as possible.
Even though asking about the race of the person in the photograph was a sound strategy for completing the task, white participants were far less likely to do so with a black versus a white partner. Moreover, when the black partner was the first one to have a turn asking questions, whether she mentioned race had a dramatic effect. White participants whose black partner asked about race mentioned race on their own turn 95 percent of the time. When the black partner never asked about race, white participants only did so 10 percent of the time.
The researchers also wanted to see how outsiders interpreted such interactions. In another experiment, 74 black and white college students evaluated videos of whites engaging in the photo task. The results showed that whites' effort to appear colorblind backfired. Black observers rated whites' avoidance of asking about race as being evidence of prejudice. What's more, when the researchers showed silent video clips of whites from the study to another group of individuals, those whites who avoided asking about race were judged as less friendly, just on the basis of their nonverbal behavior.
"The findings suggest that when race is clearly relevant, whites who think that it is a wise social strategy to avoid talking about race should think again," said Apfelbaum.