December 09, 2008

Poor = nonwhite

Study details the power of negative racial stereotypes

Changes in social standing such as falling below the poverty line or going to jail made people more likely to be perceived as black and less likely to be seen as white, researchers say.The researchers found that people whom the interviewers initially perceived as white were roughly twice as likely to be seen as nonwhite in their next interview if they had fallen into poverty, lost their job or been sent to prison. People previously perceived as black were twice as likely to continue being seen as black if any of those things had happened to them.

For example, 10% of people previously described as white were reclassified as belonging to another race if they became incarcerated. But if they stayed out of jail, 4% were reclassified as something other than white.

The effect has staying power. People who were perceived as white and then became incarcerated were more likely to be perceived as black even after they were released from prison, Penner said.

The racial assumptions affected self-identity as well. Survey participants were asked to state their own race when the study began in 1979 and again in 2002, when the government streamlined its categories for race and ethnicity.

Of the people who said they were white in 1979 and stayed out of jail, 95% said they were white in 2002. Among those who were incarcerated at some point, however, only 81% still said they were white in 2002.

The results underscore "the pervasiveness of racial stratification in society," said Emeka. "The fact that both beholders and the observers of blackness attach negative associations to blackness speaks volumes to the continuing impact of racial stratification in U.S. society."
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Why Education Is Difficult.

Below:  "Poor Indian Children" by Edward S. Curtis.


modest-goddess said...

Not at all surprising, the media and the right also want us to believe that the mortgage melt down was caused by minorities with bad credit getting mortgages they couldn't afford. We are also supposed to believe that only black people are on welfare.

dmarks said...

The blame is much more on government encouraging institutions to loan to people (black and white and other) who could not pay.