The Democrats are said to be the party of Jim Crow, black codes, and the Ku Klux Klanbut it’s the GOP that’s racist, or something. These historical debates get the Left and Right going on social media. Yet, a new study just slays the whole notion that liberalism is averse to racism. It’s the seat of irony. The report found that white liberals dumb themselves down while interacting with minorities in order to get along with them (via Yale Insights):
Racial bias can put people of color at a disadvantage when interviewing for a job, buying a house, or interacting with the police. New research suggests that bias may also shape daily interactions between racial minorities and white people, even those whites who tend to be less biased.
According to new research by Cydney Dupree, assistant professor of organizational behavior at Yale SOM, white liberals tend to downplay their own verbal competence in exchanges with racial minorities, compared to how other white Americans act in such exchanges. The study is scheduled for publication in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
While many previous studies have examined how people who hold racial bias behave in multi-racial settings, few have studied how whites who are more well-intentioned interact with people of other races. “There’s less work that explores how well-intentioned whites try to get along with racial minorities,” Dupree says. “We wanted to know their strategies for increasing connections between members of different social groupsand how effective these strategies are.”
Dupree and her co-author, Susan Fiske of Princeton University, began by analyzing the words used in campaign speeches delivered by Democratic and Republican presidential candidates to different audiences over the years. They scanned 74 speeches delivered by white candidates over a 25-year period. Approximately half were addressed to mostly-minority audiencesat a Hispanic small business roundtable discussion or a black church, for example. They then paired each speech delivered to a mostly-minority audience with a comparable speech delivered at a mostly-white audienceat a mostly-white church or university, for example. The researchers analyzed the text of these speeches for two measures: words related to competence (that is, words about ability or status, such as “assertive” or “competitive”) and words related to warmth (that is, words about friendliness, such as “supportive” and “compassionate”).
The team found that Democratic candidates used fewer competence-related words in speeches delivered to mostly minority audiences than they did in speeches delivered to mostly white audiences.
GeeI wonder why white liberals feel the need to dumb themselves down in front of non-whites. Is it because they find them incompetent? That appears to be the case (via Washington Times):
“It was kind of an unpleasant surprise to see this subtle but persistent effect,” Ms. Dupree said. “Even if it’s ultimately well-intentioned, it could be seen as patronizing.”
The study flies in the face of a standard talking point of the political leftthat white conservatives are racistwhile raising questions about whether liberals are perpetuating racial stereotypes about blacks being less competent than whites.
The researchers then set up an experiment in which white liberals were asked to respond to hypothetical individuals named “Emily” and “Lakisha.”
“[L]iberal individuals were less likely to use words that would make them appear highly competent when the person they were addressing was presumed to be black rather than white,” said the release. “No significant differences were seen in the word selection of conservatives based on the presumed race of their partner.”
Ms. Dupree said the “competence downshift” could indicate a greater eagerness by white liberals to connect with those of other races.
“My hope is that this work will help include well-intentioned people who see themselves as allies but who may be unwittingly contributing to group divides,” said Ms. Dupree. “There is a broader need to include them in the conversation.”
Still, a white liberal making him (or her) seem dumb because they find the non-white they’re interacting with less competent. That seems pretty racist.