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Racism Is So Insidious, Even Black People Underestimate It

September 29, 2014 in Blogs

By Kali Holloway, The Guardian

The ultimate white privilege: Knowing when a white person is a jerk to you, it's just because they're a jerk.

There is a tendency to respond to racialized tragedies with a sudden effort at self-reflection – an attempt to quantify our collective attitudes on race for clues as to why, yet again, we must somehow make sense of the senseless killing of a black teenager. Of the numerous recent polls that measure American perceptions of race, nearly all arrive at the same conclusion: overwhelmingly, white Americans not only believe that race is far less a factor than reported in incidents of police violence against young African-American men but that, in essence, black people are pretty much making this whole racism thing up.

And yet quantitative studies tell a vastly different story. Researchers consistently find that people of color are more likely to be stopped and frisked; that white Americans are more likely to use illegal drugs, but black Americans are more likely to be jailed for drug use; that black men aresentenced to longer prison terms than their white peers for the same crimes and, even more incredibly, that the more stereotypically “black looking” a defendant is, the more likely he is to be sentenced to death. White Americans support harsh criminal penalties not despite but becausethey believe black offenders will be disproportionately affected.

Then there are the consistent and, in some cases, admitted, political dog whistles to race in immigration debates, and racism against Hispanics that serves as a barrier to assimilation. Perhaps most alarmingly, anti-black and anti-Hispanic sentiments have increased in recent years.

That racism is so rampant might seem unfathomable to most white Americans, but the evidence is undeniable. The devastating consequences of racial bias are frequently underestimated even by white people who consider themselves allies – and often in the face of irrefutable proof. For many white Americans, exemption from systemic racism renders it invisible, and the sheer enormity of America’s “race problem” further stretches the boundaries of white imaginations. But racism is not just far more common than white Americans think, it is so pervasive – so unimaginably insidious – that people …read more


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