Okay, so here
is a story about a psychology racism study. To summarize briefly, non-black students are picked for this study where some read a situation and others see it acted out. So, a room has a black and a white person and while leaving, the black bumps the white. After the black person leaves, the white person does nothing or says "hates when black people do that" or says the N-word. The participants are then told the experiment is starting and to pick one of the two as a partner.
Okay, the researches found that even though people would say they wouldn't pick the racist white person when reading the story, those who saw it acted out picked the white person by a larger margin.
So, yeah, the research is what it is. I have a basic comment on the study itself at the end, but I would really like to comment on what is being unsaid. Where is the study of black people? No really, where is that study?
From the article's description, I am assuming Asians and Latinos were part of the participants. But there couldn't be black people! So finding non-blacks are hypocritical of sorts is fine and all, but where are the black people? So what you may be asking? Well, the problem may not lie with the researchers but with the news reporters. (Doesn't it usually? Hehe.) See, saying non-blacks have a gap in what they say vs. what they do is one thing, but isn't it racist? Without a study examining black people as participants, this report is implying that blacks aren't racist, even though some of the most famous black "race relations" people are as racist as a white supremest. (Yes, I am talking about Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton here, but there are far more examples as well. And, unlike David Duke and his ilk, these jackholes are idolized by the media. Now who's the racist, eh?)
Okay, here is my one problem with this study. Even though someone makes a racist statement, it is difficult to say why others do what they do. Sure, when reading the story, you can think one thing, but when you see it acted out, there is another variable: the actors. Let me make this real by using myself as an example. Sure, I wouldn't care for either comment, would that make me more likely to pick a black person as a partner? Maybe, maybe not. Growing up in pretty much an all-white area, how comfortable would I be with a black partner? (Having had some in school, my reaction is different from when I graduated high school.) But if given a choice? I probably would still pick the white person; not from any overt racism, but because that is what I am comfortable with. Now, this is why you need a black participant study. Would black people choose the black partner because that is what they are comfortable with? Maybe, maybe not. But is that really racist? Not really. This is kind of like picking a male or a female as a partner. It depends on the people involved. In today's society, if I didn't know either person, I would probably pick the male simply because there is less risk for me. (Remember, think worst case scenario. The risk of me finding a femi-Nazi would be something to worry about. Is that sexist? No, cause I admit the guy could be a femi-Nazi, but he can't say I oppressed him because he is female. Even something as unlikely as that can play a part in who we would choose.)
There is another side of the actor situation to think about: the black actor. While I won't disagree that the two comments the white person said are racist, the black person not saying "I'm sorry" is rude. Thinking like myself again, I can ignore racist comments; do I want to deal with a rude partner? No, that is not to say rudeness is worse than racism, but remember, participants are told to pick a partner. If the participants are white, then they won't have to hear racist lines that often right? But, they would still have to deal with a rude partner. (Let me give you an example of this from a more legal standpoint. Say you have to choose between two criminals which will spend time alone with you in your house: a thief or a child rapist. Now, nobody would say a petty thief is worse than a child rapist, but put yourself in that situation. As an adult, do you have anything to fear from the rapist? Eh, probably not. But, how about a thief? Sure, that criminal could steal tons of stuff. So which would you choose? Remember, you don't have to like either person; you have to be around them. Can you see where I am coming from with this critique?
See, just because something appears to be racist, humans are bloody complicated. Unless someone says, "Hey, I'm a racist," you can't really say with any certainty. (That leads to an issue that I will look at briefly with this study, the idea that people tell researches what they want to hear. If you read a story featuring a racist, you are probably going to recognize that and say you would avoid the racist; if you see the act, there is the chance you could do the same, but then again, you might not pick up on it as easily. Though, that says people could be more observant when reading than participating. Also, did the researchers make sure people were fully paying attention to the act? If reading something, you end up saying the racist statement and you notice it; if you are experiencing the racist comment, do you always pay attention to it? I am not saying you would be fully distracted, but how often do you have people say something and you have no clue what they just said? Far too often for me unfortunately. I can't say whether the researchers asked the participants if they even noticed the racist comment or not. Now what would it say if someone heard it but didn't think it was a problem? Or, what if they just blindly ignored it cause it was racist? Wouldn't people who ignore racist comments be likely to still pick the white like my rudeness example above?)
Anywho, hope this rant made sense. It was hard to write this cause I had so many tangent thoughts and it was hard to keep a steady stream of thought. I hate news reports of academic studies because they don't always say if the researchers examined other explanations and I don't feel like trying to figure out what the heck the academics are talking about most the time. There are definitely some issues with this study, but I can't say with any certainty whether the researchers examined them or not. Oh well. You never know what criticisms have been levied against a study and what ones were actually answered by researchers. Just something to keep in mind when you read news stories about academic studies.