Does Avoiding Race Questions Make You Racist or Just White?

A series of psychological studies suggest that white people are less likely to discuss race questions when in the presence of a black person.  The authors of the studies claim this is because the white people feel that the best way to avoid offending someone with regards to a race question is to avoid the question all together.

White people, even children as young as 10, avoid talking about race because any opinion may appear prejudiced, according to new research, but that approach often backfires as blacks tend to view that approach as evidence of prejudice, especially when race is clearly relevant.

This reminds me of the idea of a white person getting on a bus and not noticing if there are any black people on it because “they don’t see race, they just see people.”

Hey, look, if you get on a bus with a bunch of black people on it and you can’t tell that they’re black, you need glasses!

In the end, I think a lot of white people simply don’t know any black people.  Much of our country is still segregated.  There are white neighborhoods, and black neighborhoods, latin neighborhoods, and a whole China-town.   Most white people are flat-out  inexperienced in just talking with black people.  And whenever anyone is inexperienced at anything, they tend to clam up rather than charge forward.

Get more people to spend time together and they’ll lighten up (well, most of them).

One response to “Does Avoiding Race Questions Make You Racist or Just White?

  1. It’s hilarious and sad that someone felt the need for a *series of psychological studies* to tell us that white people are all screwed up about race. Seriously? Is there anyone who hasn’t heard the verbal gymnastics some white folks will perform to avoid describing someone as black?

    An episode of 30 Rock had a running joke in which white characters thought “Puerto Rican” was a slur. “I know you can call each other that,” says Alec Baldwin’s character, “but what should I call you?”

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