Off Color

Kevin Lewis

January 25, 2010

Change or More of The Same? Evaluating Racial Attitudes in the Obama Era

Vincent Hutchings
Public Opinion Quarterly, Winter 2009, Pages 917-942

A number of political commentators and social scientists have speculated about the implications of the election of Barack Obama for race relations. Some of the more optimistic have suggested that the 2008 election demonstrated that Whites' racial attitudes have undergone a fundamental transformation. In this article, I seek to determine whether the putative transformation of Whites' racial attitudes has extended to levels of support for policies designed to alleviate racial inequality, the role of racial prejudice in shaping these policy preferences and whether or not prejudice influenced the presidential vote choice in 2008. Much of the analyses in this article rely upon comparisons between the 1988 election, the last time an African American candidate achieved some success in the Democratic presidential primaries, and the 2008 election utilizing survey data from the American National Election Studies (ANES). In general, I find scant evidence of a decline in the racial divide. Blacks and Whites remain as far apart on racial policy matters in 2008 as in 1988. Second, younger cohorts of Whites are no more racially liberal in 2008 than they were in 1988. Third, the racial divide is only partially mitigated among Obama supporters. Fourth, in analysis of Whites' racial policy preferences in 2008, I find that anti-Black stereotypes and indifference to Black suffering are among the strongest correlates of these opinions. Finally, I find that these same factors also contribute substantially to opposition to Obama in the 2008 election.


Slumming and/as Self-Making in Barack Obama's Dreams From My Father

David Mastey
Journal of Black Studies, January 2010, Pages 484-501

This article examines how Barack Obama's narrative Dreams From My Father functions for a White audience. It argues that the narrative provides potential White readers the opportunity to "slum" alongside Obama in Chicago's South Side ghettos. More than entertainment, slumming is for many White people an effective means of racial self-making in a process parallel to that undertaken by the narrator. Potential White readers encounter various Black characters as caricatures in the text - for example, the conspiratorial nationalist, the radical preacher - which reinforce their comprehensive generalizations of Blacks (i.e., stereotypes), the primary means by which they comprehend them and also how they understand themselves as White. It argues that the narrative simultaneously interrogates race as a concept and reproduces for potential White readers the dualistic conceptualizations of race that drive racialist thinking and racist behavior.


The New Racial Calculus: Electoral Institutions and Black Representation in Local Legislatures

Melissa Marschall, Anirudh Ruhil & Paru Shah
American Journal of Political Science, January 2010, Pages 107-124

In this study we revisit the question of black representation on city councils and school boards using a novel substantive and methodological approach and longitudinal data for a sample of over 300 boards and councils. Conceptualizing black representation as a two-stage process, we fit Mullahy's hurdle Poisson models to explain whether and to what extent blacks achieve representation in local legislatures. We find that while the size of the black population and electoral arrangements matter more than ever, especially for overcoming the representational hurdle, the extent to which the black population is concentrated is also strongly associated with black council representation. Further, whereas black resources and opportunities to build "rainbow" coalitions with Latinos or liberal whites are marginally if at all related to black legislative representation, we find that legislative size is an underappreciated mechanism by which to increase representation, particularly in at-large systems, and is perhaps the best predictor of moving towards additional representation.


Beyond a Simple Case of Black and White: Searching for the White Male Effect in the African-American Community

Louie Rivers, Joseph Arvai & Paul Slovic
Risk Analysis, January 2010, Pages 65-77

Prior research focusing on risk perceptions has led to the observation that well-educated and politically conservative white males tend to systematically perceive lower levels of risk from a wide range of hazards when compared to other members of society (e.g., white women, nonwhite women and men). While this "white male effect (WME)" is quite striking given that many policymakers fall into this group, a byproduct of this finding is that it deflects attention from the heterogeneity, in terms of people's concerns about risks, that exists in African-American and other minority communities. The research reported here set out to explore this heterogeneity by asking a simple question: Can a phenomenon similar to the WME be found in the African-American community? It can, and its implications for research and practice in risk management are discussed.


Race, Religion, and Opposition to Same-Sex Marriage

Darren Sherkat, Kylan Mattias de Vries & Stacia Creek
Social Science Quarterly, March 2010, Pages 80-98

Objective: We examine racial differences in support for same-sex marriage, and test whether the emerging black-white gap is a function of religiosity. We explore how religious factors play a crucial role in racial differences, and how secular factors have varying effects on attitudes for whites and African Americans.

Methods: Using data from the General Social Surveys, we estimate ordinal logistic regression models and stacked structural equation models.

Results: We show that the racial divide is a function of African Americans' ties to sectarian Protestant religious denominations and high rates of church attendance. We also show racial differences in the influence of education and political values on opposition to same sex marriage.

Conclusions: Religious factors are a source of racial differences in support for same-sex marriage, and secular influences play less of a role in structuring African Americans' beliefs about same-sex marriage.


Obama's Missed Landslide: A Racial Cost?

Michael Lewis-Beck, Charles Tien & Richard Nadeau
PS: Political Science & Politics, January 2010, Pages 69-76

Barack Obama was denied a landslide victory in the 2008 presidential election. In the face of economic and political woe without precedent in the post-World War II period, the expectation of an overwhelming win was not unreasonable. He did win, but with just a 52.9 percentage point share of the total popular vote. We argue a landslide was taken from Obama because of race prejudice. In our article, we first quantify the extent of the actual Obama margin. Then we make a case for why it should have been larger. After reviewing evidence of racial bias in voter attitudes and behavior, we conclude that, in a racially blind society, Obama would likely have achieved a landslide.


When Does Race Matter? Race, Sex, and Dating at an Elite University

Elizabeth Aura McClintock
Journal of Marriage and Family, February 2010, Pages 45-72

This paper unites quantitative and qualitative data from the College Social Life Survey (n = 732) to describe and explain patterns of racial homophily in undergraduate sexual/romantic relationships at an elite university, a closed social setting. It expands the literature on interracial romantic unions by comparing homophily in hookups (uncommitted sexual interactions), dates, and long-term relationships. Although this population embodies many characteristics associated with greater racial mixing (youth, education, status equality, geographical proximity, racial diversity, independence from family), racial homophily is still strongly evident. Variation in levels of homophily among relationship types and among racial groups is explained by differences in desired homophily, social network segregation, and participation in formal race-based student organizations. Black students are particularly socially isolated.


'Black Shame' - the campaign against 'racial degeneration' and female ndegradation in interwar Europe

Iris Wigger
Race & Class, January 2010, Pages 33-46

The 'Black Shame' campaign used stereotypical images of 'racially primitive' , sexually depraved black colonial soldiers threatening 'white women' in 1920s Germany to manufacture widespread concern and generate panic about the presence of tens of thousands of occupying French troops from colonial Africa on German soil. The campaign, which originated with the German government, quickly developed a momentum of its own and became an international phenomenon, spanning the political divide and incorporating figures from the Left and Right, trades unionists, Christian groups, women s organisations and key public figures including Edmund D. Morel and Bertrand Russell. It had followers throughout Europe, the US and Australia and was promoted through the modern media. The author here explores the ways in which the racial, sexual, class and national stereotypes that fuelled the campaign interrelated and reinforced one another, creating 'interlinked discriminations'.


Threatened Selves and Differential Prejudice Expression by White and Black Perceivers

Jenessa Shapiro, Stephen Mistler & Steven Neuberg
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming

Previous theorizing suggests that often-stigmatized individuals may be just as likely, if not more likely, than infrequently stigmatized individuals to protect self-regard by derogating members of low-status groups after receiving negative feedback from high-status others. Often-stigmatized individuals, however, can discount criticism from these high-status others as reflecting prejudice, thereby making outgroup derogation unnecessary as an esteem-protective strategy. Replicating past research, White participants in Experiment 1 expressed prejudices after receiving negative feedback from a White evaluator; as predicted, however, Black participants did not. In Experiment 2, participants instead received negative feedback from Black evaluators (evaluators more likely to threaten Black participants' self-regard). Here, contrary to previous theorizing, Black participants expressed prejudices, not toward another low-status group, but toward high-status Whites. In all, findings reveal flaws in previous assumptions that frequently stigmatized individuals may be especially prone to devalue lower-status others after rejection or negative feedback from members of higher-status groups.


The Role of Race in Football Card Prices

Eric Primm, Nicole Leeper Piquero, Robert Regoli & Alex Piquero
Social Science Quarterly, March 2010, Pages 129-142

Objective: Several studies have examined the impact of race and the value of baseball cards, but few have investigated the role of race on football card values.

Methods: Data were derived from 1,279 black and white football players who were selected to participate in at least one Pro Bowl and who started their careers between 1946, the year professional football in the United States became racially integrated when Kenny Washington played in a game for the Los Angeles Rams, and 1988, the last year of Topps' monopoly in the football card market. Data for each player's race, value of their rookie card, card availability, card vintage, performance, Hall of Fame status, and position were obtained.

Results: When controlling for other factors, race has no effect on the value of players' rookie cards, whereas card vintage exerted the most influence on the value of players' cards.

Conclusions: Football card values are largely driven by objective markers, supporting the conclusion that the market performs pretty much as expected for a collector market. Speculations on the absence of race effect, limitations related to the study, and suggestions for future research are offered.


Deliberating about Affirmative Action: Linking Education Policy Research and the Media

Lauren Saenz & Michele Moses
American Journal of Education, February 2010, Pages 263-287

This article offers a qualitative content analysis of the print news media coverage of Proposal 2, an anti-affirmative action ballot initiative that passed on November 7, 2006. Our purpose was to determine what type of information on the initiative and affirmative action was available to the public. Results indicate that little substantive information to inform voters appeared in the print news. We argue that an inclusive and deliberative democracy requires education researchers to link with media sources to provide citizens with rich, research‐based information on education policy issues. Similar initiatives were debated in five states during the fall of 2008, and others are slated for the 2010 ballot, which suggests an urgent need for timely contributions from researchers and media sources alike.


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