Findings

Skin Deep

Kevin Lewis

November 05, 2010

Do Blind People See Race? Social, Legal, and Theoretical Considerations

Osagie Obasogie
Law & Society Review, September/December 2010, Pages 585-616

Abstract:
Although the meaning, significance, and definition of race have been debated for centuries, one thread of thought unifies almost all of the many diverging perspectives: a largely unquestioned belief that race is self-evident and visually obvious, defined largely by skin color, facial features, and other visual cues. This suggests that "seeing race" is an experience largely unmediated by broader social forces; we simply know it when we see it. It also suggests that those who cannot see are likely to have a diminished understanding of race. But is this empirically accurate? I examine these questions by interviewing people who have been totally blind since birth about race and compare their responses to sighted individuals. I not only find that blind people have as significant an understanding of race as anyone else and that they understand race visually, but that this visual understanding of race stems from interpersonal and institutional socializations that profoundly shape their racial perceptions. These findings highlight how race and racial thinking are encoded into individuals through iterative social practices that train people to think a certain way about the world around them. In short, these practices are so strong that even blind people, in a conceptual sense, "see" race. Rather than being self-evident, these interviews draw attention to how race becomes visually salient through constitutive social practices that give rise to visual understandings of racial difference for blind and sighted people alike. This article concludes with a discussion of these findings' significance for understanding the role of race in law and society.

-----------------------

Racial Discrimination among NBA Referees

Joseph Price & Justin Wolfers
Quarterly Journal of Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
The NBA provides an intriguing place to assess discrimination: referees and players are involved in repeated interactions in a high-pressure setting with referees making the type of splitsecond decisions that might allow implicit racial biases to become evident. We find that more personal fouls are awarded against players when they are officiated by an opposite-race officiating crew than when officiated by an own-race refereeing crew. These biases are sufficiently large that they affect the outcome of an appreciable number of games. Our results do not distinguish whether the bias stems from the actions of white or black referees.

-----------------------

Studying is lame when he got game: Racial stereotypes and the discouragement of Black student-athletes from schoolwork

Alexander Czopp
Social Psychology of Education, December 2010, Pages 485-498

Abstract:
Positive stereotypes appear favorable but may have negative consequences for the targets of such beliefs. Because such stereotypes often have prescriptive properties, stereotype-confirming behavior among targets may be perceived as especially appropriate and subsequently rewarded. Furthermore, targets may be actively encouraged to engage in such "natural" behaviors despite potentially negative outcomes. White participants assumed the role of a career counselor and offered guidance to a Black or White student who excelled in a stereotypic domain (athletics). Male participants who personally endorsed positive racial stereotypes discouraged the Black student (but not the White student) from academic-related goals and behaviors. The implications of such diverging guidance on the perpetuation of intergroup differences in status and achievement are discussed.

-----------------------

Has the NFL's Rooney Rule Efforts "Leveled the Field" for African American Head Coach Candidates?

Janice Fanning Madden & Matthew Ruther
Journal of Sports Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Madden provides evidence that African American head coaches in the National Football League (NFL) significantly outperformed whites between 1990 and 2002. She concludes that this evidence is consistent with African Americans being required to be better to be hired as head coaches. In 2002, the NFL promulgated the Rooney Rule requiring that NFL teams make various affirmative efforts when hiring coaches. This article finds that the performance advantage of African American head coaches has been eliminated since the Rooney Rule but finds no similar time trends in racial differentials in performance for other NFL coaching positions.

-----------------------

In Blind Pursuit of Racial Equality?

Evan Apfelbaum, Kristin Pauker, Samuel Sommers & Nalini Ambady
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Despite receiving little empirical assessment, the color-blind approach to managing diversity has become a leading institutional strategy for promoting racial equality, across domains and scales of practice. We gauged the utility of color blindness as a means to eliminating future racial inequity-its central objective-by assessing its impact on a sample of elementary-school students. Results demonstrated that students exposed to a color-blind mind-set, as opposed to a value-diversity mind-set, were actually less likely both to detect overt instances of racial discrimination and to describe such events in a manner that would prompt intervention by certified teachers. Institutional messages of color blindness may therefore artificially depress formal reporting of racial injustice. Color-blind messages may thus appear to function effectively on the surface even as they allow explicit forms of bias to persist.

-----------------------

Do More Diverse Environments Increase the Diversity of Subsequent Interaction? Evidence from Random Dorm Assignment

Sara Baker, Adalbert Mayer & Steven Puller
Economics Letters, forthcoming

Abstract:
Exposing university students to members of a different race via random dorm assignment increases the number of different race friends in the dorm, but does not increase the diversity of social networks outside that environment, based upon data from Facebook.

-----------------------

The electoral geographies of two segregationist ("Jim Crow") referenda in Alabama

Gerald Webster & Nicholas Quinton
Political Geography, forthcoming

Abstract:
At the conclusion of the American Civil War, the states of the former Confederacy rapidly added sections to their state constitutions and legal statutes to codify racial segregation and limit the social, economic and political options for their African American citizens. These laws became the foundation for the Jim Crow system of racial segregation. Although such laws have been found unconstitutional, some have survived in state constitutions and statutes as legal relicts. Using the traditionalist-modernizer model and Thomas Frank's concept of the Great Backlash, we examine the electoral geographies of two referenda in Alabama to delete Jim Crow era provisions from the state's constitution. Although 59% of Alabama voters supported deleting the state's constitutional ban on interracial marriage in 2000, a slight majority supported maintaining the unenforceable constitutional sections requiring poll taxes and segregated schools in 2004. We find the geographic pattern of voting on both referenda was substantially associated with the traditionalist-modernizer model and Great Backlash as they pertain to race, religious conservatism, and views towards public education and taxes.

-----------------------

How to Keep on Keeping on: Framing Civil Rights Accomplishments to Bolster Support for Egalitarian Policies

Richard Eibach & Valerie Purdie-Vaughns
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Drawing attention to historic increases in equality carries the risk of encouraging complacency about the need to further advance equality. This risk may be reduced by carefully framing the interpretation of increased equality. We apply an influential goal-framing model (Fishbach & Zhang, 2008) to test whether framing the accomplishments of the American Civil Rights movement in terms of progress toward equality versus commitment to equality influences white Americans' support for further egalitarian policies. In two experiments we manipulated whether progress or commitment was in mind when participants considered civil rights accomplishments. As hypothesized, participants more strongly supported egalitarian policies when civil rights accomplishments were framed as evidence of commitment to equality than when these same accomplishments were framed as evidence of progress toward equality. We discuss implications for applying the goal-framing model to political goals and the benefits of using experimentalmethods to study framing processes in social movements.

-----------------------

Too Good to Be True? The Unintended Signaling Effects of Educational Prestige on External Expectations of Team Performance

Stephen Sauer, Melissa Thomas-Hunt & Patrick Morris
Organization Science, September-October 2010, Pages 1108-1120

Abstract:
In this paper we report the results of two experimental studies designed to test how demographic characteristics affect outsiders' assessments of a firm's top managers. We draw on theories of evaluation and status characteristics to examine the interactive effects of managers' racial characteristics and educational prestige on external perceptions. In the first study, we find that top executives' educational background and race affected analysts' valuation of a firm's stock. Outside analysts made the highest stock price projections for firms led by white executives who had highly prestigious educational backgrounds but made the lowest valuations for firms led by African Americans with the same prestigious education. We posit that the moderating effect of executives' racial characteristics stems from outsiders' assumptions that African American managers received preferential treatment in the admissions process for high prestige universities. In the second study, we find that when we explicitly removed the possibility of preferential selection, analysts gave the same stock valuation to firms led by white and African American executives with high educational prestige. We discuss the implications of these findings for theory and management.

-----------------------

The Institutional Mobility of Minority Members of Congress

Michael Rocca, Gabriel Sanchez & Jason Morin
Political Research Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article examines the extent to which race and ethnicity affect mobility to leadership positions within Congress. The authors utilize survival analysis to examine the rate at which legislators attained committee leadership positions between the 101st and 108th Congresses. The results show that black legislators attain leadership positions faster than white legislators. This may be because of the tendency for black members of Congress (MCs) to sit on less prestigious committees than white MCs, which creates greater opportunity for institutional promotion. Ethnicity, on the other hand, does not matter to mobility as Latinos acquire leadership positions at the same rate as non-Latino legislators.

-----------------------

Racial Boundary Formation at the Dawn of Jim Crow: The Determinants and Effects of Black/Mulatto Occupational Differences in the United States, 1880

Aaron Gullickson
American Journal of Sociology, July 2010, Pages 187-231

Abstract:
This article examines variation in the social position of mixed‐race populations by exploiting county‐level variation in the degree of occupational differentiation between blacks and mulattoes in the 1880 U.S. census. The role of the mixed‐race category as either a "buffer class" or a status threat depended on the class composition of whites. Black/mulatto occupational differentiation was greatest where whites had high occupational prestige and thus little to fear from a mulatto group. Furthermore, differentiation increased the risk of lynching where whites had relatively low status and decreased the risk of lynching where whites had relatively high status.

-----------------------

Entrepreneurship and the taste for discrimination

Christopher Coyne, Justin Isaacs & Jeremy Schwartz
Journal of Evolutionary Economics, August 2010, Pages 609-627

Abstract:
This paper analyzes the connection between discrimination and entrepreneurship. We contend that the entrepreneur is the central mechanism through which inefficiencies associated with discrimination are competed away. In addition to illuminating the mechanism through which existing discrimination tends to be eliminated, we also consider the more difficult case of consumer discrimination. The standard assumption is that consumer discrimination will not be competed away through market forces. In contrast, we find that entrepreneurs can correct the inefficiencies associated with this form of discrimination by influencing the costs and benefits associated with consumer discrimination. We empirically analyze the integration of black players in Major League Baseball to illustrate our theoretical arguments regarding entrepreneurship and consumer discrimination.

-----------------------

Show and prove: Investigating differences in the self-beliefs of Black and White honor students

Brian Harper
Social Psychology of Education, December 2010, Pages 473-483

Abstract:
While there is great deal of research that tracks self-regulatory academic beliefs and behaviors of students, relatively few efforts examine the specific self-beliefs of high achieving African American students. This study compared the intelligence-related beliefs, efficacy beliefs and academic goal orientations of 257 African American (N = 196) and White (N = 61) sophomore and senior students from among honors-level language arts classes in three large midwestern high schools. The results of this study suggest that while African American students and their White peers do not significantly differ with respect to efficacy beliefs or goal orientation, African American students expressed more strongly-held beliefs that were consistent with an entity view of intelligence than did White students. The implications of these results are discussed, as well as a practical means of application for academic settings.

-----------------------

Yes We Can! Prejudice Reduction Through Seeing (Inequality) and Believing (in Social Change)

Tracie Stewart, Ioana Latu, Nyla Branscombe & Ted Denney
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
We investigated the effect of differential perceived efficacy to reduce racial inequality (in the context of increased awareness of illegitimate in-group advantages) on White Americans' intergroup attitudes and antidiscrimination behavior. White American university students read a passage describing the underrepresentation of African Americans in their university's faculty and then wrote letters to the university administration in support of appointing more African Americans to the faculty. We experimentally varied feedback concerning efficacy to change institutional racism. Before writing their letters, participants were told that there was a low, moderate, or high chance that their efforts would be effective. Later in the experiment, participants' perceived efficacy to influence their university system was measured. Intergroup attitudes improved and antidiscrimination actions increased among participants with higher perceived efficacy in comparison with participants with low perceived efficacy. Collective guilt partially mediated the effects of efficacy beliefs on antidiscrimination actions and fully mediated the effects of efficacy beliefs on intergroup attitudes.

-----------------------

Experiencing Discrimination: Race and Retention in America's Largest Law Firms

Monique Payne-Pikus, John Hagan & Robert Nelson
Law & Society Review, September/December 2010, pages 553-584

Abstract:
Although the number of racial and ethnic minority lawyers in the legal profession has greatly increased, concern remains about their low percentage among partners in elite law firms. Using a nationally representative sample of young American lawyers, we compare a human capital-based theory, which emphasizes measures of merit, and an institutional discrimination-based theory, which focuses on differences in partner contact and mentoring. The results indicate that institutional discrimination theory is the better way of understanding racial and ethnic differences in lawyer retention. Future affirmative action programs need to focus not just on access but also the processes within large firms if minority presence is to be increased.

-----------------------

Predicting Whether Multiculturalism Positively or Negatively Influences White Americans' Intergroup Attitudes: The Role of Ethnic Identification

Kimberly Rios Morrison, Victoria Plaut & Oscar Ybarra
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
Multiculturalism, or the belief that racial and ethnic differences should be acknowledged and appreciated, has been met with both positive reactions (e.g., decreased prejudice) and negative reactions (e.g., perceptions of threat) from dominant group members. The present research proposes that multiculturalism can either positively or negatively influence White Americans' intergroup attitudes depending on their degree of ethnic identification. In Studies 1 and 2, White Americans primed with multiculturalism exhibited higher social dominance orientation (Study 1) and greater prejudice (Study 2), especially when they identified strongly with their ethnicity. In Study 3, perceptions of threat to group values were found to mediate the relation between multiculturalism, ethnic identification, and prejudice among White Americans. The results are discussed in terms of their implications for threat perceptions, ethnic identification, and conceptions of diversity.

-----------------------

Is a Raceless Identity an Effective Strategy for Academic Success Among Blacks?

Angel Harris & Kris Marsh
Social Science Quarterly, December 2010, Pages 1242-1263

Objective: Fordham (1988, 1996) notes that because the larger black community has a culture that is oppositional to mainstream U.S. society, blacks who wish to maintain academic success and achieve upward socioeconomic mobility feel pressure to adopt a raceless identity. The purpose of this study is to examine whether a raceless identity leads to better educational outcomes for blacks in high school than does a nonraceless identity.

Methods: Using data from the Maryland Adolescence Development In Context Study (MADICS), we create five profiles intended to capture blacks' connection to their race and determine whether racial/ethnic connections among blacks are associated with school achievement, educational aspirations, value attributed to schooling, or detachment from schooling. These links are assessed net of affective feelings about being black and beliefs about shared fate.

Results: The findings are not consistent with the racelessness perspective. Specifically, blacks in the race ambivalent and race similar profiles have higher achievement and educational aspirations, and attribute more value to schooling and are less detached from schooling than are those in the race neutral profile.

Conclusion: Prior studies have overstated the extent to which racelessness helps achievement.

-----------------------

Legal Mobilization in Schools: The Paradox of Rights and Race Among Youth

Calvin Morrill, Karolyn Tyson, Lauren Edelman & Richard Arum
Law & Society Review, September/December 2010, Pages 651-694

Abstract:
In this article, we analyze ethnoracial patterns in youth perceptions and responses to rights violations and advance a new model of legal mobilization that includes formal, quasi-, and extralegal action. Slightly more than half of the 5,461 students in our sample reported past rights violations involving discrimination, harassment, freedom of expression/assembly, and due process violations in disciplinary procedures. Students, regardless of race, are more likely to take extralegal than formal legal actions in response to perceived rights violations. Self-identified African American and Latino/a students are significantly more likely than white and Asian American students to perceive rights violations and are more likely to claim they would take formal legal action in response to hypothetical rights violations. However, when they perceive rights violations, African American and Asian American students are no more likely than whites to take formal legal action and Latino/a students are less likely than whites to take formal legal action. We draw on in-depth interviews with youth and adults - which we interlace with our quantitative findings - to explore the interpretive dynamics underlying these survey findings, and we offer several theoretical and methodological implications of our work.

-----------------------

Routes to Positive Interracial Interactions: Approaching Egalitarianism or Avoiding Prejudice

Ashby Plant, Patricia Devine & Michelle Peruche
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, September 2010, Pages 1135-1147

Abstract:
The current work examined factors that contribute to positive interracial interactions. It argues that the source of people's motivation to respond without prejudice and the goals and strategies they pursue in interracial interactions influence the quality of these interactions. Three studies show that non-Black participants who are highly internally motivated to respond without prejudice tend to focus on strategies and behaviors in interactions with Black people that approach a positive (i.e., egalitarian) outcome. As a result of engaging in these approach behaviors, their interracial interactions go more smoothly for both themselves and their interaction partners as compared to people less internally motivated. In contrast, externally motivated people tend to focus on avoiding negative (i.e., prejudiced) outcomes, which ironically results in their coming across to their partners as prejudiced. The implications of the findings for smoothing out the rocky road to positive intergroup interactions are discussed.

-----------------------

Now Everyone Looks the Same: Alcohol Intoxication Reduces the Own-Race Bias in Face Recognition

Kirin Hilliar, Richard Kemp & Thomas Denson
Law and Human Behavior, October 2010, Pages 367-378

Abstract:
Several factors influence the reliability of eyewitness identification evidence. Typically, recognition for same-race faces is better than for different-race faces (the own-race bias), and alcohol intoxication decreases overall face recognition accuracy. This research investigated how alcohol intoxication influences the own-race bias. Asian and European participants completed tests of recognition memory for Asian and European faces when either mildly intoxicated (mean breath alcohol concentration of .05) or when sober. Compared to their sober counterparts, intoxicated participants showed a reduced own-race bias. Specifically, alcohol intoxication had a larger negative effect on the recognition of same-race faces compared to different-race faces. The legal and theoretical implications of these results are discussed.

-----------------------

Race Categorization and the Regulation of Business and Science

Catherine Lee & John Skrentny
Law & Society Review, September/December 2010, Pages 617-650

Abstract:
Despite the lack of consensus regarding the meaning or significance of race or ethnicity amongst scientists and the lay public, there are legal requirements and guidelines that dictate the collection of racial and ethnic data across a range of institutions. Legal regulations are typically created through a political process and then face varying kinds of resistance when the state tries to implement them. We explore the nature of this opposition by comparing responses from businesses, scientists, and science-oriented businesses (pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies) to U.S. state regulations that used politically derived racial categorizations, originally created to pursue civil rights goals. We argue that insights from cultural sociology regarding institutional and cultural boundaries can aid understanding of the nature of resistance to regulation. The Food and Drug Administration's guidelines for research by pharmaceutical companies imposed race categories on science-based businesses, leading to objections that emphasized the autonomy and validity of science. In contrast, similar race categories regulating first business by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and later scientific research sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) encountered little challenge. We argue that pharmaceutical companies had the motive (profit) that NIH-supported scientists lacked and a legitimate discourse (boundary work of science) that businesses regulated by the EEOC did not have. The study suggests the utility of a comparative cultural sociology of the politics of legal regulation, particularly when understanding race-related regulation and the importance of examining legal regulations for exploring how the meaning of race or ethnicity are contested and constructed in law.

-----------------------

Neural repetition suppression to identity is abolished by other-race faces

Luca Vizioli, Guillaume Rousselet & Roberto Caldara
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
Human beings are remarkably skilled at recognizing faces, with the marked exception of other-race faces: the so-called "other-race effect." As reported nearly a century ago [Feingold CA (1914) Journal of Criminal Law and Police Science 5:39-51], this face-recognition impairment is accompanied by the popular belief that other-race faces all look alike. However, the neural mechanisms underlying this high-level "perceptual illusion" are still unknown. To address this question, we recorded high-resolution electrophysiological scalp signals from East Asian (EA) and Western Caucasian (WC) observers as they viewed two EA or WC faces. The first adaptor face was followed by a target face of either the same or different identity. We quantified repetition suppression (RS), a reduction in neural activity in stimulus-sensitive regions following stimulus repetition. Conventional electrophysiological analyses on target faces failed to reveal any RS effect. However, to fully account for the paired nature of RS events, we subtracted the signal elicited by target to adaptor faces for each single trial and performed unbiased spatiotemporal data-driven analyses. This unique approach revealed stronger RS to same-race faces of same identity in both groups of observers on the face-sensitive N170 component. Such neurophysiological modulation in RS suggests efficient identity coding for same-race faces. Strikingly, OR faces elicited identical RS regardless of identity, all looking alike to the neural population underlying the N170. Our data show that sensitivity to race begins early at the perceptual level, providing, after nearly 100 y of investigations, a neurophysiological correlate of the "all look alike" perceptual experience.

-----------------------

Perceptions about the Amount of Interracial Prejudice Depend on Racial Group Membership and Question Order

David Wilson
Public Opinion Quarterly, Summer 2010, Pages 344-356

Abstract:
Few studies have attempted to examine how racial group membership may interact with survey context to influence responses to questions about race. Analyzing over 9,000 respondents from split-ballot experiments embedded in national polls, this research examines the extent to which question order interacts with one's self-reported racial group to influence beliefs about the amount of interracial prejudice that exists between Blacks and Whites. The results show that in-group members (e.g., Blacks) tend to view out-group members (e.g., Whites) as having more dislike toward their in-group (e.g., Whites dislike Blacks) only when the in-group is asked about first - a contrast. When in-group members (e.g., Blacks) are evaluated after out-groups (e.g., Whites), they will view their in-group's dislike as similar to that of the out-groups - an assimilation. The results serve to remind survey researchers and practitioners of the careful attention that must be paid to context and response biases.

-----------------------

Dressed for success? The NBA's dress code, the workings of whiteness and corporate culture

Mary McDonald & Jessica Toglia
Sport in Society, August 2010, Pages 970-983

Abstract:
This paper explores the constitutive power relations and representational politics produced through the advent of a dress-code policy instituted by the National Basketball Association (NBA) in 2005. Using the methodology of contextual cultural studies this analysis suggests that far from a simple policy that requires a particular style of dress, narratives and practices surrounding the policy are embedded in an economic rationale frequently embraced in corporate cultures that also reproduce whiteness. In recontextualizing the dress code this paper maps out and makes visible the complex processes which both venerate and demonize the athleticism and entertainment value of the league's black masculine bodies, and simultaneously deny the salience of political, social and economic processes that produce discourses of a commercialized white normativity. The ultimate aim of this analysis is to generate broader public pedagogical interest in these contexts in order to promote new understandings of the dress code in the quest for social justice.

-----------------------

Barrier requirements as the evolutionary driver of epidermal pigmentation in humans

Peter Elias, Gopinathan Menon, Bruce Wetzel & John Williams
American Journal of Human Biology, July/August 2010, Pages 526-537

Abstract:
Current explanations for the development of epidermal pigmentation during human evolution are not tenable as stand-alone hypotheses. Accordingly, we assessed instead whether xeric- and UV-B-induced stress to the epidermal permeability barrier, critical to survival in a terrestrial environment, could have driven the development of epidermal pigmentation. (1) Megadroughts prevailed in central Africa when hominids expanded into open savannahs [1.5-0.8 million years ago], resulting in sustained exposure to both extreme aridity and erythemogenic UV-B, correlating with genetic evidence that pigment developed 1.2 million years ago. (2) Pigmented skin is endowed with enhanced permeability barrier function, stratum corneum integrity/cohesion, and a reduced susceptibility to infections. The enhanced function of pigmented skin can be attributed to the lower pH of the outer epidermis, likely due to the persistence of (more-acidic) melanosomes into the outer epidermis, as well as the conservation of genes associated with eumelanin synthesis and melanosome acidification (e.g., TYR, OCA2 [p protein], SLC24A5, SLC45A2, MATP) in pigmented populations. Five keratinocyte-derived signals (stem cell factorKIT; FOXn1FGF2; IL-1, NGF, and p53) are potential candidates to have stimulated the sequential development of epidermal pigmentation in response to stress to the barrier. We summarize evidence here that epidermal interfollicular pigmentation in early hominids likely evolved in response to stress to the permeability barrier.


Sign-in to your National Affairs subscriber account.


Already a subscriber? Activate your account.


subscribe

Unlimited access to intelligent essays on the nation’s affairs.

SUBSCRIBE
Subscribe to National Affairs.