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The “America Is Racist” Meme.

One of the common themes that is being screamed by people on the left is that “America is racist.”

A study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology from the University of Wisconsin seems to dispute that notion.

So [UW–Madison psychology professor Markus] Brauer and graduate student Mitchell Campbell set out to find a situation in which they could observe discrimination, like a student from a marginalized background being treated more negatively than a student from a non-marginalized background.

Over several years, the lab recruited student actors from or representing marginalized backgrounds — Black, Asian, and Muslim students, a male student wearing a gay pride T-shirt — and designed experiments in which the students engaged in everyday behaviors on the Madison campus. They trailed people into and out of busy campus buildings, recording who extended the courtesy of holding the door; dropped stacks of index cards in occupied elevators, noting who would help pick them up; left open neighboring seats on crowded buses to see who was comfortable filling them.

In their analysis, published today in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, the researchers found the majority of people did not discriminate in these situations. When the experiments’ subjects interacted with individuals from typically marginalized backgrounds, they treated them just as positively (or negatively) as their non-marginalized counterparts.

Brauer says it was an interesting insight into the campus community: Though discrimination undoubtedly occurred — especially toward Black and Muslim actors in the experiments — the discrimination was caused by a numerical minority of the individuals whose behavior was observed.

“We were surprised by these results,” Brauer says. “We tried out one situation, then another one, and so forth. But study after study came back with the same result: Most students did not treat our white actor more positively than the Black, Asian, or Muslim actors.”

That’s bad news for those who think that everyone in the United States is a racist.

Interestingly, students thought they were discriminated against:

Meanwhile, the researchers conducted a large-scale survey asking students about their experiences on campus. In one question, respondents were asked to divvy up the student body into groups ranging from very discriminatory to very inclusive.

“We looked at the responses from students from marginalized backgrounds, about 500 in our sample. It turns out that they put about half of their fellow students in the somewhat inclusive or very inclusive category,” says Brauer. “And then there’s another 25 percent who are put in the middle of the road category. This category consists of students who don’t go out of the way to be inclusive, but they don’t engage in overt discriminatory behavior either.”

And then there were the other 20 percent to 25 percent of students, judged by their peers, who engage in either indirect or direct forms of discrimination.

This means that people think they are being discriminated against but yet when viewed objectively, may not be.

The funny thing is what Professor Brauer says after his own study was published:

“Our studies show that racism and lack of inclusion continue to be very serious problems,” says UW–Madison psychology professor Markus Brauer. “Given the sheer number of individuals that students from marginalized backgrounds interact with, they are very frequently the target of discrimination or offensive comments. This is what they report, this is what our studies show, and this is what many other studies show.”

His own data doesn’t support that statement.

It is clear that no amount of studies or data will ever persuade people that racism is not a value held by most Americans, but rather is something demonstrated by small minority of people.

In other words, don’t let facts get in the way of people’s beliefs.



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