White Fear and Racial Identity

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At the NABWMT we have a rich history in understandng and combating racial injustice. In this blog, using research from many sources we continue our series to look at white privilidge, This time, we look at the increasing fear in less educated, white people, that they are loosing “their country”. This reminds us of our charter to provide an understanding of the trends in racism as we see it. Note that this is an “opinion article” and though it rests on peer review, is subject to an open discussion.

As the New York Times points out# the “Republican presidential primary, evolving from one surprise to the next, has revived the debate, but with an important racial coda” and a “narrower question: What’s going on with working-class whites”, and a “battle over the purpose and configuration of the American government”.

According to Pew Research, *The economic status of adults with a bachelor’s degree changed little from 1971 to 2015, meaning that similar shares of these adults were lower-, middle- or upper-income in those two years. Those without a bachelor’s degree tumbled down the income tiers, however. Among the various demographic groups examined, adults with no more than a high school diploma lost the most ground economically”.

Similarly, a Quinnipiac University poll asked ** “Would you say that – Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump has the right kind of experience to be President or not?” and the answer was: Clinton 70% Trump 26%. Their supporters are overwhelmingly white. White non-Hispanics are the only ethnic group that leans Republican, according to a study of party affiliation by the Pew center. White men who have not completed college favor the G.O.P. over the Democratic Party by 54 to 33 percent. In addition, many white Americans are most likely drawn to Mr. Trump’s xenophobic, anti-immigrant message because they agree with it. Race has determined political choices for a long time.

Looking at how racial voters view governments, shows that white Americans mistrust, while nonwhite voters like what the government does.

The economists Alesina, Glaeser and Sacerdote *** wrote that “European countries are much more generous to the poor relative to the US level of generosity. Economic models suggest that redistribution is a function of the variance and skewness of the pre-tax income distribution, the volatility of income (perhaps because of trade shocks), the social costs of taxation and the expected income mobility of the median voter.

None of these factors appear to explain the differences between the US and Europe. Instead, the differences appear to be the result of racial heterogeneity in the US and American political institutions. Racial animosity in the US makes redistribution to the poor, who are disproportionately black, unappealing to many voters. American political institutions limited the growth of a socialist party, and more generally limited the political power of the poor.”

Another writer, William Julius Wilson**** described, two decades ago, how race and economics collided. “Racism has historically been one of the most prominent American cultural frames and has played a major role in determining how whites perceive and act toward blacks”.

Futhermore, looking at the racial divide in education, Julian Betts of the University of California, San Diego and Robert Fairlie of the University of California, Santa Cruz found that for every four immigrants entering public high schools, one native student switched to a private school*****

Now let’s look In Europe, where voters are increasingly drawn to xenophobic politics, driven by fear based on the instinctive realization that the white man’s world in decline.

A few years ago it looked as if the United States — long more tolerant of immigration, with a more fluid sense of national identity that readily allowed for hyphenation — could avoid this turn.

But judging by this year’s political debate, held against the background of improving but still insufficient prosperity, Americans are moving in the same direction. Racial identity and its attendant hostilities appear to be jumping from their longstanding place in the background of American politics to the very center of the stage.

We appeal to our members and allies to vote their conscience on these issues and review the facts underlying policies enunciated by our potential leaders.

# http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/06/business/economy/racial-identity-and-its-hostilities-return-to-american-politics.html?ref=todayspaper
* http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2015/12/09/the-american-middle-class-is-losing-ground/
*** http://www.nber.org/papers/w8524.pdf
**** Being Poor, Black, and American: The Impact of Political, Economic, and Cultural Forces, by William Julius Wilson, American Educator, Spring 2011, Vol. 35, No. 1, American Federation of Teachers