Racism is alive and well in the United States. It is a political battering ram, it is a dangerous accusation, it is an industry, and it is a source of shame that individuals are still judged on nothing more than the shade of their skin. Yet, one thing has become clear with the latest research out of Yale: Racism is a Democrat problem.
We have all heard of the “bigotry of low expectations,” a phrase first coined by conservative writer Michael John Gerson. This neat phrase encapsulates the passive racism inherent in demanding and expecting less from someone because of their racial heritage and has long been associated with the political left in most major Western countries. But never has it been quantified in such a way to show just who applies this form of prejudice and in what specific ways. Until now.
The linguistics study found that liberal whites “dumb down” their language when talking to racial minorities.
The Numbers Prove It
Professor Cydney H. Dupree of Yale University and Professor Susan T. Fiske of Princeton have released a major study that examines how white political leaders and candidates interact with crowds and groups of minorities.
The linguistics study found that liberal whites “dumb down” their language when talking to racial minorities. This turned out to be as true for presidential candidates as it was for undergrad students. What may surprise those on the left – if they are ever exposed to this research – is that conservatives do not engage in this behavior.
This was a multi-varied analysis that began by examining the public events of white male Dem and GOP presidential candidates since 1992. A total of 74 speeches were examined, half given to majority white audiences, and half given to majority non-white. The professors found that liberal candidates used far less complex language when talking to non-whites, compared to white audiences.
The examination looked for words that were related to two categories: “competence” and “warmth.” Democrats were found to have used less competence-demonstrating words than Republicans. Instead, they focused on language that demonstrated warmth. The reverse was true for conservatives.
The study concluded that this was because liberal candidates wanted to ingratiate themselves to minority groups rather than deal with them on an equal footing. Could there be a finer example of the bigotry of low expectations?
The Next Generation
To see if these results were applicable outside the political arena, the professors turned to undergrad students. Using samples of those who identified as liberal or conservative, they set up an email experiment.
Students were given selected tasks relating to emails being sent to a fictitious book club secretary, named either Emily or Lakisha. The results showed that those who identified as more liberal would select words that demonstrated warmth rather than competence when supposedly dealing with the secretary named Lakisha (a stereotypical black name), and more competence-related words when dealing with the more traditional white name of Emily.
Professor Dupree was disappointed by the findings. She said:
“It was kind of an unpleasant surprise to see this subtle but persistent effect … Even if it’s ultimately well-intentioned, it could be seen as patronizing.”
The Best Intentions
Portraying oneself as less competent when dealing with a different racial group – relying on and fostering warmth – can in no way be seen as a hateful action. White left-leaners are not engaging in this behavior because they dislike people of color; in fact, the study suggests that they see it as a form of ally-building. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t racist.
We hear a lot about unconscious bias, whereby people may not even know that they are being outwardly bigoted, and this study appears to back up much of the research on the topic. Yet, it clearly shows something that those on the right have long suspected: Those who “white knight” for racial minorities are really doing the continued damage.
If liberals don’t expect people of color to be able to understand sophisticated concepts, how will they be comfortable “handing over” the reins of power to these communities?
When people are denied human agency, it denigrates them. When a whole group of people is categorized as incompetent, it subjugates them. It is time that all of us, regardless of our skin color, demand that we be treated as equals.