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Denial of institutional racism linked to anti-Black prejudice, study says

Denial of institutional racism linked to anti-Black prejudice, study says
People who deny the existence of institutional racism are more likely to display anti-Black prejudice, according to new research. Photo by StockSnap/Pixabay

May 23 (UPI) -- People who deny the existence of structural racism, a combination of institutional and societal factors that reinforce racial inequity, likely also exhibit anti-Black prejudices, a new study has found.

Researchers analyzed 83 previous studies on racism that included more than 25,000 participants for the new study, published Monday in the American Psychological Association's Journal of Counseling Psychology.

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The researchers sought to examine the associations of two different types of colorblind racial ideology, color evasion and power evasion, with anti-Black prejudices.

The color evasion ideology is defined by the idea that race and ethnicity are not important when discussing the issues of a group to reduce interracial tension and prejudice. Power evasion is the ideology by which people deny the existence of structural racism.

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The researchers, led by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign doctoral student Jacqueline Yi, found that the average correlation between power evasion and prejudice against Black people was significant while the correlation between color evasion and anti-Black prejudice was not.

"People who denied structural racism were also more likely to endorse stronger beliefs that societal inequality is acceptable and reported fewer intentions to engage in social justice behaviors," the researchers said in a press release.

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Statistical measures calculated by researchers also suggested that the effects of colorblind racial ideologies on anti-Black prejudice were stronger than on those of non-Black people of color, they said.

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"The denial of structural racism appears to be a big barrier to racial equity because it allows for more victim-blaming explanations of systemic inequality," Yi said.

"The more that BIPOC [Black, indigenous and people of color] individuals are blamed for racial disparities, the less likely it is for white people and institutions to take responsibility for the continued effects of systemic racism."

The study authors concluded that evidence shows that following colorblind racial ideology would not be effective in reducing inter-racial tension and prejudice and endorsement of it "allows individuals to avoid empathy by blaming people of color for their lower social status in society."

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"Psychologists must play a role in helping to educate teachers and mental health professionals about racism as one method of dismantling racism," the study concludes.

"Our findings have important implications for future anti-racist research and practice in counseling psychology."

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