When faced with the reality of white privilege, do white people accept or reject the truth that they are automatically born with more advantages because of the color of their skin? A new study finds that white people respond to evidence of white privilege by asserting they face greater hardships in life.
In the study published by Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Stanford University's L. Taylor Philips and Brian S. Lowry detail that that progress on racial inequality could be severely hindered because of the vast majority of Whites adamantly denying their white privilege.
“One reason for this inaction might be an unwillingness among Whites to acknowledge racial privilege — acknowledgment that may be difficult given that Whites are motivated to believe that meritocratic systems and personal virtues determine life outcomes,” the researchers wrote.
“However, claiming personal life hardships may help Whites manage the threatening possibility that they benefit from privilege.”
The subjects were broken down into two experiments: the first proving that subjects exposed to evidence of white privilege reacted by claiming greater hardships, and the second finding that Whites who read self-affirming statements before presented with evidence actually claimed less hardships and were more likely to accept they benefit from white privilege.
The researchers found that active denial of white privilege by white people and rejection that it benefits them deeply diminishes support for policies eradicating racial inequities.
“Importantly, these denials of personal privilege were in turn associated with diminished support for affirmative action policies — policies that could help alleviate racial inequity," the researchers wrote.
As the study astutely notes, “Whites’ claims of hardship might also serve to legitimize the racial advantages they enjoy, and thereby justify a system that benefits their group.”
As white people continue to vehemently reject the existence of white privilege they not only halt racial progress, but ignorantly maintain a divisive system that keeps them in control. A white person might accept that racial inequities exist but refusing to believe they benefit from this system remains part of the problem.