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Symbolic Racism

Is racism ignited, whether implicitly or explicitly when one must choose between a black and white candidate? Research shows that the mere presence of a black candidate will cause racism to arise. Does the nation become threatened when a minority has the opportunity to hold a degree of power? Knuckey studies the white prospective vote for a conservative white candidate using survey data from the 1995 Louisiana gubernatorial runoff conducted by the University of New Orleans Research Center.

The results show that symbolic racism is a strong predictor of voter choice even when controlling party id and personal political philosophy. So the issue of race is most salient in the voting of a president in this example. Furthermore from this we see that racism is very prevalent still in the south regardless of the movements to decrease discrimination and prejudice and the way these ideal are looked down upon morally by the media. Symbolic racism may not be explicit as in old fashioned racism; however discrimination against blacks in office is a key factor in this way of thinking.

Through symbolic racism we get a sense of modern day racism, or the endorsement of egalitarian values and one still holds on to the stereotypes of blacks- they are not smart enough or socially adaptable to be president. In pre election polls may support African Americans, however after election that support overwhelmingly decreases. People want to appear as if they are good non judging individuals when in reality their words and actual behavior don’t match up.

Over time race has had an impact on party id and voter choice- however there is still an underlying issue with racial minorities which give certain groups an implicit attitude towards other groups which may remain hidden and not vocally expressed just explicitly in important decisions such as who will be president. The results show that internally people still have a preference for the majority despite what they may communicate to others. Race only becomes salient in an election when there is a racial variance between the candidates.

This reveals that the majority wants to keep power and doesn’t want to have any outside influence by any other group. The majority wants to remain racially elite in a sense. Studies link this new racism on the rise of the black group over time through political activism, for example the civil rights movement which gave black a lot more leeway and freedom in American society. It changed the function of our country forever, which caused whites to feel threatened. Whites are now fighting in the efforts of blacks not taking over; the majority is very resistant to change.

Whites have a prototype of who should be president; which is a white male not a black male. Symbolic racism not only comes out in the elections but also in other racially relevant issues such as social welfare policies and affirmative action which are very race specific. Whites seem to feel threatened about being “left out”. They don’t want to become a secondary concern in their American country. Landrieu vs Fields was an interesting situation since she was the first to use race as a campaign strategy. The fact that she is also a minority by being a woman interested in me in why she wouldn’t support and endorse her fellow minority.

This distinction shows that being in different racial groups take s precedence over both people being in an established minority. In order to examine knuckey’s hypothesis that whites symbolic racial attitudes had a great effect on the Louisiana elections, data was taken in the form of a telephone survey and analyzed in three stages. These three stages were symbolic racism and its reliability, impact of symbolic racial attitudes on candidate evaluation and the impact of symbolic racism on voter choice in the runoff election.

Vote choice was regressed on symbolic racism, age, education, gender, ideology and party id based on five issues; govt spending, providing jobs, providing healthcare, helping minorities and control of handguns. They all were statistically significant. This was important to have such a range because I think certain issues would trigger a sense of racism since some of those subjects areas are more salient to minority groups which may cause the white majority to feel immediately threatened leading to symbolic racism, such as jobs, healthcare and helping minority groups.

The results show that regardless of party all showed some level of symbolic racism- this was surprising since I thought the more liberal a person was the more open minded they would be to a black candidate. I now feel that that mindset is a stereotype I had about democrats which isn’t true. The fact that those who didn’t identify with a party even showed signs of symbolic racism, makes it clear that partisanship isn’t needed to show signs of racism in election. Educational factors are also very salient.

Those with less education were more likely to be steered towards symbolic racism. In southern states education isn’t as central and they have less of it, which means they as a state are more likely to be influenced using the symbolic race tactic. A good follow up to this study would be to compare this election to those in other states that are more educationally savvy and see if there is any real difference in the saliency of symbolic racism in the election process.

The economical factors were also central, surprisingly the poor showed more sign of symbolic racism which is silly since their concerns would probably have a chance to be better addressed by a black person in office since they are usually familiar with being from low economic status and more inclined to help then their white oppose. Mike foster was able to use a subtle approach to race to win the election. If people took more time out to evaluate the candidate I think that they would be more inclined to pick the better candidate based on quality and not race.

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