White People Don't Recognize Black Middle Class Neighborhoods

According to a series of studies, white people have a blindness for seeing the black middle class in neighborhoods—even if they don't display other forms of racial animus.
November 20, 2018, 12pm PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Center for Neighborhood Technology

"In a series of studies, [Courtney] Bonam [from the University of California, Santa Cruz] has found that white Americans hold ironclad stereotypes about black neighborhoods—even when they display little or no animus toward black people," writes Henry Grabar.

They’re likely to infer from the presence of a black family that a neighborhood is “impoverished, crime-ridden, and dirty,” though they make none of those assumptions about an identical white family in the same house," explains Grabar, while citing more examples in the article.

Bonam calls the phenomenon "invisible middle-class black space, but it it has real world consequences. "One of Bonam’s experiments from 2016, which she modeled after real-life situations, asks participants whether they approve of the siting of a potentially hazardous chemical plant. You can guess what happens: All else held equal, there’s more support for putting it in a black neighborhood." 

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Published on Sunday, November 18, 2018 in Slate
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