Are We Living in a Post-Racial America?

In a new report released by The Greenlining Institute, “Post-Racial? Americans and Race in the Age of Obama,” the authors discuss the notion that we are living in a time of a “post-racial America.” This idea is becoming more important now and in the near future, as statistics show that United States will be a “majority minority” in 2042.

Have Americans moved into a new era of communications on race in this country? This study finds that, in reality, there are very different perspectives along ethic lines surrounding issues of race.

For example:

  • Just 16% of whites believe that there is a lot of discrimination in America today, while 56% of blacks and 26% of Latinos believe that there is a lot of discrimination in America today.

Despite these differences, most Americans believe in the idea of  “post-racial America.” This idea fits within the Historical Progress narrative, which states that racial matters have improved in the last 50 years. As we note in our Message Brief on race, since racist attitudes are not socially accepted and discriminatory practices have been banned, the general public believes that we have made substantial progress issues of racial inequality as a society.

What we are left with, then, is the notion that racism exists primarily at the level of the individual.

Individualism is both an important American ideal and narrative that is commonly understood as the “self-making person.” One person’s ultimate success depends, more than anything else, on their character, their effort, and their own abilities to navigate a personal path to success.

How then can we reframe the conversation to bring attention to the structural and persistent causes of racism that continue today?

FrameWorks research suggests that in order to move the dialogue forward, it is important to reframe the conversation on racial inequalities. Invoking values such as ingenuity, interdependence, and opportunity for all can go a long way towards shifting public thinking on this issue.

To learn more, visit our issue page on race and learn specific communicative strategies for talking about race in a way that expands public understanding and support.


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