If you read the headlines, you may be forgiven for believing that race relations are at a historic low.
We are told that we have “unconscious bias” against those who are of a different race from our own and that the United States suffers from “systemic racism” in all facets of our lives.
But the Wall Street Journal’s Jason Riley says that racial relations—as opposed to what the political press tells us—are actually very good. Here is the gist of Riley’s argument in his must-read column:
Using survey data, [political scientist Eric] Kaufmann notes that racial attitudes have been trending toward more tolerance for well over half a century, even as black politicians (Mr. Obama, Kamala Harris), professional polemicists (Ta-Nehisi Coates, Ibram X. Kendi ) and major media organs (the New York Times’s “1619 Project”) continue to insist otherwise.
According to Mr. Kaufmann, “at a time when measures of racist attitudes and behavior have never been more positive, pessimism about racism and race relations has increased in America.” Terms like “systemic racism” and “unconscious bias” are increasingly common, but white racist views have been in steady decline, whether with regard to having black co-workers, classmates or neighbors.
Intermarriage trend lines also undermine the notion that racial bigotry in America is a growing problem. “Approval of black-white intermarriage rose among whites from around 4% in 1958 to 45% in 1995 and 84% in 2013,” Mr. Kaufmann writes. “In 2017, fewer than 10% of whites in a major Pew survey said that interracial marriage was a ‘bad thing,’” and the “actual share of intermarried newlyweds rose from 3% in 1967 to 17% in 2015.” In fact, intermarriages involving Asians, Hispanics and Jews have all risen sharply over the decades, yet progressive intellectuals want to lecture the rest of us on how to be “antiracist.”
What explains the wide perception of racial retrogression at a time when surveys show that racial attitudes and behaviors have never been better? Mr. Kaufmann cites ideology, partisanship and the media’s ability “to frame events and social trends.” The political left has a stake in overstating both the existence and effects of racism so that it can advocate for more and bigger programs to combat it.
Riley says that the material in the Kauffman study goes a long way towards explaining the riots of last summer. The media portrayed a country where racial relations are so bad that many citizens were able to condone riots as the justified outcome.
We as a country have made so much progress in racial relations. That people in high places and their media allies sweep this under the rug instead of celebrating it is unfair and dangerous.
I urge you to read Riley’s entire piece.