Are White People in Denial?

Are White People in Denial? Tim Wise seems to think so.

From this link:

I think Tim Wise has a point and that whites in the US are in denial with respect to the effects of racism and when racism is playing a role in how black people are viewed and treated.

So if I had answered the second question Yes, then I am not in white denial? Even if I believe that the lesson to be learned about racial inequality is that some black folks see it even when it isn’t there?


Well I can’t speak for all of us(white people) but to say we (all people) don’t judge those who are different is something that very few can truthfully say they do. It would be nice to say it isn’t the truth but that would be a lie. It is something we as individuals have to conquer for ourselves, alone. Until we do hate and war will rule this world.

Whites and Blacks seem to have different perspectives on this issue. How do you know which group is right and which is in denial, or maybe both groups are wrong? Besides, I think you’re reading too much from one survey. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if most whites underestimated the level racism that still exists in this country. It also wouldn’t surprise me if most blacks overestimated the level. I think the main thing is to make sure we’re moving forward and not backwards. Racism will never be eliminated, but we seem to be going mostly in the right direction.

Black folks. heh.

Being in denial assumes there is an actual problem to be denied. Yes, there are certain things that are unequal between the races. However, just because there is causality does not mean there is correlation. I certainly don’t think that racism plays a major role in that inequality. Say I’m in denial if you wish. I simply contend that I look at the facts of the situation and conclude that those seeking to blame racism for racial inequalities don’t know what they are talking about.

I am NOT in denial!

From what I’ve observed of humanity, “everyone is wrong” seems like a sound conclusion.


Katrina was about poverty rather than racism. If it’d been rich folks affected the response would have been different. But had poor white communities been hit I imagine the response times would have been much the same.

We’ve just had the same issue in the UK - large areas of Northern England were flooded, the Govt didn’t react fast enough. The point made was exactly the same - that if it’d been rich London affected we’d have seen a response much more quickly.

However, it wasn’t along racial lines - as most of the commiunities affected were White Brits - it’s distance from seats of power, and economic influence.

In American, alas, that divide is also present along racial lines… but that’s not the driving force.


Shouldn’t that be the other way around?

I think whites AND blacks are in denial. The only one’s with a clear head these days are hispanics, and furthermore…

Er, never mind.

Pretty much spot on. Its all a matter of perspective.

I disagree. I think Katrina was about a logistics failure. Now, one could certainly make a case that the root causes of the NO disaster lay in the fact that there was a lot of corruption at the local level, and that this would not have (perhaps) been as tolerated had the city been filled with wealthy white folks. But I don’t think the response was about poverty OR racism. YMMV.

Certainly I don’t think that one can draw sweeping conclusion about ‘white folks’ (heh) from one survey…


Yep. Sometimes this white guy is in denial about the proper way to write a sentence.

Part of the problem in talking about this issue is that often there are two competing definitions of racism being discussed. So, while **Renob andShodan **might deny the existence of institutional racism, they wouldn’t deny the fact that toxic dumps get put in majority-black neighborhoods and not white ones. A lot of race theorists would call the latter racism, whether or not some decision-maker was conciously making race-based decisions. Many conservatives disagree, and say that this is a perversion of the meaning of racism. In my book, it’s really a debate that doesn’t accomplish much. The better question to ask for the example I offered is not whether we ought properly to call it racism, but whether the practice should be stopped.

I also think that class and race cannot be as easily separated as some think. It is popular among whites to attribute what many call racism to class issues. There’s some truth there, but it isn’t as easy to pry apart the concepts as some suggest.

Wow. You’re right on this one. I remember one poll about Hurricane Katrina that was just jaw-dropping. The poll asked (paraphrase) “Did race have anything to do with the federal response in Hurricane Katrina?” Whites responded something like 25 Yes/ 75 No while blacks were 90 Yes/10 No.

Who is in denial? That’s a superb question. Not about specifically Hurricane Katrina but about racism in this country?

  • Honesty

Maybe that was the poll cited in the OP…?

Reading that post I have to admit I’m having a bit of a flash back moment…


Or, whooooosh!

Anyone who claims there is no racism in the US is in denial. I’ve brought this up before, but in the year 2000 four out of ten voters in Alabama voted to keep interacial marriage illegal. I was living there at the time, and heard the arguments, and I assure you they were racist.

You’ll be able to tell when there is no racial prejudice when the couple sleeping in a bed in a mattress commercial can be a black man and a white woman. The same applies to sex discrimination. Show me a mainstream commercial with a gay couple selling anything and I’ll believe things are changing.

If it was, it completely took me in.

Is anyone making this claim?

I’d need to see a cite…but at a guess this kind of attitude crosses racial boundaries. In addition, I think that this kind of attitude is fading rather rapidly as time goes by, and is mainly a RURAL attitude.

I think a better indication that its FADING (hardly gone) is: Go to a mall sometime. If you see a young couple where one person is a minority (say black/hispanic/asian/indian/other) and one is white, look around. Or for that matter say a couple where one person is black and the other hispanic…or any other mixed racial group. Hell, how about a couple of the same sex holding hands. Is anyone taking any kind of special note? In my recent experience the answer is: no. No one cares.

When I was a kid had I tried to simply hold hands with the woman I’m married too in a public place where a lot of white folks were (like a mall, though of course I don’t remember any of THOSE from my own youth) you can bet there would have been stares…or worse. And a same sex couple was pretty much unheard of in my time…at least walking together holding hands in public.

People today have no concept of how things were as little as 20 years ago…let alone 30 or 100. In my own time its hard to believe how far we’ve come.
BTW, your statement about people in denial about racism works very well for more than American’s. Take a trip to Japan some time…or Europe or Africa. Just an FYI.