The "Money for Blackness" study: Has it been done the other way round?

I’m hoping this won’t degenerate into a name-calling flame war, I’m really just interested in exploring the idea.

Everyone knows about the study where White people were asked how much money it would take for them to agree to become Black. Most wanted a whole bunch of money, and many said no amount would induce them.

But what I wonder is, how many Black people would really, when the chips are down, want to be White? I’m sure they would like the social advantages, but to be fundamentally transformed into someone they’re not? Someone they would likely never be comfortable with? Someone their loved ones wouldn’t even recognize? I can’t imagine that being too attractive, despite the privilege that may accrue.

I tried to find out if such a reverse study has ever been done but came up with nothing. Does anyone know if it has been? If not, does anyone want to weigh in?

Well, I don’t know about this study. Who was it by and where were the results published? If you have a citation for it then you can search for other articles that have cited it, which could lead you to related studies.

I have never heard of such a study. Was this something recent? Could you provide a cite?

I’ve wondered about this study too. Seems to me that most people would be reluctant to make dramatic physical changes to themselves, especially for free.

But if someone asked me how much money I’d need to go from 5’ 7’’ to 5’ 11’, I’d only ask for enough money to replace my current wardrobe. I think I’d either love being that tall or I’d be neutral about it–the same as how I feel now about my height. It wouldn’t cost me anything (though I might feel differently if I was on the hunt for a man).

But to be white? Assuming I looked like a normal white person with the same level of attractiveness that I have now*…I don’t know. I mean, I know it would be disorientating and weird at first. But what would I miss out on? What would be my out of pocket expenses? What special challenges would I need to be prepared for? There would be some initial awkwardness with my family, but I’m sure they’d eventually understand that I was just a subject of a grand experiment.

Put me in a fat body or one that’s physically or mentally disabled, and I’m going to need some decent money to compensate my losses. I also wouldn’t volunteer to swap my English surname to an Arabic one for less than a whole lot of money. I’d demand money for going male, just because I’d have a lot of on-the-job training to go through. I don’t know what to do with a penis, and I know having to deal with one would freak me out. Plus, I think I’d miss the kind of experiences that only women have access to.

There are perks that come with being a black American, I guess. But even though I’m fine with my racial identity and wouldn’t have it any other way, I can’t romanticize it too much. It’s not the worse thing in the world to be black. But I can’t think of anything I enjoy as a black person that can’t be enjoyed by whites. The converse doesn’t hold.

*I don’t want someone to just dip me in bleach and make my hair straight and blond. Because then I’d look like the Wayans did in “White Chicks”. My bone structure needs to be Europeanized too, or else I’m afraid I’d make a bizarre-looking white girl.

Sorry for not providing a cite. I thought the study was more famous than it is. I first read about it in Andrew Hacker’s book Two Nations: Black and White, Separate, Hostile, Unequal. I’ve seen it referenced in other books and on the web since then as well.

I don’t know if this is the study the OP is referring to. In that study, white people said they only needed $10,000, on average, to become black. But in a previous version of the experiment (Hacker, 2003), whites put a $1 million price tag on the switch.

I never heard of this. I’d do it for free, just to get a new perspective on things. And I know my husband would be supportive.

I’ve never heard of the study. I’m a big white dude but I don’t think being a big black dude would change my life much. I own my own business so as long as my customers wouldn’t stop going to a bar with a black bartender I would actually be able to access some of that minority owned business money. My wife wouldn’t care but some of her family would probably object - luckily we don’t see them often. My friends and family wouldn’t care.

I’m sure its racist of me or something but I think most of the hard things that happen due to race happen when you’re younger. Or continue due to the influences of things that happen when they are younger. I didn’t experience institutional racism growing up so I was able to get to where I am but just becoming black with my history of benefits I don’t think would be bad. I’d probably ask for some cash but mostly because I have no urge to change.

For the inverse I don’t think becoming white would change much for athe mid 30s black man. In a thought I’m sure is racist I think it may be harder to fit in a the one white guy at all black events then the one black guy so the inverse situation might be more socially awkward.

While I fully acknowledge that I can never, on a personal and visceral level, know what it is to a black America, as a white person who has had experience with being the lone white person in an otherwise non-white group, and having lived in a majority (85%) black city for nearly 2 decades…

The big problem white people have with being the lone X in a group (for those that do have issues) is that for most of them it’s a brand-new experience. They’ve never been in that situation before, they are suddenly aware of standing out like a sore thumb, it makes them uncomfortable, and they don’t know how to handle it. On the other hand, most minority folks have that experience on a fairly regular basis both growing up and into early adulthood.

Some white people are so used to being in the majority/dominant group they have little to no experience in being the odd one out. When it happens, some of them freak. Others learn from the experience.

I’d say all those shops full of skin bleaching productsand hair straightening products, tell the story clear enough.

No more than tanning salons and curling irons do.

A friend who’s black has been asked if he wishes he could have been white. His answer is that he wishes other people wouldn’t make a problem out of being black.

I think trying to measure how much better it is to be white is a bit messed up. Which isn’t to say it isn’t a good important thing to try to measure, because you can learn things from trying to fix the wrong problem. But it is to say that there’s something loaded about the whole question. Maybe I’m reacting to something implicit in the viewpoint of people pursuing the question in the first place, although I interpret their intention as good.

Has anybody ever done a poll to see how much it would be worth to people to have racism just vanish?

Like Broomstick said, no it’s not.

A lot of white people seem to think they deserve a special recognition whenever they venture into all-black situations. This ticks me off perhaps to an irrational degree. I’ve spent the majority of my life in all-white situations. Sometimes people say stupid things to you when you’re a visible minority and make you feel uncomfortable. But most of the difficulty is psychological. It simply sucks to stick out like a sore thumb, regardless of what color you are.

I have a white coworker who once asked if I would go with her to a hole-in-the-wall restaurant up the street from our office that’s patronized by black people. She explicitly told me she was afraid to go there by herself…being a white girl and all. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that if the store had a black criminal element to it, I was more at risk of harm than she was since most crime is intra-racial. Once we got there, I made her laugh by pointing at all the other “brave” white people standing in line. And we made it out alive!

Citing a book where you read about a study isn’t particularly helpful. I asked if you had a cite for the actual study.

As best as I can tell from a quick look at the article linked by monstro, Hacker did not conduct a study. He just had a classroom exercise involving a race-changing hypothetical but “never counted how many students responded to his parable and never tabulated their replies”. He’s quoted as saying that most students said they’d want $1 million a year to become black, but it sounds like this claim is merely anecdotal.

Does Hacker cite an actual study on this topic in his book?

I didn’t read through their findings since it looks like Mazzocco et al. conducted a number of different variations on this study that had different results, but the abstract says they found that on average white people asked for less than $10,000 to change their race. The figure reported by Hacker wasn’t $1 million in total either, it was $1 million a year for the rest of their lives. Although as Mazzocco et al. point out, Hacker’s hypothetical specifies that the racial transformation would leave the individual unrecognizable to all who know them AND that “name your price” compensation is being offered from an extremely powerful (like supernaturally powerful) organization with deep pockets.

The scenario used by Mazzocco et al. didn’t involve changing one’s appearance at all. It instead asked participants to imagine that they were black but had successfully been passing as white their entire lives, and to decide how much money it would take for them to “come out” as black.