Why millennials are perpetuating racism, based on a new survey

Why millennials are perpetuating racism, based on a new survey

Cover source: Flickr

Cover source: Flickr

For the last few years, MTV, the music television channel, has worked with pollsters to survey a representative sample of young people, ages 14 to 24, to measure how they are “experiencing, affected by, and responding to issues associated with bias.”

Overall, MTV confirmed the general view of millennials. Compared with previous generations, they’re more tolerant and profess a deeper commitment to equality and fairness.

At the same time, however, they’re committed to an ideal of color blindness that leaves them uncomfortable with race and a bit confused about what racism is.

About 91 percent of respondents “believe in equality” and believe “everyone should be treated equally,” 72 percent believe their generation believes in equality more than older people, and 58 percent believe that as they get older, racism will become less of an issue.

It’s almost certainly true that this next finding has been influenced by the presence of U.S. President Barack Obama because 62 percent believe that having a black president shows that minorities have the same opportunities as whites.

For all of these aspirations, however, millennials have a hard time talking about race and discrimination. Although 73 percent believe that we should talk “more openly” about bias, only 20 percent say they’re comfortable doing so.

What’s more, white and minority millennials have divergent views on the status of whites and minorities in society.

About 41 percent of white millennials say that “the government pays too much attention to the problems of racial minority groups” while 65 percent of minorities say that “whites have more opportunities.”

As many as 90 percent say that “everyone should be treated the same regardless of race,” but 73 percent believe that “never considering race would improve society.”

From these results, it’s clear that millennials see racism as a matter of different treatment, that you solve by removing race from the equation, and that if we ignore skin color in our decisions, then there can’t be racism.

Millennials have grown up in a world where we talk about race without racism and where “skin color” is the explanation for racial inequality. As such, their views on racism are muddled and confused, which gets to the irony of this survey — a generation that hates racism but chooses color blindness is a generation that, through its neglect, comes to perpetuate it.

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