New Depressing Study Shows How Terrified White People Are Of Black-Sounding Names | Kulture Kritic
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New Depressing Study Shows How Terrified White People Are Of Black-Sounding Names

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New Depressing Study Shows How Terrified White People Are Of Black-Sounding Names

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April V. Taylor

The fact that America is still struggling to move beyond racism is no secret, and a new study, the third of its kind this year, supports the fact that white people, who are certain they are not racist, come to some profoundly racist, prejudiced and stereotypical conclusions about a person based simply on whether or not their name is Black-sounding. This latest study left coauthor and University of California anthropologist Colin Holbrook more “disgusted” than he ever has been with his own data.

Studies going back to at least 2003 have looked at how people respond to Black-sounding names, revealing along the way that stereotypical white names receive 50 percent more callbacks than resumes with stereotypical Black names.A past study also reveals that when residents with Black-sounding names contact their local government, schools or libraries, they are less likely to receive a response.

Regarding this most recent study, Holbrook states, “The amount that our study participants assumed based only on a name was remarkable. A character with a black-sounding name was assumed to be physically larger, more prone to aggression, and lower in status than a character with a white-sounding name.”

This implicit bias has much more tragic effects than unemployment or underemployment as evidenced by a March 2020 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology that tested 176 mostly white, male police officers to see if they held an unconscious “dehumanization bias” against Black people. Not surprisingly, researchers found that officers consistently dehumanized Black people and that those officers who did were most likely to have a history of using force against Black children in custody. The same study also found that white, female college students consistently perceived Black children over the age of 10 to be “significantly less innocent” than their white peers.

Author of the March 2020 study Phillip Goff points out, “Children in most societies are considered to be a distinct group with characteristics such as innocence and the need for protection. Our research found that Black boys can be seen as responsible for their actions at an age when white boys still benefit from the assumption that children are essentially innocent.”

This fear could be the reason why Black people so often wind up being victims of violence. Holbrook highlights the recent study data, stating, “The participant sample, despite being slightly left of center politically, automatically attributed violence to individuals based solely on having names like Darnell or Juan, whereas names such as Connor automatically led to expectations of prestige and status. This seems to clearly echo the fear of Black and Latino men in our society, which is ironic and disturbing as they are often the victims of violence – precisely because people are afraid of them.”

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Further explaining how white people’s fear of Black people, Holbrook goes on to say, “The surprising finding was the difference between the white and black characters with respect to violence and status. Put simply, white characters with names like Connor or Garrett could be imagined as somewhat violent, but this did not lower (or affect) the amount of social prestige that they were imagined to have. By contrast, if black characters with names like Darnell or DeShawn were imagined as having a temper, this was strongly incompatible with the amount of status that they were imagined to have in society. We initially expected tendencies toward violence to lower the status attributed to the white characters, too, but this was not the case.”

The mind boggling irony of white people’s fear of Black people is that it is white Americans who have inflicted centuries of physical, political, and legislative violence on Black Americans. That violence is what made white power possible. The answers to how America moves forward and makes racism a thing of the past by dismantling the sordid cycle of fear and violence that defines race in America continue to be elusive and enigmatic, especially when people who do not see themselves as racist are still driven to act in racist ways because of implicit bias. What is America when Black people still do not know the freedom of living in a society where something as personal and defining as a name is empowering rather than being one more pivot point for the racism and prejudice that permeates every aspect of Black life in America to negatively define their existence?


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  1. Sasha

    October 13, 2021 at 3:05 pm

    YAWN. Most wite people are afraid of anything Black. Doesn’t bother me because I don’t live to please them or be accepted by them. I’m just as superior as they think they are. I’m more afraid of inbreeding.

  2. Grampa

    October 13, 2021 at 3:06 pm

    Names and how they dress and carry the grimace on their face that is supposed to tell all they are bad. It seems they revert to natures way that uses 90% display to try to intimidate the opponent.
    When I was in the Navy we were assaulted with shots to immunize for everything. We had one very large black fellow well over six foot sis and neat three hundred pounds. He would actual start crying as we approached the nurse and feinted every time he got a needle. We around him knew what would happen and would make him sit on the floor. I knew others who would use the same display to intimidate but suspect that they do this because they must first convince themselves.

    • jabez maiz

      October 13, 2021 at 3:26 pm

      faint: TEMPORARY loss of conciousness:
      Feint: a deceptive or pretended blow, thrust, or other movement, especially in boxing or fencing:

  3. eric

    October 13, 2021 at 3:49 pm

    typical of them to act ignorant and ridiculous then have the damn nerve to accuse others (black people) for fighting or attacking back..

  4. Lavender Lady

    October 13, 2021 at 4:42 pm

    What a joke! They are so scared of the names. That is bull crap. It is another excuse for not hiring African Americans. They seem not to have a problem with an Indian(asia) with a twenty letter name, or a Russian name without vowels. Why would they be afraid of African Americans with a name that is different? Answer they are not. Why are they so afraid of us? What have African Americans done to white people to make them fear us? Did we enslave them, burn their towns down, lynch a relative? If anything African Americans are afraid of them. Bull crap.

  5. dee

    October 13, 2021 at 4:54 pm

    I ‘m afraid of their ugly asses by the time they are 50. I’m also afraid of how nasty and dirty they are by killing our innocent sons and men. I would not walk their neighborhoods alone for those animals would grab you and mutate your body where no one can find you. they are the worse murderous ever, ask iraq and all of the middle east. we should be afraid of their lies and destruction and then they make it out as your fault. ask the indigenous Indians. google rosewood for one, how many of how black children when hung because of their jealousy. please don’t come to me with that shit they are afraid of us. google the damage and mayhem they afflicted on Africans. why should we please them with names when they don’t please us by killing and maiming our sons. their names are no better than ours.

  6. Paul H

    October 13, 2021 at 5:06 pm

    white people are not scared of black people. We need to stop falling for that lie

    fear is just another excuse to practice racism while making themselves look like victims.

    Don’t fall for the hype

    • t_99

      October 13, 2021 at 5:39 pm

      I agree with Paul H. I live in an increasingly gentrified city and White people feel and act 100% empowered to do and say whatever they please. They are NOT afraid of us.

  7. stiltskin.rumpel190

    October 13, 2021 at 5:20 pm

    In all fairness, when you watch the news, the significant portion of black criminals do happen to have these so-called “black names”. I’m not saying that it’s right, but I can see how white people equate these names with people who are part of a bad element. You can’t deny the fact that you will be hard-pressed to find black people with these black sounding names in a professional setting. Personally, most of the people who I’ve dealt with that have these names have been jackasses.

    At this point in time, these black sounding names are a joke. Through social media, I’ve seen numerous memes (made and distributed by black people btw) making fun of these names and pointing out how silly they are. I wish black parents (especially single black mothers, who are the main ones giving black children these names) would think twice about giving their children these names. Unless your kid is going to be self-employed, you’re setting your child to be stereotyped and disregarded when it comes time for the hiring process. It’s not fair, but it’s America. White people don’t have to cater to you

    • Chiniquy

      October 13, 2021 at 11:15 pm

      Right. Kunta Kinte was bad news whereas Tobey was such a sweet docile slave.

    • MrMike

      October 14, 2021 at 11:39 am

      And, the majority of white criminals have white sounding names, so what’s your point? A criminal is a criminal, regardless of name.

    • PlantDiva

      October 14, 2021 at 5:20 pm

      I agree. White people are not afraid of Black people. Why should they be? This is something some Blacks want to believe.

      Some of the so called Black names are outrageous, and I would like to know when some Black women started to name their children these names? They are not even African names!

      What these women do not understand is that they are preventing their children from opportunity/ moving ahead in many cases, and it is not only with white people, it is with everyone!

  8. Nelson White

    October 13, 2021 at 5:22 pm

    There is a fear of black people period…At the same time there is a need to clean up the ethnic naming process. We need to learn authentic African names that have a meaning and that are easily pronounced. I would not dare name a child “Diabolique” as I recently heard of. Some of these kids need to get rid of the name baggage that their parents have burdened them with. At the same time I don’t care for first names like “Scott” for black people.

    • Paul H

      October 16, 2021 at 11:24 am

      it they were afraid of us why do they go wherever we go? Why are they so frantic to have sex with us?
      Whites are not even afraid of black cops and they have a badge and a gun

      Dont fall for the hype

  9. Smoothjjz

    October 13, 2021 at 6:42 pm

    Descendants of African origins with european “1st & last” names are okay… Though most immigrants function in society with LAST names from the countries of their origins… Leave it up to the racial profilers to influence *unprovoked* stereotyping…..This is merely social vandalism…

  10. Ollie

    October 14, 2021 at 11:59 am

    They are not afraid to take our money

    • sauce

      October 15, 2021 at 3:15 pm

      and black people are not afraid to give them our money

  11. James Gibbs III

    October 14, 2021 at 2:42 pm

    I do not believe that white people are afriad of black people at all. I deal with white people all the time and they have always been intrigued with blacks and their swag. What white people do is hire black men/women or tend to come around us more for protection. I have seen that since I was a kid. Although I do not have a “black sounding name”, the men and women that I do know that have those type of names, I have noticed that white people tend to joke about those names because sound funny. Yes it may have an influence on them getting a job at some level, but I do not think that is the case across the board. As a matter of fact, the white people that I chatted with about something like this awhile ago, they said that a black sounding names (and east Indian, African, Russian, German, Eastern European and Asian names) help keep them on their toes because they are so used to the plain sounding names to the point that it can become boring when calling them out. It’s just a way of them learning something new. Now again, this is with the white people that I came across and still know to this day.

    As a black man, when I hear a black sounding name, depending on how crazy it sounds I may either shake my head in disgust, feel bad for the person because unfortunately they are going to have to spell their names for the rest of their life, and laugh loudly because I can not believe that is their name. I love names. I think the more interesting the name, the more interesting the person can be or their family. I am always intrigued and I think everyone else should be to.

    I’ve always loved this clip from Key and Peele’s East/West bowl football players name skit. You wanna hear some funny names and laugh at the same time, I highly recommend that you look at this skit:

  12. Akbar

    October 14, 2021 at 9:11 pm

    At least they understood to put “Black” in quotes as there are no “Black names” just names attributed to Black people.There is no global association with many of these names. There is only the “hood” that berths these names along with all of it’s real and stereotyped issues. We have felt the uneasiness sometimes upon hearing the snickering in the stands when a name just hangs out there like “Jhaquan Johnson” bellowed out from the PA system at a football game; it seems so alone, and disconnected when spoken outside of its colloquial surroundings. It is that we know it is colloquial and not global that leaves it so disconnected when spoken in another context and/or intonation. Whats its historical meaning, we unconsciously ask ourselves? A first name of John, and a last name of Ihenecho (my West African roommates last name) has a global association. Akeem Johnson, is different from Akeem Olajuon, and people know it. One is from Nigeria, and the other is like from the “south side.”

    Black mothers make-up names from sounds deep down inside of them that sound the most different from any other name they have heard. It is really no different from Jazz or Hip Hop in its attempt to say something that reflects their experience different from the experiences of the larger society. We try to pronounce the names from the Bible with great difficulty, but they usually have a meaning associated with them. Names created in the Black community says a lot about the craving for an identity. When we ask what is the historical meaning of a “Jhaquan” (pseudonym). It is a mother trying to fill something taken from all of the African mothers before her, who had no voice to pass on our original names and heritage. We talk a lot about our identity being taken during “middle passage” but what did we fill that emptiness with?

  13. Jae

    October 16, 2021 at 12:47 pm

    People need to STOP making up this stuff!! I didn’t see anybody acting afraid of CONDOLEEZZA RICE!
    Come on!!

  14. mike

    October 24, 2021 at 5:13 am

  15. mike

    October 24, 2021 at 5:15 am

    People who classify themselves as white have used fear of other skin tones as a tactical advantage in dominance and survival, the other article I have posted on Columbus Day attributes the spread of western culture to their abilities to carry out organized violence against other non-western people. Its ironic that the very thing whites accuses other non-white groups of (aggression and violence) has been a key component in their own survival strategy. It allows an excuse to carry out violence or conceal carry, shoot first ask questions later, maintain a large military force and use that force, it allows the development of even more sophisticated weapons and the justifications for spending a considerable amount of GDP on military and over policing both locally and abroad.
    It is not surprising that accusing others of the very transgressions you have historically committed yourself is revealed in this study, since it is basic psychology 101. The term is called Projection, it’s when someone projects their own flaws or behaviors onto others, thinking that if I do these deeds then other people must also do these deeds, not wanting to see oneself as being all that different from others in a negative way.
    What I find unexplained and unaddressed is how do those who classify themselves as white known to act in this conscious or subconsciously biased manner, it is certainly not communicated in most circumstances. Is white biased behaviors ingrained in epigenetic programming or is it culturally taught, perhaps it’s a bit of both.
    The finding also helps to explain the disconnect whites have when they perceive other non-white groups as also harboring racist views towards whites. Despite the historic examples, particularly in Native American accounts where it is repeatedly stated that the natives saw whites as kindred spirits, they recognized white people’s humanity. White people have been welcomed and accepted in most parts of the non-white world and their humanity is rarely brought into question.
    Peace will not exist in the world until the white family looks inward and commits to flushing out its own daemon.

  16. Lakitha

    October 27, 2021 at 6:34 pm

    As a dark skinned African American female sjth an ethnic name, assumptions are often made about me not just my the mainstream, but even by my own fellow African Americans. I am very opinionated in personality and will not allow anyone to disrespect me on any level. I have been told that I am prejudged as being ghetto dur to the nature of my name. I think darkbskinned blacks are criticized more when they have ethnic sounding names.


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