Support for “All Lives Matters” linked to implicit racism and narrow definitions of discrimination


Whites who reject the phrase “Black Lives Matter” in favor of the phrase “All Lives Matter” tend to score higher on assessments of implicit racism against blacks and define racism in narrow terms, according to one. research published in the British Journal of Social Psychology. They are also more likely to approve of color blind ideologies.

“I learned about Black Lives Matter a few years after it started. The slogan seemed so simple, humble and positive that I found it hard to see what fault anyone could find in it, ”said study author Keon West, associate professor and director of Equalab at Goldsmiths , University of London.

“The most obvious line – ‘no, black lives don’t matter’ – was so clearly and aggressively racist that I couldn’t imagine anyone publicly endorsing such a position. It really sounded like a unifier. political, something we couldn’t really disagree with. So when ‘All Lives Matter’ popped up as an opposite response to ‘Black Lives Matter’, I became curious as to what it really meant.

“This obviously can’t just mean” All Lives Matter “, because (1) people say it as if it contradicts” Black Lives Matter “, but (2) anyone who believes” All Lives Matter “must also believe that ‘Black Lives Matter’ Lives Matter ‘(black lives are a subset of all lives, so logic is inescapable), “West said.” So I started to design research to understand what’ All Lives Matter ‘really said.’

The study, which included 287 white people living in the UK, asked participants if they would be more comfortable saying “All Lives Matter” or “Black Lives Matter” in a public place.

The researchers found that support for “All Lives Matter” rather than “Black Lives Matter” was associated with unconscious racial bias measured via an implicit black-white association test.

Support for “All Lives Matter” was also associated with endorsement of a color blind ideology and narrow definitional limits on anti-black discrimination. In other words, the phrase was more likely to be supported by those who agreed with statements such as “It is important that people start to think of themselves as Brits and not as black Brits or Brits. Asians ”and“ The Core of Anti-Black Racism. is that it is malicious: if a person is not malicious, it cannot be racism.

The results were maintained even after researchers controlled for the effects of political ideology.

“Looking at the statistics, when someone says ‘All lives matter’ what they really say is something like (1) I have anti-black racist feelings that I didn’t recognize , (2) I prefer not to think about it race at all and (3) I define anti-black discrimination in such narrow terms that it’s really hard to recognize it, ”West told PsyPost.

“Looking at it this way really helps to understand what’s going on. Of course, a person might not like the “Black Lives Matter” statement if they really didn’t like thinking about race, or acknowledging societal racism, and had a bit of racism in them that they didn’t recognize either. . To such a person, “Black Lives Matter” would be a confrontational accusation about their own egalitarianism, an unwelcome reminder of systemic inequalities in police treatment, and a way to highlight uncomfortable issues they would rather forget. “

The researchers also found that agreeing with statements characterizing modern racism (“Blacks have more influence in society than they should have”) and statements characterizing collective narcissism (“I don’t will never be satisfied until my band gets the recognition it deserves ”) was associated with better support for“ All Lives Matter ”.

But these relationships “didn’t remain statistically significant once we put all the predictors into the equations at the same time,” West explained. “These are really not nice variables. So while we still have a lot to learn about the medium of “All Lives Matter”, we already know that it is associated with some pretty mean and pretty racist stuff.

However, due to the correlational nature of the data, it is not clear whether the variables included in the study support the term “All Lives Matter”. “These are just correlations, so we can’t and shouldn’t say that we know these things are the source of ‘All Lives Matter’ support. That support could be caused by something else that is just related to these things, ”West said.

The study, “Implicit Racism, Color Blindness, and Narrow Definitions of Discrimination: Why Some Whites Prefer ‘All Lives Matter’ to ‘Black Lives Matter’,” was authored by Keon West, Katy Greenland and Colette van Laar.


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