The Cost of Being Black: White Americans’ Perceptions and the Question of Reparations

Du Bois Review, Vol. 3, No. 2, pp. 261-297, 2006

37 Pages Posted: 12 May 2011 Last revised: 10 May 2015

Philip Mazzocco

Ohio State University (OSU) - Department of Psychology

timothy c brock

Ohio State University (OSU) - Department of Psychology

Gregory J. Brock

Georgia Southern University - Department of Finance & Economics

kristina olson

University of Washington - Dept of Psychology

Mahzarin R. Banaji

Harvard University - Department of Psychology; Harvard University - Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics

Date Written: 2006

Abstract

White Americans have long resisted the idea of reparations to the descendants of slaves. We examine the psychological basis of such resistance, primarily testing the possibility that resistance may be a function of Whites’ perception of the ongoing cost of being Black. White participants (n = 958) across twelve independent samples (varying in age, student status, and geographic location) were asked variations of the question: How much should you be paid to continue to live the remainder of your life as a Black person? Participants generally required low median amounts, less than $10,000, to make the race change, whereas they requested high amounts, $1,000,000, to give up television. To the extent that larger amounts were requested, support for reparations also increased. Attempts to educate participants about Black cost0White privilege had negligible effects on assessments of the cost of being Black and support for reparations. Together, these results suggest that White resistance to reparations for Black Americans stems from fundamental biases in estimating the true cost of being Black. The implications of our findings for color-blind and multi-culturalist conceptual approaches are discussed.

Keywords: Reparations, Racism, Stereotypes, Contingent Valuation, Slavery

Suggested Citation

Mazzocco, Philip and brock, timothy c and Brock, Gregory J. and olson, kristina and Banaji, Mahzarin R., The Cost of Being Black: White Americans’ Perceptions and the Question of Reparations (2006). Du Bois Review, Vol. 3, No. 2, pp. 261-297, 2006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1838491

Philip Mazzocco (Contact Author)

Ohio State University (OSU) - Department of Psychology ( email )

1885 Neil Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210
United States

Timothy C Brock

Ohio State University (OSU) - Department of Psychology ( email )

1885 Neil Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210
United States

Gregory Brock

Georgia Southern University - Department of Finance & Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 8152
Statesboro, GA 30460-8152
United States
912-478-5579 (Phone)

Kristina Olson

University of Washington - Dept of Psychology ( email )

Seattle, WA
United States

Mahzarin R. Banaji

Harvard University - Department of Psychology ( email )

33 Kirkland St.
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Harvard University - Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics ( email )

124 Mount Auburn Street
Suite 520N
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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