Dynamic Racial Triangulation: Examining the Racial Order Using an Experiment on Discrimination by White Millennials
41 Pages Posted: 17 May 2019 Last revised: 11 Mar 2020
Date Written: March 10, 2020
Scholars argue that the traditional binary racial order model of the U.S. is outdated and acknowledge that racial systems can shift in response to demographic, political, and economic changes. In the coming years, White Millennials will exert ever-greater political and economic power in shaping the racial order. However, we have limited empirical evidence on the racial attitudes and race-based actions of this group. Our overarching goals in this paper are to uncover the racial order currently taking shape among White Millennials and to understand links between racial valorization, cultural inclusion/exclusion, and discriminatory actions among this group. To do so, we simulate a previous housing correspondence audit and conduct an online survey experiment with 4,462 White Millennials gauging respondents’ actions toward and views of White, Black, Hispanic, Indian, and Chinese-origin individuals. We find that White Millennial respondents express less acceptance of Blacks than members of other groups. Second, Blacks and Latinx are penalized on dimensions of valorization (i.e. responsibility, courteousness, and financial stability). Third, all groups other than Whites and “Americanized” Latinx are penalized on cultural inclusion, though the extent varies by signals of assimilation. Our findings indicate some support for racial triangulation theory but also show that insights from this perspective should be synthesized with those of racial formation theory. We suggest that rather than conform to any existing theory, White Millennials enact an emerging racial order rooted in what we call dynamic racial triangulation.
Keywords: race/ethnicity, inequality, racial order, correspondence audit, discrimination
JEL Classification: C93, J60, J70, J71, L85, R20
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