by UnHerd
Wednesday, 1
April 2020
Chart
11:35

Is there a racism epidemic in America?

Based on how much people have spoken about it in recent years, you'd think so
by UnHerd
A chart showing the frequency of words like racism in five US newspapers and NPR. Credit: Zach Goldberg

Here’s a remarkable chart from Zach Goldberg, which shows the frequency with which the words racist, racists and racism are used in five American newspapers and also NPR (National Public Radio).

There’s a bit of variation over time (the data starts in 1970), but as you can see, there’s been an unprecedented surge over the last decade — and especially the last five years.

Why would this be? Have Americans suddenly become massively more racist, thus giving the media more stories of racism to report on? Or, more likely, is just that Americans are more likely to talk about it?

Obviously, there’s the Trump factor. He’s a divisive president who uses divisive rhetoric — for instance about illegal immigrants. There’s also the liberal narrative that can’t seem to ascribe any other motive except racism to those who voted for the man.

Goldberg shares other charts showing a corresponding surge in the use of terms like ‘white privilege’, ‘unconscious bias’, ‘marginalisation’ and ‘whiteness’. This, of course, is the language of woke academia. The Millennial graduates of classes in X theory and Y studies are now well represented in journalism and are regurgitating their education all over the media.

This produces an inevitable reaction on the Right — where, in their own way, people have become just as obsessed with wokeness as their opponents are on the Left.

Amidst all this, we end up not even talking about racism itself, just endlessly talk about how we talk about the issue.

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Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
2 years ago

My understanding is that racial tensions spiked during the Obama years with BLM etc, and has subsequently declined. Of course, these liberal-progressive newspapers constantly scream racism as they try to discredit Trump in any way they can.

J Cor
J Cor
2 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Highly likely that racial tensions actually spiked during the years of dogs and firehoses, but then it depends on who you ask.

reluctantmlungu
reluctantmlungu
2 years ago
Reply to  J Cor

You clearly haven’t looked at the graph. What happened around about 2010? Oh right – Obama, now reasonably established in office, decided that identity politics was his route to re-elction.

J Cor
J Cor
2 years ago

You clearly ain’t ever had a dog or a firehose turned on you. And by the way, I have a graph for you, too:

Blacks lynched in the US by year: https://evolutionistx.wordp

I think a graph of the number of dead bodies hanging from trees might have a little more to say about racial tensions and when they peaked than a graph about word use.

reluctantmlungu
reluctantmlungu
2 years ago
Reply to  J Cor

I’m pretty sure you’ve never had a dog or firehose turned on you, either. When was the last lynching – 1960?
Yes, “tensions” were probably high in the 1950s. No-one is denying that. But what this article is questioning is why such tensions (IF accurately mirrored by increasing media usage) are increasing NOW, after declining steadily for decades. Your detour into the 1950s contributes nothing to this conversation.

J Cor
J Cor
2 years ago

And what I’m saying is that it’s ridiculous to state that tensions are increasing because of a rise in word count when compared to a rise in dead bodies. The two have nothing to do with one another, and all the second means is that it’s being talked about more. Word counts do nothing whatsoever to indicate that tensions are increasing. It’s a worthless data point.

My foray into the 1890s actually illustrate what a REAL data point in favor of measuring racial tensions looks like, and it doesn’t have to do with running a grep function.

nickhuntster
nickhuntster
2 years ago

The tragic irony is that the USA and U.K., and anglophonic countries generally, are the least racist on the planet. If the research linked here is dependable, then India is the worst. If only the woke were not evidence-immune!

https://www.dailymail.co.uk

David George
David George
2 years ago
Reply to  nickhuntster

When you have a whiter-than-white presidential candidate claiming native heritage or a half African elected twice to the highest office I don’t think there’s an endemic problem with racism other than in the minds of those who seek to divide.

J Cor
J Cor
2 years ago

I don’t think that the increased use of the word is bad. We’re just talking more about the topic. But I do think there is a serious problem in how we talk about it, and how most of it seems to be accusations slung by the progressive-white-woke in order to score points against other white people, to be blunt.

This is what really bothers me: that these conversations need to be had but there seems to be no productive way to have them. Any not-quite-white or poor-to-working-class person will be leaped on for taking part in any conversation on this. Seriously, no matter how one participates, one is leaped on in exactly the same way:

Situation A:
1. “We not-quite-white or poor-to-working-class people have a great deal in common with people of color in the US and express solidarity and support for their struggles.”
2. “You know nothing of the struggles of people of color in the US! Unpack your knapsack! Check your privilege!”

Situation B:
1. “We not-quite-white or poor-to-working-class people experience a very different world from people of color in the US but express solidarity and support for their struggles.”
2. “Your racism keeps you from seeing how much you have in common with people of color in the US! Unpack your knapsack and check your privilege!”

One extremely important thing to notice is that it is rarely ever people of color who snarl these accusations but their frothy progressive-woke-white mouthpieces seeking to score woke points against what they see as merely other white people, and who in the end only ever derail any efforts for disempowered people to find true allyship and unity — and whose efforts only ever repel NQW and P2WC people, all but ensuring that they rage-quit for the toxic waste dump of Trumpland.

I think that’s something important to keep in mind: if those of us who aren’t quite white or were raised poor to working class could just get in the room with people of color and have a conversation among ourselves, common ground could be found — as long as the progressive-woke idiots stay out of the room or, for once, sit down and STFU and let everyone else talk.

Gerald gwarcuri
Gerald gwarcuri
2 years ago

Writing from the USA here. The answer to the article’s headline question, for anyone who was born here and has lived for 70 years here is “Hell, no, there is not a racism epidemic in America.” There is an epidemic of progressivist, victimhood propaganda promoted by academia and the mainstream media, along with 50+ years of identity group politics spawned by the leftist wing of the Democrat Party. The increased use of the word “racism” is a mere byproduct of special interests stoking the fires of radical racist theory, and using every incident to further this false and divisive narrative.

My greatest fear is that this phony message will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The vast majority of Americans are decent, tolerant people, without a racist bone in their bodies. But that isn’t satisfactory for the merchants of hate. They only profit when they can convince different groups of people that “those other people” despise them and are oppressing them. We are talking about people like Al Sharpton, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, and their progressivist promoters.

David Radford
David Radford
2 years ago

Dear Tom Chivers
I have been writing to papers and online forums for weeks suggesting the random sample/opinion poll approach to assessing the nationwide situation on Covid-19. So far nobody apart from you seems to grasp its advantages- fast, cost efficient and repeatable over time. Can you think of a better way of getting it considered? I would supply a proposal if you have a way of raising it.

Your article was brilliant- thank you so much for it

Scott Allan
Scott Allan
2 years ago

Nick Hunt has a great grasp on the truth. Anyone who has travelled beyond tourist hot-spots extensively knows this to be the truth.

Too often SJW virtue signallers are searching desperately for a few bad actors to shame the general population and their goal is to brand themselves as a new elite that can control the national conversation, policy and policing.

Too, too often we have remained silent when this happens. The spike in the words is linked to the fake news wanting to provoke popular uprising against their globalist agenda.