by UnHerd
Wednesday, 1
April 2020

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.

Join the discussion

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

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