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Study: Confederate Flag Unleashes Racist Attitudes

White college students exposed to images of a Confederate flag judged a black person more harshly and expressed less willingness to vote for Barack Obama in 2008.

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Interestingly, high levels of self-identification as a Southerner did not strengthen this dynamic. However, as the researchers note, “Southerners are more often exposed to this symbol, and as such, it has a greater capacity to affect political preferences in the South.”

“Those who hold the Confederate flag in high esteem might be disappointed to learn about this outcome,” the researchers conclude. “However, these findings suggest that the meaning of the Confederate flag is more complex, and more consequential, than some may have previously believed.

“We argue that the debate over whether it is appropriate to display the Confederate flag in positions of prominence should include a discussion of how exposure to the flag might promote negative judgments of, and behavior toward, black individuals, by virtue of its association with racial bias.”

Tom Jacobs is a veteran journalist with more than 20 years experience at daily newspapers. He has served as a staff writer for the Los Angeles Daily News and the Santa Barbara News-Press. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and Ventura County Star.

 
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