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Why White People Downplay Their Individual Racial Privileges

Woman holding purse
Reuters/Toby Melville
Aug 27 2015
Fellow, Research, Stanford

Research shows that white Americans, when faced with evidence of racial privilege, deny that they have benefited personally.

The research by L. Taylor Phillips, a PhD student at Stanford Graduate School of Business, and Brian Lowery, the Walter Kenneth Kilpatrick Professor of Organizational Behavior at Stanford GSB, found that whites exposed to evidence of racial privilege responded by claiming their own personal hardships. Those surveyed didn’t deny the existence of racial privileges held by whites as a group, they just came up with other reasons — namely, personal obstacles — why they should be considered differently from that overall group.

L. Taylor Phillips is a 2014 DARE Fellow. Brian Lowery is a EDGE Faculty Advisor.

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