A recent study conducted by a team of researchers from Emory University uncovered proof that White Americans have a more positive reaction to the term ‘African-American’ as opposed to ‘Black’. According to the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology that published the findings, the racial term ‘Black’ seems to conjure up images of that are negatively impactful. There is the assumption that the person is not very intelligent and is accommodating a socioeconomic status that is below standard. The ‘African-American’ fares better and presents a different scenario. Whites tend to have a higher regard for people who are referred as African-Americans; they see them as well-educated, competent, and generally successful.
Erika Hall, one of the lead researchers from Emory, explained that during an experiment where whites were asked to assign specific traits to Blacks, African-Americans, as well as Caucasians and whites – Blacks garnered the more negative and stereotypical content compared to African-Americans. And African-Americans and whites scored similar trait assignments.
“The stereotype content for Blacks was significantly more negative than for African-Americans. In contrast, the stereotype content for African-Americans did not significantly differ in perceived negativity from that of whites.”
In another experiment, whites were asked to set up a profile for a random man living in Chicago who was identified as either Black or white. The black man was assigned a lower-income and education status while the African-American male was regarded more highly – with a better chance of scoring a managerial position in a good company.
Hall concluded that their findings prove the existence of racial stereotyping and how it can translate into the judicial system. The fact that the distinction between ‘Black’ and ‘African-American’ is so vast affects the outcome of a case involving black and African-American defendants. The negative perception of blacks versus the more positive view of African-Americans demonstrates how each label can harm or benefit the bearer.
But even more exceptional is the fact that having a president who is of African descent could be responsible for the implication that African-Americans are more esteemed than Blacks. It is all based on image association and innate prejudice that allows for interchangeable definitions that are dependent on the present climate.