Negative: Race Relations Have Not Changed

7% Whites / 13% Blacks

  • All you have to do is turn the TV on and look and you can see that racial equality is not there.  It’s no better today than it was then, it’s just words that don’t mean anything. – Black male, 60 years old
  • Racism is still here – it’s just covered up. – Black female, 46 years old
  • The black people are still discriminated against. – White female, 61 years old

The majority of comments that comprise this theme express the sentiment that nothing has really changed.

These comments don’t necessarily indicate that the legacy of Central High is a negative one per se, but they do suggest that some participants believe race relations have not gotten any better, or that we still have a long way to go before blacks and whites are treated equally.  Respondents frequently suggested that lip service has been paid to ending racism in society, but unfair treatment of blacks still continues.

A number of comments contained the notion that racism has merely been sent underground, and people still have their prejudices, but just do not voice them. Ironically, hidden racism appeared several times as a positive comment too – some participants felt that suppressed racism was actually an improvement over blatant, overt racism.

In addition to this, a number of respondents stated that they felt that integration was something of an illusion, and that blacks and whites were still segregated inside, outside and post-school. This sentiment has been echoed in other research.  Orfield and Yun (1999) suggest that although the number of blacks attending public schools has increased, the level of their interaction with whites is decreasing.

Interestingly, but perhaps unsurprisingly, more than twice as many blacks as whites made comments in this category.  One possible reason for this can be found in other racial attitudes studies.  Schuman, Steeh, Bobo and Krysan (1997) observe that there are “large differences between the amounts of racial discrimination that blacks perceive [towards themselves] and the amounts that whites perceive [towards blacks]” (p. 256).

Similarly, Spanierman et al. (2006) discuss the emergence of “color blind” racial attitudes on the part of whites, which they define as a tendency to underestimate the existence and extent of racism, and as a “more subtle, covert form of modern racism” (p. 436).