If white Americans could reveal what they really think about race, without the risk of appearing racist, what would they say? In this elegantly written and innovative book, Paul Sniderman and Edward Carmines illuminate aspects of white Americans’ thinking about the politics of race previously hidden from sight. And in a thoughtful follow-up analysis, they point the way toward public policies that could gain wide support and reduce the gap between black and white Americans.
Their discoveries will surprise pollsters and policymakers alike. The authors show that prejudice, although by no means gone, has lost its power to dominate the political thinking of white Americans. Concentrating on the new race-conscious agenda, they introduce a method of hidden measurement which reveals that liberals are just as angry over affirmative action as conservatives and that racial prejudice, while more common among conservatives, is more powerful in shaping the political thinking of liberals. They also find that the good will many whites express for blacks is not feigned but represents a genuine regard for blacks, which they will stand by even when given a perfectly acceptable excuse to respond negatively to blacks.
More crucially, Sniderman and Carmines show that the current impasse over race can be overcome if we remember what we once knew. The strongest arguments in behalf of equality for black Americans reach beyond race to the moral principles that give the issue of race itself a moral claim on us.