Post-Hurricane Katrina Racialized Explanations as a System Threat: Implications for Whites’ and Blacks’ Racial Attitudes
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This experiment drew upon theoretical perspectives on group and system justification to examine whether exposure to media coverage arguing that racism was responsible for the ineffective Hurricane Katrina disaster response affected White and Black Americans’ intergroup attitudes. Consistent with a system justification perspective, Whites exposed to video clips arguing that the hurricane Katrina disaster response was due to racism displayed greater racial ingroup attachment and ingroup love compared to Whites exposed to videos conveying that the government’s incompetence was to blame for the disaster response. In contrast, Blacks displayed strong levels of ingroup attachment and ingroup love across both video conditions. This research highlights how insights from social psychology are valuable in understanding psychological responses to social justice-related events, such as the tragic response to hurricane Katrina.