Race and Social Problems

pp 39-60


Intergroup Dialogue: Race Still Matters

  • Patricia GurinAffiliated withUniversity of Michigan Email author 
  • , Nicholas SorensenAffiliated withAmerican Institutes for Research
  • , Gretchen E. LopezAffiliated withSyracuse University
  • , Biren (Ratnesh) A. NagdaAffiliated withUniversity of Washington

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Contrary to popular depiction of young people in the United States as post-racial in their views about race, survey evidence confirms numerous differences in the views of White and non-White young people. These differences are seen both in studies of young people in the nation at large as well as among those attending colleges and universities. This chapter, which reports on a large experiment (N = 730 students) based on random assignment of student applicants to 26 race dialogue courses and to 26 wait-list control groups, also shows that students of color, compared to White students, held different explanations for racial/ethnic inequality when they applied to enroll in race/ethnicity dialogue courses. Participation in the race/ethnicity dialogue courses: (1) increased structural attributions for racial/ethnic inequality, although this effect was statistically reliable only for White students, and (2) narrowed but did not erase the initial differences between the two groups of students on the measures of structural attributions for racial/ethnic inequality. Thus, although race still matters at the end of the dialogue courses, the narrowing of perspectives on causes for racial inequality augurs well for possible coalitions of White youth and youth of color in attempting to reduce racial inequality.