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Ethnic Consciousness and Its Relationship to Conservatism and Blame Among African Americans1

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Abstract

Ethnic consciousness is “a set of political beliefs and action orientations arising out of the awareness of similarity” (Gurin, Miller, & Gurin, 1980, p. 30). We suggest that these beliefs relate to political values and views among African Americans. Correlational data revealed that ethnic consciousness is negatively correlated with conservative values. Experimental data revealed that students high in ethnic consciousness blamed a White firm for the termination of an African American employee more than a Black firm for terminating a European American employee. Those low in ethnic consciousness did not discriminate between the Black firm versus the White firm. Consciousness may operate as a means of connecting ethnic identity and political views.

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... Empirical study focusing on racial identity and engagement in political action has been studied for the past several decades, mainly exploring African American political engagement. Early study on racial identity and activism has focused mainly on collectivist action relative to political participation and political values (Brown & Johnson, 1999;Miller, Gurin, Gurin, & Malanchuk, 1981), rather than on more individual dynamics. Thompson (1999) explored variables affecting racial identity salience and found racial identity to be related to political activism. ...
... Among African Americans, denial of racial inequality, the opposite of CC, was found to relate to victim-blaming attributions for racial inequality, internalized oppression, justification of social roles, and social dominance orientation (a preference for hierarchical, over more egalitarian, social organization) [36]. Further, higher African American ethnic consciousness, defined as recognition of structural inequalities faced by one's ethnic group, was found to relate to greater system-blame as opposed to selfblame [37]. Accurately understanding the effects of social inequality in maintaining discrimination and oppression, as opposed to attributing its effects to individual characteristics, may protect against the deleterious effects of perceived discrimination. ...
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