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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

U. of Dayton Research: N-Word Often Used By Whites

DAYTON (TDB) -- A University of Dayton sociology professor has written a book with a Texas A&M colleague that says whites use the N-word often in settings where blacks are not present. The researchers say ugly racial stereotypes are commonly expressed during whites-only conversations. In short, the book contends people of color are disparaged today with the kind of offensive language what was openly used in the 1940s.

''People argue that the N-word no longer has racial meaning, but it's very common and very prevalent and they do seem to know the racial significance of it," said Leslie H. Picca, an assistant professor of sociology at the Catholic school in Ohio. "These are white, educated students -- the kind of people we generally believe are less racist. It was heartbreaking, just heartbreaking, to see how frequent, how common and how harshly these racial stereotypes are being perpetuated."

Her findings are based on written journals maintained during the 2002-2003 school year by 626 white college students. They students were on campuses across the nation, but the sites have not yet been made public. The co-author of the book is Joe R. Feagin at Texas A&M. Their book is Two Faced Racism: Whites in the Backstage and Frontstage. It is due for release this spring by Routledge Publishing.

The authors said they found one student who heard the n-word 27 times in a single day, and they conclude that whites talk about blacks they way they did over the past 40 to 60 years. The project was designed to examine how whites used racially offensive language when they were in private groups. Most of the students were between ages 18 and 25, and nearly all grew up in the post-civil rights era.

Feagin said 9,000 accounts were collected in the journals, and about 75 percent denigrated blacks, 10 percent were aimed at Hispanics and the rest were offensive toward Arabs, Jews and other groups. He delivered a lecture in 2005 that DISCUSSED the findings before they were prepared for the upcoming book.

Picca said in a school news release about her research that white women students sometimes object to prejudicial language, but the objectors themselves can become targets for insults. Her study about white in private moments contradicts the findings of public opinion surveys of whites who say they have become more tolerant. The University of Dayton's news release about the forthcoming book is available HERE.


  1. Disturbing. I have no idea of the validity of their study, but am dismayed that their findings that the word in question is so prevalent. Maybe I've been somewhat isolated, but I haven't heard that word used in regular conversation in decades. I wonder if this is really such a common thing on college campuses or if this study is skewed by being a small sample size.

  2. From one Bill to another: Thanks for dropping by Largebill.

    I wondered about how they did the study, too. But it is interesting, isn't it? If the students kept journals - something along the lines of Nielsen journals for TV ratings? - the research could reliable. I haven't heard that word used much, either. I think it is more common on the Internet and media. At least among the people I know. And Michael Richards sure caught heck for saying it in public. So it was not accepted or tolerated there.