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Study Finds Modern Race Attitudes Parallel Old Slavery Zones
Posted on Oct 8, 2013
It turns out the New South is a lot like the Old South.
A recent study by three political scientists at New York’s University of Rochester found a distinct link between contemporary racial attitudes by whites toward blacks, and the old “cotton belt” regions of the South, where slavery and the plantation economy were most prevalent. Conversely, in areas of the South where slavery was a minor presence, modern attitudes more closely track those of the North, the researchers found.
The study, which came out last month to little notice, also draws a distinct connection between the slave zones and modern political opposition to affirmative action, and a tendency to vote Republican:
“Slavery does not explain all forms of current day racism,” Avidit Acharya, who conducted the study along with Matthew Blackwell and Maya Sen, said on the college website. “But the data clearly demonstrates that the legacy of the plantation economy and its reliance on the forced labor of African Americans continues to exacerbate racial bias in the Deep South.”
And it’s somewhat hereditary, with new generations reflecting the racial and social attitudes of their parents, the report says.
In announcing the study last month, the University of Rochester said the researchers “considered whether there could be alternative explanations for their findings.”
Another aspect to explore: the relationship between the slavery zones and the current tea party power base. But at the very least, the study shows that the legacy of “the peculiar institution” still echoes through the political culture.
—Posted by Scott Martelle.
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