Systemic Racism Eludes Millennials

I recently read a study conducted by The Applied Research Center (ARC) titled Don’t Call Them “Post-Racial”: Millennials’ Attitudes on Race, Racism and Key Systems in Our Society.

What’s interesting about this 42-page study is that Millennials, the18-30 age group, do not link racist behavior to the history of systemic racism in U.S. society.

Millennials believe racism is personal and only occurs on the interpersonal level. In other words, it has nothing to do with America’s overt racist past, and they see no reason to label it as that. In fact, another study conducted by ARC explains that Millennials have “difficulty defining present-day racism when initially asked.”

They are more progressive in their thinking about interracial dating, have the highest percentage of interracial marriage than previous generations, and voted for President Obama.

If Millennials limit racist behavior to interpersonal acts, do they recognize the attacks on the first African American president on the macrolevel are racist? Even though systemic racism eludes Millennials, they do believe it poses a problem in key systems such as education, housing, employment, criminal justice, and healthcare, decades-old targets of systemic racism for African Americans and other Americans of color.


  1. davepurcell

    Interesting report, thanks for posting. I can’t imagine why millennials would link racist behavior to our history of systematic racism, unless they’ve had a college course that explicitly covers it. I teach it in my Intro class (and my Race class, of course), and students across the board are generally shocked to learn this (even many students of color). “Race: The Power of Illusion” continues to blow them away.

    Jessie & Joe need to get a massive grant and make a sequel. 😉

  2. Blaque Swan

    To davepurcell’s point, consider Arizona’s law banning “ethnic studies,” right? And Texas’s weed-wracking of history and social studies. I don’t think the kids are in denial as much as they’re ignorant of US history, and are being inundated with the message that racism as a social ill has been corrected, thereby leaving only interpersonal racism as a problem.

Leave a Reply