Durham—Latino immigrants bring negative attitudes toward blacks with them from their home countries rather than develop them after they arrive here, a team including four Duke and two UNC researchers say.
The study, which will appear in the August issue of the Journal of Politics analyzed survey data drawn from Durham residents in 2003.
Latinos also more often identified with whites than blacks, although whites were less likely to see themselves as having much in common with Latinos.
The survey asked 500 residents nearly equally divided among the three groups. The researchers chose Durham because of its nearly 500 percent increase in Latino population between 1990 and 2000, and because its black population spans socioeconomic levels.
“What surprised us most was the high level of negative stereotypes on the part of Latino immigrants,” said Paula McClain, a professor of political science at Duke University and the study’s lead author. “We were also, I guess, pleasantly surprised at the low level of stereotypes of blacks held by whites in Durham. Less than 10 percent of our sample of whites held negative stereotypes of blacks. And that blacks were more tolerant of Latino immigrants than Latino immigrants were of blacks.”
The survey asked such questions as whether members of one group saw the others as hardworking, trustworthy or easy to get along with.
A majority of Latino immigrants, 58.9 percent, said few or almost no blacks are hardworking. Nearly one-third said few if any blacks are easy to get along with. And nearly 57 percent said few if any blacks could be trusted.
Only one-third of blacks, on the other hand, said they distrusted Latino immigrants; 42.8 percent said most or nearly all Latinos are easy to get along with; and 72 percent characterized them as hard-working.
Latinos seemed unlikely to have absorbed the attitudes from whites, the researchers said, mostly because whites were more positive toward blacks. Only 9.3 percent of whites said few blacks work hard, only 8.4 percent said few or no blacks are hard to get along with and only 9.6 percent said few if any blacks can be trusted.
Although the study didn’t look at crime, other evidence suggests Latino immigrants’ attitudes about race may be formed in Mexico, where most Durham immigrants are from, McClain said. Recent studies there have documented racism and discrimination toward darker-skinned people, she said.
“If you recognize these attitudes exist, you can begin to ameliorate them,” she said. “The question is, since they exist, what do we do about them?”