Millennials See Themselves as ‘Post-Racial.’ What Does That Mean?

Linda Feldmann, Christian Science Monitor, April 30, 2014

A majority of young people believe racism is more a problem for previous generations than it is for their own. And most young people–73 percent of whites, 66 percent of nonwhites–say they don’t see racial minorities any differently than they see white people, according to a survey conducted for the youth-oriented cable network MTV.

That suggests a generation that sees itself as “post-racial,” MTV reports.

Perhaps most strikingly, a majority of those surveyed, who range in age from 14 to 24, agree that “having a black president demonstrates that racial minorities have the same opportunities as white people.” Among young white people, the figure was 64 percent, and among young people of color, it was 58 percent.


“Millennials are the most diverse generation in history, and it’s inspiring to see how equality and fairness serve as their bedrock values,” says Stephen Friedman, president of MTV, in a statement. “However, that very faith in equality can also cloud their perception of historical and institutional inequities.”

One example of this “cloudy perception” is the belief by half of white Millennials that discrimination against whites has become as big a problem as discrimination against people of color, the network notes.

MTV conducted the survey in preparation for a multiyear campaign called “Look Different,” which aims to prepare young people to counter what the network calls “the hidden racial, gender, and anti-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) biases all around us.” The “Look Different” campaign includes on-air content, including a documentary-style program called “Untitled Whiteness Project,” and social-media outreach.


MTV’s research included two surveys, one with 2,000 young people taken between Feb. 24 and March 2, and another taken April 4-9 with 1,000 young people. The surveys were conducted by David Binder Research of San Francisco.

The surveys found that while Millennials have a “universal belief in equality,” they experience the real world differently, depending on race.

On the statement, “My race is well-represented in the media,” 64 percent of white respondents agreed, versus only 33 percent of people of color. Some 63 percent of white Millennials agreed that “racial minorities use racism as an excuse more than they should,” while 52 percent of nonwhite Millennials agreed.


Majorities of white and nonwhite respondents agreed that “it’s never fair to give preferential treatment to one race over another, regardless of historical inequalities.” Among white Millennials, 75 percent agreed, as did 65 percent of nonwhites.

Another statement presented the “racial preference” concept differently: “Because of historical inequalities, it is sometimes more fair to give preferential treatment to one race over another.” Among whites, 22 percent agreed; 30 percent of people of color agreed.


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