It is well known that African Americans and whites hold different views of the police, but nearly all of the previous research has been conducted in majority white settings. This research examines the relationship between race and evaluations of the police in majority black versus majority white contexts. Social dominance theory and the research on racial threat predict that when the racial majority changes, the relationship between race and attitudes toward police will change. We find that, in majority black contexts, the traditional relationship between being black and having negative evaluations of the police disappears, and it disappears because whites' evaluations of the police become more negative. Black evaluations of the police are relatively consistent across racial contexts. Also, white racial attitudes affect police evaluations in majority black contexts, but not in white contexts, while African American racial attitudes are inconsequential in both contexts. Furthermore, if a white citizen is victimized by crime in a black city, it has greater ramifications for evaluations of the police than if the victimization had occurred in a white city. All of this suggests that whites' views of the police may be more racialized than the views of African Americans.
Political Behavior – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 18, 2004
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