"If a man is proud of his wealth, he should not be praised until it is known how he employs it." - Socrates

How Much Money Would You Require To Become Black?

By , July 5th, 2007 | 16 Comments »

Here’s a question:

How much would it take for you to give up your TV for the rest of your life?

A. Nothing
B. $10,000
C. $100,000
D. $1,000,00

Here’s another question:

How much should you be paid to continue to live the rest of your life as a black person?

A. Nothing
B. $10,000
C. $100,000
D. $1,000,00

According to a study in this month’s Harvard’s Du Bois Review, 958 whites of different ages and from different parts of the country were asked variations of the same question (without the multiple choice). When it came to watching TV, most of them said it would take about $1 million for them to be willing to give up their TV. The same group said that to live the rest of their lives as a black person, they would want about $10,000 on average.

When I saw these numbers, two things came to mind. First, while $10,000 is a significant amount, it is not a lot of money over a lifetime which shows that racism in the US, while it does exist, isn’t as bad (or at least perceived as bad) as many people might believe. Having lived in a foreign country for over 10 years where racism does exist and having experienced first hand in both overt and subtle ways on more occassions than anyone would want, I’ll never play down the effect that even small amounts of racism can have or would I ever wish anyone to ever have to experieince it. The study numbers gives me hope, however, race has very little affect when it comes to many Americans.

The second issue is a bit more disturbing. People not willing to part with their TV for less than $1 million goes to show that Americans are just plain lazy. That statistic is just plain insane. I would give up TV in a heartbeat for significantly less than a $1 million. It’s a shame that most white people wouldn’t (and my guess is that this is something would have very little to do with race) and probably is a good indication why we as a nation are becoming a bunch of overweight, lazy slobs…

via scientific blogging

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  • anon says:

    This is what passes for critical thought these days, is it? Bias, percieved racism, etc. not even mentioned, aside from the fact that it’s just a stupid question…as a black person, no amount of money could persuade me to ‘change’ colour, not because I’m a racist, but because I have no problem being black, as I assume most white people have no problem being white…and it’s just so hypothetical, it’s borderline ridiculous. This article is somewhat telling in regards to race relations in the US, but I suspect not in the way you’ve read it.

  • Amber Yount says:

    It would take me a million to give up my TV, me and my husband are so broke we’re always stuck at home, we have to have something to keep us busy!

  • Katherine says:

    The television question is easy for me. I’d probably be improving my life and saving money (ridding my life of at least one form of advertisements, at least), so I’d answer “nothing”.

    The black question gives me more pause…it’s asking me to forever give up a part of my identity, part of what makes me *me* in exchange for some other version of me. In the end, I think “nothing” is the best answer here too, because if I did it, it would have to be to gain a unique life experience. Doing it for money would probably just make me bitter.

    The point is, I don’t think this question is an indicator of racism at all…is that what it was intended to be? What was the goal of this study?

  • Julie says:

    I, too would answer “nothing” for the tv question.

  • Janice says:

    I think both questions are stupid. It would take $1M for me to do either of them because I see no reason to change either my TV habits or my color. If someone asked me how much it would take for me to start recycling my junk mail, I’d say $0, because there is a benefit to the world for me to do so. These questions offer no benefit to anyone, so why wouldn’t I take the largest amount of money possible? Would $10K change my life so much that it would be worth a change? No.

  • Michael says:

    Having a TV doesn’t automatically mean that someone is lazy. We have a TV in the living room and bedroom, but we’re certainly not lazy. We don’t just sit around all the time watching it, usually just for half an hour or so to give our brains a break from doing anything.

    Of course, the questions also imply that someone would actually give me that amount of money… so of course I’d choose $1 million. If someone walked up to me and said “please give up TV for the rest of your life, I’ll pay you, here are 4 options” anyone who doesn’t say $1 million needs to really go back and think about that, if you’d do it for free, why wouldn’t you take $1 million to do it?

  • also anon says:

    SO, we asked a bunch of kids at Hahvard what they thought about sensitive issues, and behold, little Todd and Tiffany decided that it would just be a smashing good time if they became negros for the lowest amount possible, because you know, “for free” would imply they were dissatisfied with their current social standing…

    Give me a break, this insults my intelligence enough to rant about it. Go do this study in “Hot Springs, Arkansas” or “McKinney, Texas” and get back to me… In fact, choose any NON-elitest public school, handpick all the white kids you want, and lets revisit how prevalent racism ACTUALLY IS in this country.

  • Flexo says:

    I have to agree with other commenters… the survey question #2 does nothing to show whether racism is still a “bad” problem in the country… if it shows *anything*, it just shows only that the people who responded don’t want to be perceived as answer the question in what might be considered a racist manner.

  • I can’t believe this is how we determine racism in our country, between a TV and being black? Ridiculous.

  • Jiji says:

    I am not going to even internalize this one. I would like to see the results though of 958 black men and women asked the very same questions and compare the results. The spirit behind racism is extremely gross and it doesnt stick with one race or culture is has infilatrated them all. It is a shame too because there are so many beautiful people inside and out but racism and hate for another human being tries to drown that out with the lie that “because you look different or talk different then you are not one of us and can not ever be as one of us.”

  • Special Ed says:

    I doubt the responders took the “Black” question seriously since there is no chance of it happening. There is, however, a chance that someone (with government funds, of course) would pay you to stop watching television. My response would also be $1 million.

  • Luke says:

    Man…We just got to keep picking at our own wounds, don’t we? The start to moving past and learning from prior mistakes isn’t to continue doing silly polls on race like this.

    Harvard is attached to this study? Sounds like a couple of ‘stoned’ college drop-outs came up with the questions…

    I really enjoy reality based questions. Once you get into the hypothetical realm, who gives a flip.

  • Erin says:

    Although I agree that we have become, on a large scale, (no pun intended) a nation of lazy slobs. I don’t feel that the willingness to give up or not give up TV is a real barometer of this. For me, a very athletic and fit person (work out 5-6 times a week and have competed in many races from marathons to an ironman) and definitely NOT an avid TV watcher, you still couldn’t pay me enough to give it up. I love PBS, Discovery, HGTV, Oprah, and yes, the occasional guilty pleasure such as Grey’s or Super Nanny. I really enjoy my TV as relaxation and as a tool for learning and there isn’t enough money to entice me to give that up!! Yes, reading is nice, and I enjoy it, but it’s just not the same as the good ol’ “boob tube!”

  • Gabrielle says:

    This so-called study is inherently flawed. It’s a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation set up by the researchers.

    Had the white study participants said they wanted a million dollars to live their life as a black person, the researchers would have said, “A-ha! See how much white people don’t want to be black! It’s racist!”

    Yet, if the white study participants choose a lower financial figure to live their life as a black person, the researchers still can claim racism by saying, “A-ha! See how white people are so out of touch with how hard it is to be black? That just proves they’re racist!”

    Honestly, the researchers should be ashamed of themselves for passing this off as real research.

  • lieweheksie says:

    the article below has a much more indepth look at this study and it’s true implications


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