The Height of Racial Resentment: White Cops

Photo by Nathaniel St. Clair

Researchers will surely continue to plow the 2016 U.S. presidential election looking for answers to Donald Trump’s victory for decades to come. What we know now, though, is that racial resentment played a prominent role in the equation. Michael Tesler has shown, for instance, that white racial resentment “was more tightly linked to [support for Trump] than support for John McCain and Mitt Romney in 2008 and 2012, respectively — even after controlling for party and ideology.” And Sean McElwee and Jason McDaniel have found that “racial attitudes towards blacks and immigration are the key factors associated with support for Trump.” If white voters are racially resentful and if their resentments remain consequential for their selections at the ballot box, we might wish to understand who among the white population in the U.S. evinces the most racially resentful and racially conservative attitudes and why. Some recent sociological work has examined this question and found at least one primary suspect: white police officers.

White individuals throughout the country continue to compose a large share of law enforcement positions. They also continue to murder unarmed black citizens at a disproportionate rate as well. Yet, despite these instances, 70% of whites believe that police departments do an excellent/good job holding police officers accountable when they engage in misconduct, compared with 31% of blacks; 75% of whites believe that

Read more