RESEARCH + RACISM

How We Know America’s Racism is Not a Conspiracy, But a Shameful Reality

A Pew Research Center study is under fire for the framing of its findings

Allison Wiltz
6 min readJun 12, 2024

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A woman in brown jacket | Photo by Ogo Johnson via Pexels

Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes,” a recent Pew Research Center study suggested in its bold claim, that most Black Americans were conspiracy theorists. This language may evoke an image of someone wearing a tin hat, believing the government is trying to send electromagnetic waves to their brain. But, this framing of institutional racism as a conspiracy theory dismisses the cold, hard reality. That racial disparities persist and indeed, are perpetuating harm in the black community. Let’s examine some of the key findings to untangle fantasy from reality.

When asked whether “the prison system was designed to hold Black people back,” 78% agreed. In the study, researchers categorized this response under “conspiracy theories about the criminal justice system.” However, as professor Chanda Prescod-Weinstein noted, this framing “suggests Black Americans are collectively experiencing a mass delusion,” an incredibly offensive and inaccurate portrayal given Black Americans’ views align with reality. Sociologist, Victor Ray suggested an alternative headline, “A majority of Black Americans understand US history and…

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Allison Wiltz

Black womanist Scholar bylines @ Momentum, Oprah Daily, ZORA, GEN, EIC of Cultured #WEOC Founder allisonthedailywriter.com https://ko-fi.com/allyfromnola