As immigration reform once again heads to the front-burner of American politics, the nation’s politicians and voters have an opportunity to decide whether a fringe coalition of racist groups will once again be allowed to sabotage serious efforts to reach a rational compromise on critical immigration issues, suggests Robert W. Sussman, author of a new book on enduring scientific myths behind modern racism.
At polling places across America in November 2012, Latinos and African Americans under age 30 were disproportionately asked for identification, even in states that do not have voter ID laws, according to a post-election analysis by researchers at Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Chicago.
Many Americans can guess a caller’s ethnic background from their first hello on the telephone. Can the sound of your voice be used against you?However, the inventor of the term “linguistic profiling” has found that when a voice sounds African-American or Mexican-American, racial discrimination may follow. In studying this phenomenon through hundreds of test phone calls, John Baugh, Ph.D., the Margaret Bush Wilson Professor and director of African and African American Studies in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, has found that many people made racist, snap judgments about callers with diverse dialects. Some potential employers, real estate agents, loan officers and service providers did it repeatedly, he says. Long before they could evaluate callers’ abilities, accomplishments, credit rating, work ethic or good works, they blocked callers based solely on linguistics.