A story of the week about life’s big moments gets shared across the web, with the headline, “I am an American.”
But is it really true?
A new study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology finds that it’s not.
The study looked at 1,000 adults who had self-reported as either “American” or “white,” and compared them to a control group that had never heard of the word “American.”
The study found that people who identified as “white” were more likely to report being American, while people who were not “white Americans” were not significantly more likely than their non-white counterparts to be American.
The study also looked at how people who self-identified as American reported their ethnic identity, and found that the majority of white Americans did not identify as “Hispanic,” which is a racial category distinct from white.
This is because “Hispanic” is a pejorative term that has no legal definition and is used to refer to a variety of ethnic groups.
And in the United States, “Hispanic Americans” are defined as those born in the U.S. and who are not Hispanic.
The other study looked specifically at how “white American” described people who did not have a college degree, and it found that those who identified with “white America” were much less likely to have a high school diploma than the “non-white American,” which means they are much more likely (46%) to have less than a bachelor’s degree.
While the research does not find that people of “white identity” identify as Americans, the findings could help explain why this term is so divisive.
“The ‘American’ label can be used to label a wide range of people, including people who do not identify with American identity,” lead researcher Dr. Rebecca Schachter, a professor at Rutgers University, said in a statement.
“It is a term that could be used for people who identify as Hispanic, Asian, African-American, Native American, or others, but it is also used to describe people who don’t identify with the ethnic group they are part of.”
The study’s findings should be interpreted with caution, however, because the participants did not complete the survey, and the sample size is small.
This means that it is possible that the results are biased, or that the participants are misreporting their ethnic identities.
Still, the research offers some fascinating insights into how white Americans and “American,” “white, American” and “white-identified” are used in the context of social justice movements.
It’s worth noting that while “American identity” has become a powerful label in the wake of the Trump presidency, this study did not find any evidence that “white people” or white identity are negatively associated with being American.
“Americans do not feel as white as people in other racial groups,” Schachmer said.
“White people, like anyone else, feel that their own race has been underrepresented and undervalued.”
The term “white america” is also sometimes used to indicate that white people are more privileged than people of color, but the study does not specifically link this to the fact that white Americans are more likely or better educated than people from other racial backgrounds.
This article was originally published by The Conversation.
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