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White Kids Aren't Buying the Politics of Racial Resentment

Sean McElwee

The Obama presidency has left an indelible mark on American society, particularly on the issues of race and racism. Deep and enduring fractures across racial lines have been thrust to the forefront of the national conversation. Even though Obama’s presidency is nearing its end, issues of race continue to dominate the political news cycle, from Donald Trump’s comments about Latinos and Muslims, to Black Lives Matter activists challenging the Democratic candidates on the issue of race. The future of race in America will be defined by today’s youth, and some commentators (including one of us), have expressed skepticism about whether young whites truly hold different views from older whites. However, new data from the 2016 American National Elections Study (ANES) pilot survey suggest that, at least on some dimensions, young whites are quite a bit more racially progressive than their parents.