My colleagues Debbie Schildkraut and Jayanthi Mistry have published a new research brief on the Tufts Equity Research page. They find that people who feel they have experienced discrimination are more likely to be involved in civic activities like canvassing and contributing money to causes. People who have been discriminated against are also more confident in their ability to address community problems.
As figure 4 shows, as the frequency of perceived discrimination in the past 12 months increases, the likelihood of having worked with others informally to solve a community problem increases substantially. While a white or Hispanic person who has never experienced discrimination the past 12 months has only a 25% chance of this type of collaboration, a white or Hispanic person who experienced all types of discrimination frequently has a 72% chance. Black respondents show an equally impressive increase in engagement (19% to 63%)
Viewing one’s own racial or ethnic identity as important does not boost civic engagement. Neither does thinking that being American is important. However, “When people are prompted to think specifically about their relationship to a larger group and its potential power, their racial identity and American identity matter more than perceptions of discrimination in promoting civic engagement.”