Immigration and Race Attitudes

Chapter 8: Changes in Racial Attitudes

Emory S. Bogardus

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All the racial attitudes of some persons and some racial attitudes of many persons are in a state of flux. In addition to the origins of racial antipathy and friendliness that have already been considered, there are changes continually taking; place in racial aversion and attraction. These changes are, of course, origins also-secondary origins, as distinguished from the original or primary origins.

At least two main types of changes in racial attitudes maw be observed:(1) augmentations and (2) reversals. This chapter will consider augmentations or the conditions under which a person's racial_ antipathy and his racial friendliness are increased. The following chapter will deal with reversals of both unfavorable and favorable racial attitudes.

Although augmentations naturally fall into increases in antipathy and increases in good will, they represent one major psychosocial process: namely, the fixation of behavior patterns already initiated. The experiencing of more contacts direct or indirect, favorable or unfavorable, of the kind already experienced is the essence of the story. The conditions under which this process functions may vary. Antipathy growth occurs in connection with social explosions; good will growth implies the dissolving of , conflicts and the solving of race problems. The latter is often gradual, quiet, and unassuming; the former, loudmouthed and easily excitable.

Augmentations of Racial Antipathy. - A further examination of the racial attitude data presented in previous

( 108) chapters shows that Americans experience increases in racial antipathy toward the same races, with slight exceptions, that figure in the origins, of antipathy. Antipathy, in other words, is easily accumulative. It feeds partly on itself, and flourishes easily. Once started, it acquires a momentum that is difficult to halt.

Table Vindicates changes in racial attitudes of 508 of the 1725 native Americans, certain of whose racial attitudes have already been noted in Tables I to IV. Of the total 1725, materials relating to changes in attitudes were asked from 524. Replies from 16 of these were confused and uncertain in meaning, and hence eliminated, leaving a total of 508. The racial descent of these persons is given in the first column of Table V. The points at which racial antipathy and racial attraction occur are noted in the next two columns respectively. Some races are high in both these two categories, for- instance: Armenians, Chinese, French, Germans, Hindus, Italians, Japanese, Jews, Mexicans, Negroes, and Russians. The races ranking noticeably higher in the " antipathy increase column " than in the " friendliness increase column " are: Germans, Greeks, Hindus, Jews, Mexicans, Russians, and most of all, Turks. Races ranking higher in " friendliness increase column " than in the " antipathy increase column " are Armenians, Chinese, Czecho-Slovaks, Danes, Dutch, and so on, down the list.

Table VI gives an arrangement in a descending order of the races most extensively the victims of increasing antipathy. The predominance of non-Europeans will be noted. War propaganda accounts in the main for the increasing unfavorable reactions that were experienced by Americans against the Germans; while postwar reports of French militarism and French bitterness toward America relative to the noncancellation of war debts explain the adverse changes in attitudes toward the French.

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Table V Changes in Racial Attitudes of 508 Native Americans in a 5 to a 10 year period
  Racial Descent Less Favourable More Favourable Balance in Either Direction
Armenians 2 28 46 18
Bulgarians 1 3 3 0
Canadians 15 2 30 28
Chinese 3 47 75 28
Czecho-Slovaks 2 0 32 32
Danes 3 0 18 18
Dutch 42 0 15 15
English 251 6 12 6
Filipinos 1 3 28 25
Finns 0 3 20 17
French 72 17 45 28
French-Canadians 1 1 2 1
Germans 88 58 51 7
Greeks 2 36 7 29
Hindus 1 25 14 11
Indians (American) 2 2 29 27
Irish 62 5 9 4
Italians 9 33 32 1
Japanese 4 93 86 7
Jew, German 32 65 34 31
Jew, Russian 22 66 29 37
Koreans 1 4 11 7
Magyars 3 2 2 0
Mexicans 1 53 41 12
Mulattoes 44 8 8 0
Negroes 38 67 77 10
Norwegians 7 0 20 20
Portuguese 1 6 3 3
Poles 2 3 14 11
Roumanians 0 3 4 1
Russians 2 36 23 13
Serbo-Croatians 1 2 5 3
Scotch 104 0 11 11
Scotch-Irish 82 0 2 2
Spanish 5 7 40 33
Syrians 0 3 7 4
Swedish 14 4 33 29
Turks 0 63 7 56
Welsh 24 1 4 3


Table VI Five Hundred and Eight Americans Reporting Increases in Antipathy, According to Races, Arranged in Descending Order
Against Numbers Percentage Against Numbers  Percentage
Japanese 93 18.3 Greeks 36 7.0
Negroes 67 13.2 Russians 36 7.0
Jew, Russian 66 12.9 Irish 33 6.5
Jew, German 65 12.9 Italians 33 6.5
Turks 63 12.4 Armenians 28 5.5
Germans 58 11.9 Hindus 25 4.9
Mexican 53 10.4 French 17 3.3
Chinese 47 9.2 Mulattoes 8 1.5

In Table V, column 4 is given the adverse and the favorable balances, that is, the deficits of surpluses represented by comparing the numbers of more favorable changes with the less favorable changes concerning the respective races. The deficits in favorable changes will be considered first; the surpluses will then be taken up.

Table VII gives the highest numbers in the adverse balances. The relative adverse changes are somewhat different from the absolute changes given in Table VI. The Turk moves up from fifth in the " absolute " list to first place here, the Negro and the Chinese disappear, the Germans and Russians do not change, the Japanese drop from first to ninth, the Greeks move up from tenth to fifth, and the Hindus from fourteenth -and so on.


Table VII Adverse Balances of Increased Antipathy over Increased Friendliness Reactions as Reported by 509 Americans
Races Numbers Races Numbers 
Turks 56 Mexican 12
Jew, Russian 67 Hindu 12
Jew, German 61 Germans 7
Greeks 29 Japanese 7
Russian 13 Portuguese 3


An increase in a person's antipathy for the members of some race is usually due to factors similar to those that bring about his adverse reactions in the first place. A repetition of these factors easily augments antipathy. Repeated contacts with any of the more important unfavorable traits of a race cause a rise in the antipathy temperature.

In addition, moreover, there are distinctive ways in which race antipathy becomes definitely augmented. Two of these tendencies may be noted.

(1) Often a person's increased racial antipathy is due to definite rationalization upon and even brooding over certain of his adverse race relations. In this way he may build up an effective antirace fixation. Through repeated conversation or speeches against a race, a person may " work up " an increased antipathy unintentionally. He may engage so completely in a given antirace propaganda movement that he multiplies his own antipathies and becomes unable to "see" any but the adverse phases of a given race's nature. Favorable data are habitually underrated or overlooked.

73. As to a race that I constantly feel less friendly toward, I would cite the Turk. The Turk is the only person I would not admit into our country, allow to visit, or to have any contact with anybody or any country I hold decent or respectable. This is not. race prejudice, because it isn't the fact that he is a Turk, but because of what he stands for, of what his history has proved him to be, and because of the great harm he has done and persists in doing. Were he of any other race, I would judge him likewise.

I have personally come in contact with Turks, and with overwhelming numbers of the followers of Mahomet. I know their Koran. I know from personal contact that their philosophy, their

ambitions, their education, their social standards, their customs, their view of life, and all the rest are hopelessly " rotten " there is no other word for them. I have come in contact with many Armenians, talked with them, as well as with missionaries who know the situation; and there is nothing in the world's

( 112) history that represents any evil quite as bad as the Mohammedan Turk. There are exceptions, I know, but we are judging from the overwhelming majority. When you understand Mohammedanism first-hand and realize it to be by far the worst religion in all the world, and then get acquainted with the Turk and find him the worst specimen of humanity, then stick these two worst things together. You have a combination which can't be surpassed for evil; and that is why I think the very presence of a Turk, not because he is a Turk, but because of his character, would pollute the very atmosphere of our country. The more I learn about him the worse is my impression of him. He is indeed the " sick man of Europe." I am very sorry for him, and would like to help him, were it possible.[1]

(2) Often when a person moves to a new geographic region (a point to be treated more fully in a later chapter), an antipathy that he has acquired earlier will be magnified. Either he comes in contact suddenly or competitively with a race which he has known only casually before, or else he may become neighbor to a race which is experiencing a larger degree of freedom than previously. Under the larger freedom it may go to an extreme of obtrusiveness, and thus arouse a greater prejudice in the American newcomer than he experienced against that race in his previous habitat. This new freedom may be used by members of an oppressed race to invade the status of the American " recently arrived " from some other part of the United States, where such invasion would be prohibited by the mores.

74. Most of my life has been spent in the South, and it is only natural that I should be prejudiced against colored people to a certain extent. I have always been friendly toward colored people and have treated them kindly, because southern Negroes know their place

In the South there are restrictions against colored people which do not exist here. These restrictions are necessary, and I believe that they should be promoted here. White people are not on the same level with colored people and should nut be compelled

( 113) to be associated with them. I do not believe that they should attend the same schools, churches, and social gatherings. Where colored people are allowed the same privileges as white people, they oftentimes make themselves very offensive, take advantage of, and abuse these privileges.

When a colored person sits down by me on the street car, I move. This is habit. A few months ago a colored girl came to the house where I am staying and ate lunch in our dining room. As this was my first experience of that kind, I was shocked and became very indignant. I do not believe in being rude, but I believe in keeping them in their place. This habit is one that I have developed so strongly that my enforced association with them here makes me more unfriendly than before.[2]

Increases in Race Friendliness. - Increases in race friendliness have already been noted in column 3 of Table V. An examination of Table VIII, made up from Table V, reinforces the observation already made in this chapter that the races toward which there is the greatest growth of race friendliness in the United States are also in the main the races toward which there is also the greatest growth of race antagonism. Japanese, Negroes, Chinese, Germans, and Mexicans not only head the antipathy column but also are the races toward which friendliness has grown most---a surprising observation. Public opinion has been focused on the antipathy facts but has entirely neglected the friendliness developments. "Race haters" are often loud in their denunciations, angry and dogmatic in their assertions, and reap the benefits of headline publicity in the metropolitan press. A candidate for United States senator emotionally declaring that the country's gates shall be closed to all Orientals "brings down the house" in tumultuous and violent, almost " hatred applause," but who has heard of a senatorial candidate strongly urging oriental friendliness? The " race befrienders " secure a very limited hearing in the press, but the pulpit is usually open to them.

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Inter-racial good will is also being promoted by radio-broadcasted speeches.

In referring back to Table V, it will be observed that the 508 Americans report 924 cases of increased degree of race friendliness to 729 cases of increased race antipathy. Since these reactions were recorded without signing names, there is no reason to believe that the reports of race antipathy were deliberately minimized for fear of arousing charges of narrowness and intolerance. On the other hand, most persons are less aware of the " friendly changes " in race attitudes than of the antipathetic ones, and thus the friendly changes recorded in column 3, Table V, and in Table VIII are doubtlessly smaller than the figures actually imply.

Table VIII Five Hundred and Eight Americans Reporting Increases in Antipathy, According to Races, Arranged in Descending Order
Toward Numbers Percentage Toward Numbers  Percentage
Japanese 86 16.9 Swedish 33 6.5
Negroes 77 15.1 Czecho-Slovaks 32 6.3
Chinese 75 14.7 Italians 32 6.3
Mexicans 53 10.4 Canadians 30 5.9
Germans 51 10.0 Indians (American) 29 5.8
Armenians 46 9.0 Jew, Russian 29 5.8
French 45 8.8 Filipinos 28 5.5
Spanish 40 7.8 Russians 25 4.9
Jew, German 34 6.7 Norwegians 20 3.9

According to Table IX, giving the excess of increase in friendliness changes over the increase in antipathy changes as reported by 508 Americans, the Chinese alone of the races against which antagonism is most often expressed survive the comparison. They alone appear on the positive side of the ledger with a surplus of friendliness reactions experienced toward them by Americans. They are not " competitors " or " invaders " today, their numbers in this

(115) country have been decreasing; hence, the psychological advantage is theirs, and good will toward them is on the gain. The other races appearing in the favorable balance list of friendliness reactions are all " noncompetitors " in American life, such as the Spanish, Indians, and Dutch.

Table IX. Favorable Balances of Increased Friendliness over Increased Antipathy Reactions as Reported by 508 Americans
Races Numbers Races Numbers 
Spanish 33 Filipinos 25
Czecho-Slovaks 32 Norwegians 20
Swedish 29 Canadians 18
French 28 Danes 18
Chinese 28 Finns 17
Indians (American) 27 Dutch 15

The life-history materials at hand indicate that growth in racial good will is due chiefly to " repeated favorable experiences." And " favorable," in the last analysis, means anything that promotes one's own status.

The unconsciously gradual nature of the growth of race friendliness makes its study difficult. Persons are unaware of this growth until some person or event brings the change to their attention. Thus, there are few outstanding experiences in their minds. The existence, the wide extent, and the importance of the growth of racial good will, however, are all demonstrable facts.

Variations in Speed. - The time element varies in race attitude changes. One may suddenly develop race antipathy; a single adverse experience involving bodily harm is sufficient. Race friendliness involves the overcoming of defense reactions — defense against the different, the unknown the uncertain. It is natural that in this connection a person should change slowly. After they have once gained momentum, it is also natural that both race antipathy and race friendliness should develop rapidly,

(116) unless inhibiting experiences occur. In general, it may be concluded, however, that race antipathy develops recklessly and race friendliness, with caution.

Summary.-There are two main phases and three main stages in racial antipathy and racial friendliness phenomena: (1) the cultural, and (2) the biological phases; and (1) the originating, (2) the augmentation, and (3) the modification stages. The two phases will be summarized first; and then, the three phases.

(1) A narrow or broad ethnological background, an intolerant or liberal training in a person's primary groups is the background of racial antipathy or racial good will. A hard and practical or an idealistic, humanitarian, and a socio-religious cultural heritage accounts in part for the rise of antipathy or friendliness.

(2) Persons vary temperamentally. Some develop more introvertive or extrovertive tendencies than others. Some are more easily stimulated to adopt suspicious attitudes than others, or to be humanly and hence racially responsive.

(1) The first stage begins with unfavorable or favorable experiences, either direct or by hearsay, which crystallize racial attitudes and " fixate " them in either repulsive or attractive settings. To the extent that a person's racial contacts hamper or further his basic wishes and his status, he is likely to respond in aversive or friendly ways.

(2) Augmentation of ill will or good will usually occurs upon the repetition of either destructive or constructive racial experiences. A second or third unfavorable, or favorable, experience naturally follows the behavior patterns already inaugurated.

(3) Both antipathy and friendliness may cool off, subside, and even be subject to reversal. This theme remains to be examined. It is in these reversals that the most significant phases of racial attitudes come to the surface.

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1. If you have ever experienced a great increase in antipathy or friendliness toward any race, give a detailed description.

2. Choose a race antipathy and a racial good will attitude that you may have, and describe any changes in rate of development that has taken place in either.

3. Compare in as many ways as you can augmentations of race antipathy and of race friendliness.

4. Outline a practical program for definitely increasing the total amount of race friendliness in your community.

5. Give a full description and analysis of any mutation of race attitude that you have experienced, or that some one whom you have met has experienced.

6. Analyze the mutation of a racial attitude.


ABBOTT, GRACE, The Immigrant and the Community, Chaps. IV, V. Century, 1917.

ANTIN, MARY, The Promised Land, Chaps. XI-XIII.

COMMONS, J. R., Races and Immigrants in America, Chap. IX. Macmillan, 1920.

GAVIT, JOHN P., Americans by Choice, Chaps. I, II. Harper, 1922.

PARK, R. E., AND MILLER, H. A., Old World Traits Transplanted, Chaps. III, IV, IX. Harper, 1921.

SAUNDERS, A. J., " Reforming the Kallars in Madura, South India," Jour. of Applied Sociology, Vol. XI, pp. 121-8.


  1. Social Distance Studies.
  2. Ibid.

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