Black Lives Matter for Whites’ Racial Prejudice: Assessing the Role of Social Movements in Shaping Racial Attitudes in the United States

Black Lives Matter for Whites’ Racial Prejudice: Assessing the Role of Social Movements in Shaping Racial Attitudes in the United States

Abstract

Black Lives Matter (BLM) is one of the most prominent contemporary social movements in the United States. Whether the BLM movement has led to racial attitude liberalization remains an open question. I evaluate this question using data on over 140,000 survey respondents combined with locational data on BLM protests in 2014 following the police killing of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. Results from a difference-in-differences identification strategy provide evidence indicating that the BLM movement was successful in reducing whites’ racial prejudice. I find that these effects follow an age gradient where young whites are liberalized by protests while older whites are not. Results from this study indicate that protests can be successful drivers of attitude change.

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