On one level, quantifying racism doesn’t make much sense. From the standpoint of individual experience, two people who suffer discrimination based on their ethnic status might feel equally violated even if the incident differs. Who can say one experienced “more racism” if both feel hurt?
But let’s consider the question at the macro level. Specifically, what is the most racist town/city in America?
I thought of this question a long time ago when I lived in Boston. The city puzzled me. I knew about the strong liberal sentiment among the populace, but I didn’t have to look far to see that racism was part of its historical core. For example, school integration was violently resisted by many of its white ethnic residents. In sports, the city has been home to some of the most extreme forms of racism — check out Howard Bryant‘s terrific book, Shut Out, in which he explores the longstanding bigotry in the Red Sox baseball organization. And I was surprised how openly some of the city’s African-American residents talked about experiencing racism at work, in bars, and on the streets.
Does it make sense to classify Boston on a racism index? Is it any different than other cities?
Before I share some social science thinking on the subject early next week, I turn this over to Freakonomics readers: In your opinion, what is the most racist city in America, and why?