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Statistical Evidence of White Privilege

White Privilege, Quantified

Those two researchers are Redzo Mujcic and Paul Frijters, and their paper describes the results of an experiment they arranged in the state of Queensland, Australia. Mujcic and Frijters liken the racial overtones of Queensland's history to those of the American South; it took until 1963 for Black Aboriginals to gain the right to vote in Australia. In their experiment, Mujcic and Frijters enlisted 29 volunteers from different racial and ethnic backgrounds to board public buses, tell the drivers that they lacked the roughly $3.50 needed to ride, and say that they needed to get to a stop about a mile away. They were then asked to record whether the driver let them stay onboard. (They were also told to note the time of day and the weather conditions, which the researchers figured could engender compassion among the bus drivers.)

In all, the experiment yielded data on more than 1,500 encounters between volunteers and drivers. Nearly two-thirds of the volunteers’ pleas were successful, but the rate at which they were granted differed greatly across ethnicities. White participants were given a lot more leeway than Black ones: 72 percent of White subjects were allowed to stay onboard, while only 36 percent of Black ones were. The rate for South Asian subjects was around 50 percent, and for East Asians it was 73 percent.

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