When race trumps political ideology: Black teachers who advocate for social responsibility are penalized by both liberals and conservatives. Academic Article uri icon


  • Meritocracy is a prominent narrative embedded in America's educational system: work hard and anyone can achieve success. Yet, racial disparities in education suggest this narrative does not tell the full story. Four studies (N = 1,439) examined how applicants for a teaching position are evaluated when they invoke different narratives regarding who or what is to blame for racial disparities (i.e., individuals vs. systems). We hypothesized these evaluations would differ depending on teacher race (Black/White) and evaluator political orientation. Results revealed conservatives evaluated Black and White applicants advocating for personal responsibility more favorably than applicants advocating for social responsibility. Liberals preferred social responsibility applicants, but only when they were White. They were more ambivalent in their evaluations and hiring decisions if the applicants were Black. Our findings suggest that Black applicants advocating for social change are penalized by both liberal and conservative evaluators.

author list (cited authors)

  • Rivera, G. N., Salter, P. S., Friedman, M., Crist, J., & Schlegel, R. J.

publication date

  • January 1, 2021 11:11 AM