"Another reason that whites downplay or deny the reality and costly impact of racism on African Americans is that they blame the victims. Many whites hold stereotypes that, directly or indirectly, blame Black Americans for their lack of achievement or difficult socioeconomic situations. The common view is that Black Americans bring whatever problems they still have on themselves. Indeed, most whites admit they still hold to negative images of African Americans. In one recent national survey of whites by Harvard researchers, 58 percent of the white respondents agreed with one or more of these listed traits as being applicable to African Americans: lazy, aggressive or violent, prefer to live on welfare, or complaining. Some 34 percent agreed with two or more of these negative traits. Other surveys show a similar pattern of majority white acceptance of antiblack stereotypes and images. Clear in these stereotypes is the idea that if African Americans would work harder and get rid of their poor values, they would do much better in society.
In addition to these overtly racist stereotypes, most whites also hold to individualistic values that lend themselves to de-emphasizing the racist realities of the society. Thus, there is much emphasis among white Americans on free will, on the supposed ability of each individual to achieve freely from among the many choices permitted in society. Again, those whites who deny significant antiblack racism likely believe themselves to have generally made it on their own—and believe that others are able to do the same. Whites see a few successful middle class or upper income African Americans in the mass media and may generalize from these examples to African Americans as a group. However, the routine assertion by whites of the ideological position that there are fully equal opportunities in the United States communicates that they do not understand that African Americans and other Americans of color are seriously limited by the contours of systemic racism."
Joe Feagin (via wretchedoftheearth)