Episode 197 - Dr. Larry Davis: "Why Are They Angry with Us?": A Discussion on Race and Racism in America

Monday, August 15, 2016, 7:41:35 AM

Image of Dr. Larry Davis

In this episode, Dr. Larry Davis engages in a wide-ranging discussion on race and racism in America. The topics he addresses include his use of cognitive dissonance theory to understand racism and racist behavior. He explores how implicit racism affects all members of American society and defines a concept he refers to as "relative deprivation." Dr. Davis also explains why multiculturalism is insufficient as the principal method of addressing racism.

Download MP3 (40.6 MB)

Audio Transcript PDF document.

Listener Reviews

7 Reviews
5 star:
4 star:
3 star:    (0)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
Average Listener Review

Average Rating: 4.9 stars (7 listener reviews )

Share your thoughts with others

Create Your Own Review

Average Rating: 5stars  overcoming racism requires we change the way we define it, Sunday, February 10, 2019

By Bianca J Bassett :

In this podcast, Dr. Davis discusses the themes from his book "Why Are They Angry with Us?": Essays on Race". Throughout, he does a phenomenal job relating cognitive dissonance in racism and implicit racism to relative deprivation. He defines relative deprivation as one feeling deprived in relation to what another has.
Dr. Davis points to findings that white folks feel uncomfortable when non-white groups make up more than 30% of the population to support the idea that white folks feel they are losing status in the populous. This perceived loss is based in black folks gaining greater access to what has historically been primarily available to white folks. Dr. Smyth's illustration of this concept occurs when she suggests that some may feel their history is being ignored if we change the way American history is taught.
Dr. Davis explains, we only exploit those we consider "less than". The suggestion that black folks having access to resources deprives whites of the same resources is a result of a cognitive dissonance which occurs when the implicit racism white folks have against black folks does not align with their explicit support of equal rights.
Drs. Smyth and Thomas discuss how overcoming racism requires we change the way we define it. In addition to explicit racism, we must consider implicit and internalized racism. We have to consider that race and the interplay of races are an important aspect of our lives that must be deliberately discussed separately of multi-culturalism and diversity. Race and racism create disparities in education, wealth, health, and mental healthcare.
Finally, Dr. Thomas presents that while we have made great strides in achieving equity, there is still a lot of work to be done and it will not likely be completed in this lifetime. Dr. Thomas encourages us that we must invest in challenging the perpetuation of racist. One way to divest from racism, he posits, is to continue to have conversations, such as the one in this podcast.

Flag This


Average Rating: 5stars  review of dr. davis podcast , Sunday, February 12, 2017

By JSarubbi :

Dr. Larry Davis provides a fascinating discussion revealing novel and insightful perspectives on race in America. The intriguing title relates back to a question he had as a young child. If African Americans were the ones enslaved in America, why are white people the ones angry at them? He later answers this question with the psychological concept of cognitive dissonance. We are most comfortable when our attitudes and our behaviors match. Thus, we sometimes adjust our attitudes to correspond with our behaviors. As Dr. Davis states, “We hate those we harm.” This perception of cognitive dissonance related to racism and ongoing oppression of people of color in our nation was profound. I was pleased he was able to relate this to treatment of Native Americans throughout our history as well. Additional discussions covered relative deprivation, internalized and institutionalized racism and the importance of cultural identity and pride. Importantly, though Dr. Davis recognized there exists tremendous challenges to yet overcome, he repeated throughout the pod cast that the problem of racism is large and deep enough to require long-term perspective. The issue is more than a lifetime project. He encouraged listeners to persist and not burnout as significant progress has been made, yet overcoming a problem of this enormity is a long and multi-generational struggle. He encouraged the field of social work and for social workers themselves, to continue the conversation, bringing awareness to society about the depth and reach of slavery and persistent racism. He asserted we need to help people see an accurate picture of who we are as a nation and culture, and to shine light on racism and oppression so we can see it and change it. Though the topics covered in this pod cast could warrant hours of discussion and Dr. Davis was only able to scratch the surface, he provided great insight, demonstrated tremendous knowledge and wisdom and was eye opening and inspiring all at once.

Flag This


Average Rating: 5stars  a nuanced understanding of racism, easy listening on hard topics, Sunday, February 05, 2017

By Rebecca Levy :

In this podcast, Dr.s Davis and Smythe talk about many topics surrounding racism.What was so striking was that this was recorded prior to the 2016 election and that the comments made about Trump's racist actions and rhetoric were so spot on, and that the pre-election perspective really holds up.

The idea of relative deprivation is discussed, in which Dr. Davis describes the feeling of unrest within White Americans that they are somehow being deprived of something with the equitable re-distribution of resources and power within America. He says whites feel overrun in this country, simply because they are comparing the current cultural climate to that of the one observed in the 1950s. He talks about the place of race in social work and how it is almost in a state of limbo as race and racism have been put to the wayside in favor of topics such as dliversity and multiculturalism, innately more "feel good" topics. I think to have extrapolated that shows an understanding and acknowledgement that there is so much more that academia could be doing, and scholars can delve so much deeper than they have for the past few decades or so.

His ideas of resilience were eye opening for me, as I had always assumed that resilience was a wonderful quality to have. But the way he frames it, "why must one be extraordinary in order to live an ordinary life" really struck a chord with me.

This interview is highly recommended to all, as is the book Dr. Davis authored.

Flag This


Average Rating: 5stars  great podcast!, Saturday, February 04, 2017

By Caitlin :

I found this podcast to be incredibly engrossing and full of some new information, perspectives and theories to incorporate into my own personal practice, as well as to use when reflecting on macro and mezzo level work. I have often reflected on points that Dr. Davis addressed and it is helpful to hear him contextualize this within the parameters of his research. What timing listening to this podcast given today's political and cultural climate! Thank you for conducting this interview.

Flag This


Average Rating: 5stars  finally a lens for understanding why they are angry with us. , Friday, February 03, 2017

By Michelle Scott :

I thought this podcast was absorbing. I became aware of Dr. Larry Davis' book because of an assignment from my social work professor. program.

Immediately the title of the book peaked my interest. This podcast allowed for me to hear directly from Dr. Davis his theory on why the oppressors of black people are angry.

Having open conversations on race are beneficial for all individuals. This interview was excellent in addressing personal bias, explicit, and implicit racism. It discussed micro, mezzo, and macro issues related to race in America.

I enjoyed this discussion. It is a worthy listen.

Flag This


Average Rating: 4stars  podcast , Saturday, September 17, 2016

By Anonymous :

This podcast was most interesting however, I believe it only touched the surface of the much deeper issue of racism. Dr. Davis provided clear insight on the racism as behavior and why it may occur however, I believe that racism has a deeper pathology that only a few scholars have been able to explain honestly and effectively. Conversely, Dr. Davis is on the right track and has done some excellent work, and as someone who has done research in Social Psychology I can understand his interpretation which from a social psychological perspective works. However, if we are to gain a holistic understanding that would provide a framework into a deeper understanding as Dr. Smyth discussed, it would take an internal look at ourselves that may be extremely difficult for some of us to confront. However, once these ideas and what I consider truths are revealed it brings one closer to peace and the solution, providing one with power to understand this phenomenon and reflect that understanding on to the world. As the world changes and historical works are studied we must utilize this information to gain an accurate and undisguised understanding of racism we narrow the chasm of difference, and move towards future solutions.

Flag This


Average Rating: 5stars  reflections on the discussion, Sunday, August 21, 2016

By Nilda Valencia :

Excellent exchange, although the quality of the audio was sub par.

Being an immigrant OB nurse, now a graduate student in Social Work, who has worked in many different societies, I understand that racism is indeed everywhere as a primitive defense of territories and goods. The stereotyping, as you said, is actually on focus of those we dislike, perhaps before the actual stereotyping.

In the US, your comment about the difference between immigrants and blacks is well taken, with the current difference of those immigrants that were already at the top of their societies, and those that walk through the border because they were at the bottom of their society. These two groups of immigrants behave differently.

Most important, immigrants, especially those privileged, have more tools and opportunities than the descendants of slaves with a long history of oppression. Until the US society really confronts the true nature of this disparity and create programs that can develop opportunities for blacks from the early childhood, the disparity, the basic inequality, and the stereotype will continue.

Thank you for your inspiring efforts!

Flag This

DISCLAIMER: The content shared by the presenter(s) and/or interviewer(s) of each podcast is their own and not necessarily representative of any views, research, or practice from the UB School of Social Work or the inSocialWork® podcast series.