Police Recruits’ Cognitive Engagement in a Racial Literacy Education Program: Does Racial Ideology Matter?

Tuyet Mai H. Hoang, Helen A. Neville, Abisola Smith, Maria Valgoi, Michael Schlosser, Sundiata K. Cha-Jua

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Studies suggest shorter term racial diversity education is ineffective in changing police officers’ attitudes and behaviors, partly due to strong emotional reactions and resistance to this type of content (Schlosser, 2013; Zimny, 2015). In this investigation, we explored across two studies whether police recruits’ racial beliefs were related to their level of cognitive engagement in a racial literacy education program. Consistent with the research hypothesis, findings from Study 1 with 81 mostly White male police recruits suggested that recruits with higher color-blind racial beliefs (i.e., greater denial or minimization of institutional racism) as assessed in the first two weeks of the academy were less cognitively engaged in 10 hours of racial literacy education that they received in the training academy. In Study 2, we replicated and extended the results with a separate sample of 74 police recruits. In addition to completing a measure of color-blind racial beliefs at the beginning of their training, participants completed evaluations after each of the three education sessions offered over the course of the police academy. Findings indicated that the recruits’ level of color-blind racial beliefs at the beginning of police academy was associated with lower cognitive engagement in the education sessions. Limitations of the findings are discussed as well as the implications for future evaluation and racism education programming efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalRace and Justice
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • color-blind racial ideology
  • diversity training
  • police recruits
  • racial literacy
  • racism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law

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