Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2016

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors



First Advisor

Francisa Antman

Second Advisor

Martin Boileau

Third Advisor

Kwame Holmes


When racial hate crimes increase in an individual’s county, there is a question of whether it affects how people racially identify. Prevalence of hate crimes may cause individuals to disassociate from being a person of color. Such dissociation can be motivated by fear, or it could be motivated by understanding hate crimes as a proxy for other discrimination or racial tension. In either situation, identifying as white would be an advantageous option for people. As the incentive to identify with an underrepresented group decreases, individuals may choose to associate with the most favorable racial group possible. Accordingly, people should respond to hate crimes in their area by reporting their race with a group that they perceive to pose less of a risk to themselves.

This paper focuses on blacks and Hispanics because they are the people of color most targeted by hate crimes; they are also the largest and second largest non-white populations in the United States. Individuals with any black and Hispanic ancestry often identify less as being black or Hispanic, respectively, in the presence of hate crimes targeting these groups. Such identification could decrease because these people may have actually experienced discrimination as a result of their appearance, leading them to understand the repercussions of race. Age also has effects on individuals’ racial and ethnic identification as did their ancestral responses. This could be reflective of upbringings in different times in which there were different racial climates.