As an aside with my students in a couple of classes today, I asked them what percentage of the American population they thought was black. Here are ranges for the answers they gave

  • 60% +: 3
  • 50-59%: 3
  • 40-49%: 16 (the modal answer was “40%” with 10 votes)
  • 30-39%: 12
  • 20-29%: 9
  • 10-19%: 3
  • 0-9%: 0

The real answer:  12.4%

Considering the disproportionate influence of blacks in popular culture, it is understandable that Koreans would think the number is higher. The relatively high concentration of blacks in urban areas in the United States also helps. There was a lot more coverage of New Orleans than there was of the Mississippi gulf coast when Hurricane Katrina hit.

If much of the rest of the world has the same misconception as this (admittedly very small) sample of Koreans, it might explain some of the ideas floating out there about race relations in America.

In a somewhat related item, you can get your Rednecks for Obama gear here.

UPDATE:  Per a commenter’s suggestion, I have asked a different class of students what percentage of Americans they thought were white or Asian.

White:

  • 70% +: 4
  • 60-69%: 4
  • 50-59%: 5
  • 40-49%: 7 (modal was 40% with 6 votes)
  • 30-39%: 1

The real answer is between 66% and 74%, depending on how you count white people.

Asian:

  • 50% +: 1 (clearly an outlier)
  • 40-49%: 0
  • 30-39%: 4
  • 20-29%: 5
  • 10-19%: 9 (modal was 10% with 7 votes)
  • 0-9%: 2 (5% and 8%)

The census puts Asians at 4.4% of the total US population.