Identifying ways to effectively communicate about racial/ethnic disparities is a place where communication scholars can make vital contributions. Yet, existing studies on this subject are scarce. Borrowing from reactance theory and the 3D model of White identity management, the present study tested whether exposing White adults to White privilege messaging helps them to become more aware or deny racial privilege. The results of our experiment revealed that there was a main effect for reading about racial privilege and increased awareness of privilege. However, in keeping with reactance theory, if the message stoked a perceived threat to freedom, message exposure resulted in the denial of both blatant and institutional racism. We also found a moderating role for Fox News viewing such that awareness of racial privilege was not affected by the intervention for heavy Fox News viewers, but it was for low Fox News viewers. We conclude that messages focused on explaining White privilege are promising, but there are risks.
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