What does this article tell us about the power of culture and imagery in shaping our perceptions of various groups of people? To what degree can those perceptions be changed? Is it wrong to propagate false or inaccurate representations? This connects to the debate about sports mascots to some degree.
“Matika Wilbur has traveled more than 250,000 miles to ensure stereotyped images are replaced with accurate ones to change history’s collective psyche.”
“A search for Native Americans on the internet yields almost nothing but reductionist, 18th-century representations of a ‘feathered and leathered people’, Wilbur says. She hopes the pictures she’s taking can someday replace the stereotyped, dated ones found in internet searches, and the ones we hold on to in our collective psyche.
“‘I’m ultimately doing this because our perception matters,’ she says. ‘Our perception fuels racism. It fuels segregation. Our perception determines the way we treat each other.'”
But the shine has come off this hardy, once-helpful word. It looks a little worn, a bit blunted, as if it has been taken to too many fights. Instead of clarity, it has sown confusion: ‘‘I’m white, my husband is Latino,’’ one woman commented on a blog post about confronting your privilege. ‘‘We have a Latino last name. Does that mean I lose some of my white privilege?’’ Even those who find it useful in certain contexts say the word swallows too many subtleties and individual variations. ‘‘You need to know that I was privileged,’’ Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote on his blog for The Atlantic. ‘‘I can run you all kinds of stats on the racial wealth gap and will gladly discuss its origins. But you can’t really buy two parents like I had.’’ My own allegiance to the word is atavistic — growing up, it was one of the few words I had to understand the racism I felt so surrounded and mystified by. But now I find myself wielding the word warily, like the devalued currency it has become — dismissed as jargon or used to hector. The only reliable effect it seems to produce is panic.
“In contrast, the terms “black” and “working class” are laden with the baggage of associations, perhaps some of them positive, but many of them negative. When a person is labeled “black,” we’re primed to perceive the characteristics that we tend to associate with “blackness” more generally, which is why students drew racially ambiguous faces with typically black features when they were told the face belonged to a “black” person. Participants in the experiment at Princeton similarly associated Hannah’s working-class background with diminished intellect, so they tended to emphasize her failings and overlook her strengths when they watched her complete an academic test.”
“The research, published in January in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, found that white people characterize a ‘black’ person as belonging to a lower socioeconomic status, being less competent, and having a less inviting personality than an ‘African-American’ person. And this difference in perception could have an impact on African Americans in various settings, from the labor market to the criminal justice system.”
“Racial prejudice has its roots in children’s natural drive to carve the world up into categories. Can research do anything to fix this?
“Racist stereotypes, at their root, come from quite a fundamental learning mechanism. Humans are able to learn and adapt so quickly because they are excellent at making generalisations about the world based on very limited experience. Take dogs, for example – a toddler might reasonably conclude after meeting just two or three that all dogs are furry, bark and have tails that should be treated with some caution.”
“Surely any person going to work outside their country is an expatriate? But no, the word exclusively applies to white people.”
A really interesting piece on the notion and consequence of race in America. The focus is on the perceived attractiveness of various races and genders. This article traces some of the historical origins and evolution of how we came to hold the beliefs that we do as a society. Attraction is largely an intuitive response cultivated by many different factors that work on our psyche over our lifetimes. Influences include our family background, friends, neighborhoods and schools as well as media influence and societal beliefs.
“If you think of Asian men or black women as less attractive than other races, it is because of you, not because of them, Sharma says. Since the day you were born, different influences on your mind – the bedtime stories your Mom read, the cartoons you saw as kid, the school you went to and the wallpaper on your computer – have come together to create a cohesive image of the world.”
“This elegant experiment follows in a tradition of audit testing, in which social scientists have sent testers of different races to, for example, bargain over the price of new cars or old baseball cards. But the Australian study is the first, to my knowledge, to focus on discretionary accommodations. It’s less likely these days to find people in positions of authority, even at lower levels of decision making, consciously denying minorities rights. But it is easier to imagine decision makers, like the bus drivers, granting extra privileges and accommodations to nonminorities. Discriminatory gifts are more likely than discriminatory denials.”
A really amazing two part podcast about policing in the United States. Through the different parts of this podcast, we hear from police departments and officers around the country and how they’re dealing with the challenges they face. What’s fascinating about this is the role of perspective and how different experiences affect how people see different situations. Part 2 Act 2 discusses the implicit association test and what a police department is doing about how to deal with implicit bias while policing. Part 2 Prologue is an interesting and short bit about a reporter watching the Eric Garner video with a friend who is a police officer and how the two of them see completely different things and interpret the video in very different ways.
Below are links for the full episodes.
“Most white Americans demonstrate bias against blacks, even if they’re not aware of or able to control it. It’s a surprisingly little-discussed factor in the anguishing debates over race and law enforcement that followed the shootings of unarmed black men by white police officers. Such implicit biases — which, if they were to influence split-second law enforcement decisions, could have life or death consequences — are measured by psychological tests, most prominently the computerized Implicit Association Test, which has been taken by over two million people online at the website Project Implicit.”