What Just Happened?

We did this experiment in class last week where we split the class into two groups. Both groups were told to make a collage of positive images of Black men and women from magazine clippings we were given. The only difference was that one group was given exceptional tools (big scissors, tape, large paper, and magazine clippings from Essence ect.) and the other team was given poor tools (little scissors, little tape, small paper, and clippings from gossip magazines with poor images of Blacks). The difference of tools between the groups were unknown and not recognized by anyone except the professor. Lastly we were told that this was going to be a competition and that there would be a winner and loser, to give some incentive to do our best.

For this experiment I was in the group with the exceptional tools during the experiment I had no idea that this was a test and no knowledge that the other team did not have the same tools as us. My team worked fairly hard and produced a good collage with many different representations of positive Black men and women. When it came time to present I was so confused to see that the other team had a recognizably worse collage. They had only three pictures to represent their collage compared to ours that filled up two large pages.

I felt embarrassed when I presented my collage and one of my team mates did not even want to hold it up. I honestly felt guilty and was so confused since I knew the people on the other team from working with them in class and knew that they were all hard workers. We had a further discussion about why they did not do as well as my team and I felt even more uncomfortable and guilty. Eventually everyone found out that it was an experiment and that one team was at a clear disadvantage.

After leaving class I could not stop thinking about this experiment I was a little disappointed in myself for not realizing that they were at a disadvantage and my team was at an unfair advantage, since we have been talking about issues like this for the whole semester. It made me angry as well that advantages and disadvantages like this can happen all the time. Its not fair that one group of people receives less resources and are expected to have the same outcome as the group with better resources. The thing that really worries me is the fact that for the most part in situations like this the people probably do not know each-other as well as we did and would not be able to separate work ethic from resources. Therefore blaming the poor job on their intelligence or work ethic rather than the fact that they did not have the same opportunities.

1 thought on “What Just Happened?”

  1. It was so interesting how you and I were so anxious about showing our presentation, even though we worked hard on it. Do we deserve less credit, even though we worked hard, because other people did not have the same opportunities as we did? How could we have even used this situation to make it as fair as possible?

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