Whites are Racist

I have been thinking a lot about the Tatum article and how only white people can be racist. I had never previously thought about racism as being separate from prejudice, but separating the two has made me understand my own feelings on these issues better. I hate that there is racism in the world but defining it as only something whites can have towards another group actually made me feel better. With this definition (or at least my understanding of it) racism does not have to mean I am anti other races, it means that I was born with certain … Read more

Stereotypes as a Cognitive Tool

I found the findings of the article “Stereotypes as Energy-Saving Devices: A Peek Inside the Cognitive Toolbox” by Macrae, et. al incredibly depressing. The researchers’ studies on both implicitly and explicitly presented stereotype cues revealed that stereotypes, like any kind of schema, save cognitive energy. Rather than analyzing the different traits of a new person, we subconsciously label them as part of a group. That way, we can instead use cognition to process what they are saying, or something else that is going on in the environment. Physical traits such as ace, gender, and disability status obviously stand out as markers about what group somebody belongs, and we make judgments based on our preconceived notions of these groups. Our brains do this automatically; without meaning to.

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Crack Cocaine Sentencing

A group of students last year did their final project on the sentencing rules regarding crack cocaine versus powder cocaine. Essentially the rule said that, to get the same prison terms, powder cocaine offenders (who are typically White and sometimes affluent) needed to have 100 times more cocaine in their possession than crack offenders (who are typically Black). Here is a news story from the L.A. Times about changes to that 100 to 1 rule.

Crack cocaine sentences: U.S. Sentencing Commission reduces prison terms.

The Importance of Talking About Racism

After reading Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech and discussing it in class, there are two ideas presented in this speech that have been on my mind. First, Dr. King expressed that it is the social scientist’s responsibility to spread information to the misinformed whites of America. The second idea was a particular quote that Dr. King recited in his speech that really stood out to me. He quoted Victor Hugo saying, “If a soul is left in the darkness, sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but he who causes the darkness.” Martin Luther King used this quote symbolizing whites in society as the cause of the “darkness” (prejudice attitudes/ behaviors and discrimination-both on a personal and institutional level).

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My friend showed me the website, Dosomething.org, which is an action-based website that encourages people to learn about various issues in America and how people can affect change in those issues. Some of the issues include education, disaster response and relief, discrimination, HIV and sexuality, and other such problems. I was very interested in the area of the website dealing with discrimination and was delighted to find that it had an entire section for racial discrimination, of which it presented a headline of “The large majority of racially motivated hate crimes are against African Americans.” This section focuses on terms and facts people should know about discrimination, as well as the background of racism in America towards Blacks.There is a section for “learning” and a section entitled “Act now!” which presents readers with a number of ways they can get take action against this pressing and perpetuated issues if racism. Another section of the cite that I appreciate is that it has an entirely separate section of affirmative action, and it also presents ways of learning about the issue, as well as how people can take action towards raising awareness about the benefits (and needs) for affirmative action. I think this section, as well as the many other sections on the website, present interesting and comprehensive approaches towards conquering these issues. In particular, it makes racial issues, which might not be acknowledged effectively elsewhere, accessible to anyone. I suggest checking it out because it takes an optimistic standpoint about what we become so pessimistic about at the end of almost every one of our classes…”what can we actually do to change what seems so out of our control?” It presents concrete ways in which people can make a difference and shows that even small actions are significant.

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