In this blog post I want to bring up something that actually discovered earlier today. A friend of mine transferred from Muhlenberg to Smith College, an all girls college in Massachusetts a couple years ago. When speaking with her today, she told me about a Smith alum, Anne Spurzem, who posted a letter about how adding diversity to Smith College is virtually ruining it. Here are two links that discuss (and present) the letter to the editor:
This past weekend I attended the Black Student Association Dance with a friend who graduated last year. The dance was a lot of fun with great people, but I couldn’t help to notice that it was not as big as I had expected it to be. The music was great, the people were fun, and everyone appeared to be having a good time. Why did this event not receive as much attention compared to Greek socials?
After completing the IAT last week, I began to really think about the meaning of the test itself and whether the test is a reliable measure of someone’s unconscious thoughts. This thought became even more prevalent after reading the article by Blair (2002) and also the article by Karpinski and Hilton (2001). The articles seem to support the fact that implicit attitudes may be influenced and/or changed by environmental factors and outside forces. I have always perceived the IAT as a direct measure of the implicit biases that live in our unconscious thoughts and feelings. While I have never been convinced that implicit attitudes shape behavior, I always believed that the test itself measures the thoughts that someone has beneath the surface of explicit and conscious understanding. Blair’s article, however, shows that there are many factors that may influence the attitudes of someone and that the context of a situation is a determinant in implicit attitudes. Reading the article by Blair (2002) allowed for a new understanding of how are implicit behaviors are shaped.
The link below is a news article in the Hartford Courant regarding a member of the Northwest Catholic High School basketball team (my high school which I graduated from).
Zach Lewis was dismissed from the team as a result of an issue that occurred completely outside of school. The school was not obligated to kick him off of the team since the incident did not happen on school grounds. However, he is no longer a member of the team as a result of the event. Two years ago, three members of the girls soccer team were caught drinking at a school function. Two of the girls were so intoxicated they had to be sent to the hospital from the school event. These girls were suspended from school for two days, but were never kicked off of their soccer team. The following year they were all made captains for the team as well.
Jeremy Lin has been in the headlines for his basketball skills, but a lot of people have taken interest in another aspect of his identity, his race. Lin is one of the first famous Asian American NBA players, and the media can’t seem to get enough of him. From ESPN to Twitter, Linsanity has taken over. Recently, there has been controversy over ESPN’s repeated usage of the phrase “chink in the armor,” especially as a headline on their website referring to a recent Knicks’ upset below a picture of Lin. See image here: http://www.sbnation.com/nba/2012/2/18/2807696/espn-chink-in-the-armor-headline-jeremy-lin. For the purpose of this post, I will be discussing the picture in the link above and this video of a news anchor using the phrase again: http://www.forbes.com/sites/gregorymcneal/2012/02/18/espn-uses-chink-in-the-armor-line-twice-did-linsanity-just-go-racist/ ESPN has since removed the headline and reprimanded the people involved, but unfortunately, thanks to technology these images will live on in internet infamy.
In our class focused on aversive racism, we examined an article by Patricia G. Devine. Devine’s article consisted of three related studies which focused on the mental processes of both high-prejudice and low-prejudice individuals. Devine’s first study found that high and low prejudice individuals are aware of the same stereotypes. Devine’s second study looked below the surface of consciousness, and found that when people, whether they are high or low prejudice are not aware that they are being primed with stereotypes, they will behave in a way that is dictated by the stereotypes. The third, and (in my opinion) most important study affirmed that there are two distinct routes that people encounter when engaging in stereotypical thought (clarify: thoughts about stereotypes). The first route is the automatic route, that is, when a stereotype comes to mind, the mind automatically processes it, and people automatically use the stereotypes. The second route is the controlled route, which occurs when people get the opportunity to control their thoughts before using or not using stereotypes. It is through the controlled route that we see the distinction between high and low prejudice individuals. High prejudice individuals, when given opportunity to control their thoughts, still use stereotypes to direct their thinking. Low prejudice individuals, on the other hand, take the opportunity to control their thoughts and actively avoid the use of stereotypes in their thinking.
This week in class we were challenged with the task of educating a “typical white male” on how racism is still prevalent today. I was surprised by how difficult this task was, and especially surprised by how blank my mind was when trying to think of what to say. It started making me nervous about my role in society after this class, and how I’m supposed to spread my knowledge to others who embody the same persona that Connie did in class. By the end of class, after many attempts, we were explained the historical root causes of the inequalities that are still present today. Ironically, after years of learning about systematic and institutionalized racism, I thought “well yeah, duh! That makes sense!” However, it became really clear to me that my knowledge was actually quite shallow and I didn’t understand either of those concepts in depth. Although I’m a little more confident now that I’ve learned more, I can’t deny that I’m still insecure about changing the privileged white minds of America.