Children and Racism

http://library.adoption.com/articles/young-children-and-racism.html

After discussing the Devine (1989) article in class, we had a lot to discuss. Unfortunately, in such a short period of time that we have for class, we were unable to talk about all of the implications of this study. This study had three main findings: all individuals are aware of racist stereotypes; individuals, when primed, automatically act on these stereotypes and change their behavior or perception of an individual; and when in a controlled situation, individuals who are low-prejudice will exert the effort to counteract the stereotypes that they are aware of. All in all, this study showed that everyone automatically thinks about stereotypes that exist but, when possible, people use their controlled response to act in a way that does not show their belief in the stereotype. One of the main questions this led us to was, How do individuals learn about these stereotypes? We realized that as early as childhood, individuals know the difference between races and act upon it. Usually, this is learned from a parent, the media, or school settings. Children pick up on cues very easily, and it does not take much for them to learn how others react to people of a different race.

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Survival of the Fittest

Acts of omission and collective ignorance creates the socio-cultural atmosphere in which racism thrives. In class, we discussed that “the system” is something that does not just happen out of nowhere. Reality isn’t just there; it is socially constructed. If the system is built, then in theory it should be able to be destroyed and rebuilt; however, I feel that the unity and cooperation amongst individuals that is required for such a transformation is nearly impossible. We have created a system based on values that the first settlers came with. The morals and values of today are much different than they were in the past and many conflict with the “system” that has been created. The American society values independence and works on a system of meritocracy; however, due to values and morals changing, and increasing, there are conflicting ideas about how “the system” should be and which system is more effective.

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Stereotypes as Energy-Saving Devices

After reading the article Stereotypes as Energy-Saving Devices: A Peek Inside the Cognitive Toolbox, I have thought a lot about how stereotypes are formed. According to the article we stereotype automatically without being conscious of what we are doing. It makes sense that we put people into certain schema’s, we do it with everything else however it is much more problematic to stereotype or put people into a schema than it is for us to look at a desk chair and a couch and say they are both seats.

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What Would You Do?: Racism in America

The Macrae experiment that we read in class this week, (Stereotypes as energy-saving devices: A peek inside the cognitive toolbox) found that the use of stereotypes is actually a cognitive tool our brain uses. In the study, whenever a stereotype label was present (regardless of whether the stereotype label was present consciously or unconsciously) participants remembered more stereotype consistent words and performed better on the additional task than participants who were not provided with a stereotype label. According to these findings, stereotypes are strategic tools used to enhance cognitive performance, so when the the stereotype is present we are able to effectively process other information at the same time. But what happens when these stereotypes take on a negative connotation?

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