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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