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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Speak Up!

King, M.L. (1967). The Role of the Behavioral Scientist in the Civil Rights Movement.

While reading the essay by Martin Luther King, Jr., a specific part truly stuck out to me. In regard to discussing racism he stated, “These are often difficult things to say but I have come to see more and more that it is necessary to utter the truth in order to deal with the great problems that we face in our society.”

As one of the first things discussed in our class, we realize how important it is to talk about issues, no matter how uncomfortable they may be. Problems in our society will not be solved if they are not pointed out and talked about. As we know, many people are unaware that racism still exists. It is, however, very prevalent in our society. It is our responsibility to make people aware of racism today. If we do not, we cannot expect people to change their ways. Consider, for example, sharing a room with an individual who never takes out the garbage. As frustrating as this may be, its unrealistic to expect change without confrontation. The roommate may not have even thought about the fact that the garbage must be taken out. Though a confrontation about cleanliness and one about racism are very different, the fact remains that talking is vital.

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Is Your Baby Racist? Newsweek Article

After reading Beverly Tatum’s Article, Defining Racism, I remembered a article posted in Newsweek that reminded me of what Tatum is trying to address. Tatum suggests a very bold statement, that every white person is a racist. At first when I heard this it was hard to swallow and think to myself, a white female, that I am in fact a racist. But after looking at Tatum’s definition I realized that indeed I am a racist. Tatum suggests that all White people are racist because they benefit from being white and are given automatic privilege. Now with saying this, it does not mean that all white people are mean and prejudiced against minorities, it just means that we benefit and are therefore racist. So, why is this so important to admit to being racist or accept this title?

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Welcome to the Blog!

Welcome to the Contemporary Racism blog. This is an academic blog authored by Muhlenberg College students who have taken Professor Wolfe’s “Contemporary Racism” seminar. We hope this blog provides a forum for an ongoing conversation with anyone with an interest in topics like contemporary racism, white privilege or colorblind ideology. Read more under “About.” Anyone is free to comment on any post. We welcome an open, controversial and wide-ranging discussion, but will be monitoring for spam and abusive attacks. Please follow the guidelines on the “Commenting Guidelines” page.