We did this experiment in class last week where we split the class into two groups. Both groups were told to make a collage of positive images of Black men and women from magazine clippings we were given. The only difference was that one group was given exceptional tools (big scissors, tape, large paper, and magazine clippings from Essence ect.) and the other team was given poor tools (little scissors, little tape, small paper, and clippings from gossip magazines with poor images of Blacks). The difference of tools between the groups were unknown and not recognized by anyone except the professor. Lastly we were told that this was going to be a competition and that there would be a winner and loser, to give some incentive to do our best.
I have found that many of the articles we read throughout this course are informative but most of them leave me with a sense of helplessness and hopelessness. I really liked the ending of the Steele article because it gave an answer or an idea on how to prevent stereotype threat. The article said that black students who attended the informal weekly rap sessions between white and black students had reduced feelings of stereotype threat and increased grades because the white students and the black students were voicing similar concerns and it made the concerns less racial which made them feel more comfortable and not feel that they were being judged.
In class on Tuesday, we talked about the consequences of stereotype threats on certain individuals. In our society, we have many stereotypes that we use every second to help us better understand our surroundings. We use these in every setting, including school. We believe that Asians are smart, men are better at math than Women, and Black students will fall behind. Are these true? Maybe in some cases. Definitely not in all cases. But just knowing that this is a stereotype that people are aware of causes great anxiety. A Black student may sit down for a test and think “People expect me to do poorly because I am Black.” As a result of “stereotype threat,” studies have shown that they will do poorly. In class we talked about whether or not it is best for a professor or teacher to talk to this student about stereotype threat.
When thinking about racism in general I normally do not think of the consequences it has in the school systems. After reading the Steele article I realized how influential stereotype threat can be to Black men and women. Its important to focus on this topic due to the fact that education is such a important factor in our society and and opens one up to many necessary resources to succeed in this world. These resources should be available for everyone but unfortunately as Steele has shown us, it is not the case.
When I started reading an article for this class last week and realized that it was about Hurricane Katrina, I was confused. To be honest, I did not know that Hurricane Katrina had anything to do with race. The only negative things that I heard about Katrina (besides, of course, the terrible damage that it did) was that the government took a long time to respond. When I learned about the hurricane in school, the main things that were discussed were what happened, the effects on people, what types of things I can do to prepare myself if I am ever in that type of situation, and how to help. Race was never even mentioned. And, at that point in my life, why should it have been? To me, at that stage, racism was gone, and that wasn’t the issue at hand; the issue was helping people who had lost everything. Now, years later, I know that in almost every situation, race will always be an issue at hand. Unfortunately, it is always an issue.
When we recently read the Johnson et. al article, the main thing I kept thinking about was the OJ Simpson trial. As many of us known, OJ Simpson was accused of killing his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and one of her male friends in 1994. There were many factors that made this trial of the most well known and controversial. One one side there was compelling evidence against him including, OJ’s past domestic violence issues with his ex-wife, DNA evidence , accounts told by OJ’s friend Kato Kaelin, and the infamous white Bronco car chase. But there were still issues that raised questions such as no found murder weapon, the lack of finger print evidence and first hand eye witness of the murder, and of course the famous glove that did not fit OJ’s hand. The final verdict ultimately found OJ as not guilty.
Last week, I wrote about how the challenges of this class extend far beyond anything that can be explained on a syllabus, and this week I suppose is more of the same. However, what I’ve been struggling with this week, or rather the past couple of weeks, is the comment Jordan had heard and brought up in class. The specific comment, which I believe she said was made by a fellow student in another one of her classes was something along the lines of “All New Yorkers have the right to hate Arabs because of September eleventh.”