I was recently introduced to an interesting game developed by the Urban Ministries of Durham called Spent. Spent allows you, for just a little while, to step into the shoes of a person on the verge of having nothing. You’ve lost your house, your job, and all of your savings. You’re down to your last $1000 dollars, and you need to find a job, a place to live, and make it through a month as a working poor class individual. You have a child to support, and the game throws a lot of curveballs at you, as life does. It’s not … Read more

The Significance of Social Cognition in Determining Racial Ideology

As I read the section entitled “The Birth and Death of Slavery” in Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, the key role social cognition played in creating racial ideologies became abundantly clear.  As Alexander explains in her historical analysis of the creation of race in colonial America, a fledgling country had certain capitalist needs for an increase in land and an increase in labor; in order for these demands to be met, Native Americans were killed and forced off their land and blacks were brutally enslaved and exploited as a free labor source.  … Read more

Black Student Association Dance

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?

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Combining forces: Cognition and Social Construction

We have been addressing the many ways in which “racism is in the air,” as pointed out in one of our readings, “Beyond prejudice: Toward a Sociocultural Psychology and Oppression,” by Adams et al. I am interested in this conception of racism because it touches on a number of ways in which racism exists as a visible and invisible manifestation. Adams et al. discuss how racism is located “outside the architecture of the brain, in the socially constructed environments that provide the external scaffolding for individual subjectivity” (Adams et al., p. 223). I especially like these approaches because they encompass many of the things we have been discussing in class. First of all, the sociocultural perspective challenges many views that think of racism as functioning on only an individual level. Since individuals are part of a larger society, they are affected by the many social interactions and observations they constantly encounter. While many people may think that they think and act solely upon their own accord, they are part of a system that has powerful influences. Racism is something that most people attribute to being an individual occurrence; however, as we have read about and discussed in class, it is actually a social construction. This means that racism exists in the structure of our society through our institutions and social interactions. It affects how individuals think about racism, and therefore how we act in regards to race and racism. The “air” that Adams et al. presents is the information, associations, and understandings that we constantly breath in. This racism “air” has been building up for a very long time, which makes it very hard for us to determine it as wrong, or especially oppressive if we are the one’s benefiting from it.

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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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