After reading this week’s articles what really stood out to me was the Hogg article on Social Identity Theory. In this article Hogg talked about the idea of groups and how individuals are placed or fit into their so called groups. In my opinion the most interesting part of this was what Hogg called accessibility and fit, what identities we find most and least important. In other words accessibility and fit is the system of how we rank and use our many identities or groups.
During our class this Thursday we briefly touched on the impact of both laws and public opinion on human behavior with particular concern to attitudes about racial issues. In Rebecca Kook’s (1998) article The Shifting Status of African Americans in the American Collective Identity, she traces the development of the African-American identity in America through landmark events in our history driven almost entirely by public opinion. As her article makes painfully obvious, most positive progress, unfortunately, has only come in the past 50-60 years. The preceding decades were marred with a series of terrible injustices that were condoned and perpetuated by an American society that was intolerant, ignorant, apathetic and for the most part overtly racist.
In class we have been heavily discussing stereotypes the past couple of weeks and although we have not limited the scope of our discussion to stigmatized groups, it seems those with the most salient stigmatizations inevitable surface in our discussions. This led me to wonder about people who had more than one stigmatized identity, and more specifically, identities that were in conflict with each other. The group I eventually settled on was homosexual black men. This group interested me because they had two stigmatized identities, but one could be hidden while the other was always present and for the majority of black males, clearly in conflict with the other. I was able to find two solid studies to explore my questions about this double stigmatized group, Good Cake by Tiffany Yvette Christian and Racial Differences in Social Support and Mental Health in Men with HIV Infection by D.G. Ostrow.
I have been thinking a lot about how silly the concept of being colorblind within society really is. I am currently enrolled in Multicultural psychology and we have been discussing racial identity models. Race is part of the individual’s identity and everyone understands and related to their race and ethnicity on different levels. Not only is racism structurally embedded within our society; it is also what defines the individual.
The understanding one might have of their own identity, separates the individual from others and therefore contributing to racism. If race and ethnicity is a crucial part of ones identity, in order for one to define themselves from others is also critical. The individual defines them self by comparing and contrasting, observing others and their behaviors. When comparisons are made is it possible to make these distinctions without personal biases?
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.