After learning about modern racism in class a few weeks ago, I have been becoming more an more aware of racism in society. We have learned that modern racism is subtle and usually unconscious from our awareness. Therefore this type of racism is harder to see and become aware of compared to previous forms of overt racism. From what I have learned and observed I feel like a lot of modern racism tends to come not only from our unconscious actions but also from the stereotypes about minorities that are used in society today. I think that a lot of these stereotypes are used as primes and help to reinforce the stereotypes and therefore effect our beliefs and eventually our actions. Recently after talking and learning about all of this stuff, I have found myself watching TV and I cannot believe how prejudice some of the commercials are that are broadcasted.
We are talking about racism in another class I am taking this semester as well as this one. The other day the professor asked us if anyone in the class considered themselves to be racist. I raised my hand because of the Tatum article we all read at the beginning of this class. As soon as I raised my hand I wished I hadn’t. No one else in the class had put their hands in the air (not that I expected them to) but I felt so embarrassed for admitting to them that I was a racist. I tried to explain why and I spoke about the Tatum article so I do not think anyone in the class considered me to be extremely prejudiced but I felt like I allowed twenty-five (0r so) people to see a part of me that I would rather keep hidden.
At home over break, my parents of course wanted to hear about what use I am getting out of their tuition money and the asked me about their classes. I had the most to tell them about this one. For one thing, I have definitely done the most work and learned the most in this class in comparison with my others this semester. I also know that this subject material would be most unfamiliar to my parents and was excited to share everything I had been learning. My parents are both very academically-minded people and were intrigued by the nature of this course.
I found the Implicit Associations Test to be extremely frustrating. It was aggravating knowing which letter I was supposed to press and actually getting my fingers to press the correct letter. I found myself yelling at the computer and at myself when I would press the wrong letter. I also had a hard time remembering what categories corresponded with “e” or “i” and there were times I didn’t mean to press a button but my fingers did it for me. It made me feel somewhat helpless. I couldn’t control how I answered the questions even though I really do not dislike black people.
This article by Dovidio and Gaertner directly relates to the discussions we had in class last Tuesday. The first part of this article explains the results and findings from both the study and article we read for Tuesday’s class (On the nature of contemporary prejudice-the third wave (Dovidio, 2001) and Aversive racism and selection decisions (Dovidio & Gaertner, 2000)). The previous studies we read dealt with the decisions and rationalizations that aversive racists make. This article also explores interactions between whites and blacks.
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.
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.