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View Full Version : Racial Bias when subconscious



Rachel Udin
07-29-2013, 07:36 AM
http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2013/07/19/203306999/How-To-Fight-Racial-Bias-When-Its-Silent-And-Subtle

I thought this was interesting...

I try to habitually chase after such things... but I don't always know if I'm successful.

I thought this would be a good discussion and how one could go about doing such things, when often even the things oriented towards minority power groups confirms stereotypes. e.g. African American men only like white women, African Americans only thing about slavery (those types of stereotypes). Also getting tired of the ghetto image, the Asian women are subservient, etc.

Also if you think it would work, or if education plus this would be necessary?

Margarita
07-29-2013, 09:09 AM
"White skin always equals racial prejudice, either overt or unconscious" is another stereotype that could stand some reconsideration.

Rachel Udin
07-30-2013, 06:59 AM
Somehow I think you failed to read the stickies about resources... and somehow I think you fail to realize what dominant power group consists of and why.

I also think you failed to listen to the article which mentioned things like internalization v. racism.

Racism was a construct specifically made to benefit White (mostly Western European) economic interest and became so invested in the culture that it was passed down generation to generation and still benefits people today, consciously and unconsciously, which is similar to a lot of other civil rights issues as well... (for example QUILTBAG automatically being fired for being QUILTBAG in some states, or women being sexualized and polarized--notice the economic interest in all of those.)

shadowwalker
07-30-2013, 08:18 AM
You're fighting a losing battle, Margarita.

lastlittlebird
07-30-2013, 11:30 AM
I find that article quite encouraging... it's nice to think that a bit of exposure to the right images can reduce prejudice. Although I suspect that's what's happened in the last few years for GLBT folk, as they get more airtime on popular media.

To answer your question Rachel, I think it requires education as well as exposing people to more positive images. I think if all the world were magically racism- and stereotype-free then the education might not be necessary, but that's not going to happen.

I certainly have had my eyes opened to issues of privilege and internalized prejudice (which I believe is socio-cultural, and therefore present in everyone) and I think that meta-cognitive understanding is crucial for anyone's progress.

It sounds like all they tried to do in that article for the education trials was ask people to be nice, or explain to them why prejudice is wrong.... if that worked by itself we'd already be living in equality paradise.

lolchemist
07-31-2013, 09:42 AM
De-programming the brain at the most basic level like this can actually work! I used to have an immense disgust/fear/hatred of cockroaches, spiders and bees until I willfully made myself associate them with words like 'good,' 'clean,'friendly' and 'happy.' With bees I went a step further and also put 'cute,' 'cuddly' and 'kitten' (which is kind of bad because now whenever I see a bee, I kind of want to pet it.)

Seriously, this works, especially if you LET it!

Rachel Udin
07-31-2013, 05:30 PM
Hmmm... maybe we could find images to do this? Linked them? XD Experiment on ourselves.

ellio
07-31-2013, 08:27 PM
I know a lot of people that would benefit from reading this. I got into a discussion (more like a heated stupid argument) with my friend who was angry I'd put up a status calling to PoC people to keep safe after the Trayvon Martin case.

He said something along the line of "not all white people are violent. you might not be saying white people but we all know you're implying that's who PoC have to be safe from."

It blew my mind because he was aware of the concept of subconscious racism because he'd been able to accuse me of it BUT he couldn't apply it to himself. When I asked him to describe WHY he thought my status (written by me, a PoC) had alluded to PoC keeping safe from white people specifically, when there was no mention of race in terms of who they need to be keeping safe from (like, uh, duh? they need to keep safe from everyone. it's the repercussions that matter, not who did the crime).

He couldn't answer. He just kept throwing the "you're trying to push all the worlds problems on white people" argument at me instead of just critically questioning whether he'd jumped to a subconscious conclusion about my subconscious. (That feels too much like a badly written description of Inception.)

lolchemist
08-01-2013, 02:53 AM
It seems to me like he jumped to a conclusion too and he probably even realized it when you pointed it out but then he didn't want to back out gracefully from the argument. Sucks. Hopefully he took something away from this though.

Rachel Udin
08-01-2013, 09:10 AM
I know a lot of people that would benefit from reading this. I got into a discussion (more like a heated stupid argument) with my friend who was angry I'd put up a status calling to PoC people to keep safe after the Trayvon Martin case.

He said something along the line of "not all white people are violent. you might not be saying white people but we all know you're implying that's who PoC have to be safe from."

It blew my mind because he was aware of the concept of subconscious racism because he'd been able to accuse me of it BUT he couldn't apply it to himself. When I asked him to describe WHY he thought my status (written by me, a PoC) had alluded to PoC keeping safe from white people specifically, when there was no mention of race in terms of who they need to be keeping safe from (like, uh, duh? they need to keep safe from everyone. it's the repercussions that matter, not who did the crime).

He couldn't answer. He just kept throwing the "you're trying to push all the worlds problems on white people" argument at me instead of just critically questioning whether he'd jumped to a subconscious conclusion about my subconscious. (That feels too much like a badly written description of Inception.)
Not really an expert, but isn't that projection?

DancingMaenid
08-01-2013, 01:54 PM
I think there are a couple factors that can make it hard for people to think about this type of stuff and learn:

1. A lot of people underestimate prejudice that they don't personally experience, or just don't see it. At worst, this can lead to the idea that people are exaggerating when they're not.

2. In a lot of people's minds, prejudice is associated with bigotry and outright hatred. They don't see themselves as racist, and don't want to be seen as racist, so they're resistant to the idea that they might have prejudiced beliefs or that things they've always seen as innocuous might actually be racist.

In regards to the second point, I think it can help to emphasize that prejudice isn't all-or-nothing. A lot of us pick up some harmful biases from society, and that's not the same thing as hating people or actively trying to hurt them. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't be willing to question those biases and admit when we're wrong.

patskywriter
08-01-2013, 06:28 PM
One problem with identifying racism is implying that the person is bad in every way, or that he is inherently bad to the core. I honestly feel that a good person can makes misguided assumptions about others. But that becomes a problem when he actually interacts with the people he doesn't like, and worse, when his decisions affect them.

I've always had good luck with pointing out flawed thinking without using the R word. Of course, I'd expect that any white person who'd have a conversation with me would be a better listener than a flaming racist. But every little bit helps.

Seething race hatred appears to be a form of mental illness, at least to me. When I was a toddler, my parents wanted us to grow up in a house with a backyard, so we moved into a neighborhood that quickly went from white to black. It was a tumultuous transition, and I remember many of the teachers didn't like us at all. Especially Ms Rosen. She fascinated me—she was pure hate. She was always red-faced and angry, and I wasn't so young that I didn't realize that we were the source of her hatred. I could see that she was driving herself mad, and thanks to her, I always associate race hatred with cray-cray*.


* kookoo

Lavern08
08-01-2013, 06:45 PM
... When I was a toddler, my parents wanted us to grow up in a house with a backyard, so we moved into a neighborhood that quickly went from white to black.

You mean like the "upscale" neighborhood we moved into a year ago where the "For Sale" signs started popping up like dandelions? ;)

patskywriter
08-01-2013, 06:56 PM
You mean like the "upscale" neighborhood we moved into a year ago where the "For Sale" signs started popping up like dandelions? ;)

LOL. Wow. Actually, it was a Catholic, mostly Irish neighborhood. One of the few whites who stayed said that Father Latimore, a local priest, said that no N-word would ever enter his church. Happily, contrary to what many would assume, the neighborhood is still nice (some say nicer)—and that church just got a new priest. And he's from Nigeria, LOL!

Lavern08
08-01-2013, 07:02 PM
^ Lurve it - Poetic justice?

patskywriter
08-02-2013, 12:04 AM
^ Lurve it - Poetic justice?

Very poetic indeed. :)

Kim Fierce
08-02-2013, 12:38 AM
The most common thing I hear from white people who are claiming they don't have racial bias but that it's other people who basically need to "get over it" is that "slavery is over."

I am not sure how many times I have explained that it's not just about slavery it's also about segregation, Jim Crow laws, more and more things that didn't start legally getting better until the 60s, including inter-racial marriage, which was really not that long ago. For my age group, it was when our parents were kids. I don't think some people really stop to think about that. And racism and prejudice still exist. I think some of the white people I've heard say things like this aren't educated enough to realize what's really going on and what still needs to be fixed. Then they have just internalized things they hear from other people saying "Everyone just needs to stop complaining."

Now for me, I have consciously realized that stereotypes I have heard from others are proven wrong. But it doesn't surprise me because I always thought all of the racist crap I have ever heard was BS. What surprises me is there are people who still think that way or just talk without any kind of knowledge of what they're saying. I have probably still not been perfect about not internalizing things because of the environment I've grown up in, but I would like to think I am trying my best.

And I still don't think our country has made the proper apologies for slavery anyway.

And sure, I have experienced others who first meet me who are PoC, and are not sure if I'm racist or not because I'm white, but frankly I can't blame anyone for that except real life. I've considered getting some kind of anti-racism tattoo on my forearm but I don't know what to get. "NOH8" might cover everything haha.

Real education about history and the present day . . . that's what has to help. And making sure younger generations don't get taught the hate and judgment.

Xelebes
08-02-2013, 01:29 AM
One problem with identifying racism is implying that the person is bad in every way, or that he is inherently bad to the core.

Focus on the act, not on the individual. If the individual owns up and doubles-down, then the individual might be the problem.

crunchyblanket
08-16-2013, 05:31 PM
The most common thing I hear from white people who are claiming they don't have racial bias but that it's other people who basically need to "get over it" is that "slavery is over."


This is especially common in Britain, where we're quick to assume that slavery is the only pertinent example of anti-black racism in our country's history - we look to America's Jim Crow laws, etc, and breathe a sigh of relief and say 'hey, at least we're not that bad!" All the while conveniently forgetting the Brixton riots, "No Blacks, No Dogs, No Irish", Stephen Lawrence, and all the enduring racist mythology surrounding our black British population.

And it doesn't get any better when you factor in all the other PoC in Britain and the way they've been treated.

Lyra Jean
08-16-2013, 08:09 PM
Sometimes it's really difficult to not pull the 'slavery is over' card when the person you are talking with is the one mentioning it over and over again. They don't talk about Jim Crowe laws or segregation or Brown v. The Board of Education just slavery really.

CWatts
08-17-2013, 02:12 AM
Focus on the act, not on the individual. If the individual owns up and doubles-down, then the individual might be the problem.

This. Like it or not we all have prejudices. Many of us have the decency to be shocked and ashamed when our prejudices come out and we work to learn from the experience and make amends. Those of us who are a-holes...don't.

Rachel Udin
08-17-2013, 02:41 AM
This is especially common in Britain, where we're quick to assume that slavery is the only pertinent example of anti-black racism in our country's history - we look to America's Jim Crow laws, etc, and breathe a sigh of relief and say 'hey, at least we're not that bad!" All the while conveniently forgetting the Brixton riots, "No Blacks, No Dogs, No Irish", Stephen Lawrence, and all the enduring racist mythology surrounding our black British population.

And it doesn't get any better when you factor in all the other PoC in Britain and the way they've been treated.
And Queen Elizabeth I thinking that blacks were a problem because their population had gotten "too big". I learned that from a documentary.

It used to be a non-issue. There were Africans in large enough populations and integrating, that some families are actually descended from black ancestors today, dating back to the Medieval period, even though they look white today.

I do wonder a bit about how much black history was erased from GB, given such things. African British historians think there were larger populations than in history books too...

But bringing it back, are there subversive images you'd like to share that could reprogram ones subconscious?

calieber
08-19-2013, 05:56 AM
Sometimes it's really difficult to not pull the 'slavery is over' card when the person you are talking with is the one mentioning it over and over again. They don't talk about Jim Crowe laws or segregation or Brown v. The Board of Education just slavery really.

Slavery (i.e., chattel slavery of African abductees and their descendants) has reverberated. Jim Crow, segregated institutions -- part of that reverberation.

patskywriter
08-19-2013, 10:55 PM
I've spoken with a couple of white people who were shocked by the reaction of certain loved-ones to the election of President Obama. They said that they had always seemed to have gotten along with black people, but suddenly they were spitting out the N-word whenever frustrated. And, strangely, these loved-ones hadn't uttered the word before or acted frustrated due to racial issues. They said that it was as if something buried way deep inside was emerging and changing their loved-one's personalities, and that sometimes they weren't sure who the heck it was they were living with. I wonder how many people are giving in to this deeply buried, seemingly latent hostility, or racism. I find it very interesting.

The institutions of racism might have ended, but the feelings are obviously still there and are coming out. I actually feel that racial relations will get worse for quite a while (for some people), way after President Obama has left office.