By Gwendolyn Puryear Keita, PhD (Executive Director, APA Public Interest Directorate)
Psychological research shows that people often notice differences between themselves and others, but judgments about the differences can be based on biased thinking.
A national uproar.
George Zimmerman’s acquittal of second degree murder charges in the shooting death of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin has unleashed a wave of outrage and angry protests across the country, even prompting President Obama to say, “Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.” Zimmerman’s culpability will continue to be debated and likely adjudicated for months to come. In fact, the U.S. Department of Justice has announced it will continue its investigation into potential civil rights charges and, reportedly, Martin’s parents are considering a wrongful death lawsuit.
Beyond the specific outcomes of this case, the trial and verdict have generated intense national discussion of larger questions about race, racial profiling and stereotyping, racism and discrimination, perceptions of threat and the value our society places on the lives of African-American males. Among many critical issues that are part of this nationwide debate are the ways in which perceptions of threat are informed and shaped by race, and the impact of stereotypes on the lives and experiences of stereotyped groups. Psychologists have conducted extensive research addressing these systemic concerns.
What qualifies as suspicious?
Many have asked whether Martin would have been deemed suspicious if he had been a white teenager in a hoodie walking home with a bag of candy and an iced tea. We may never get a definitive answer. However, on a larger scale, it is evident that the threshold for what qualifies as suspicious is lower for African-Americans due to stereotyping. Racial profiling by law enforcement explicitly relies on stereotypes to target, search or detain people of color for suspected criminal activity – take the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program, for example. Even while still in school, African-American youths are disproportionately disciplined more severely for less serious or more subjective reasons than their white peers (APA Zero Tolerance Task Force, 2008), not to mention the countless commonplace microaggressions African-Americans experience by those who suspect them of criminality (APA, 2012). APA’s Resolution on Racial/Ethnic Profiling and Other Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Law and Security Enforcement Activities has documented how biases based on race/ethnicity can operate at an unconscious level and how stereotypes can affect who appears “out of place” and who is stopped by law enforcement.
Stand your ground.
Florida’s “stand your ground” law relies on a person’s reasonable belief that he or she is in imminent peril of death or great bodily harm. The statute’s ambiguity in its use of “reasonable” is problematic. This places the onus on the jury to try to ascertain the reasonableness of a defendant’s beliefs based on subjective standards, which can be influenced by conscious and unconscious prejudices. Recent data show that Floridian defendants claiming stand your ground are more likely to prevail if the victim is black – 73 percent face no penalty compared to 59 percent if the victim is white.
Although APA does not take a position with regard to stand your ground or similar laws, psychological research suggests that bias – which can operate below the level of awareness – affects these kinds of judgments. As the APA report Dual Pathways to a Better America: Preventing Discrimination and Promoting Diversity states: “Research has shown that noticing differences occurs automatically. However, while noticing differences might not be prejudiced, noticing differences is often automatically associated with judgments about those differences. Those judgments are often negatively biased and [have] led to discriminatory behavior” (APA 2012, p. 5).
Systemic issues at work.
We have not yet realized the dreams of a truly equal nation. Our nation’s ugly legacy of slavery and genocide perpetuates entrenched social inequities. Dual Pathways to a Better America points out the ways racism and other forms of prejudice harm our society – “discrimination, stereotyping, and bias generate exclusion and marginalization for certain groups and wrap a blanket of inclusion, security, and opportunity around others” (APA, 2012, p. 1).
Racism and discrimination do not have to be overt to be damaging. Microaggressions – everyday, seemingly minor verbal, nonverbal or environmental slights delivered with or without intent – can harm the psychological well-being of marginalized groups and contribute to inequities in health care, education and employment (Sue, 2010). Also, Dual Pathways to a Better America indicates “perceiving that one has been discriminated against is detrimental to both mental and physical health” (p. 5).
A time for honest dialogue.
George Zimmerman’s acquittal has reignited a national debate and it is important that this dialogue continue. The Dual Pathways to a Better America report discusses how codes of silence, politeness and constraint on the topic of race hinder honest and meaningful dialogue. Psychologists, with their understanding of human behavior, can contribute to this discussion. Ultimately, honest dialogues on race can lead to increased group understanding and improved group relations.
As Obama said last week, Americans must do some soul searching. “Ask yourself your own questions about, am I wringing as much bias out of myself as I can; am I judging people, as much as I can, based on not the color of their skin but the content of their character?” he said. “That would, I think, be an appropriate exercise in the wake of this tragedy.”
We want to hear from you. Tell us in the comments.
- What steps do you think Americans should take to talk openly and honestly about racism and prejudice?
- What do you think we as individuals, psychologists, and the nation as a whole need to do to achieve true equality?
Among the many thoughtful comments we have received, both to the article in APA Access and the post on www.psychologybenefits.org, are questions about whether APA “thinks” race or bias played a role in the verdict in the Martin/Zimmerman case. First, the goal of our article was to strongly encourage an honest dialogue about issues of race and discrimination, and we want to thank the individuals who raised these particular questions, as well as all the individuals currently commenting at the blog. We also welcome the chance to clarify this very important point – APA does not take a position on the verdict, and this article is not intended to comment directly on the outcome of this case. However, what this case and Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law have done is generate new discussion nationally about race, bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. On these issues, psychology has extensive research conducted over many decades. A critical role of APA is to make available cumulative research on issues that matter. We hope this article and the comments (all the comments) we are receiving will contribute to the goal of an honest and constructive conversation about an issue of great importance. With that as our goal, we look forward to the continuing discussion.
American Psychological Association. (2001). APA resolution on racial/ethnic profiling and other racial/ethnic disparities in law and security enforcement activities. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/about/policy/racial-profiling.aspx
American Psychological Association. (2012). Dual pathways to a better America: Preventing discrimination and promoting diversity. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/pubs/info/reports/promoting-diversity.aspx?item=2
American Psychological Association Zero Tolerance Task Force. (2008). Are zero tolerance policies effective in the schools? An evidentiary review and recommendations. American Psychologist, 63(9), 852-862. DOI: 10.1037/0003-066X.63.9.852
Sue, D. W. (2010). Microaggressions in everyday life: Race, gender, and sexual orientation. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
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Community Resources: Killing of Trayvon Martin and the Acquittal of George Zimmerman
Thank you for this post. . . .perceived (perception) is an important word in every Human Beings vocabulary.
As we grow physically and mentally (developmental stages), we are conditioned to view, listen and to think about explanations of ourselves, others’, issues, and life in general (Lifespan).
I have no answers, but material like this helps us to cultivate ideas that can open up doors in the future for all of us (Police agency’s/General Public).
In a split second decisions are made by people. . . . that’s where I feel that clarity is important in situations like that and other legal matters that are inclusive of race, discrimination, and prejudice.
Reblogged this on .
During our lifespan we change physically and mentally based on social and environmental factors that associate to us. Racism, discrimination and bias are learned beliefs; thought by generation after generation. We need to get out of this marry go around. We need to see thing for what they really are; we are all human beings unfortunately with different upbringing.
Determining why America has trouble owning its racial problems would be a big start. The old saying you cannot mix what you cannot measure seems applicable in this vein. I mean really. How can you treat a patient who refuses to accept he or she is ill?
When I am asked as an African American, “What more do you want?” I am am amused and taken aback. How many times have I been told blacks are “playing” the race card by refusing to admit the progress we have made. I have to shake my head.
As far as the Trayvon Martin issue is concerned no one appears to see the larger picture. I have a son and two grandsons who will all be looked at similarly not because of who they are but because of the color of their skin. My dialogue with my men children is not to allow anyone to mistreat them because of their ethnicity, the ones who would dare mistreat them are the one with the problem. At the same time to keep them alive I have to also talk to them about certain behaviors they have to adopt so as not to become a victim, to not end up like Trayvon. Whites cannot identify. Dialogue on the lack of empathy based upon these racial standards is essential.
In my analysis, the core of America’s racial issue isn’t skin color, it is about equal opportunity. We live in a country where the majority absolutely refuse to equitably share anything. The sense of entitlement is undeserved and misguided. It isn’t that other ethnic groups have not earned the right to full participation in the opportunities of this country. Is there a psychological test for feelings of entitlement? No. Until white America owns their issues all the research in the world will not solve the race issues in this country. As for dialog, it takes multiple parties willing to be honest for any true discussion to be held. I don’t want to seem pessimistic but I am convinced denial is a chief contributor in preventing change to race relations in America.
I don’t believe for a minute that those who practice exclusionary and hateful practices in this society are unaware they are doing so or of its implications. And while it appears Psychologists are good at finding the impact of certain behaviors they have yet to find a cure for one…racisim.
This is the most awesome, best written post I’ve read concerning this issue. I am a white 43 yr old female who has tried so hard to put into words everything you expressed in this post. It is indeed time for a revolution in the minds of most Americans, sometimes I feel I am fighting a losing battle. ❤
One problem with having an ongoing interracial dialogue is a fear many whites have of being publicly labeled a racist during a free ranging discussion. This term has been used unfairly and incorrectly so often, that it has lost its meaning.
Another barrier is that too many people and institutions feel that Blacks deserve to hold themselves, and be held by others, to a different (more permissive) standard than Whites, to somehow counterbalance their history and current status of discrimination by Whites.
This then makes it acceptable for them, as a first unexamined emotional response, to racially blame and indict Whites. This irrational belief is seen in the Obama Administration as well as many Black organizations.
The unavoidable problem with this line of thought is that this inequity logically and naturally leads to resentment by Whites and others who observe it, a sense of entitlement in Blacks, and an understandable backlash against Blacks who believe this cognition is somehow fair and harmless. Discrimination and racial tension, which I see increasing in these last few years, has no chance to be defeated until we all are held to the same standards of decency and fairness. Unfairly treating anyone or any class of people can never avoid appropriate resentment.
Just as it is found in other areas of human endeavor, holding all of us to the same standards and expectations is the only way to promote true equality, justice, and accomplishment, and to decrease true racism. Unfortunately, Left leaders and the major news organizations are afraid to oppose this inequity, fearing loss of support in the first case and loss of revenue in the second.
Dr. King’s dream will never be realized, and we will stay bitterly polarized until the principle of fairness is appreciated and invoked by all of us.
This post seems out of place in response to an article that speaks on how racial and ethnic minorities in the United States are discriminated against due to their skin color. As the article says, they are more likely to be treated like criminals and more severely punished for crimes than their White counterparts, while also experiencing daily microagressions from Whites. These findings are based on empirical research. It appears that you are largely referring to Affirmative Action in your post, which was created for and is more likely to benefit White women, as a result of the Women’s Liberation Movement. When responding to an article referencing psychological research, if you believe that Whites are justified in their resentment of Blacks and other ethnic minorities, a resentment you say is due to Blacks’ since of entitlement and desire for preferential treatment, please cite empirical research that support these claims. Any research that supports your claims would definitely be interesting to read, in light of the fact that the research cited in this article points out that Blacks are more likely to experience prejudice and discrimination in several facets of their lives, rather preferable treatment or anything that might indicate they carry a sense of entitlement. This article points out that the present day result of American slavery and oppression has been, to date, prejudice and discrimination, not leniency and lowered standards.
My post is indeed relevant in this discussion which seeks to further open discussion on interracial issues. I was not referring to Affirmative Action. I absolutely agree that prejudice and discrimination against Blacks today ultimately stems from slavery. My assertions about Black entitlement etc. come from, and are informed by, my attention to the news, and my observations, experience, and discussions with many people of all colors in many settings. I don’t need empirical research to advance this idea. I wish someone would do the research, but it would likely not be considered politically correct in today’s social climate. A point may be advanced as a reasonable hypothesis or theory even when empirical evidence has not been found yet. Much of science has advanced this way. You may want to read what Alan Colmes said on Bill O’Reilly’s “The Factor” nearly two weeks ago. He said it was fair to allow Blacks to be held to a different standard (not referring to Affirmative Action, but harsh criticism of Whites when there is violence), because it was a counterbalance to past and current discrimination. I believe that many people of any race agree with Colmes, but few have the guts to admit it openly. I think you are misinterpreting and thus marginalizing the value of my thoughts above. There is no doubt that Blacks still suffer prejudice and discrimination today. The backlash as I have described it above, also exists, because I have seen it. Also, about crime and Blacks, one fact that requires attention is that young Black men commit homicides at a rate ten times that of Whites and Hispanics combined. I don’t think differential racialistic legal treatment can account for this stunning empirical finding. Unfortunately, the civil rights industry ignores this and blames everyone or anything else. Interestingly, Bill O’Reilly blames the disintegration of the Black family structure. I find that assertion worthy of discussion.
An honest dialogue might best begin with a careful examination of the words we use in this dialogue, their meaning(s) and the psychological dynamics operating in any situation.
For example, it may be that the term “racism” and “racist” are not useful in much of the dialogue. Most properly, “racism” should be saved for discussion as would befit any “ism,” a powerful deeply held philosophy, world view or political position that casts inherent disparagement and dislike toward persons of a particular race, no matter what other characteristics manifest in that person. In this case, if one has an overblown suspicion of young adult African-American males, but NOT of African-American females or seniors or babies, they should not be described as “racist.”
Another unhelpful term is “racial profiling,” since very few Americans consciously process information in the systematic way that do professional enforcement folks. As most often used, this term is meant to indicate that e.g., expectations of African-American characteristics or attributes are generated solely by the color of their skin. Even to those with general negative attitudes toward a race (or for that matter a religion) experience wide variation among those in a racial population. Professional profiling is a very disciplined and systematic application of checklists that initiation certain kinds of surveillance, reporting or action as standards are met.
Finally, the notion of “stereotyping” is also an insufficient descriptor. Encounters that change because of true stereotypes are relatively rare. A stereotype of a person or situation is usually too broad to connect to real life situations, or very narrow, such as a stereotype based on a particular celebrity.
Some fifty years ago, psychologists and sociologists were very comfortable with a much better term–prejudice. Prejudice–indicating “pre-judgment–is an extremely useful concept. Thomas Pettigrew’s work on the “Roots of Prejudice” was oriented toward racial matters but also included a host of other personal and environmental factors. Prejudice can be affectively positive, negative or neutral. It is the combination of multiple factors or cues of expectation, the “set” of a person, the environment, past experience and perceptual interpretation.
With regard to Black/White attitudes, using the Zimmerman/Martin case as an example, it can be argued that neither individual was racist but both were prejudiced. For example, what if Trayvon Martin were behaving the same way, but instead of a hoodie, he was wearing a high school football uniform? or hospital scrubs and a stethoscope? or a suit and tie and umbrella? Would the situation have escalated in the same way? Most probably not. On the other hand, suppose George Zimmerman was wearing a clown costume or a priest’s outfit with collar? Would Trayvon Martin be as suspicious and or afraid? Most probably not. Clothing would trump race in moving prejudice away from the most dangerous assumptions.
Switching races, would Zimmerman as a neighborhood watch person not be suspicious of a young white man, heavily muscled and tatooed, smoking marijuana, wearing a jacket with a gang insignia? He very likely would be suspicious. Again, overall appearance and demeanor would trump race as a predictive factor.
Negative prejudice may be very compartmentalized. For example, some of same white persons considered racist because they could be wary of young African-American males wearing hoodies may be prejudiced positively toward Black heroes on their favorite sports teams, or Black entertainers, or may even have voted enthusiastically for an African-American President.
The irony and social difficulty here is that some prejudice is predictively accurate when applied to a population, but inappropriate when applied to an individual. In some neighborhoods and jurisdictions, the percentage of young African-American males involved in criminality may well be higher than their White or Asian or Hispanic counterparts. [The converse could be true in other environments.] Whether the reasons for such differences are societally pernicious or not, a differential prejudice toward young African-American males in certain areas is “rational,” other factors (such as appearance and demeanor) being equal. Unfortunately, when prejudice gets applied to a single individual, a horrible misjudgment can result. Probability only works over a large population.
Calmer observers in the press write about a kind of vicious cycle. Precursors of delinquency (family disintegration, poverty, poor education, unemployability, discrimination, gangs, lack of positive male role models and a negative subculture of values and music) can produce a self-fulfilling prophecy for any racial group–in this case a higher perception of threat from African-American teen and young adult males. As the threat and data is publicized (including from differential responses of the criminal justice system), both Black and White folks become prejudiced in their expectations, generating both subtle and overt fear and discrimination. Opportunities for these young men are thus constricted at a relatively early age, particularly in “The Hood,” perpetuating the cycle.
New trends in “positive psychology” may give us some clues how to turn all of this around. Imagine a smiling George Zimmerman approaching Trayvon Martin saying “Hi, how ya doing?
Need any help? and/or a smiling Trayvon saying “Hi. Hey are you that neighborhood watch guy? Any trouble tonight?”…. It is not that prejudice can ever be wiped out or should be–we survive partially by unconsciously assessing the physical and interpersonal environment. However, personal experience changes the perception of reality. In one sense, “equality” is the opportunity to alter and neutralize prejudice. Negative prejudice can be countermanded consciously by the choice to communicate and act more out of respect than disparagement, more out of trust than suspicion and more out of love than fear.
I like Dr. Cohen’s comments above for a few reasons. First, it points out the necessity of defining our terms so we can have a chance at a fruitful discussion. Second, it is dispassionate so we don’t bring in hindering unrelated emotional/non-rational baggage. Third, it makes an attempt to separate the harmfully prejudicial from the adaptive lightening quick responses we need for survival. Thanks.
What concerns me about our field is that we know about empathy and authenticity, we typically offer it to clients, and yet when it comes to issues outside of the session room, even when it comes to what our colleagues may be experiencing, some of us easily forget.
Subjectivity Statement: I am a heterosexual Black woman from a working class family. My intersecting identities are both privileged and marginalized. I walk in that authentically, understanding that sometimes my bias may be present because it is honest. I am open to learning from those times when I don’t “get it right” and say the thing that may microaggress or macroaggress someone. I am okay with being called out about that. I am also open to calling someone out in love when they do the same to me. Because we all come with biases, empathy is important in tense discussions.
We aren’t all sold on the idea of diversity and the value of all lives, but the fear of owning it seems to trump honesty and authenticity. So what if you are labeled racist? If you are afraid the label will stick because you know you aren’t ready or willing to acknowledge your privilege and bias, then just own it. If you are ready or willing to acknowledge your privilege and bias, then come to the table with it and let’s do the work of sorting it out.
Marginalized groups understand what labels feel like. It is a part of what marginalizes, but it doesn’t have to define. Dominant groups, the label will not break you. As a psychologist in training, I would much rather you be yourself, share your perspective, let me engage my empathy in our conversation, and react authentically. But when you hold tightly to this fear of being labeled, a process that marginalized groups often cannot escape, it is like taking your privilege out and using it at a time when we could really connect genuinely.
Racism isn’t just hate. Sometimes, racism is fear. But being courageous in conversation with those you fear, often for systemic reasons that you may not even understand, really is a good first step. It isn’t an easy step. And if we are talking about entitlement, then we must address this as one. Feeling like the difficult should be easy is also an entitlement. But, if that is where we are, then let’s start there. Let’s start somewhere. Let’s start here.
Candice: Regarding your comment, “So what if you are labeled racist? If you are afraid the label will stick because you know you aren’t ready or willing to acknowledge your privilege and bias, then just own it. If you are ready or willing to acknowledge your privilege and bias, then come to the table with it and let’s do the work of sorting it out.”. This comment assumes automatically, without knowing me, that I have privilege and bias. It is prejudicial in itself. Being labelled a “racist” by the current civil rights industry can be both dangerous and damning. Look at Ferguson, MO. Name calling, as you know, can be very hurtful to one’s reputation and character. If you truly wish to start an open conversation, you must first recognize your bias and prejudice, and you may also want to recognize whether or not you are walking around with a racial chip on your shoulder. Finally, since I am a Jewish, white, heterosexual male, do I automatically enjoy any less privilege than my Christian peers?
Yes I make the assumption that as a Jewish, White, heterosexual male, you have both marginalized and privileged identities, as they are described in relevant scholarship about oppression and privilege. To be specific, your Jewish identity is marginalized. You do enjoy less privilege than your Christian peers in that specific aspect of identity. The very basic observation of a greetings card isle would speak to this, especially during Christian holidays. Your White, heterosexual, and male identities are privileged. All of these identities intersect wonderfully to make you who you are. I hold privilege as a heterosexual as well. If we used the same observation of greetings cards, I see that plainly, when looking in the romance section.
I use these examples to say that I do not have to know you, nor do you have to know me, to understand that systemic privilege and oppression exist. It doesn’t make you a bad person. What you do with these identities is what determines your character. I think I was pretty upfront in my articulation of my own bias in my original statement; within my subjectivities statement I addressed it. I own mine, and because I do I am able to speak without a chip on my shoulder, racial or otherwise. I think these conversations are important, and I welcome them.
It is a shame that a murderer could be declared free after killing an innocent child in cold blood without provocation. But, then these individuals sanctioned pirates of the seas, built their financial empires on slavery, and continue to impose untenable IMF and World Bank loan requirements on ex-colonies after raping their human and natural resources for centuries.
Does it make sense to try to have a dialoque with them? Will our reluctant neighbors acknowledge that a successful Black doctor can and should be able to drive an expensive car on Wolfe street to The Johns Hopkins Hospital without being stopped and harassed by white policemen? Will they stop using arbitrary test scores to deny our black children the right to an education that may produce more Barack Obama, Ben Carson or Martin Luther King?
Perhaps we should help our willingly ignorant and reluctant neighbors and thereby facilitate peaceful coexistence. Hopefully, some generation may be able to walk the streets and be free to exercise their God given right to be a HUMAN BEING whose phenotype happens to be black.
Because I do not live in the U.S., I am maybe not recognize the details of this case. However, I want to speak that I think.
It is difficult thing to solve racism and the fight between races. They come from historic background and culture deeply, and, frankly speaking, it is not easy to wipe a feeling of discrimination of human being has unconsciously.
The act that of the vigilance, of this case is possibility of gone in ( to accomplish duties ) for justice. And first his impression, suspicious individual may be the truth. If psychology could intervene here, why did he feel so? And, a problem of process between two people escalating. ( language, conversation, gun, correspondence of neighboring inhabitants, etc)
The intervention to a psychological law is surely difficult. Even if a psychologist thinks it with a fair value to such a case.
As order, secondary racism happens next. The people criticize a case, and the racism and hate between races becomes more terrible. It will be becomes a collective problem.
In the world, in the psychology, there are a lot of problems that solution is difficult, and the high hurdle. However, we make small steps (as for the profile), and it is important to repeat a small success example.
Although somewhat unrealistic at this point, I believe that the concept of education is the most valuable defense against racism. While it is indeed a cliche, due to overuse, Kerouac did say, “Cliches are truisms, and truisms are true.” I recently read an opinion article about how “the Democrats are trying to ‘unarm’ African Americans. We live in a time where everyone feels that just because it is their constitutional right to voice their opinion, it automatically validates what they are saying. So many people, of all races, have proposed such uneducated and bias responses to this case that it has manifested into more and more of the same types of responses. The only way you can act against this type of behavior is to attack it at the source. Equality and access to education will “arm” individuals with the most powerful weapon in democracy, awareness. While famous for his “blank slate” quote regarding children, John Locke also stated, “To love our neighbor as ourselves is such a truth for regulating human society, that by that alone one might determine all the cases in social morality.”
I can approve of your opinion partly. And, the case of this race problem is only a racial part.
However, we should not use knowledge or action of the education as a weapon. Talks using them is to be important thing. I think it is social morality and want to leave those ideal for children of the blank slate.
Education is the answer; Unfortunately, presenting it in a manner that is appealing to those in question is the real trick. I remember when I was a kid;you could not tie me down long enough to listen. Yet now at age 55 I’ve become a sponge trying to get everything I can. At this present time, while trying to educate the young who will listen, we can only wait and ready ourselves for those who will be seeking answers later.
I think, That’s right. If your age is really 55 years old, you should talk about the your life as experiences, that you spent, to a young generation. The young generation should learn from there.
However, probably, the place and chance did not be given, that you want to talk personally about like these problem. And, the small education system is not set too. My country is the same, too.
A law and the written knowledge is only input into a head, and it is good. But, more difficult and important things are to heal the feeling of the real person.
I am a greenhorn, but I would want to study more. Thank you very much for your advice.
Your comments are well recieved. This is true, at a young age we tend to shy from the elders who ahve learned much from life experience. It is in our history books, your Families passed on their history to each other, and in American Indian culture, the elders would gather and pass the history on to the learners. I am of mixed ethnicities. . . every one is different , but yet the same as we learn form our elders.
Outcome data show that on measures of educational achievement, health care, income, wealth, housing, essentially any measure of well being, favor whites. If we probe the history of those institutions, the ways they were established that favor whites, and the ways they maintain white benefit or privilege, we can enter into discussion of the institutional changes that can move our country toward the ideals we cherish but have not yet achieved. Those institutional arrangements make clear that individual racism is not the issue we should focus on. Instead, all of us who want a more just and equitable society should acknowledge that while we do not WANT the privilege afforded by our country’s history of discrimination and institutional racism, we do benefit from white skin tone and we can work with others to accomplish the systemic changes that are required for equal outcomes.
Racism has been around for ever and as long as we have different skin colors and human being’s, we’ll have racism. If not racism they’ll find something to dislike. The thing I see problem with is we claim to be intelligent people, yet, as intelligent people, we choose trying to look “cool” over common sense. We know most gang and criminal type dress a particular way, right??? Why is it that a lot of so called “non-criminal’s” dress that way??? I don’t want people to think I’m homeless or on the street’s so I don’t dress like that. If you don’t want people to think you’re a criminal don’t dress like one. We know how to keep this from happening but, we don’t. I’m just saying!!!
Labelling can not solve a problem. You maybe have a hard time, but labeling to oneself. Surely, the human being discriminate against something and may have a property to criticize. However, things will are not improved, while you label them like that.
For example, the human being whom put comment to at this place is invisible. Everyone, whether looks like homeless, whether it is the human being of a cool image, whether it is a really intellectual human being? By the way, I am not the white-collars too.
For such a reason, I do not have a feeling of discrimination so much. I would catch your comment as important one heavily.
The stereotypic image is outdated in the current society. We should stand on the stage same as others, and share a thought, and mutual understanding is important.
Thank you Yasuko, I agree in part with you and my comments are realistic, yet hope is futuristic.
Jimi, what do you think most gang and criminal type dress like? How did you come to know gang and criminal type people and their styles of dress? I am grateful you brought this up, because I think a lot of people have an image in mind. If we can flush this line of reasoning out, I think we can get somewhere meaningful in this conversation, at a common sense level.
Candice, I am an ex-addict and though I never really got in the gang scene, I grew up in it. I am now actively involved in helping the addict and gang members leave that life style behind. You are absolutely correct when you say; “people have an image in mind”. Unfortunately, it goes much farther than the image. There is a payoff for this behavior; It’s money, sex, drugs and the admiration of their peers, something our society puts a a lot of emphasis on. We have a long way to go.
I see your connection to some of the lifestyle. Through this experience, could you describe a specific way people in gangs and criminals dress? I think we are defining criminal narrowly here, but I am going with that to understand the image you think of when you say we all know what gang members and criminals dress like.
They dress the way Trayvon did!!!
Jimi, college students, the population I work with, dress the way Trayvon did. But, I think you are making some popular assumptions about what late adolescents and early adults should vs do wear. I think a lot of people may think hoodies are associated with criminality, and yet I think we also get into who is wearing the hoodie and how race intersects with clothing selection. On any given Monday morning, college students across race may show up in a hoodie to class. Myself included, when I was a college student. Comfort clothes.
Candice, I realize what you say is correct. However, as I stated before; We tend to dress cool or, in comfort as you called it, over the “fact” that the criminal favors that particular style because it makes it difficult to identify them. I’m only speaking factually and realistically concerning the matter. My opinion of the style has nothing to do with it. People can dress however they like, and they do. Two facts remain; 1. We communicate a message in how we dress, and 2. There are consequences for that which we communicate, whether it be bad or good. Thank’s for your dialogue, I’m enjoying this and hope it is mutually beneficial. If you would like to know more about me/us I invite you to my facebook page; jimi vicencio@f/b and go to my Onesimus Ministries page. God Bless!!!
I do find it mutually beneficial! I would offer that some groups of people who dress comfortably face more consequences than others, which is where the race, class, and gender dynamics seem to enter. So, a White female college student wearing a black hoodie and a Black male college student wearing a Black hoodie may be perceived and responded to differently, especially at night. What are your thoughts on that?
A sad, sad truth!!! I’m a latino male in Arizona and I get that pretty often. The thing I try to do is minimize the confusion because I realize how easily these types of situations can escalate. I teach others to do the same. there need not be anymore bloodshed!!!
I totally feel you.
Imagine someone look in your face and say ” now I am as poor as a Nigger” realize what she said then look at your skin color one more time and say am sorry I didn’t mean to say that. Huh!!! This person you have known for a very long, long time well all I can say is would you treat me different if?!!!!! And do we all know that beneath the pigment is only one color of blood. Untill we come to understand the meaning of different colors one people then the big question still remains.
Certainly, about this problem, discription of “color” of skin is taboo. I think so. Especially, if that is the psycholgist’s side.
So sorry. Misspelled in spelling.
” psycholgist’s ” was wrong.
Correct spell is “psychologist’s”.
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