Results 1 to 4 of 4
  1. #1 NPR invents "Modern Prejudice" 
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    9,978
    I guess "institutional racism" doesn't work anymore, especially when American government and institutions (like schools) are required to have equal opportunity and even equal outcomes. So now, prejudice is not about having negative beliefs (and actions) towards a particular group; it's about having more "positive attitudes" toward other groups with whom we have a "personal connection".

    What Does Modern Prejudice Look Like?

    by Shankar Vendantam
    April 22, 2013 5:45 PM


    Harvard psychologist Mahzarin Banaji was once approached by a reporter for an interview. When Banaji heard the name of the magazine the reporter was writing for, she declined the interview: She didn't think much of the magazine and believed it portrayed research in psychology inaccurately.

    But then the reporter said something that made her reconsider, Banaji recalled: "She said, 'You know, I used to be a student at Yale when you were there, and even though I didn't take a course with you, I do remember hearing about your work.' "

    The next words out of Banaji's mouth: "OK, come on over; I'll talk to you."

    After she changed her mind, got to thinking. Why had she changed her mind? She still didn't think much of the magazine in which the article would appear. The answer: The reporter had found a way to make a personal connection.

    For most people, this would have been so obvious and self-explanatory it would have required no further thought. Of course, we might think. Of course we'd help someone with whom we have a personal connection.

    For Banaji, however, it was the start of a psychological exploration into the nature and consequences of favoritism — why we give some people the kind of extra-special treatment we don't give others.

    In a new book, , Banaji and her co-author, Anthony Greenwald, a social psychologist at the University of Washington, turn the conventional way people think about prejudice on its head. Traditionally, Banaji says, psychologists in her field have looked for overt "acts of commission — what do I do? Do I go across town to burn down the church of somebody who's not from my denomination? That, I can recognize as prejudice."

    Yet, far from springing from animosity and hatred, Banaji and Greenwald argue, prejudice may often stem from unintentional biases.

    Take Banaji's own behavior toward the reporter with a Yale connection. She would not have changed her mind for another reporter without the personal connection. In that sense, her decision was a form of prejudice, even though it didn't feel that way.

    Now, most people might argue such favoritism is harmless, but Banaji and Greenwald think it might actually explain a lot about the modern United States, where vanishingly few people say they hold explicit prejudice toward others but wide disparities remain along class, and gender lines.

    The two psychologists have revolutionized the scientific study of prejudice in recent decades, and their — which measures the speed of people's hidden associations — has been applied to the practice of , law and other fields. Few would doubt its impact, including . (I've written about and Greenwald's work before, in this and in my 2010 book, .)

    "I think that kind of act of helping towards people with whom we have some shared group identity is really the modern way in which discrimination likely happens," Banaji says.

    In many ways, the psychologists' work mirrors the conclusion of another recent book: In , sociologist asks how it is that few people report feeling racial prejudice, while the United States still has enormous disparities. Discrimination today is less about treating people from other groups badly, DiTomaso writes, and more about giving preferential treatment to people who are part of our "in-groups."

    The insidious thing about favoritism is that it doesn't feel icky in any way, Banaji says. We feel like a great friend when we give a buddy a foot in the door to a job interview at our workplace. We feel like good parents when we arrange a class trip for our daughter's class to our place of work. We feel like generous people when we give our neighbors extra tickets to a sports game or a show.

    In each case, however, Banaji, Greenwald and DiTomaso might argue, we strengthen existing patterns of advantage and disadvantage because our friends, neighbors and children's classmates are overwhelmingly likely to share our own racial, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds. When we help someone from one of these in-groups, we don't stop to ask: Whom are we not helping?

    Banaji tells a story in the book about a friend, , now a professor at Northeastern University. At the time, both Banaji and Kaplan were faculty members at Yale. Banaji says that Kaplan had a passion — quilting.

    "You would often see her, sitting in the back of a lecture, quilting away, while she listened to a talk," Banaji says.

    In the book, Banaji writes that Kaplan once had a terrible kitchen accident.

    "She was washing a big crystal bowl in her kitchen," Banaji says. "It slipped and it cut her hand quite severely."

    The gash went from Kaplan's palm to her wrist. She raced over to Yale-New Haven Hospital. Pretty much the first thing she told the ER doctor was that she was a quilter. She was worried about her hand. The doctor reassured her and started to stitch her up. He was doing a perfectly competent job, she says.

    But at this moment someone spotted Kaplan. It was a student, who was a volunteer at the hospital.

    "The student saw her, recognized her, and said, 'Professor Kaplan, what are you doing here?' " Banaji says.

    The ER doctor froze. He looked at Kaplan. He asked the bleeding young woman if she was a Yale faculty member. Kaplan told him she was.

    Everything changed in an instant. The hospital tracked down the best-known hand specialist in New England. They brought in a whole team of doctors. They operated for hours and tried to save practically every last nerve.

    Banaji says she and Kaplan asked themselves later why the doctor had not called in the specialist right away. "Somehow," Banaji says, "it must be that the doctor was not moved, did not feel compelled by the quilter story in the same way as he was compelled by a two-word phrase, 'Yale professor.' "

    Kaplan told Banaji that she was able to go back to quilting, but that she still occasionally feels a twinge in the hand. And it made her wonder what might have happened if she hadn't received the best treatment.

    Greenwald and Banaji are not suggesting that people stop helping their friends, relatives and neighbors. Rather, they suggest that we direct some effort to people we may not naturally think to help.

    After reading the story about Kaplan, for example, one relative of Greenwald's decided to do something about it. Every year, she used to donate a certain amount of money to her alma mater. After reading Kaplan's story, Banaji says, the woman decided to keep giving money to her alma mater, but to split the donation in half. She now gives half to her alma mater and half to the United Negro College Fund.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  2. #2  
    Senior Member LukeEDay's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Happy Valley
    Posts
    2,056
    *face palm*

    I love my God, my country, my flag, and my troops ....
    Reply With Quote  
     

  3. #3  
    LTC Member Odysseus's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    FT Belvoir, VA
    Posts
    15,638
    It's unfortunate that the author chose to call this a new kind of "prejudice," and tried to bring race into it, because the research cited raises some valid points. Think about the following:

    Discrimination today is less about treating people from other groups badly, DiTomaso writes, and more about giving preferential treatment to people who are part of our "in-groups."

    The insidious thing about favoritism is that it doesn't feel icky in any way, Banaji says. We feel like a great friend when we give a buddy a foot in the door to a job interview at our workplace. We feel like good parents when we arrange a class trip for our daughter's class to our place of work. We feel like generous people when we give our neighbors extra tickets to a sports game or a show.

    In each case, however, Banaji, Greenwald and DiTomaso might argue, we strengthen existing patterns of advantage and disadvantage because our friends, neighbors and children's classmates are overwhelmingly likely to share our own racial, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds. When we help someone from one of these in-groups, we don't stop to ask: Whom are we not helping?
    Now, take this one step further: An interviewer is looking to hire a teaching assistant at a college, or an intern at a major media outlet. The first subject is a liberal Democrat whose resume cited working for ACORN and the Obama campaign with a 3.5 GPA, the second is a former Marine who is going to college on the GI Bill with a 4.0 GPA. Anyone want to bet on who gets the job?

    The point is that we are no longer looking at racial criteria, so much as social criteria, in our decisions. This plays to the left's diversity fetish, since it allows them to hire people who might not look exactly like they do, but who think in lockstep with them. The class divides in America aren't between whites and non-whites (although there is a divide there, more on that in a minute), but between the ruling class and everyone else. The new aristocracy situated in a few urban locations, either in the northeast corridor from Boston to Washington DC or the California coast (or Chicago), is educated in Ivy League schools, watches the same media, eats in the same restaurants and believes the same things and votes for the same party. Unlike the old, European titles, the aristocracy is far more mobile (anyone can get in if they meet those criteria), which creates the illusion of egalitarianism that the leftist elites need in order to reinforce their belief that they are not elitists. Thus, the racial divide in America is not between whites and minorities, but between those minorities who subscribe to this agenda, play the diversity game, go to the same schools and travel in the same circles as the white elites, and those minorities who are trapped outside of those circles by the toxicity of the culture of dependency, but who can be counted on to vote to perpetuate it. Those minorities who do not subscribe to either group, the self-made individualists who accomplish success without that system (or in spite of it), are alienated from the former group (who feel inadequate when confronted by real success) and the latter (who simply resent it).

    Think of the elites as citizens of the empire, in the Roman sense. The minorities who play the game are the Herods of their respective groups, while those who do not are the Judah Ben Hurs.
    --Odysseus
    Sic Hacer Pace, Para Bellum.

    Before you can do things for people, you must be the kind of man who can get things done. But to get things done, you must love the doing, not the people!
    Reply With Quote  
     

  4. #4  
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    9,978
    Ody,

    Obviously favoritism, or favoring people from one's own "tribe" has been going on since time immemorial. This is why the 2000 year old story of the Good Samaritan still resonates today for those who are taught it. The concept of "my neighbor" being everyone, even someone from a hated opposing (though ethnically related) tribe, is foreign to the actual human experience. We evolved in small groups and clans, and we survived by knowing whom to trust, those in our own tribes or clans. Even in our modern world, where nationalism is supposed to supercede tribal affiliations, those clan/tribe connections are still under the surface and sometimes virulent. A strongman like Tito could keep tribalism in check; in his absence, all hell broke loose. In the US, tribalism does not interfere with the functions of government, but it does dictate who gets to run it.

    Extending this idea of tribalism/favoritism to US racial relations seems to be an inaccurate overgeneralization (at best) or an ingenuous way to continue the racial drum beating (at worst). To say that tribalism/favoritism is really racial prejudice is getting it backwards: racial prejudice does have some elements of tribalism and favoritism, but not all favoritism is racial prejudice and not all racial prejudice is favoritism. At best, the relationship between the two is an intersecting pair of circles on a Venn diagram.

    Just being a different color is not enough to incite the abuses of racial prejudice. Think about the difference in the way American blacks are treated from the way foreign blacks are treated by many in this country. An African dignitary, a wealthy foreign student from Senegal, or a celebrity actor with foreign roots (like Sydney Poitier) will often be regarded differently from an American black, no matter how well educated. Color cannot explain this difference in attitude. The only thing that can is the taint of slavery and, later, Jim Crow. American blacks are part of an oppressed tribe. Foreign black leaders and celebrities are not. This is one of the reasons that there was such discussion over Obama's "blackness" during the 2008 primary. Black leaders mused on whether Obama was "black enough", even though many descendants of slaves (like Henry Louis "Skip" Gates) are at least as white as Obama if not more so. (On the Colbert Report, Gates explained that he was actually 70% white according to his genetic test.)

    Obama's Kenyan roots (whether he was born there or not) accent his foreignness, his membership in the more privileged tribe of foreign blacks. There is no slave background there. The Kenyan name (which he had lost to his mother's second marriage, when he was known as Barry Soetoro, or later when he was also known as Barry Dunham) is a signifier of his membership in the more privileged tribe of foreign blacks. In a way, Obama was a trick played on American blacks and liberals, who voted for a first-generation African-American immigrant and not a true descendent of black America. Many great names--Sydney Poitier, Colon Powell, Harry Belafonte--have the same foreign distinction and foreign born parentage.

    So the relationship between favoritism, tribalism, and color is not a direct one nor an easy one. The NPR article and the "researchers" who wrote the book are equally shallow in their understanding of that relationship. Or, as I said before, they are being deliberately disingenuous and trying to find another way to bang the racism drum. And why not? A new "theory" (even when based on old wine skins) brings recognition, tenure, and even a certain celebrity. The academic "superstar" system is the newest way to guarantee job security in a world where tenure is fast becoming a rarity. (Only 30% of most teaching faculties are tenured/tenure track. The other 70% are part timers, contract workers, and grad students.)

    Also, new theories about white racism/favoritism/tribalism can continue to find excuses for the fact that so many American blacks are poor and poorly educated and can continue to blame whites in general for this problem. This serves the ruling class you're talking about. As long as black underachievement is an issue of racial prejudice, the black Civil Rights industry doesn't have to look at the government and politicians, who have been steadily decimating black schools and eroding the black family with welfare, which is just a program to trade permanent starvation-level subsistence checks for actual achievement. Welfare and education are in the hands of liberals, and if black Americans ever started to connect the dots, the liberal establishment would be in hot water.

    Academics are a small, privileged group within the liberal establishment and they protect their own. (The story of the Yale professor with the hand injury in the NPR story is just one example of this general rule.) The role of academics is to set down the templates of social understanding and the terms of debate. They "create knowledge" often out of whole cloth in fields like communications, education, and many social science-oriented disciplines (including economics, which, despite its mathematical trappings, is a social science). Once the templates of understanding are created, their academic cachet makes them hard to fight in the public square, even when they make no sense to anyone. The "researcher", sporting advanced degrees, publications, and a haughty confidence, can turn to the average mechanic, school teacher or government worker and say, "You just don't understand. Here, let me see if I can break it down for you."

    This book on racism as white favoritism is a real stretch and the authors' shallow argument breaks down under even the most cursory analysis. But then, proving a truth by strong, well-tested argumentation is not the point. Finding another way to avoid the real questions of black poverty is.
    Reply With Quote  
     

Bookmarks
Bookmarks
Posting Permissions
  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •