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Old 05-02-2008, 09:48 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Racism is in your brain

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View: Buried Prejudice: The Bigot in Your Brain
Source: Scientific American Magazine
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Buried Prejudice: The Bigot in Your Brain
Buried Prejudice: The Bigot in Your Brain
Deep within our subconscious, all of us harbor biases that we consciously abhor. And the worst part is: we act on them
By Siri Carpenter

"There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life,” Jesse Jackson once told an audience, “than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery—then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved.”

Jackson’s remark illustrates a basic fact of our social existence, one that even a committed black civil-rights leader cannot escape: ideas that we may not endorse—for example, that a black stranger might harm us but a white one probably would not—can nonetheless lodge themselves in our minds and, without our permission or awareness, color our perceptions, expectations and judgments.

Using a variety of sophisticated methods, psychologists have established that people unwittingly hold an astounding assortment of stereotypical beliefs and attitudes about social groups: black and white, female and male, elderly and young, gay and straight, fat and thin. Although these implicit biases inhabit us all, we vary in the particulars, depending on our own group membership, our conscious desire to avoid bias and the contours of our everyday environments. For instance, about two thirds of whites have an implicit preference for whites over blacks, whereas blacks show no average preference for one race over the other.

Such bias is far more prevalent than the more overt, or explicit, prejudice that we associate with, say, the Ku Klux Klan or the Nazis. That is emphatically not to say that explicit prejudice and discrimination have evaporated nor that they are of lesser importance than implicit bias. According to a 2005 federal report, almost 200,000 hate crimes—84 percent of them violent—occur in the U.S. every year.

The persistence of explicit bias in contemporary culture has led some critics to maintain that implicit bias is of secondary concern. But hundreds of studies of implicit bias show that its effects can be equally insidious. Most social psychologists believe that certain scenarios can automatically activate implicit stereotypes and attitudes, which then can affect our perceptions, judgments and behavior. “The data on that are incontrovertible,” concludes psychologist Russell H. Fazio of Ohio State University.

Now researchers are probing deeper. They want to know: Where exactly do such biases come from? How much do they influence our outward behavior? And if stereotypes and prejudiced attitudes are burned into our psyches, can learning more about them help to tell each of us how to override them?

Sticking Together
Implicit biases grow out of normal and necessary features of human cognition, such as our tendency to categorize, to form cliques and to absorb social messages and cues. To make sense of the world around us, we put things into groups and remember relations between objects and actions or adjectives: for instance, people automatically note that cars move fast, cookies taste sweet and mosquitoes bite. Without such deductions, we would have a lot more trouble navigating our environment and surviving in it.

Such associations often reside outside conscious understanding; thus, to measure them, psychologists rely on indirect tests that do not depend on people’s ability or willingness to reflect on their feelings and thoughts. Several commonly used methods gauge the speed at which people associate words or pictures representing social groups—young and old, female and male, black and white, fat and thin, Democrat and Republican, and so on—with positive or negative words or with particular stereotypic traits.

Because closely associated concepts are essentially linked together in a person’s mind, a person will be faster to respond to a related pair of concepts—say, “hammer and nail”—than to an uncoupled pair, such as “hammer and cotton ball.” The timing of a person’s responses, therefore, can reveal hidden associations such as “black and danger” or “female and frail” that form the basis of implicit prejudice. “One of the questions that people often ask is, ‘Can we get rid of implicit associations?’ ” says psychologist Brian A. Nosek of the University of Virginia. “The answer is no, and we wouldn’t want to. If we got rid of them, we would lose a very useful tool that we need for our everyday lives.”

The problem arises when we form associations that contradict our intentions, beliefs and values. That is, many people unwittingly associate “female” with “weak,” “Arab” with “terrorist,” or “black” with “criminal,” even though such stereotypes undermine values such as fairness and equality that many of us hold dear.

Self-interest often shores up implicit biases. To bolster our own status, we are predisposed to ascribe superior characteristics to the groups to which we belong, or in-groups, and to exaggerate differences between our own group and outsiders [see “The New Psychology of Leadership,” by Stephen D. Reicher, S. Alexander Haslam and Michael J. Platow; Scientific American Mind, August/September 2007].

Even our basic visual perceptions are skewed toward our in-groups. Many studies have shown that people more readily remember faces of their own race than of other races. In recent years, scientists have begun to probe the neural basis for this phenomenon, known as the same-race memory advantage. In a 2001 study neurosurgeon Alexandra J. Golby, now at Harvard Medical School, and her colleagues used functional magnetic resonance imaging to track people’s brain activity while they viewed a series of white and black faces. The researchers found that individuals exhibited greater activity in a brain area involved in face recognition known as the fusiform face area [see “A Face in the Crowd,” by Nina Bublitz] when they viewed faces of their own racial group than when they gazed at faces of a different race. The more strongly a person showed the same-race memory advantage, the greater this brain difference was.

This identification with a group occurs astoundingly quickly. In a 2002 study University of Washington psychologist Anthony G. Greenwald and his colleagues asked 156 people to read the names of four members of two hypothetical teams, Purple and Gold, then spend 45 seconds memorizing the names of the players on just one team. Next, the participants performed two tasks in which they quickly sorted the names of team members. In one task, they grouped members of one team under the concept “win” and those of the other team under “lose,” and in the other they linked each team with either “self” or “other.” The researchers found that the mere 45 seconds that a person spent thinking about a fictional team made them identify with that team (linking it with “self”) and implicitly view its members as “winners.”

Some implicit biases appear to be rooted in strong emotions. In a 2004 study Ohio State psychologist Wil A. Cunningham and his colleagues measured white people’s brain activity as they viewed a series of white and black faces. The team found that black faces—as compared with white faces—that they flashed for only 30 milliseconds (too quickly for participants to notice them) triggered greater activity in the amygdala, a brain area associated with vigilance and sometimes fear. The effect was most pronounced among people who demonstrated strong implicit racial bias. Provocatively, the same study revealed that when faces were shown for half a second—enough time for participants to consciously process them—black faces instead elicited heightened activity in prefrontal brain areas associated with detecting internal conflicts and controlling responses, hinting that individuals were consciously trying to suppress their implicit associations.

Why might black faces, in particular, provoke vigilance? Northwestern University psychologist Jennifer A. Richeson speculates that American cultural stereotypes linking young black men with crime, violence and danger are so robust that our brains may automatically give preferential attention to blacks as a category, just as they do for threatening animals such as snakes. In a recent unpublished study Richeson and her colleagues found that white college students’ visual attention was drawn more quickly to photographs of black versus white men, even though the images were flashed so quickly that participants did not consciously notice them. This heightened vigilance did not appear, however, when the men in the pictures were looking away from the camera. (Averted eye gaze, a signal of submission in humans and other animals, extinguishes explicit perceptions of threat.)

Whatever the neural underpinnings of implicit bias, cultural factors—such as shopworn ethnic jokes, careless catchphrases and playground taunts dispensed by peers, parents or the media—often reinforce such prejudice. Subtle sociocultural signals may carry particularly insidious power. In a recent unpublished study psychologist Luigi Castelli of the University of Padova in Italy and his colleagues examined racial attitudes and behavior in 72 white Italian families. They found that young children’s racial preferences were unaffected by their parents’ explicit racial attitudes (perhaps because those attitudes were muted). Children whose mothers had more negative implicit attitudes toward blacks, however, tended to choose a white over a black playmate and ascribed more negative traits to a fictional black child than to a white child. Children whose mothers showed less implicit racial bias on an implicit bias test were less likely to exhibit such racial preferences.

Many of our implicit associations about social groups form before we are old enough to consider them rationally. In an unpublished experiment Mahzarin R. Banaji, a psychologist at Harvard University, and Yarrow Dunham, now a psychologist at the University of California, Merced, found that white preschoolers tended to categorize racially ambiguous angry faces as black rather than white; they did not do so for happy faces. And a 2006 study by Banaji and Harvard graduate student Andrew S. Baron shows that full-fledged implicit racial bias emerges by age six—and never retreats. “These filters through which people see the world are present very early,” Baron concludes.

Dangerous Games
On February 4, 1999, four New York City police officers knocked on the apartment door of a 23-year-old West African immigrant named Amadou Diallo. They intended to question him because his physical description matched that of a suspected rapist. Moments later Diallo lay dead. The officers, believing that Diallo was reaching for a gun, had fired 41 shots at him, 19 of which struck their target. The item that Diallo had been pulling from his pocket was not a gun but his wallet. The officers were charged with second-degree murder but argued that at the time of the shooting they believed their lives were in danger. Their argument was successful, and they were acquitted.

In the Diallo case, the officers’ split-second decision to open fire had massive, and tragic, consequences, and the court proceedings and public outcry that followed the shooting raised a number of troubling questions. To what degree are our decisions swayed by implicit social biases? How do those implicit biases interact with our more deliberate choices?

A growing body of work indicates that implicit attitudes do, in fact, contaminate our behavior. Reflexive actions and snap judgments may be especially vulnerable to implicit associations. A number of studies have shown, for instance, that both blacks and whites tend to mistake a harmless object such as a cell phone or hand tool for a gun if a black face accompanies the object. This “weapon bias” is especially strong when people have to judge the situation very quickly.

In a 2002 study of racial attitudes and nonverbal behavior, psychologist John F. Dovidio, now at Yale University, and his colleagues measured explicit and implicit racial attitudes among 40 white college students. The researchers then asked the white participants to chat with one black and one white person while the researchers videotaped the interaction. Dovidio and his colleagues found that in these interracial interactions, the white participants’ explicit attitudes best predicted the kinds of behavior they could easily control, such as the friendliness of their spoken words. Participants’ nonverbal signals, however, such as the amount of eye contact they made, depended on their implicit attitudes.

As a result, Dovidio says, whites and blacks came away from the conversation with very different impressions of how it had gone. Whites typically thought the interactions had gone well, but blacks, attuned to whites’ nonverbal behavior, thought otherwise. Blacks also assumed that the whites were conscious of their nonverbal behavior and blamed white prejudice. “Our society is really characterized by this lack of perspective,” Dovidio says. “Understanding both implicit and explicit attitudes helps you understand how whites and blacks could look at the same thing and not understand how the other person saw it differently.”

Implicit biases can infect more deliberate decisions, too. In a 2007 study Rutgers University psychologists Laurie A. Rudman and Richard D. Ashmore found that white people who exhibited greater implicit bias toward black people also reported a stronger tendency to engage in a variety of discriminatory acts in their everyday lives. These included avoiding or excluding blacks socially, uttering racial slurs and jokes, and insulting, threatening or physically harming black people.

In a second study reported in the same paper, Rudman and Ashmore set up a laboratory scenario to further examine the link between implicit bias against Jews, Asians and blacks and discriminatory behavior toward each of those groups. They asked research participants to examine a budget proposal ostensibly under consideration at their university and to make recommendations for omgallocating funding to student orgaomgnizations. Students who exhibited greater implicit bias toward a given minority group tended to suggest budgets that discriminated more against organizations devoted to that group’s interests.

Implicit bias may sway hiring decisions. In a recent unpublished field experiment economist Dan-Olof Rooth of the University of Kalmar in Sweden sent corporate employers identical job applications on behalf of fictional male candidates—under either Arab-Muslim or Swedish names. Next he tracked down the 193 human resources professionals who had evaluated the applications and measured their implicit biases concerning Arab-Muslim men. Rooth discovered that the greater the employer’s bias, the less likely he or she was to call an applicant with a name such as Mohammed or Reza for an interview. Employers’ explicit attitudes toward Muslims did not correspond to their decision to interview (or fail to consider) someone with a Muslim name, possibly because many recruiters were reluctant to reveal those attitudes.

Unconscious racial bias may also infect critical medical decisions. In a 2007 study Banaji and her Harvard colleagues presented 287 internal medicine and emergency care physicians with a photograph and brief clinical vignette describing a middle-aged patient—in some cases black and in others white—who came to the hospital complaining of chest pain. Most physicians did not acknowledge racial bias, but on average they showed (on an implicit bias test) a moderate to large implicit antiblack bias. And the greater a physician’s racial bias, the less likely he or she was to give a black patient clot-busting thrombolytic drugs.

Beating Back Prejudice
Researchers long believed that because implicit associations develop early in our lives, and because we are often unaware of their influence, they may be virtually impervious to change. But recent work suggests that we can reshape our implicit attitudes and beliefs—or at least curb their effects on our behavior.

Seeing targeted groups in more favorable social contexts can help thwart biased attitudes. In laboratory studies, seeing a black face with a church as a background, instead of a dilapidated street corner, considering familiar examples of admired blacks such as actor Denzel Washington and athlete Michael Jordan, and reading about Arab-Muslims’ positive contributions to society all weaken people’s implicit racial and ethnic biases. In real college classrooms, students taking a course on prejudice reduction who had a black professor showed greater reductions in both implicit and explicit prejudice at the end of the semester than did those who had a white professor. And in a recent unpublished study Nilanjana Dasgupta, a psychologist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, found that female engineering students who had a male professor held negative implicit attitudes toward math and implicitly viewed math as masculine. Students with a female engineering professor did not.

More than half a century ago the eminent social psychologist Gordon Allport called group labels “nouns that cut slices,” pointing to the power of mere words to shape how we categorize and perceive others. New research underscores that words exert equal potency at an implicit level. In a 2003 study Harvard psychologist Jason Mitchell, along with Nosek and Banaji, instructed white female college students to sort a series of stereotypically black female and white male names according to either race or gender. The group found that categorizing the names according to their race prompted a prowhite bias, but categorizing the same set of names according to their gender prompted an implicit profemale (and hence problack) bias. “These attitudes can form quickly, and they can change quickly” if we restructure our environments to crowd out stereotypical associations and replace them with egalitarian ones, Dasgupta concludes.

In other words, changes in external stimuli, many of which lie outside our control, can trick our brains into making new associations. But an even more obvious tactic would be to confront such biases head-on with conscious effort. And some evidence suggests willpower can work. Among the doctors in the thrombolytic drug study who were aware of the study’s purpose, those who showed more implicit racial bias were more likely to prescribe thrombolytic treatment to black patients than were those with less bias, suggesting that recognizing the presence of implicit bias helped them offset it.

In addition, people who report a strong personal motivation to be nonprejudiced tend to harbor less implicit bias. And some studies indicate that people who are good at using logic and willpower to control their more primitive urges, such as trained meditators, exhibit less implicit bias. Brain research suggests that the people who are best at inhibiting implicit stereotypes are those who are especially skilled at detecting mismatches between their intentions and their actions.

But wresting control over automatic processes is tiring and can backfire. If people leave interracial interactions feeling mentally and emotionally drained, they may simply avoid contact with people of a different race or foreign culture. “If you boil it down, the solution sounds kind of easy: just maximize control,” says psychologist B. Keith Payne of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “But how do you do that? As it plays out in the real world, it’s not so easy.”

Other research suggests that developing simple but concrete plans to supplant stereotypes in particular situations can also short-circuit implicit biases. In an unpublished study Payne and his colleague Brandon D. Stewart, now a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Queensland in Australia, found that those who simply resolved to think of the word “safe” whenever they saw a black face showed dramatic reductions in implicit racial bias. “You don’t necessarily have to beat people over the head with it,” Payne observes. “You can just have this little plan in your pocket [think ‘safe’] that you can pull out when you need it. Once you’ve gone to the work of making that specific plan, it becomes automatic.”

Taking Control
Despite such data, some psychologists still question the concept of implicit bias. In a 2004 article in the journal Psychological Inquiry, psychologists Hal R. Arkes of Ohio State and Philip E. Tetlock of the University of California, Berkeley, suggest that implicit associations between, for example, black people and negative words may not necessarily reflect implicit hostility toward blacks. They could as easily reflect other negative feelings, such as shame about black people’s historical treatment at the hands of whites. They also argue that any unfavorable associations about black people we do hold may simply echo shared knowledge of stereotypes in the culture. In that sense, Arkes and Tetlock maintain, implicit measures do not signify anything meaningful about people’s internal state, nor do they deserve to be labeled “prejudiced”—a term they feel should be reserved for attitudes a person deliberately endorses.

Others dispute the significance of such a distinction. “There is no clear boundary between the self and society—and this may be particularly true at the automatic level,” write Rudman and Ashmore in a 2007 article in the journal Group Processes & Intergroup Relations. “Growing up in a culture where some people are valued more than others is likely to permeate our private orientations, no matter how discomfiting the fact.”

If we accept this tenet of the human condition, then we have a choice about how to respond. We can respond with sadness or, worse, with apathy. Or we can react with a determination to overcome bias. “The capacity for change is deep and great in us,” Banaji says. “But do we want the change? That’s the question for each of us as individuals—individual scientists, and teachers, and judges, and businesspeople, and the communities to which we belong.”
The show Avenue Q has a song Everybody Is A Little Bit Racist and it seems that they have much more truth in the fact than they actually thought being so tongue in cheek.

I don't think that bigotry is genetic, but there are some genetic dispositions that allow us to survive by linking positive experiences and negative ones and giving us appropriate behavior accordingly.

What I do find interesting is that in the abscence of multiple races, how do those change? I found that I was intrested in Singapore because of the 3 cultures that dominated the space. Chinese being the upper class, Indian being guards and other service, and Malay being the lowest class. I always found myself at ease with the Chinese and Indians, it took a little longer for the Malays, I'm not sure if it is due to classism or racism.

I know that it takes concious effort for me to not let classism or racism creep into my life, but it happens on a regular basis here in NYC. Walking down streets, empty subway cars, desolate hallways...

Do you recognize that you have racist behaviors? Do you ignore them? How do you confront your own racism?
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Old 05-02-2008, 11:58 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I don't know how to put these together. First, I feel that the media is responsible for fostering these racist fears and thoughts in us. In Milwaukee especially this is true, but that just could be my racially select vision. Second, is it wrong to let oneself to become more cautious when walking down a dark alley? I never thought twice about putting up my guard when I saw anyone walking towards me late at night, white or black. Did I imagine worse possibilities for myself when a non-Caucasian walked towards me? Probably...

Outside of situations one can control, fears and cautions are acceptable, no? When you are in control or feel secure in a situation, what racial thoughts might possibly be of importance?
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Old 05-03-2008, 03:32 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I recognize I have em, definitly. However, I don't see the need to really confront them. I'd rather be cautious and be proven wrong than have it jump up and bite me in the rear.
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Old 05-03-2008, 05:57 AM   #4 (permalink)
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It's a funny thing. I grew up an air force brat. For some reason I never noticed prejudice. I do recall visiting family in the south when I was young and not noticing black people where we were so everything was very segregated at that time. And I'm talking the south in the early 60s.

I lived on base in Germany during my jr. high years. We all hung out together and I don't recall anyone thinking anything of it.

We moved to Georgia when I was entering the 9th grade. For some reason there was a very visible difference. This was just a few years after segregation and I'm sure GA was behind the curve at that point. Tension was everywhere and I felt racism coming my way from the balcks as much as I saw it going the other way from the whites. High school the next year was an even bigger shock with the way everyone was in racial groups in different halls. I had never before experienced the divisiveness and I lived among a variety of races in the military life.

I'm not sure the media was responsible for everything back then; perhaps is has more of an impact now, I just don't know. I do know that I responded to how I was treated and I think I developed more subconciouse racists thoughts like Jackson's were mentioned in the article above based on experience. To this day I still have black friends but I'm sure I'd feel like Jackson in that same walking down the street situation, and also depending on where I was.
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Old 05-03-2008, 09:03 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Cynthetiq

Do you recognize that you have racist behaviors? Do you ignore them? How do you confront your own racism?
No, no and I need not. I can appreciate these studies for what they are but I also think they border on ridiculous at times. We all have defense mechanisms that alert us to what we may construe as safe or unsafe from what we have absorbed, learned,...throughout our lives consciously and subconsciously. That's a given.

I suppose it is the term racism that I have a problem with. I don't think that the notion of racism overides someones senses of being threatened, especially if one is out of their element.

I was in New York on business a while back and had an afternoon free so I went to Harlem, out of curiousity since I had never been in that part of the city before. I love old brownstones and wanted to see other landmarks as well. It was getting into early evening and I could see the streets changing. Not good to bad, just changing. I was thinking, ok time to leave, so I jumped in a cab and headed back to mid town

Am I racist? Hardly. Were my thoughts driven by internal racism? I suppose some psychologist would say that is the case but in reality, I was eliminating any chance if anything were to happen to me. I know Harlem is safe, but that doesn't mean everyone who is in that area is, of any race.

I dunno. Maybe I'm wrong. I just dislike the world racism used in this context. I think it is presumptuous and somewhat disingenuous. I don't have alot of faith in pschologists as well but that's a different ball of wax.
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Old 05-03-2008, 09:07 AM   #6 (permalink)
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There is a lot of conditioning that happens to us in our developmental years over which we have absolutely no control. I know that I was influenced by some incredibly racist people, and to this day, I catch myself having intolerant thoughts. I hate that and wish I could erase it from my brain. It does take a concious effort, at times to overcome the embedded biases that my experiences have taught me to be false.

I believe, ultimately, that we are judged on our actions, and the attitudes that we foster in those that we influence. My wife and I have chosen to live as colorblind a life as possible, and raise our children to do the same. We try to teach that whole "content of their character" concept, and the results have been great, thus far.

Racism, or any intolerance for that matter, cannot be eliminated in one generation. The current governing generation was raised in and taught a segregated way of life. Their decisions are colored (no pun... please!) by that. Achieving universal tolerance will be a long process, with eras of progress and regression. The next generation should make things a bit better, but much depends on how we raise them.

(My good friend, Craig - [African/American ] - and I have a standing joke. He builds and drives 1/4 mile race cars, so that makes him a "racist" in a literal sense of the word. I refer to him as "My favorite racist." It is offered and accepted with true affection. He's my children's favorite adopted "uncle")
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Old 05-03-2008, 11:27 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Augi
First, I feel that the media is responsible for fostering these racist fears and thoughts in us.


I think thats a cop-out.
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Old 05-03-2008, 12:40 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Sion
I think thats a cop-out.
i think it´s a bit of a simplification but not a cop out. media definitely fosters prejudice but i suspect it´s more of a mirror of society in general. i suspect this sort of thing starts at home and from an extremely young age. i suspect it´s merely an extension to the colouring we use to interpret our view on the world around us.
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Old 05-03-2008, 05:08 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I'm going to be 100% honest about this, just make sure you read to the end before you pass judgment or you're going to get the wrong idea. Because of ignorance and unwillingness to give prejudice more than lip service in my education and upbringing, I was taught to be a racist.

I grew up in and still live in a whitewashed rich community. In the 1990 census there were 54000 people and something like 85 black and Hispanic families. I don't think that prejudices ingrained in my thinking are genetic, I think it's years of being taught them. Bridgeport (city that borders our town, one of the poorest cities in the state, next to our rich town) is a dangerous place. To a young mind, it wasn't because of complex socioeconomic factors, gang and drug violence, an underfunded and failing educational system, and the economic collapse of the city. To a young mind, it was because it was full of black people.

My parents are well-adjusted and not outwardly prejudiced and I don't think they realized what living here was teaching me. They told me about equality, living through the civil rights movement, and the golden rule, but I was so sheltered that I didn't really get to experience diversity. They told me that Bridgeport was a dangerous place to be at night. The net result was that I was passively taught that minorities are poor, crime-prone, less educated, and dangerous to me.

I realized just how prejudiced my upbringing taught me to be during my last job at an oil change garage. Peoples' information was right in front of me and I assumed that people from Bridgeport were poorer, I was surprised when a black person drove up in a new BMW or Mercedes, and it didn't help that I, the only person going to college, was the only white person who worked there; seeing fellow employees embody stereotypes that I had been taught (seriously, any given day could have been a cutscene from a GTA game.)

Only in the past few years have I started to fully understand to what extent people are a product of their upbringing, both in the fact that there are people who embody stereotypes and that I have been buying into those stereotypes all my life because effort to teach me otherwise were just a bunch of words not backed up by action. With that understanding, I have consciously made efforts to change the way I think. I still have the occasional gut reaction that takes an extra split second to process because my brain has to go through the "no, that's a prejudice, it's wrong," cycle. Going to a very diverse university has helped me in this process. I may be getting a degree with two majors on it a week from tomorrow, but the more valuable thing I got out of it is the process of unlearning the prejudices I learned as I grew up.

My group of friends (and their friends, and their friends,) at school are the colorblind society that we need to strive for. We crack jokes about race, sexuality, and all sorts of taboo subjects because we've come together to the point that our differences are nothing more than a joke. By joking about it, we devalue the harm that prejudices do to us.

I'm not a racist, but I was for a long time. If/when I have kids, I'm going to do whatever I can to make sure they don't have to spend time unlearning things they were taught wrong.
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Old 05-03-2008, 10:55 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I grew up in a suburb north of Chicago with parents who were racially prejudice for whatever reason. I learned racism from them.

I also grew up learning about the civil rights movement. I learned tolerance from that.

As I grew older I actively challenged my parents' views on many things including race which helped me to sort out my own confusion. I ended up not liking my folks for a while. I lost respect for them in some way, but eventually realized that they were also products of their environments. Another thing that I think helped enlighten me were the few moments when I have been and felt like a minority. It was an eerie and guarded feeling, and one that I tried to remember if needed.

I consciously raised my children with my views which are different from most of my family, even though sometimes I had to fight my own upbringing. Part of the success of that, as well as my own success in regards to eradicating or at least understanding my own racism has been travel and exposure to many people - not just those of other races, but anyone. A world view is the way to go.

It is rare that I feel or recognize racism in myself today. If I do, sometimes I acknowledge it as an old feeling and move on, sometimes i just feel it while using my noodle to think rationally, or maybe I think about setting an example, or whatever. It was never too problematic in my world other than sparring within my own family, and a rare occurrence these days.
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Old 05-04-2008, 04:12 AM   #11 (permalink)
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A few months ago, my 19-year-old daughter and I went to an old neighborhood in downtown Orlando called the Parramore district. I had driven through it several weeks before and thought it looked like an interesting place to take pictures...I'm always on the look-out for that. Of course, Parramore is a distinctly black neighborhood, and largely poor.

So we went down there, parked on the street, got out and started walking. It was early, probably 10:30am or so and a really beautiful, sunny day. We walked for 8-10 blocks and every person that passed us smiled and said hello and we'd just smile and say hello back. Very pleasant. One man stopped and asked if we were with the newspaper or something because of the camera, but I told him it was just a hobby. He was very nice.

So we keep walking and right when we passed this old pink church I had been taking pictures of I hear a voice coming from the screened-in patio of the house next door. 'What are you girls doing down here? Do you know where you are? Are you from out of town' And I turn to look and it's this middle-aged white guy. I'm not sure if he lived there, worked there or what.

And I laughed and said, 'Yes, I live here and I know exactly where I am.'

Then I looked around and said, 'It seems to be pretty quiet around here and everyone's been very nice.'

'You're in the hood, you shouldn't be down here. It's not safe.'

And I wondered, you know, is he going to tell me some stories about a rash of attacks on white people down here? Surely if this were true, I would have heard something about it. But apparently that was all he had to say so I just looked at him, smiled, told him to have a good day and we kept walking without a lick of trouble. I got a few neat pictures that day.

When I was very young and living in Atlanta, our neighborhood was largely black. All the kids went to each other's houses, all the parents knew each other. It was never treated like a big deal and this was the late '60's/early '70's. My brother, sister and I were taught outright to reject racial stereotypes as insidious fictions and I think that is why I have so little kneejerk racial bias today. I do believe that many, many people carry around these biases, though, and that is does have a profound effect on race relations today.

I really liked this tidbit...it's a point I've tried to make on at least a dozen topics around here.
Quote:
Subtle sociocultural signals may carry particularly insidious power.
I'm surprised more people aren't commenting on this article.
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Last edited by mixedmedia; 05-04-2008 at 04:16 AM..
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Old 05-04-2008, 11:27 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Is Racism in my brain? No, not being an idiot is in my brain. Sorry but if a black guy is following me at night, I'm gonna get scared 1000% more than if it was a white guy. That's not racist, that's me observing factual evidence.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FBI
FBI Uniform Crime Report CONFIRMS NON-WHITE PREPONDERANCE TO CRIME

The following facts are derived from data found in the FBI Uniform Crime Reports (online link) for the years 1995 through 2000.

(Once again it is worth stressing that the FBI figures do not break down separate statistics for Central American immigrants, Mexicans, Arabs, or anybody else: if the FBI had included a separate category for these racial groups, the disparity between Black and White would be even larger.)

- The average Black commits murder about 7.1 times more often than the average "White" (where "White" includes Hispanics etc.)

- The average Black commits interracial murder about 13.8 times more often than the average "White" (where "White: includes Hispanics etc.)

- The average Black kills a "White" 15.9 times more often than the reverse.

- Weapons violations are committed by Blacks at nearly 5 times the rate for Whites;

- Blacks are caught receiving or buying stolen property at nearly 5 times the rate for Whites;

- Blacks are involved in prostitution at almost 4 times the rate for Whites;

- Blacks are arrested for drug crimes at over 4 times the rate for Whites;

- Blacks are more than three times as likely as Whites to be caught at forgery, counterfeiting, and fraud, and almost three times as likely to be caught at embezzlement;

- Blacks are more than 3 times as likely to be thieves as Whites;

- Blacks are more than 4 times as likely to commit assault as Whites;

- Blacks are almost 4.5 times as likely to steal a motor vehicle;

- Blacks are more than 5 times as likely to commit forcible rape as Whites;

- Blacks are over 8 times as likely to commit murder as Whites;

- Blacks are more than 10 times as likely to commit robbery as Whites;

- Nearly 25% of all Black males between the ages of 20 and 29 are in jail or on probation - this does not include those wanted or awaiting trial;

- For all violent crimes considered together, Blacks are almost 5.5 times more likely to commit violent criminal acts than Whites; all this according to the FBI Uniform Crime Report.
Is it really racist to fear black people (specifically young black men)? No. The stats are stats. Racism isn't ingrained in our brains. Prejudice might be, but is it wrong to be prejudice when you've browsed over the facts above?
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Old 05-04-2008, 11:40 AM   #13 (permalink)
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It's studies and discussions like these that remind me not only of the contradictions inherent in all things but also of the fine line between intelligence and intellectualized wankery.

Seems rather obvious to me that biases, preferences, attraction and repulsion are just some of the many aspects of human interaction and cultural diversity. Neither good nor bad but certainly useful - without it we couldn't build relationships, families, nations or civilizations...

Studies like these just seem like an invitation for people to miss the point.

And as for myself, I see no real point in picking apart my subconscious. I've always given people as fair a shot as I'm capable of giving them and in doing so, my conscience has always been clear.

Thank you Lasereth for such a fitting example of intellectualized wankery.
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Old 05-04-2008, 11:50 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Miss what point?

I think the article is obviously concentrating on the negative aspects of our unfair subconscious reactions to each other and asserts that not only do many of us not want to be that way, but that we are not chained to those reactions. I hardly see what is wankerous or anti-social about that.
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Old 05-04-2008, 12:02 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Many years ago, a good friend and I watched Spike Lee's "On the Bus". After it was over, we got into a discussion about prejudices and racism. When I made the claim that everyone has prejudices, my friend and his wife became extremely defensive to the point that they refused to finish the conversation. They were adamant that they held no prejudices at all.

A lot of what we are describing as defensive behavior is more a matter of our own handling of our feelings towards other races and less about the members of that race itself.

To say, "I'm nervous around black people because there are a lot of black criminals out there. That's not racism, that's common sense," is a ridiculous statement to make. You're nervous because of who you are, not because of who they are.
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Old 05-04-2008, 12:14 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I do have a prejudice, which is totally subjective, unfair and nicely summarized by this line from the movie Norma Rae:

"I never had any trouble with the black men, only trouble I ever had in my life was with white men."

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Old 05-04-2008, 12:23 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lasereth
quote from fbi statistics
this thread is starting to move away from prejudice and towards outright racism.
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Old 05-04-2008, 12:47 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lotsofmagnets
this thread is starting to move away from prejudice and towards outright racism.
I find the best way to deal with a problem is to pretend it doesn't exist and blame people who mention that their may be a problem with being the real problem.

But anyways to the op.

Of course its wired in our brains, as is distrust of out groups in general. Jews historically have had some issues which are not based on race but based on being an outgroup to the majority, and the current genocides in africa can not be attributed to racism but out groups. The same applies to race. There are strong evolutionary implications but its not shocking to me that the more a nation is homogeneous in race/culture, the less issues they have with violent crime.
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Old 05-04-2008, 01:03 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Two problem with Lasereth's post:

1. He doesn't cite where it came from. He cites the 'FBI' but obviously it is an interpretation of FBI data.
Quote:
FBI Uniform Crime Report CONFIRMS NON-WHITE PREPONDERANCE TO CRIME
uh, you don't recognize some telling signs of suspicious motives in the wording of the piece, UsTwo?
I'd like to know where he copied the list from.

2. Lists like these never take into account the preponderance of drug-related crime and black-on-black crime which conform to socio-economic criteria that have nothing to do with a white guy walking down the street at night shaking in his boots every time a black dude walks by.
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Old 05-04-2008, 01:51 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ustwo
I find the best way to deal with a problem is to pretend it doesn't exist and blame people who mention that their may be a problem with being the real problem.
i´m going to have to ask you to clarify. is this an accusation of a lack of acceptance of the existence of prejudice and/or racism or otherwise?
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Old 05-04-2008, 02:16 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mixedmedia
Two problem with Lasereth's post:

1. He doesn't cite where it came from. He cites the 'FBI' but obviously it is an interpretation of FBI data.

uh, you don't recognize some telling signs of suspicious motives in the wording of the piece, UsTwo?
I'd like to know where he copied the list from.
Me too, as our overly race sensitive culture would never allow such a list, even if true, so my guess is such a list would come from 'racist' web site. It doesn't make the information not true, we have chosen to ignore race in this country, at least when it says something bad about blacks and crime. This is just ignoring the problem and causes more issues and seems to me as racist as those who want to use such information to feel superior.

Quote:
2. Lists like these never take into account the preponderance of drug-related crime and black-on-black crime which conform to socio-economic criteria that have nothing to do with a white guy walking down the street at night shaking in his boots every time a black dude walks by.
What does it matter? Crime is crime.

And while I have not witnessed many unprovoked violent crimes in my life, 3 times to be precise, all three were perpetrated by young black males. I can not chide my brain for doing what a brain is suppose to do and link a pattern. Statistically I can't say my brain is correct, but our brains are not worried about such matters, just simple survival.

I spent about a year living in a low income, mostly black area in my early 20's. I never had any major issues living there, but I'd be lying if I didn't say I had a heightened sense of awareness to trouble while there. When my girlfriend would visit we would meet outside of the area and I'd 'escort' her in. I suppose it was racist to do so but this is after I witnessed said unprovoked violence, and I ended up marrying the girl, so if anything happened to her I'd have been rather upset.
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Old 05-04-2008, 02:56 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Quote:
I spent about a year living in a low income, mostly black area in my early 20's. I never had any major issues living there, but I'd be lying if I didn't say I had a heightened sense of awareness to trouble while there. When my girlfriend would visit we would meet outside of the area and I'd 'escort' her in. I suppose it was racist to do so but this is after I witnessed said unprovoked violence, and I ended up marrying the girl, so if anything happened to her I'd have been rather upset.
I understand this. After all, I am a minority in the community I live in. But the only 'trouble' I ever witness is occasional fighting by the pool and loud teenagers at night. If I'm ever in fear of men, it is pretty much on an equal basis. Meaning it doesn't matter what their race is, from what I've observed of the world, men (particularly disenfranchised young men) are the overwhelming threat. Or, to put it in another way, I don't see black men as a particular threat to me. Nor should you.

Quote:
What does it matter? Crime is crime.
Wait...I had to come back to this...why does it matter? Because understanding the statistics counteracts the hysteria that is whipped up in people by not understanding them...especially when they are used as such deliberately.
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Last edited by mixedmedia; 05-04-2008 at 03:05 PM.. Reason: wrong word....
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Old 05-04-2008, 03:40 PM   #23 (permalink)
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There is no doubt that in the UK (and the US) the proportion of non-whites convicted of crimes is higher than the proportion of non-whites in society.

There is therefore statistical proof that a randomly selected black man is more likely to comit a crime than a randomly selected white man.

HOWEVER: Correlation is not causation.

It is also true that a randomly selected criminal will have had a poorer upbringing than a randomly selected non-criminal (or put another way: poor people are more likely to turn to crime than better off people).

What is further clear is that black people are more likely to be poor.

What is interesting is that if you take the statistics for crimes and normalise them for income levels, you find that any randomly selected poor person (regardless of race) has almost the same chance of becoming a criminal.

A further statistic of note is that if your grandparents were poor, you are more likely to be poor.

One could make various arguments from these factoids:

That blacks are poor because they're criminals.
That blacks are criminals because they're poor.
That blacks are criminals because their grandparents were poor.

The fact is that ew can prove little beyond the fact that if we can lift people out of poverty, we will have less crime.
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Old 05-04-2008, 03:40 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Quote:
Implicit biases grow out of normal and necessary features of human cognition, such as our tendency to categorize, to form cliques and to absorb social messages and cues. To make sense of the world around us, we put things into groups and remember relations between objects and actions or adjectives: for instance, people automatically note that cars move fast, cookies taste sweet and mosquitoes bite. Without such deductions, we would have a lot more trouble navigating our environment and surviving in it.
I reckon that entire paper can be trimmed down to this and still carry the same meaning.

As Manic_Skafe noted, these sorts of biases are not only normal, but essential. I cannot, for example, deal with every person, place and thing in the world on an individual basis without having my brain implode. I simply do not have the capacity.

I grew up in a multi-racial home, and as a consequence my prejudices aren't racial. That isn't to say I don't have prejudices, just that they exist in different forms. I tend to think of Americans as more violent than my own countrymen; while on the whole this may be true, it oversimplifies the issue. It may be accurate to say that some Americans are more violent, or even that Americans on average are more likely to commit a violent act, but applying this on an individual level is obviously flawed. I have to make a conscious effort not to do so.

It's also apparent in gender relations; how many jokes exist stating that 'men are this way and women are that way?' These jokes are stating a widely held bias, which may even be true in a general sense, but does not necessarily exist on an individual level. It's the same principle in effect.

It's much easier to deal with our fellow man categorically than on an individual basis.
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Old 05-04-2008, 03:44 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Oh come on, let's take off our sensitivity veils. You want a reference, here it is: http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/ucr.htm

The FBI, just like I said. Click on any year and wade through some of those PDFs.

I work at a police station so I see the crime stats every single day of the year. You can wear your sensitivity veil and pretend that blacks don't commit crimes more often than whites and that pointing it out is "intellectual wankery" but I took mine off long ago and realized that knowing blacks are more likely to commit a crime isn't racist, it's observatory.

I'm not gonna let an article (that I did read through entirely) say that there's subconscious prejudice "deep down inside that we act on" when for me it's simply knowing the facts. I respect black people the same as I respect white people but you're full of shit if you think that black crime rates are racist.
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Old 05-04-2008, 03:46 PM   #26 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Martian
I reckon that entire paper can be trimmed down to this and still carry the same meaning.

As Manic_Skafe noted, these sorts of biases are not only normal, but essential. I cannot, for example, deal with every person, place and thing in the world on an individual basis without having my brain implode. I simply do not have the capacity.

I grew up in a multi-racial home, and as a consequence my prejudices aren't racial. That isn't to say I don't have prejudices, just that they exist in different forms. I tend to think of Americans as more violent than my own countrymen; while on the whole this may be true, it oversimplifies the issue. It may be accurate to say that some Americans are more violent, or even that Americans on average are more likely to commit a violent act, but applying this on an individual level is obviously flawed. I have to make a conscious effort not to do so.

It's also apparent in gender relations; how many jokes exist stating that 'men are this way and women are that way?' These jokes are stating a widely held bias, which may even be true in a general sense, but does not necessarily exist on an individual level. It's the same principle in effect.

It's much easier to deal with our fellow man categorically than on an individual basis.
This is true, but it doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement. And it certainly doesn't mean that people should be given a pass to wallow in their own ill-conceived biases. You are saying here yourself that you have to make a conscious effort not to lump all Americans into a negative stereotype. Meaning, that's something that you (perhaps) are morally opposed to. This was the most important aspect of the article to me. The fact that most people want to change these reactions when they become aware of them.
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Old 05-04-2008, 03:53 PM   #27 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lasereth
Oh come on, let's take off our sensitivity veils. You want a reference, here it is: http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/ucr.htm

The FBI, just like I said. Click on any year and wade through some of those PDFs.

I work at a police station so I see the crime stats every single day of the year. You can wear your sensitivity veil and pretend that blacks don't commit crimes more often than whites and that pointing it out is "intellectual wankery" but I took mine off long ago and realized that knowing blacks are more likely to commit a crime isn't racist, it's observatory.

I'm not gonna let an article (that I did read through entirely) say that there's subconscious prejudice "deep down inside that we act on" when for me it's simply knowing the facts. I respect black people the same as I respect white people but you're full of shit if you think that black crime rates are racist.
This was exactly why I made the comment I did.

I KNOW you're right - if distribution of criminals was random through society, there would be fewer black criminals, and more white ones.

However - WHY the blacks are more likely to turn to crime in the US and UK is not often addressed.

I contend that what colour you are has little or no impact on how likely you are to become a criminal.

Your upbringing is the key factor, and it is possible to suggest that "because of prejudice, blacks are held down, and people at the bottom of the pile become criminals more often than ones at the top".

In otherwords, racism causes criminality, not the other way round. If we could crack racist assumptions, we might crack criminality.
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Old 05-04-2008, 03:56 PM   #28 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mixedmedia
This is true, but it doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement. And it certainly doesn't mean that people should be given a pass to wallow in their own ill-conceived biases. You are saying here yourself that you have to make a conscious effort not to lump all Americans into a negative stereotype. Meaning, that's something that you (perhaps) are morally opposed to. This was the most important aspect of the article to me. The fact that most people want to change these reactions when they become aware of them.
I had no intention of giving people a free pass. Understanding the cause of something is the first step in counteracting it. I came to the conclusion this paper reaches a long time ago.
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Old 05-04-2008, 04:08 PM   #29 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lasereth
Oh come on, let's take off our sensitivity veils. You want a reference, here it is: http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/ucr.htm

The FBI, just like I said. Click on any year and wade through some of those PDFs.

I work at a police station so I see the crime stats every single day of the year. You can wear your sensitivity veil and pretend that blacks don't commit crimes more often than whites and that pointing it out is "intellectual wankery" but I took mine off long ago and realized that knowing blacks are more likely to commit a crime isn't racist, it's observatory.

I'm not gonna let an article (that I did read through entirely) say that there's subconscious prejudice "deep down inside that we act on" when for me it's simply knowing the facts. I respect black people the same as I respect white people but you're full of shit if you think that black crime rates are racist.
But that's not where you got the item that you posted. That's what I was curious about.

And I am not wearing a 'sensitivity veil' thank you very much. I am viewing the information in a way that is realistic and relevant to me. Fact is, if I were a black woman living in a black neighborhood then I would be far more at risk of being the victim of a crime perpetrated by a black man than I am as a white woman living in a mixed race or white neighborhood. This conveniently saves me the trouble of becoming afraid of black people more than any other....because when you remove the instances of drug-related crime and black-on-black crime you will see that the risk of my being the victim of a crime perpetrated by a black man rather than any other is not much greater.

This, of course, is not to say that high crime rates in black communities isn't real or isn't a dire problem. It is to say that using the information to make white people afraid of black people is ignorant and counterproductive.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Martian
I had no intention of giving people a free pass. Understanding the cause of something is the first step in counteracting it. I came to the conclusion this paper reaches a long time ago.
Well, that's cool.
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Last edited by mixedmedia; 05-04-2008 at 04:09 PM.. Reason: Automerged Doublepost
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Old 05-04-2008, 04:44 PM   #30 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ustwo
Me too, as our overly race sensitive culture would never allow such a list, even if true, so my guess is such a list would come from 'racist' web site. It doesn't make the information not true, we have chosen to ignore race in this country, at least when it says something bad about blacks and crime. This is just ignoring the problem and causes more issues and seems to me as racist as those who want to use such information to feel superior.
For someone who can't seem to go a day without mentioning his exceedingly developed ability to understand the meaning of scientific data, your reaction seems to show a bit of a lapse. What exactly is the significance of this data in the context of seeing a black guy on the street? So a black male is 4 times more likely to commit assault than a white guy, does that mean that when you see four white guys together you start to get nervous?

If you think that it isn't generally acknowledged in our race sensitive culture that blacks are more likely to commit crime then you're clearly not paying attention. Anyone who takes the issue seriously acknowledges that fact. The bone of contention about such facts are how to interpret them.

I would argue that the reason lists like this don't get much play in the nonracist world is that they don't provide enough context to make the data meaningful. It's a classic example of using statistics to lie. Racist people (or those who aren't necessarily that interested in statistics) see data like this and say, "See, I was right to be afraid of that black guy I saw. He was four times as likely to assault me as a white guy." Which completely ignores the fact that there are a lot of other factors that determine whether someone is going to assault you than the color of their skin.

Lists like these, when presented as they are here, are nothing more than overly simplified attempts to use scientific data to back up racist attitudes. It's pretty transparent; attempting to extrapolate FBI crime stats down to that black guy behind you in the store isn't something one does when one wants to pretend to be a fanboy of scientific rigor.
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Old 05-04-2008, 05:48 PM   #31 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by filtherton
Racist people (or those who aren't necessarily that interested in statistics) see data like this and say, "See, I was right to be afraid of that black guy I saw. He was four times as likely to assault me as a white guy." Which completely ignores the fact that there are a lot of other factors that determine whether someone is going to assault you than the color of their skin.
Do you think I'm stupid? Of course I take into account all the other factors that determine whether someone is going to assault you. I'm just as scared of a white hoodlum as a black hoodlum if they're staring at me with their hands in their pockets at 10 PM at an ATM. If you don't choose to use the data, what do you suggest about it? What does the data mean if it <I>doesn't</I> mean black people are more dangerous than white people? I'd like to hear your argument about why it's racist to know that blacks are more likely to commit crimes than whites.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mixedmedia
....because when you remove the instances of drug-related crime and black-on-black crime you will see that the risk of my being the victim of a crime perpetrated by a black man rather than any other is not much greater.
Source? I'd love to see this information. The stats are inflated pretty bad if you're right.

Last edited by Lasereth; 05-04-2008 at 05:51 PM.. Reason: Automerged Doublepost
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Old 05-04-2008, 06:12 PM   #32 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Lasereth
Do you think I'm stupid? Of course I take into account all the other factors that determine whether someone is going to assault you. I'm just as scared of a white hoodlum as a black hoodlum if they're staring at me with their hands in their pockets at 10 PM at an ATM.
You don't need statistics for this, though, just common sense. It isn't racist to assume that someone who is dressed like a thug is someone who might be prone to acting like a thug. There are more relevant indicators of thuggishness than race.

Quote:
If you don't choose to use the data, what do you suggest about it? What does the data mean if it <I>doesn't</I> mean black people are more dangerous than white people? I'd like to hear your argument about why it's racist to know that blacks are more likely to commit crimes than whites.
It's not racist to know the information. It's racist to think that it means anything with respect to any specific black person you see on the street. The data you cite means nothing in that context. Statistically speaking, 1 in 5 people live in China, right? So what does that mean with respect to a random person on the street? If anything, if you look at your data with respect to your overall probability of being a victim of violent crime you should come to the conclusion that the vast majority of black people aren't going to rob you.
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Old 05-04-2008, 06:15 PM   #33 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by filtherton
You don't need statistics for this, though, just common sense. It isn't racist to assume that someone who is dressed like a thug is someone who might be prone to acting like a thug. There are more relevant indicators of thuggishness than race.

It's not racist to know the information. It's racist to think that it means anything with respect to any specific black person you see on the street. The data you cite means nothing in that context. Statistically speaking, 1 in 5 people live in China, right? So what does that mean with respect to a random person on the street? If anything, if you look at your data with respect to your overall probability of being a victim of violent crime you should come to the conclusion that the vast majority of black people aren't going to rob you.
curious---as far as police departments are concerned isn't that not profiling either?
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Old 05-04-2008, 06:16 PM   #34 (permalink)
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curious---as far as police departments are concerned isn't that not profiling either?
What specifically are you referring to?
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Old 05-04-2008, 06:20 PM   #35 (permalink)
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It isn't racist to assume that someone who is dressed like a thug is someone who might be prone to acting like a thug. There are more relevant indicators of thuggishness than race.
police departments stated this as their defense in many cases, but yet they found that the police are racially profiling and that it is illegal.
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Old 05-04-2008, 06:52 PM   #36 (permalink)
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When if comes to courts of law, and police culpability in civil rights violations, I don't think it is realistic to expect the police to be any more honest than the criminals. Maybe there was more than one sort of profiling going on. Maybe not.

In any case, what I said has nothing to do with any sort of he said she said between police officers and whomever they are currently being sued by. What I'm specifically referring to is profiling someone who is walking behind you based on race alone, which was seemingly what Lasereth was trying to justify by citing FBI statistics. There are more relevant characteristics to consider than race when it comes to whether one should feel threatened by someone they run into on the street. Even then, looks can be deceiving, and if one feels inclined to prepare for the worst based on the superficial appearance of a person walking towards them, they should also be prepared to look like a fool if that person proves their fear to be misplaced.
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Old 05-04-2008, 07:51 PM   #37 (permalink)
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To clear things up, when I mention race and crime statistics I'm not talking about a black guy and a white guy walking down the street on an average day. I'm saying if you're walking down the street at 11 PM and there's a black hoodlum and a white hoodlum, I don't think it's unreasonable to assume risk with the black guy moreso than the white guy based on crime statistics alone.

To those who believe that citing black crime statistics is unreasonable and racist/prejudice/racial profiling, what do you see in those statistics? What do they mean to you? Anything?
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Old 05-04-2008, 08:00 PM   #38 (permalink)
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It's very hard not to be racist. As long as groups are seperated by social boundaries, discrimination will occur. Take as example, something as simple as red hair. If you're the only kid in school with red hair, you're going to get made fun of. However, if there were just a few more kids with red hair, that red hair would make you special. You might not even hang around the kids with red hair because it was still rare enough to make you stand out in front of others. Now absurd as it might seem today, go back to more primitive times. Yours is a tribe of people with red hair and you wander into a tribe's territory that has never seen someone with red hair. What are they going to think of you, especially when they find out there's a whole tribe of people with red hair, even though they have no reason to believe you are hostile?

You can't say you are completely unbiased unless you welcome every person you meet within your community to a chat. However, with the way some communities are, a person might just tell you to piss off because you don't look like a person they would even say hello to, even though you live a block away.
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Old 05-04-2008, 09:08 PM   #39 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lasereth
To clear things up, when I mention race and crime statistics I'm not talking about a black guy and a white guy walking down the street on an average day. I'm saying if you're walking down the street at 11 PM and there's a black hoodlum and a white hoodlum, I don't think it's unreasonable to assume risk with the black guy moreso than the white guy based on crime statistics alone.
But what does this scenario have to do with anything in reality? Are you saying that if I'm walking down the street and happen to see off in the distance a thuggish looking white guy and a thuggish looking black guy in my path I should walk closer to the thuggish looking white guy? Does this happen a lot to you? Why not just avoid them both? This is why your stats are useless. You have to contrive a ridiculous situation for them to be meaningful.

Quote:
To those who believe that citing black crime statistics is unreasonable and racist/prejudice/racial profiling, what do you see in those statistics? What do they mean to you? Anything?
The fact that you cite them in contexts where they are meaningless to support arguments that they don't actually support makes them problematic.
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Old 05-05-2008, 02:42 AM   #40 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Lasereth
Source? I'd love to see this information. The stats are inflated pretty bad if you're right.
I didn't say the stats were inflated. I said that they are inclusive of crime that happens among black people in black neighborhoods due to the business (and other consequences) of drug-dealing as well as to the socio-economic conditions there that often breed other types of crime. Are you going to deny that? Or are you under the impression that all of this crime is accounted for by swarms of black men leaving their neighborhoods to rob and attack white people? Do you believe that a young black man who was brought up in a stable middle-class, mixed-race community is more apt to be a criminal than a young white man brought up in the same community? Just because he happens to be black? This seems to be your premise - you have more to fear from black people. If this is your belief then I'd prefer not to go any further with this conversation other than to say it's curious that you profess to work in law enforcement.

I'm not going out on a statistics hunt for you because I only know it from reading it over and over and over again in books, articles, news stories. Your 'list' is used to whip up fear and hatred of black people because it doesn't tell the whole story. And you still haven't told me where you got it from, but I understand if you'd rather not say...
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