Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Interesting Discussion...

"Racism in America"

jason said...

I'm stunned that 12-13 percent of people would admit to harboring racist sentiments. Like Sonya, I too believe the actual number to be higher, but can't fathom someone admitting it, outside of the hate group sect.

From a white perspective, I am not proud to admit that there have been times when I have had what I would call prejudicial thoughts. Whether these were the result of media stereotyping, growing up in a rural/lily-white environment, or some other factor I don't really know. I've never thought of myself as harboring racist thoughts, though.

I think that might be an area of misunderstanding between races ... there are varying degrees of prejudice and/or racism at play in different people.

Still, if I -- someone who considers himself certainly not racist in any fashion -- can admit to having prejudicial notions from time-to-time, certainly the number of people who harbor racist thoughts is higher.

Of course, my statement may bring on contentions of contradiction (I'm sure to some the slightest prejudice is racism) I honestly believe these prejudicial notions that I've encountered over time are just passing thoughts that I consciously dismiss as being wrong. I'll admit I have to make a conscious effort to not allow them to find their way to affecting my decisions or behavior, but I think that's because the environment of stereotyping and racism we live in produce these notions in all of us. We just have to be stronger people to dismiss the temptation to take the easy way out and apply those prejudices in our everyday life.

While this might be a poor metaphor, it's like having the temptation to lie or steal or cheat. It's there. Some people wouldn't fathom it, some people hear the passing notion and dismiss it. Others fall victim to it. That said, 12-13 percent is just of those who would admit it. That's sad, but that's true, I believe.

Shahib Shahab said...
Sonya,Incredibly interesting article. What struck me most was the 12 - 13% of people who believed themselves to harbor racist sentiments. I'm curious as to your thoughts on what pushes a person to think that of themselves, past rationalizations and explanations to a critical self-analysis, the results of which aren't particularly flattering. To the remainder of our blogging audience, I'm also curious as to how many of you would honestly assess yourselves to fall in the 12 - 13%. Thanks Sonya.

December 13, 2006 2:45:00 PM PST

Sonya said...
Hello,I honestly believe that the percentage of people who harbor racist sentiment is far higher that 12-13%. However, only those few are willing to admit it. By this I mean that almost everyone gets caught up in racial stereotyping and prejudices. It is part our socialization to lump any person or thing into a category. Just as we would describe a thief as someone in a ski mask and dark clothing or assume that someone driving an expensive car is wealthy even though these conclusions may not be true. Categorizing those who are different from us is a human's way of organizing large amounts of information and unfortunately it can lead to racist beliefs especially when the most popular forms of media are scewed toward depicting only the negative, e.g. black women as hoes, black men as thugs, latinos as uneducated or lazy. (That's an entirely different discussion!)The characteristic that distiguishes a person who harbors racist sentiments from an all out "racist" is the fact that while we all have socialized beliefs, most can acknowledge this belief and question its validity while a "racist" chooses never to question their beliefs but rather to live in his or her own ignorance.

December 13, 2006 7:35:00 PM PST