Thursday, May 03, 2007

Race is still an issue

I just finished Malcolm Gladwell's book Blink about the power of the subconscious mind to make decisions. One section of the book discussed race and our subconscious affiliation of stereotypes to certain races. He encouraged his readers to take the Implicit Association Test which would give you an idea if you favored one particular race to another I decided to take his challenge and let the chips fall where they may. After taking the test I was given the following summary:
Your data suggest little to no automatic preference between European American and African American.

Needless to say, I was quite pleased with myself. Though I didn't expect to come out as an out and out racist, I was afraid my subconscious was hiding some unspoken prejudices that might arise. However, I did cheat a little, in that Gladwell mentions that one of his students had gotten a better score after watching the Olympics earlier in the day, therefore he surmised that focusing on positive examples of African Americans would increase your chance of associating positive elements to African Americans. So, I kept that in mind as I took the assessment.

This book reminded me of the following video that depicts African American girls' opinions of race. This one will break your heart and, I hope, cause all of us to consider what sterotypical messages we are sending to students about race, gender, age, etc.

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