Wednesday, November 4, 2009

How Racist are we in the United States?

Is this doll racist?

Whether intentionally or not, I think so: it plays upon a derogatory stereotype of black people.  Without any information on the doll and what it's designers were thinking, I cannot say whether or not this was influenced by some amount of racist ideology or whether they just need someone who lives in the real world screening their ideas.

Is this picture racist?

I'm sure many if not most of you are familiar with this incident already; however, I can find no article detailing why the test "black people stole my car" appeared as a better suggestion.  We are all familiar with the stereotype that black people are criminals, and many people think that this stereotype had something to do with it.

Recently, a friend of mine told me a story: she and a group of guys were eating in a diner, and a black couple came in and sat in the next booth.  The guys, now obviously prejudiced, began loudly and liberally using the "N" word, for the express purpose of offending the newer patrons.  The couple very understandably became offended, and the incident escalated until both parties were forcibly expelled from the diner.  She was mortified and infuriated, and when she confronted one of the guys on the matter, his explanation for his actions was that he didn't believe that the black couple should have been there in the first place.

A couple of years ago, I studied racism as a part of my psychology class "Contemporary Social Issues".  One article that I still remember showed that black children, when primed with the stereotype that black children perform poorly in school, underperformed on on an examination relative to black children who were not so primed.  I remember this article in particular because it showed more conclusively than anything I had seen before that negative stereotypes had significant negative effects on those so stereotyped.

Is there still racism in the United States today?  Yes, unfortunately, although the prospect of ever being completely rid of it is a debatable possibility.  Rather than put forth any further arguments about racism today, I'd like to direct you to a post by Ms. Sylaneous (ba dum pish!) entitled The Black Face again... geeze! on her blog Trauma and Drama.  She talks about a recent incident that I found compelling and addresses our society's response to perceived racism far more effectively than I would have if I had tried.

Are these people racist?

While they're trying their best to be offensive, I think that their over-the-top efforts make them less convincing.  I think they should spend less time hating Fox News and more time doing anything constructive in regards to advancing their own causes and beliefs.  Though, I must admit: the sign on the right is funny.

I'm curious; whether or not you consider yourself informed on the topic, what is your opinion on racism today?


Innocent Owner Of Mad Cats said...

I scared my self for a moment because I laughed when I saw the second picture. I mean really laughed. Does that make me a racist of some sort? Then I realized, no I wasn't laughing at the suggestion it came up with as much as the fact that it is the stupidest thing I have ever seen a computer do.

As for the first picture, no way anyone could come up with an excuse for that. "Not realizing" it wont cut it.

Stephen said...

I agree with you completely on your first point: explanations are not excuses. However, I have seen other toys that were similarly wrong (for lack of a better word), but not racist: so, I have reason to believe that sometimes toy-makers (or others) lose track of the ways in which their product may be interpreted.

As to the second picture, don't worry: I laughed too. In fact, your description of your experience renewed the picture for me, and I laughed again. I as well don't think I'm racist; it's the absurdity of the occurrence that gets me.

Anonymous said...

Stephen you might be interested in a post I made on Tomus Arcanum:
way back. It deals with racial issues in relation to political correctness and how it is a new fangled idea that is creating more problems than it solves.


btw, like the blog so far...

Anonymous said...

I'm back... not much here yet, but you're doing okay. Suggestion, always put an image with each post. For example when people add you by blog list rather than follow, the image shows up and makes the entry look more enticing. That's how I make my lists on Blogger's Cafe, an entry with an image helps. Also, on some of my blogs there are a lot of images and I get so many referrals from Google images searches. Add a counter, or a flag tracker so you can see where your visitors are coming from and how many.



Anonymous said...

I have added you to the Cafe:
Library 1 - Random Ideas

Stephen said...

Wow, thanks for the advice! I know that I can add images to the posts (finding the right images for some may be tricky), and I see how that makes them more interesting. I'll see about the counter/flag tracker too as soon as I learn how they work :-) (If I have difficulty I'll be sure to ask)