This is edited material from Prejudice and Racism by James M. Jones McGraw-Hill, 1997.
Bring this material to class and be prepared for class discussions on it.You must read this article. It is a newspaper article from the New York Times.
DEFINING PREJUDICE AND RACISM
Prejudice and racism describe ways in which people devalue, disadvantage, demean, and in general, unfairly regard others. In this sense, they refer to negative attitudes about, and negative treatment of, people who belong to other groups. Prejudice and racism are also concepts that encompass the ways in which people value, advantage, esteem, and, in general, prefer and positively regard people who are like themselves or belong to their own group. Therefore , prejudice and racism are processes by which people separate themselves from others who are different in certain ways and attach themselves more closely to people who are like them in certain ways.
These processes work in complementary ways to separate people from one another. These may be quite natural processes in the overall scheme of things. But, in U.S. society and in other cultures around the world, this cleaving of people into separate and distinct groups, with positive value attaching to one and negative value attaching to others, is rendered a problem by the existence of differential power. Whether defined numerically, militarily, politically, physically, culturall y, or spiritually, differential power makes the distinctions drawn of enormous human consequence.
Prejudice is a positive or negative attitude, judgment, or feeling about a person that is generalized from attitudes or beliefs held about the group to which the person belongs.
The Problem of Discrimination
Prejudice is a negative attitude toward another person or group; it is based on a social comparison process in which the individual's own group is taken as the positive point of reference. The behavioral manifestation of prejudice is discrimination those actions designed to maintain own-group characteristics and favored position at the expense of members of the comparison group. I agree with Raab and Lipset (1959) when they state that the behavioral manifestation of prejudice creates the social problem. Therefore, behavior is of more concern to us than attitude is.
Discrimination is, in legal terms, actionable. Prejudice per se is not. The Civil Rights division of the Justice Department can bring suit when there is strong evidence of discrimination. When a person is treated differently and worse on the basis of his or her status (gender, race, age, sexual orientation, etc.), we may presume that the behavior follows from prejudicial attitudes. But the attitudes, when unexpressed, do not cause the problem. When we try to legislate attitudes and their verbal expression-for example, the banning of hate speech-we find the courts relatively unsympathetic. First Amendment guarantees of free speech protect the right to tell individuals that you don't like them and that you think their ancestors were subhuman.
But discrimination is linked specifically to behavior that treats similarly qualified people differently, or dissimilarly qualified people the same. But we discriminate all the time in our society. We may admit a student with comparatively low scores on the SAT to college and reject another with higher scores if the former is the son of an important alumnus. We may hire someone for a job who is the daughter of a prominent family over one who is somewhat more qualified, but not so well connected. We may subsidize an airline that transports wealthy and influential business people and politicians, while rejecting subsidies to community organizations that feed the poor. Discrimination is a fact of our society and is always linked to certain prejudices. When discrimination disadvantages members of certain racial and gender groups, we have the problems of prejudice and racism.
A working definition of discrimination, then, can be stated as follows:
Discrimination consists of negative behavior toward a person based on negative attitudes one holds toward the group to which that person belongs, or, positive behavior toward a person based on positive attributes one holds toward the group to which that person belongs.
What Is Racism?
Racism builds on the negative-attitude view of prejudice, but includes three other important criteria: First, the basis of group characteristics is assumed to rest on biologyrace is a biological concept. Second, racism has, as a necessary premise, the superiority of one's own race. Third, racism rationalizes institutional and cultural practices that formalize the hierarchical domination of one racial group over another. Therefore, although racism shares certain aspects of prejudice, it takes on a decidedly broader and more complex meaning....
Racism puts as much emphasis on the positive attributes of one's own race as on the considered negative attributes of the other. As we will see later (Chapters 12 and 13), before we can understand racism, we need to consider what we mea n by race. Moreover, racism does not follow immediately from what we think about race per se, but how we attribute certain attributes or characteristics to people who belong to, or are assigned to, different races. And finally, we need to consider how these concepts of race are utilized in the formation and processes of our society.
After reviewing these multiple definitions, we have extracted the following as some basic elements of racism:
- Belief in racial superiority and inferiority.
- Strong in-group preference and solidarity, as well as the rejection of people ideas, and customs that diverge from those customs and beliefs.
- A doctrine of a cultural or national system that conveys privilege or advantage to those in power.
- Elements of human thought and behavior that follow from the abstract structures, social structures, and cultural mechanisms of racialism.
- Systematic attempts to prove the rationality of beliefs about racial differences and the validity of policies that are based on them.
Three Types of Racism
In the first edition, I distinguished three levels of racismindividual, institutional, and cultural. These correspond to levels of analysis and are distinguished by the interactions among psychological, behavioral, institutional, structural, and cultural dynamics in the unfolding of racialist beliefs and practices.
Individual racism. The first level is most closely aligned with race prejudice. It fits the definition of racist given above. Consider the following example, quoted from Abraham Lincoln, which is illustrative of individual racist thinking:
I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races; I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor qualifying them to hol d office . . . I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will ever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality And in as much as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race. (cited in Hay [ed.], 1894, pp. 369-370, 457 458)
These statements represent what most writers term individual racism. Of the three types of racism, individual racism is closest to race prejudice and suggests a belief in the superiority of one's own race over another and in the behavioral enactments that maintain those superior and inferior positions.
Institutional racism. Individual racism and race prejudice do not differ to a major degree. However, the white racism indicted by the Riot Commission (also known as the Kerner Commission, after the Illinois governor who chaired it) goes beyond the level of individual racism to the more general, more insidious, and more debilitating institutional racism. Carmichael and Hamilton (1967, p. 4) describe institutional racism as
. . . [when] five hundred black babies die each year because of lack of proper food, shelter and medical facilities, and thousands more are destroyed and maimed physically, emotionally and intellectually because of conditions of poverty and discrimination in the black community . . . or when black people are locked in dilapidated slum tenements, subject to the daily prey of exploitative slumlords, merchants, loan sharks and discriminatory real estate agents.
Racist institutions are but extensions of individual racist thought in order to achieve racist objectives through manipulation of institutions. Thus, for example "grandfather clauses" and "poll taxes" can be seen as the manipulation of the political process to achieve individual (or collective) racist ends.
Institutional racism, then, has two meanings: (1) It is the institutional extension of individual racist beliefs, consisting primarily of using and manipulating duly constituted institutions so as to maintain a racist advantage over others. (2) It is the byproduct of certain institutional practices that operate to restricton a racial basisthe choices, rights, mobility, and access of groups of individuals. These unequal consequences need not be intended, but they are no less real for being simply de facto.
Cultural racism. The third type, cultural racism, contains elements of both individual and institutional racism. Cultural racism can generally be defined as the individual and institutional expression of the superiority of one race's cultural heritage over that of another race. Culture is defined in many different ways, but Kroeber and Kluckhohn defined it comprehensively as
. . . patterned ways of thinking, feeling and reacting, acquired and transmitted mainly by symbols, constituting the distinctive achievement of human groups, including their embodiments in artifacts; the essential core of culture consists of traditional (i.e., historically derived and selected) ideas, and especially their attached values. Culture systems may on the one hand, be considered as products of action, on the other, as conditioning elements of future actions. (1952, p. 181)
The point of cultural racism is that, when one group enjoys the power to define cultural valuesand the individual forms those values should take and to reward those who possess them and punish or ignore those who do not, cultural groups will be marginalized and disadvantaged to the extent that they claim cultural heritage that diverges from these core cultural beliefs. When the diverging cultural group also is defined as a racial group, the basis for bias (culture versus race) is hard to distinguish. Given that racism is feelings of racial superiority reinforced by the power to determine the outcomes for other racial groups that are consistent with one's own group's best interests, then cultural differences are bound up inextricably with racial differences. For this reason, simply asserting that a "colorblind" approach is the best way to eradicate racism is much too simple.
It is cultural racism that has been most apparent to U.S. race relation analysts. It is a matter of cultural racism when the achievements of a race of people are fully ignored in education. It is a matter of cultural racism when the expression of cultural differences is unrewarded or is interpreted negatively. It is not just black people who have been victimized by the myth of the cultural melting pot, but all ethnic minorities. White Western European religion, music, philosophy, law, politics, economics, morality, science, and medicine are all generally considered to be the best in the world.
Within the United States, we are led to believe that black people have contributed absolutely nothing to the national expression of these cultural forms. More significantly, any person, regardless of his or her cultural background, who cannot function well according to the dictates of white Western cultural norms does not have much opportunity for success in this society. Many black Americans are now reacting to cultural racism by asserting their blackness, their African heritage, their cultural uniqueness.
To summarize, racism has three faces. Individual racism is closely akin to race prejudice, but differs from the latter in (1) the importance of biological considerations and (2) the role of behavioral enactments. The concept of institutional racism has gained prominence since Carmichael and Hamilton (1967) and the U.S. Commission on Civil Disorders (1967) sought to clarify and elaborate on it. The term cultural racism refers to the intersection of cultural and racial differences, where superiority on both factors is assumed.
Working Definition of Prejudice
Let's review the discussion of prejudice:
With these basic points as guides, we can now offer a working definition of prejudice. It is on this definition that we will base our discussion when we refer to prejudice in the remaining chapters of this book.
Prejudice is a positive or negative attitude, judgment, or behavior generalized to a particular person that is based on attitudes or beliefs held about the group to which the person belongs.
A Working Definition of Stereotype
Taking these issues into account, we must accept that a stereotype will involve both positive and negative beliefs about the characteristics of a group of people. These beliefs might be relatively accurate or inaccurate in representing the group. A stereotype may reflect the beliefs of a single person or it may be a set of beliefs shared by a group about another group. These considerations of stereotypes lead us to the following working definition:
A stereotype is a positive or negative set of beliefs held by an individual about the characteristics of a group of people. It varies in its accuracy, the extent to which it captures the degree to which the stereotyped group members possess these traits, and the extent to which the set of beliefs is shared by others.
Simply holding a stereotype is not necessarily problematic. A stereotype, even if evaluatively laden and negative, only becomes problematic when it is actively used to affect how we treat a specific other person. We can therefore distinguish between existence of a stereotype (and all the characteristics that it entails) and the process of stereotyping, which we define below:
Stereotyping is the process by which an individual employs a stereotypical belief in the evaluation of or behavior toward a member of the stereotyped group.
With these definitions of stereotype and stereotyping for guidance, let's proceed with our discussion.
Following is a list of possible reasons that stereotyping is a problem:
How we feel about or evaluate others is intimately connected to how we feel and evaluate ourselves. Therefore, categorizing and judging others is closely associated with feeling good about ourselves. The traits we ascribe to others depend on personal motivational goals served by group status and whether it contributes in a positive or negative way to our psychological well-being.
Minorities and Occupations
Two things stand out from these results. First, the funneling of social groups, for whatever reason, into different occupational niches leads us to infer that such groups communally possess different personality attributes and that the possession of these traits makes this occupational segregation "natural." Second, when asked to explain this covariation, we readily come up with explanations that reinforce the existence of the stereotypes we have drawn.
STEREOTYPES INFLUENCE PERCEPTION AND BEHAVIOR
Historical interest in the content of stereotypes has given way to the processes of stereotyping. The question of primary interest now is; How do the cognitive structures affect the perception of people and the behaviors that follow from that perception? Hamilton, Stroesner, and Driscoll (1994) propose three ways in which stereotypes influence how we process social information, perceive our social world, and behave toward others. Stereotypes affect (1) the social information to which we pay attention, (2) how we interpret that information, and (3) how we process that information. The following section will examine each of these sources of influence.
PSYCHOLOGICAL PREDICAMENTS OF PREJUDICE
A predicament is a situation in which a person's psychological well-being is threatened. Prejudice or its potential is a threat to which a person must pay attention and against which he or she must take corrective or evasive action. Our concern here is with those situations that cause predicaments, and those corrective and evasive actions one takes to fix them. Crocker, Major, and Steele (in press) suggest four conditions that pose predicaments for people at risk for being targets of prejudice:
ADAPTING TO PSYCHOLOGICAL MARGINALIZATION
Very often, the superculture controls important resources and opportunities. People must therefore function within specific rules in order to gain access to these benefits. The patterns of behavior, reward structures, values, and adaptational challenges that exist within a subculture may be different from those existing in the superculture. These differences can be a source of strain for people who live a bicultural life. One illustration of this strain is offered by the contrast of being a person of color in the white majority superculture of the United States and the reactions (often negative) it may elicit. Bicultural (or multicultural) people are frequently derisively labeled with the supercultural label of " white on the inside," and their indigenous or birth culture is referred to as the "outer shell." They may be termed, therefore, "black" on the outside and "white" on the inside ("Oreo cookie"); yellow on the outside makes one a "banana"; red on the outside makes one an "apple"; and brown on the outside makes one a "coconut." One's loyalty, commitment, and identity are challenged by this culturally perceived dualism.
Because prejudice and racism have created a cumulative mistrust of whites, and of white institutions, values, and beliefs on the part of nonwhites, a tension is created for people in marginalized groups. If one embraces the superculture, one may be suspected of "sleeping with the enemy," "acting white," or "going Anglo," for example. If one rejects the superculture, refusing to engage in meaningful interaction, one is at risk of limiting one's access to, possibilities with in, and opportunities to achieve and advance in the broader society. The central challenge of bicultural adaptation is to maintain loyalty and connection to one's culture of origin, while also participating in a personally meaningful way in the broader so ciety.
As we have seen in this chapter, there are a number of promising paths to prejudice reduction. None of these courses of action is easy, and we often find that an action that ought to work theoretically doesn't have the desired effects in practice. This list is not definitive, but it does suggest directions in which efforts to ameliorate interpersonal and intergroup biases may turn.
- It takes into account multiple levels of society.
- It considers multiple perspectives of interacting parties.
- It requires mutual agreement to succeed.
- It involves interdependent relationships.
- It thrives on superordinate goals when the conditions for agreement are ripe.
Taken together, these conditions foster a positive basis for intergroup relations. But trust and a desire to control prejudice reactions and to seek common ground are also essential ingredients.