Monday, February 15, 2010

Response to Psychology Today Article "To Ignore or Confront? Dealing with Racially Stereotyping Comments"

Below is my response to a blog posting by Ira E. Hyman, Jr., a Professor of Psychology at Western Washington University, discussing his research on social reaction to racial stereotyping. The full posting can be found at the following web address: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/mental-mishaps/201002/ignore-or-confront-dealing-racially-stereotyping-comments

"Thank you for your research and blog posting. "Black History Month seems like an appropriate time to discuss dealing with these awkward social situations." I respectfully disagree. A symptom of the overarching problem that is race relations lies in the assertion by men and women of letters such as yourself that race and the discussion of race is synonymous with blackness or, in the absence of ostensible blackness, non-whiteness(whether this is a concious assertion or not). The construct of race applies to the Irish, German, Welch, Jew or Italian man as much as it does to women and racial minorities (amongst others) because they are all social constructs with historical narratives attached. Racialization of these mostly European groups is almost nonexistent as they have been assimilated into homogeneous grouping of "whiteness" in America. Your research postulates social conventions that are well known to any black person walking the streets of a predominantly white city or who is employed in a predominantly white work environment and your proposed rememdy casts white Americans in the familiar benevolent role of savior to the helpless minorities (in much the same fashion as The Civil Rights Act of 1964, Brown v. Board of Education, and Roe v. Wade have to name just a few). In addition, your proposed plan of action places an undue hardship on white Americans who are conscious of this schism by asking them to bear the yoke of correcting the malignancy of racial stereotyping in others. The solution is not for women and racial minorities to become less vocal for fear of consternation or retaliation but to become more vocal in denouncing such behavior in concert with the majority culture not tolerating racial stereotyping in their presence nor in themselves as you've asserted. We also must fight for a society where social convictions and customs are not legislated on Capitol Hill and forced upon the masses as laws but are the by-product of the respectful intercourse that naturally occurs amongst free men and women embarking on an unimpeded journey in pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness."

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