Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Aversive racism

Hi all, I'm finally getting used to this 'blogging' concept and have a few more thoughts to share. Firstly i've finally made up my mind regarding the assessable blog and i'm going to do #7 on reducing prejudice. Ive been reading and researching for a while and this topic seems to keep grabbing by attention the most. One of the biggest problems as far as I can see is Aversive racists, who simultaneously hold egalitarian values and at the same time negative feelings towards minorities. The problem here is you may be one, as an aversive racist truely believes in racial equality and equal opportunities, yet feel uncomfortable around minorities and may even avoid them where possible. So how can one change their negative views about minorities if they aren't even aware that they have them. I think it requires alot of time and conscious effort, as you must truely look at yourself and reflect on all the situations you choose to put yourself in (or choose to not put yourself in). It is easy to preech equal opportunities and then just subconsciously make sure your not exposed to any minoritity groups. So the biggest problem seems to be if you believe that your not racist in any way, why would you find it necessary to question yourself in the first place?..... I guess this is one reason why the cycle continues.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Labels in Psychology, Friend or Foe?

Hi Fiona in responce to your blog I had some opinions on this issue I wanted to express. I also attended the guest lecture presented by Pilgrim and I do agree with your side of the argument and the negative connotations that labelling someone with a mental illness can have. However I have to say that sometimes it can have very positive effects to belong to a group or to simply be able to put a name to it. A relative of mine suffered (undiagnosed) with bipolar for nearly ten years and had reached a stage where he felt he no longer knew who he was. It was amazing to see the relief he gained simply by knowing what he had. By gaining the title of bipolar he was able to research and find so many other people were just like him with very similar symptoms. Having said that I have also experienced the negative problems that can come about from being labelled. I'm sure at some point in our lives we have all heard people being described as a 'psycho' or a 'schizo' in reference to their mental illness. A friend of mine who was open about his diagnosis faced isolation from many people he had considered friends. I guess that comes down to stereotypes, ignorance and the stigma attached to the labels of mental illness. Unfortunately I think this topic has no easy clear-cut answer. However I think David Pilgrims views were very interesting and made me question the oh so holy DSM. I think as time goes on this debate of labelling will develop more and more.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Where Jane Elliot began

Hi all I’ve finally figured out how to post a blog (yay!). After viewing the video in the tute on Jane Elliot’s blue eye brown eye experiment in Australia I thought I’d share with everyone the history of this experiment and where Jane Elliot began…
‘The Blue eyes, Brown eyes’ exercise, was originally created by third grade teacher Jane Elliott. In April 1968 the day after martin Luther king was shot, Elliott decided to try out the experiment that she had had in her head for some time. Martin Luther King had recently been labelled their class ‘hero’ of the month. Elliott knew her class would have many questions, one student asked "They shot a king Ms Elliott, why would they shoot a king?" There was no way Elliott could explain to third graders why King had been assassinated, so she decided to show them. She began the class that day with a discussion, she asked the children to think about all the people across America. She said of all those people, who do you think is treated differently or unfairly? The children responded with, ‘Blacks’ All these children lived in Riceville, Iowa a small Christian ‘All White’ community. None of the students had ever met a black person, so she asked them what they knew about black people. The children replied ‘They’re dirty, They steal, They stink, You can’t trust them!" Elliott asked if they thought it was fair they are treated badly because of their skin colour? They replied no and with that Elliott proposed they try an experiment to see how it feels to be so mistreated.
As the children all had the same colour skin, she divided them by another factor by which they have no control over, eye colour. On the first day the blue eye students were ‘on top’ they were given many privileges, the brown eye students had all their rights taken away. They weren’t allowed to drink from the water fountain, had a shorter recess, and weren’t allowed second helpings at lunch, they were given rules that enforced their second class status and were made to wear collars (The same as the green ones the Adults wore in the DVD we just watched) to show to everyone clearly they were ‘Brown Eye’ children. The brown eyes were called inferior, lazy, stupid, and made to feel like lesser human beings. Children who played together as friends the day before now would tease and ridicule because one had brown eyes. Two boys had a physical fight because a blue eye boy, insulted the other boy by calling him ‘ Brown eyes’.
The following day Elliott announced there had been a mistake and the Brown eyed students were in fact the superior students. She told the Brown eyed students to take off the collars they were wearing and put them on a blue eyed student. The brown eye students, who had the day before been quiet, withdrawn, sullen, and angry, were now happy, acting superior, confident and domineering. The way the students behaved, proved to Elliott that prejudice is a learned attitude.
On the day the Brown eyes were on top, it took the Blue eye children four minutes and twenty seconds to complete a visual card pack. The day they were on top however it took only three minutes. The day the Blue eyes were on top, it took the brown eyed children five and a half minutes to get through the card pack, yet again on the day they were on top it took only two and a half minutes.

The only thing that had changed each time was depending on the day they had been told they were either superior, or inferior people. Elliott asked the students why did it take you so long when you were wearing the collar? The children’s response was, we weren’t as smart and couldn’t think as well with the collars on.
At the end of the experiment Elliott asked should the colour of someone’s eyes have anything to do with how we treat them? The children shouted no, then Elliott asked, should their skin? The children strongly shouted no!
Elliott was able to show these children Prejudice and Discrimination, in a way that deeply affected them.
A reunion was held 14 years after the experiment and the children, now adults with their own children said they had carried the lessons they learned those days with them their whole lives, and that their children would never learn racism from them.
Elliott made a sample from her third grade class in 1968, divided them, and watched their behaviour change, their grades alter and even their personalities transform. The results have shown to be very positive, from children with strong racial issues, to children with the ability to have compassion and understanding for all races.

I hope you all found that interesting, isn't it amazing to see what a huge difference one person can make!