WEEK 11: Does White Privilege Exist? Part 1
After you read the assigned materials and answer the questions, you will be able to:
1. Analyze the differences between individual racism, interpersonal racism, institutional racism, and systemic racism.
2. Analyze the causes of white privilege on an institutional, interpersonal, and personal level.
3. Analyze the effects of white privilege on an institutional, interpersonal, and personal level.
4. Analyze the causes and effects of white denial on an institutional, interpersonal, and personal level.
5. Analyze how whites are involved in systems of white privilege and how they might challenge white privilege.
REREAD: Koegel: “Exploring Our Mental Models: Why The Sociological Imagination May Be Hard To Understand And Accept” (read the first 3 pages of attached PDF)
READ: Koegel: “Most White People Believe There Has Been Significant Racial Progress In The Past 50 Years – Are They Right?” (see attached 4-page PDF)
WATCH:5 Things You Should Know About Racism | Decoded | MTV News at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v＝8eTWZ80z9EE
READ: Koegel: “Do You See What – And How – I See? Exploring Different Ways Of Thinking About Racism” (see attached 4-page PDF)
WATCH: “Systemic Racism Explained,” 2019 (4 minutes and 23 seconds) at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v＝YrHIQIO_bdQ
READ: “Does White Privilege Exist” (read all the assigned essays in this PDF)
WATCH: “Systemic Racism Against Latinos” (3 minutes) at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v＝9gYJ0RPTGG8
[Read before you answer question 1A] After re-reading page 1 of my essay “Exploring Our Mental Model” until the end of the 4th paragraph of page 3 whose last sentence ends with: … “our assumptions and beliefs about the way things are”),
QUESTION 1A: Describe how I support my conclusion that we do not simply see and experience the world “out there” as it is. Rather, our mental model profoundly shapes our lives – or, as I put it, “it is not just our actions and reactions, but our very perceptions, what we think we see, hear, feel, smell and experience that are deeply affected by our mental model, our assumptions and beliefs about the way things really are” (this quote is on pages 2 and 3)
QUESTION 1B: Now that we’ve explored this issue for several months, briefly describe why you agree and/or disagree with my analysis and conclusions.
[Read before you answer question 2A] Imagine that you are going to write a letter to a person that you care about and/or love – a lover, spouse, parent, child, friend.
You’re writing to this person because you feel close to them and want to discuss two issues our nation struggles with and argues about: How much racial progress has been made in our society in the last 50 years? And how much racial (in)equality and racism exists today?
As you respond to the following questions in your “letter,” please keep in mind that:
1. There is no right or wrong answer to these questions;
2. The foremost goal of this question – and this assignment – is to invite you to think about what you think about these issues and then, after you do, to explore how sociologists think about these issues.
QUESTION 2A: In this letter, briefly describe how much racial progress in the U.S. you believe has been made in the last 50 years and , as you do, be sure to describe (1) Why you do or do not believe there has been racial progress and (2) How much racial progress you believe has occurred.
QUESTION 2B: This question asks you to be even more specific about your beliefs about racial progress. Whether you have thought about the following issues before this assignment, or not, please describe how much racial progress – if any – you believe has occurred in the U.S. in each of the following key areas in the past 50 years:
1. Racial Wealth Equality (say if you believe that racial wealth equality has increased or decreased in the U.S. since the early 1970’s)
2. Racial Housing Segregation (say if you believe the % of Americans living in [mostly] racially segregated neighborhoods has increased or decreased since the early 1970’s)
3. Racial Schooling Segregation (say if you believe the % of children attending [mostly] racially segregated K-12 schools has increased or decreased since the early 1970’s)
4. Racial Criminal Justice Discrimination (say if you believe that racially discriminatory treatment and “justice” in the criminal justice system – including police, arrests, conviction, incarceration, release – has increased or decreased since the early 1970’s)
5. Racial Voting Discrimination/Suppression (say if you believe the % of people of color whose right to vote is limited by racially discriminatory state policies – such as reducing the number of voting places, unjust voting purging – has increased or decreased since the early 1970’s)
6. Environmental Racism (say if you believe the % of people of color living in communities where industrial pollution and chemicals undermine their physical and mental health has increased or decreased since the early 1970’s)
7. Health Care Racism (say if you believe that racial discrimination against patients of color that limits their access to healthcare and/or undermines the quality of their treatment has increased or decreased since the early 1970’s)
QUESTION 2C: Briefly describe why you do and/or do not believe that racial progress has or has not occurred in the past 6 years. (this is different than questions 2A and 2B which asked you about how much racial progress has occurred in the past 50 years)
QUESTION 2D: Briefly describe any thoughts, feelings, and questions you had as you answered questions 2A and 2B and 2C (as always, only write what you’re comfortable sharing).
[Read before you answer question 3A] As I discuss in my essay “Most White People Believe There Has Been Significant Racial Progress In The Past 50 Years – Are They Right?,” most whites are convinced that, in the last 50 years, racism in our society has steadily decreased and racial progress has increased.
QUESTION 3A: Describe how I support my claim that the amount of racial wealth inequality and racial segregation in the U.S. has not significantly decreased in the last 50 years (I’m asking you to describe how I support this claim; you’ll discuss why you agree or disagree in question 3B)
QUESTION 3B: Describe how the information in this essay is similar to and/or different than your assumptions and beliefs about racial progress.
QUESTION 3C: Describe and why you agree or disagree with my analysis and conclusions about racial progress.
[Please read before answering question 4A] After reading my essay “Do You See What – And How – I See? Exploring Different Ways Of Thinking About Racism,” and knowing there is no right or wrong answer to this question:
QUESTION 4A: Briefly describe the extent to which the way you thought about your life and our society before this semester began was closer to the individualistic mental model I described in my essay or to the sociological mental model – what Eitzen calls “the sociological perspective” (as you know, Eitzen also calls the individualistic mental model a “person-blaming” perspective and the sociological perspective a “systems-blaming’ perspective in the essay he wrote about social problems)
QUESTION 4B: In a few words, describe the extent to which the way you think about life and society has or has not been influenced and/or enriched by the sociological perspective since the semester began.
QUESTION 4C: Briefly describe why the way you now think about life and society has or has not been influenced by the sociological perspective and, if it has not, why you disagree with some or all of the sociological perspective.
[Read before you answer question 5A] Before we read any other essays and watch any videos about racism, we’re going to look more closely at how you think about this very important issue. As you do, keep in mind, once again, that there are no right or wrong answers to this question. Rather, the aim is to help you become aware of how you think about this.
We will explore two key points:
(1) There are many ways to think about racism; and
(2) How the way(s) most people in the U.S. are taught about racism – in school, by mass media/social media, and politicians –narrowly focuses on some ways of thinking about racism and repeatedly ignores and/or dismisses others.
First check out the four different ways of thinking about racism that I list below:
• Individual Racist Beliefs and Actions (that supporters of this way of thinking about racism believed are caused by the racist prejudices, stereotypes and hatred of specific individuals who, for entirely personal reasons, adopt these beliefs and behaviors);
• Individual Racism (that involves individual acts of racism between one person and another (such as harassment, discrimination from a boss, criminal justice officer, or a racist rant caught on cell phone, etc.)
• Institutional Racism (rules, practices, and policies of key institutions – such as schools, governments, criminal justice system, health care system – that routinely benefit whites at the expense of people of color, regardless of the awareness or the intentions of the people involved).
• Systemic Racism (in addition to including institutional racism, systemic racism has a second key feature: Widespread racist cultural beliefs generated by the mass media, politicians, schools, criminal justice system, health care system, etc. that everyone is exposed to, influenced by, and internalizes in varying degrees.
It is worth repeating that systemic racism has two overlapping, interrelated features:
(1) Institutional racism; and
(2) Widespread cultural messages – from schools, mass media, government, etc. – that everyone—people of color as well as whites – are exposed to and “breathe in” throughout our lives. An important, often hidden part of the cultural “air” we breathe, these “messages” teach people to accept racist beliefs and engage in racist behaviors in ways they often are not aware of.
QUESTION 5A: To the best of your knowledge, describe which 2 ways of thinking about racism (of the 4 ways of thinking I discussed above) that most people in the U.S have been exposed to the most in school, the mass media, social media, and by politicians (I’m talking about the 4 ways of “thinking” – the assumptions, beliefs, and ideas about racism – and not the actual experience of racism).
QUESTION 5B: Briefly describe which 2 ways of thinking about racism you’ve been exposed to the most in mass media, by politicians, in your families and with your peers (as always, only write about what you feel comfortable sharing. You will write about your experiences in school for Question 5C)).
QUESTION 5C: As you think back to the roughly 10,000 hours you spent in school from kindergarten to 12th grade, give your best guess about how many of these roughly 10,000 hours you studied racial inequality and racism in the U.S. (since this is a “guess,” it does not need to be precise and there is no “right” or “wrong” answer to this question).
QUESTION 5D: Of the hours you spent in K-12th grade studying racial inequality and racism, give your best guess about how many of these hours you studied racial inequality and racism using each of these 4 ways of thinking about and explaining racism in the U.S.
Individual Racist Beliefs And Actions.
QUESTION 5E: Describe:
(1) Which 2 of the 4 ways of thinking about racism (listed above) feel most familiar, comfortable and/or correct to you and
(2) Which 2 ways are less familiar and feel less comfortable or incorrect (once again, there is no right or wrong answer – the aim is to invite you to think about the “lessons” about racism that you’ve been exposed to and may have been influenced by)
QUESTION 5F: Briefly describe (1) why you do or do not believe you are willing and able to stay open to new ways of thinking about racism that may initially be unfamiliar, uncomfortable, and /or feel incorrect; and (2) how difficult you think it will be to stay open to new ways of thinking about racism that may be unfamiliar and feel uncomfortable and/or incorrect.
QUESTION 5G: Briefly describe (1) a few small steps you can take, if any, to be a bit more open to exploring these different “mental models” about racism; and (2) the benefits, if any, of doing this.
QUESTION 6A. Describe the 3 most important and/or helpful insights into racism discussed in the video “5 Things You Should Know About Racism” (see link on top of page 1)
QUESTION 6B. Describe why you selected each of these 3 points and why you did or did not find each of them helpful.
QUESTION 6C. Describe why you believe it would or would not be helpful to use this video – or other age-appropriate resources – to teach high students about these issues.
[Read before answering Question 7A] As we saw in my essay “Do You See What – And How – I See? Exploring Different Ways Of Thinking About Racism,” the idea of systemic racism suggests:
• Racism is deeply embedded in all parts of our society and shapes all our key institutions such as schools, workplaces, the mass media, health system criminal justice system, government, etc.
• Systemic racism unleashes powerful social forces and “social currents” that profoundly shape our beliefs, behaviors, and lives in ways that many people do not see; and,
• We cannot understand what happens in our lives and society without understanding how systemic racism shapes our beliefs, behaviors, institutions, and society.
After watching the video “Systemic Racism Explained” (see link towards top of page 1),
QUESTION 7A. Describe how this video supports its conclusion that, in addition to a long history of racist policies in major institutions (such as government, banks, real estate industry, etc.) “a big part of systemic racism is implicit bias” – widespread prejudices in society that, like pollution in the air, individuals have “breathed in” and absorbed from our society that they are often not aware of (starting at about 2.5 minutes into the video) [For a very funny story about implicit bias that involves two very well-known celebrities, see page 1 from the “Does White Privilege Exist” file. Eddie Murphy is one of these celebrities. And you almost definitely will know the other celebrity J]
QUESTION 7B: Since most students have been taught that racial prejudice is caused by ignorant individuals, after students watch this video, many are surprised that “implicit bias” (which consists of widespread prejudice) is actually part of “systemic racism.” Describe how this view of racial prejudice is similar to or different than how you view racial prejudice.
QUESTION 7C: Describe how this video supports its conclusion, “We can see evidence of systemic racism in every area of life in the U.S.” (quote comes at 3:16 minutes into the video)
QUESTION 8A. Describe how Tim Wise’s essay “Exploring the Depths of Racist Socialization” (pages 3 – 6 in the attached essay “Does White Privilege Exist”) supports the main points that Tatum makes on page 7 of “Does White Privilege Exist.”
QUESTION 8B. Describe the most important insight you gained from Tim Wise’s essay into how hard it is for whites to overcome what he calls “racist socialization” and what the systemic racism video calls “implicit bias.”
QUESTION 8C. Describe (1) Which of the two perspectives about racism Tim Wise would support: a system-blaming perspective or individual blaming perspective; and (2) Why.
[Read before answering Question 9A] Mostly using your own words, describe how each of the essays and video (see below) support both of the following statements by Johnson (pp. 21 – 22 of “What Is Privilege”):
• “Privilege exists when one group has something of value that is denied to others simply because of the groups they belong to, rather than because of anything they have done or failed to do” and
• “Privilege shows up in the daily details of the lives of people in almost every setting” – You are not reading this essay for this assignment. I’m only quoting from it!!!)
QUESTION 9A. Essay called “White” names give job seekers an edge” (page 9 from “Does White Privilege Exist” PDF file)
QUESTION 9B. Essay on page 10 from “Does White Privilege Exist”
QUESTION 9C. “Bare Minimum” page 11 of “Does White Privilege Exist” – be sure to read and use the last half of this essay because you cannot answer this question correctly if you only read/use the 1st part)
QUESTION 9D. “Systemic Racism Against Latinos” (see attached link for the video on page 1).
QUESTION 10. Describe the 3 most insightful, helpful, eye-opening points made by the readings/videos and/or raised by the questions in this assignment – and be sure to briefly say why each of these 3 points were insightful, helpful, etc.
Your initial minimum 1000-word response will be graded on:
• Your understanding of the information.
• Your use of information from the assigned readings, talks, and videos. You must reference/include specific information from the assigned materials to support your views. In addition to information from the assigned materials, you may also use information from other credible sources to help support your response. You may also share personal experiences as appropriate to help provide context for your response.
• How you apply this information in your response to the discussion questions
• The quality of your spelling, grammar, and writing
Your 2 minimum 75-word posts will be graded on:
• how substantial and thoughtful your posts are to the two 1000+ word posts you are responding to and on your ability to be specific about what exactly you found most insightful, interesting, etc. about each of these two posts;
• The quality of your spelling, grammar, and writing;
• The degree to which your 2 posts were respectful and appreciative
Your post of at least 150 words that directly responds to 3 of the most insightful, eye-opening points that I made in the feedback I gave to everyone’s posts in the discussion forum will be graded on:
• how substantial and thoughtful your posts are to the detailed feedback I gave on 3 student posts in this discussion forum – and how specific you are about what exactly you found most insightful, eye-opening about my responses;
• The quality of your spelling, grammar, and writing;
• The degree to which your response was respectful and appreciative.
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