13 September 2005

Reinforcing Feedback Between Racism and Classism - "The Other America" (Newsweek Article)

The following quote comes from the 19 September 2005 issue of Newsweek in the cover article titled "The Other America." It may be one possible explanation for incidents where interactions between different races and economic classes end up producing unintended outcomes:
Harvard's [Glenn C.] Loury argued in a 2002 book, The Anatomy of Racial Inequality, that it's this stereotyping and "racial stigma," more than overt racism, that helps hold blacks in poverty. Loury explains a destructive cycle of "self-reinforcing stereotypes" at school and work. A white employer, for instance, may make a judgment based on prior experience that the young black men he hires are likely to be absent or late for work. So he supervises them more closely. Resenting the scrutiny, the African-Americans figure that they're being disrespected for no good reason, so they might as well act out, which in turn reinforces their boss's stereotype. Everybody goes away angry.
This is just speculation on my part, but this "cycle of self-reinforcing stereotypes" may have been a factor in the closing ceremony incident and other race relations incidents at the 2005 Ft. Worth General Assembly.

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