Saturday, February 21, 2009

Racial Prejudice, Disability Prejudice

From Charles M. Blow's column "Nation of Cowards?" in today's New York Times. I've always believed that a significant element within the dynamic of prejudice against people with disabilities is because many of us are identifiable by sight.
Project Implicit, a virtual laboratory maintained by Harvard, the University of Washington and the University of Virginia, has administered hundreds of thousands of online tests designed to detect hidden racial biases. In tests taken from 2000 to 2006, they found that three-quarters of whites have an implicit pro-white/anti-black bias. (Blacks showed racial biases, too, but unlike whites, they split about evenly between pro-black and pro-white. And, blacks were the most likely of all races to exhibit no bias at all.) In addition, a 2006 study by Harvard researchers published in the journal Psychological Science used these tests to show how this implicit bias is present in white children as young as 6 years old, and how it stays constant into adulthood.


imfunny2 said...

I see the column in the Times as an important window on where bias hides....

Disability prejudice is rooted, I think in so many different people are pressured to be physically 'perfect'
and to accomplish certain types of tasks every day.

Able without external biases toward us are, I think, always concerned about what happens when their physicality doesn't measure up or if they aren't 'working'

Add to that the segment of the able that are actively predatory to us, who harm us or kill us because physical or mental differences make it easy....

I'm discouraged. I don't think enough of the able will ever get that.

Mike Dorn said...

As a white, non-disabled male, I found the following quote from the New York Times editorial particularly interesting.

A 2007 study by researchers at Northwestern and Princeton that was published in the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science found that interracial interactions leave whites both “cognitively and emotionally” drained because they are trying not to be perceived as prejudiced.

In my own inter-racial encounters I can't say that I have felt cognitively and emotionally drained. Perhaps in my early days of teaching here at Temple University - but I think my awareness has matured in time. It has also helped that I have gotten to know Blacks in another society where racial prejudice is expressed in different, more subtle ways.


Gary said...

Mike's comment left me curious, and so I took the "race bias" test. (There are other bias tests available, including one on weight.) My result? "Your data suggest little to no automatic preference between European American and African American."

I'm suspicious, primarily because I do believe I harbor some prejudice. I think every human being does, but that's another blog post, isn't it?