Sunday, May 9, 2010

When I agree with Al Sharpton you'll be the first to know

Rev. Al went down Phoenix way a few days ago, and some people (if you can call a clearly unrepentant Armstrong Williams "some people") gave him a hard time about it. The recent Arizona legislation on illegal immigration didn't seem to affect him or African Americans. If anyone was going to be stereotyped or profiled, it would be Latinos-- and not even Latinos in his native New York. So why would Rev. Al add the Arizona governor and legislature to his enemies list by assuming the classic "outside agitator" role?

From the above Rev. Al/Phoenix link:
“If they do to Latinos today, they’ll do it to your group tomorrow,” he said. “If you open the door to a double standard for anybody, you open the door to a double standard for everybody.”

And Sharpton had a special message for blacks who made up a large part of the audience.

“Let me tell you something: After dark we all look Mexican riding down the street,” he said.
This week, Rev. Al and I agree. Legislators and law enforcement types aren't talking about checking people in plaid shirts just in case they might be Canadian and so far they've been unable (oh, all right, unwilling) to say what it means for someone to look illegal. So it makes sense for us to be duly concerned.

But Rev. Al is not alone in noting that stereotyping one group may lead to stereotyping others. (This isn't a "research study of the obvious" situation, either. If you've ever met whites who seem to get along with black folk but not with Asians, or black Protestants who like Catholics and Muslims but not Jews, or... well, continue please...)

(h/t to Racialicious) Jenn Fang over at briefly describes two new studies led by Dr. Chu Kim-Prieto of the College of New Jersey, one of which
suggests that stereotyping is a psychological process that actually promotes a broader "stereotyping" attitude that affects all minority communities, not just the ones being actively stereotyped. In other words, my stereotype is your stereotype, too.
Participants were exposed either to a stereotyped Native American image (the old University of Illinois mascot), a generic logo, or a blank folder. Those exposed to the mascot endorsed anti-Asian American stereotypes (yes) more so than the two other groups did. The implication being that stereotyping one group increased the propensity to stereotype others.

I continued to follow the trail from Fang's commentary in hopes of finding the original study. Her page led me to an article by Tom Jacobs at Miller-McCune that more clearly describes both studies. Jacobs reports:
The second experiment was conducted at The College of New Jersey. The 161 participants were randomly assigned to read one of two short essays: A descriptive history of Chief Illiniwek taken from the U of I website, or a description of that same university’s arts center. Both essays “were complimentary and respectful in tone,” the researchers note.

Afterwards, the same test to measure anti-Asian American stereotyping was administered. “Participants who were assigned to the American Indian reading passage endorsed anti-Asian American stereotypes to a greater extent than did those in the control condition,” Kim-Prieto and her colleagues report.
Jacobs provided a link to Kim-Prieto's article in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology. Here's the abstract:
Numerous findings have documented the adverse effects of stereotypes on those negatively portrayed by the stereotypes. Less is known about the ramifications of stereotype exposure on those who are not the objects of the stereotypic depictions. Two studies examined the effect of exposure to an American Indian sports mascot on the stereotype endorsement of a different minority group. Study 1 used an unobtrusive prime, while Study 2 used a more engaged prime. Study 2 also investigated the effect among those unfamiliar with the controversy regarding American Indian sports mascots. Results from both studies show that participants primed with an American Indian sports mascot increased their stereotyping of a different ethnic minority group. [emphasis added]
Bottom line, as minorities we hang together or hang separately. That's why I agree with Rev. Al's trip to Phoenix. He wasn't just showboating.
P.S. from our Cute Web Tricks Dept.: Fang's commentary also has a great example of single-word linking, for those who like online parlor tricks as I do. Go there and scroll over the words in the phrase: "right-wing pundits and fear-mongerers who perpetuate the racist notion that all Muslims are terrorists" ...

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