Reducing racial tensions

Subject: Sociology
Pages: 9
Word count: 2296
Topics: Racism, Community, Ethics, Perception, Racial Profiling, Social Issues, Social Psychology

Racism starts the moment one thinks they are different from other people. Racists see themselves as superior and the other people as inferior due to their color complexion. This can be compared to attitudes that people develop against poor people or the immigrants and to neuter the tensions one has to check the origins of these feelings and how they have developed. These attitudes may have been developed through a person`s upbringing or the environment in his or her family life sprouting the debate about nature or nurture with regard to racism in the community.

Ways that community perpetuates or fosters racism

An individual that gets his or her upbringing in an environment where residents have perpetuated a belief that white people are considered to be superior to the people of color, reinforces that belief in your mind. If the whole societal and governmental system is constructed to reinforce such assertions, an individual is couched unknowingly to hold that belief. The case of South Africa is a classic example where the religious institutions were racist and believed that the blacks were inferior and had to be rescued from their uncivilized ways.

A belief is as strong as a racist notion about other people constructed in our immediate environment. The social environment of the schools, churches, families, and neighborhoods are the biggest suspects in the creation of the psychology of racism (Duckitt, 1992).

Studies by psychologists have shown that people who have racial biases are not aware and hence put them into practice unconsciously. Many people in different communities have implicit racial biases and in many times they act in a discriminatory way and completely do not realize that they have cultivated racial values. This has also been evident in the working of the medical environment when physicians attend to people from different races and classes differently. Socialization of our mind toward specific people has also led to the development of stereotypes that makes us view people from a particular racial or class background with preconceived ideas of their behavior. The socialization of people plays a significant role in the way they behave in the public.

The media information about young black Americans is responsible for the general stereotypes that they are gang members or thieves. Crimes related to racism beget more crimes as the already socialized racist persons see the crime as vilification of their beliefs. They see it as the threat of something that is core to their belief. However, there are more positive outcomes as people become more ardent in protecting their racist beliefs as respect for diversity grows in the same way.

Psychological Impacts of racism on the oppressed and the oppressor

Racism makes people be afraid and has unattractive personality traits such as inferiority complex and superiority complex that are not good for wholesome human development. Community life is destroyed as people live in constant fear of being victimized because of their racial background. These people become very vigilant of the happenings in their environment.

Race and poverty

Systemic discrimination is directly related to racism. Privilege and race, poverty, and race are known to have a direct association in the USA. The offering of home loans in America is an exercise that exacerbates racial discrimination as the likelihood of people of color qualifying is very minimal compared to the whites. The upward mobility of people of color has obstacles placed on the way inspired by racist beliefs.

Overcoming Racism and Racist Tensions among community members

People should not remain in the racist camps and discussions should be initiated in inter-racial platforms. People should engage each other to neutralize the tensions that exist between them. Members of a community should have positive motivation toward the creation of a pluralistic society.

Psychological Theories on Racism

Psychology theories in general argue that racism is an extreme manifestation of a developed social perception through a psychological process. More specifically people develop a strong stereotype qualifying to be prejudiced against a group of people. Stereotypes are also known to develop from the mental formation of attitudes directed to a particular group of people. Psychologically prejudices are most evident in people who want an ego-defense as a way of bolstering their little self-esteem.

Tajfel’s social identity theory is helpful in understanding how racial discrimination develops among community members. Most people strive in their life to propel a positive image about themselves. This form of social identity is responsible for group categorization. Social psychologists look at the social dynamics to explain the formation of prejudices that are inspired by racial cleavages. More specifically is the recognition of a particular personality trait that has a high affinity towards the adoption of racist values and attitudes.

Intergroup Theory

A contact hypothesis proposes that engagement between different groups can help in reducing prejudice if the pre-conditions that help the people to inter-relate such as having common goals, authority, and support from the government agencies are satisfied (Hodson, 2011). A commonsensical approach proposed by this theory is positive activities and experiences with the members that are considered to be an outside group. This will help to counter the negative stereotypes that are directed at the other group through the contact hypothesis. A practical application of this theory is the creation of inter-racial schools where all the children can socialize in an environment where there is no prejudice.

The closeness between the groups has proven to work as they reduce the racial tension and group anxiety and in an actual sense promote empathy between the different groups. School and workplace diversity has proven to work in developing platforms where racial bias can be challenged and denounced. Prejudice is developed through continued exposure to false beliefs, stereotypes and misconceptions that are founded on racial biasness. Discovering these socialized prejudices through close contact has been proven to lead to improved attitudes (Abrams, 2010).

The contact theory further explains that the crucial thing about its application in the communities is that the development of the positive views about the outside group is not limited to the participating individuals. The people who had contact firsthand spread the experience and positive attitudes to the entire group. Research has proved that inter-group contact has a more lasting impact to the high levels of racial biasness.

Levin’s theory on re-education (Psychological Field Theory)

The dynamic field or the psychological field which an individual interacts with on day to day basis helps in constructing his behavior and relationship with the larger society. The social and the physical environment is the living space in which he or she operates. This living space includes the places he goes to visit, events attended, books read, watching television, and the goals that he envisions. Children may not be aware of the living space forces around them and how they influence them. The things that children are exposed to from their life perspectives and in an actual sense may be biased or wholly wrong (Lewin, 1947).

An example is a conviction by a child that another sibling is loved more by her parents than he. This develops to be a fact in his mind on the living space. This may be a misconception, and the child’s behavior and attitudes may be influenced by holding onto that misconceived assumption. The facts that are existent in her living space are informed by life experiences, desires, and the growing need for social approval.

Lewin proposes that re-education of people about the deep-rooted biases that they have ingrained as a result of socialization can be very helpful in reducing racial tensions among groups. Interaction among the various groups that have inter-racial conflicts should be induced in informal settings. People should be encouraged in this community-based social cohesion re-education programs on a voluntary basis. The informal settings may include such places as recreational facilities where people have more close contact. Cooperative learning modules have also proved to be a workable solution in reducing prejudices that are associated with racism. Education is important because it helps individuals to think critically, and in so doing they are able to question their assumptions. The antithesis for a prejudicial thinking is critical thinking of the history of your socialization.

Civil education may be instructive, hence not efficient in helping people to change their attitudes but engage people with skills to fight racism, though ingraining positive critical thinking and empathy against the outside group can achieve positive goals.

Reducing prejudice in the UK societies to neutralize the racial tensions

Educational Interventions

Education is the software that must be deployed to the hardware to change the biased perception on people because they are from a different background from us. The contact theory will be of great use in making the education strategies successful in re-educating communities to face their assumptions from a more informed point of view. The specific programs should include such changes as introducing a multi-cultural curriculum, peer influence and discussion, cooperative learning, and instruction. Education has a more coherent way of appealing to the masses as schools are the first centers of transformational information in society.

Educational initiatives are crucial because they create positive relations by helping to denounce the myths and stereotypes that are directed toward groups regarded as outsiders. Students are given group works on topics that are known to exacerbate tensions and divisions among them hence driving fruitful discussions in the learning process. Perspective-taking and empathy are embedded in extended contact learning programs to reach out to minorities that may not be visible in the public.

Diversity Training Program

Diversity training adds a lot of value in training to people to respect the diversity that exists in their community life. This is because they help in inducing empathy among the participants and thus challenge their prejudiced attitudes. These programs’ achievements resonate with the aims of the education theory with regard to learning about the political events in the past and the general history of a people. The aim of these programs should primarily focus on civil education towards commitment to anti-racism, diversity, and cultural change to drive the agenda of social cohesion.

Media-based Intervention

Anti-racial prejudice campaign can only be run effectively through the use of media because it has a wider outreach. Media can play the normative and informational function in a community by targeting specific groups, creating general awareness, and reporting emergent cases on abuse of discrimination because of one’s race. The media gives the society a moral challenge to reflect on the moral rot happening in the society due to the continued racial hatred evident in most communities in the UK.

Applicability of these interventions

Racial prejudice is a problem created through socialization and to solve it we must institute social change as well as individual change. The issue of entrenched prejudice and racial discrimination must be challenged gradually until society as a whole joins the wave of change. The criminal justice system may be helpful in the case of the extreme cases of discrimination or prejudice associated with racism. A careful approach should be adopted because attitudes are predisposed by social factors that are sometimes beyond control. These factors may include such things as education level, age and locality. A momentous display of a racist attitude in a highly charged football match may be misleading or inconclusive in determining whether an individual is racist or not. The context in which one expresses these attitudes is also an issue of the contest when it comes to the implementation of the intervention strategies.

Suggestions that can help to ease racial tension in communities in the UK

Communities must institute intervention practices in schools, workplaces, and in the organization of multicultural workshops. Most racial prejudices originate from home backgrounds so these interventions must stress for the participants to transmit the messages to more people. The intervention should be very specific on the target attitudes they want to work with among the community members so as to have a clear objective. Recreational events such as sports activities are the best to use to create an atmosphere where all the members from the different races can express their culture without fear of being victimized (Pettigrewr, 2008).

The intervention should also focus on workshops that encourage the sharing of experiences among the different groups and discuss sensitive topics in the community such as politics (Paluck and Green, 2011). Facilitators are also very crucial in ensuring the successful implementation of strategies meant to reduce racial tension among different groups. Engagement of peers in quite crucial by offering them training based on psychological modeling of their minds to appreciate diversities in their communities. The intervention programs should be long enough to facilitate a gradual change of behavior among the participants and to ensure the transmission of the learned lessons to the larger society.

In conclusion, interventions should be theory-based by applying knowledge that has been obtained on social psychology. Community-based mechanisms of dealing with racism should be guided by trained professionals as facilitators. This will help in training programs and implementation efforts that will prevent defensiveness among the community members and re-retrenchment of the racial prejudices. The obstacle for the largest population is the challenge of a psychologically entrenched prejudice that has social backgrounds that one feels inferior in case it is victimized. The process is supposed to belong and incremental to ensure a stronger foothold in the community to challenge perceptions about other racial groups. The contact theory offered perhaps the best implementation intervention where people are encouraged to be closer and in contact as they confront biased perceptions about each other. This essay gives a general overview on the theoretical approach and practical interventional practices that can aid in reducing racial tensions in a community faced with racial conflicts.

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  1. Duckitt, J.H. 1992. The social psychology of prejudice. Praeger Publishers/Greenwood Publishing Group.
  2. Abrams, D. 2010. Processes of prejudice: Theory, evidence, and intervention. Equality and Human Rights Commission.
  3. Hodson, G. 2011. Do ideologically intolerant people benefit from intergroup contact?. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 20(3), pp.154-159.
  4. Lewin, K. 1947. Frontiers in group dynamics II. Channels of group life; social planning and action research. Human Relations, 1(2), pp.143-153.
  5. Paluck, E.L., and Green, D.P. 2009. Prejudice reduction: What works? A review and assessment of research and practice. Annual review of psychology, 60, pp.339-367.
  6. Pettigrewr, T.F. 2008. Intergroup prejudice: Its causes and cures. Actualidades en psicología, 22(109), pp.115-124.
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