Phil Goodman -- a pseudonym -- has been teaching the psychology of prejudice for almost a decade. He has every lecture memorized and every punch line down. Throughout the semester, students explore the many ways prejudice manifests, interrogate prejudice research and, at the conclusion of the semester, develop ways to reduce prejudice in their own lives.
Goodman’s favorite lecture is on stereotypes. His reading for this particular lecture includes an experimental study from Stanford University social psychologist and 2014 MacArthur “Genius” fellow Jennifer Eberhardt and her colleagues. They sought to determine how stereotypic associations influence visual processing and attention. To do that, participants were primed with either black faces, white faces or no faces and then shown images on a computer screen of crime and noncrime objects that started fuzzy and became progressively clearer.
The researchers were testing reaction time, so participants were instructed to press a key as soon as they could make out the object. What they found was astonishing: participants took less time to identify a crime-relevant object when primed with black faces than with white faces. When primed with white faces, participants took longer to recognize dangerous objects -- so much so that if in a real situation, they could have been in fatal danger. During the class discussion, one student eager to contribute began reciting the study’s methodology. When they described the primed faces, however, they referred to the white faces as “white” but the black faces as “colored.” After they finished, there was a long pause. Microaggressions like these happen all time.
Microaggressions are subtle, discriminatory actions and comments toward people of color that may be racist, sexist or ableist. The late Chester Pierce, emeritus professor at Harvard Medical School, first coined the term in the 1970s as “subtle, stunning, often automatic and nonverbal exchanges which are ‘put downs’” by offenders. These seemingly trivial slights have been shown to be related to negative health and academic outcomes for black students.
Read the rest here: https://www.insidehighered.com/advice/2018/07/20/how-deal-microaggressions-class-opinion