Racism Makes You Stupid

The general case is that racists are stupid. But according to studies at Dartmouth, racism makes you stupid. The more racist you are, the more your brain power is taxed when in proximity to someone from another race. One of the researchers characterized the findings as a quantification of awkwardness, where people consume so many cycles trying to act natural that they can’t just be natural.

I think everyone needs to just chill the heck out.

Music: Minutemen :: No Parade

7 Replies to “Racism Makes You Stupid”

  1. Problem is, to me that research sounds a little like the cart’s before the horse. In the places where I’ve heard it discussed it’s sort of being expressed as if in warning: “See, don’t be racist, it’s stupid.”

    Honestly this sounds like evidence that being racist isn’t something you just decide.

    From the article: “According to the findings, the more biased people are, the more their brain power is taxed by contact with someone of another race, as they struggle not to say or do anything offensive.”

    Would people who are racist by choice be concerned about saying or doing something offensive? In my experience a lot of “racism” is learned by people growing up more or less isolated from other races. Stuff you learn as a kid is hard to get around, some of it’s pretty deep in the brain. You grow up and become comfortable with people who are around you, so you’re going to be more comfortable around people more “like” those people.

    Having read the entire article, it seems clear to me that it’s not doing a very good job of presenting what the study actually found. If what the study found is that the “executive control” portion of the brain is “struggling not to think inappropriate thoughts,” what have we learned, exactly? That having an uncontrollable natural bias sucks? Well, duh.

    What we’re not learning here, or at least what’s not being shown, is what we’re supposed to DO about that.

  2. I think the percentage of people who are racist by choice, rather than, for lack of a better term, “culturally racist,” is extremely small, proportionally speaking. What I mean is that almost everyone experiences some form of self-conscious awareness while in the presence of another race, while almost no one is racist by choice.

    Not sure I agree with your observations about growing up isolated. In my own experience, I grew up in almost entirely whitebread surroundings, with almost no race awareness at all. I thus did not have negative race images to contend with. Growing up and moving to metropolis put me face to face with the realities of gang violence, black-on-white hate crimes, crack houses bringing down neighborhoods, etc. The reality is that city life tests people to keep their racial stereotypes at bay.

    I’m not sure that bias is natural. I still think it’s learned.

    What can we DO about it? Chill the heck out!

  3. this sounds like evidence that being racist isn’t something you just decide

    There is nothing at all to suggest what you say.
    There is no “norm” to compare to.

    That having an uncontrollable natural bias sucks?

    How may you state that the bias is natural?

    (I’m gonna try to learn to chill the hell out.)

  4. Johnx:

    I beg to differ. If racism is a decision, and these people have made it, why then are they making the additional decision to hide it, and why is it then difficult for them to hide?

    Scot: You’re most likely right in your argument against my “growing up isolated” thing. It’s more complicated than that — I grew up very near some very racist people, and there was undoubtedly some culture creep going on, where the “ideals” of those people sort of infected a lot of people around me. So I was exposed to a pretty slim percentage of non-whites, while I WAS exposed to a good deal of racist talk. Fortunately I wasn’t indoctrinated by my parents into that kind of thinking; I think that a lot of others were, and it’s those people who I feel sorry for.

  5. “I beg to differ. If racism is a decision, and these people have made it, why then are they making the additional decision to hide it, and why is it then difficult for them to hide?”

    Lots of presumptions. The power of habit is strong. I would describe racism as learned
    behavior moreso than a ‘decision’, for most.

    If you mean fear of the unknown is natural,
    perhaps we agree.

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