Racism alive and well . . .

and I don’t mean unconscious biasThis article is about the appearance of swastikas, burning crosses, and physical violence on the campus of St. Cloud State (that’s in Minnesota for you Californians out there).

I think the big move in scholarly work on discrimination is right — about unconscious bias that is — but I worry about the continued move away from good-ol-fashioned animus-based discrimination. I am sad to report that it is alive and well and is pretty vigorous before it turns up in the New York Times.

Still, if you want to measure your unconscious bias, you can do it here. It’s pretty interesting.

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2 Responses to Racism alive and well . . .

  1. robertlnelson says:

    Susan Fiske, the prominent Princeton psychologist, and others, asserts that “hot” racism is held by a small minority of individuals–some of whom are willing to do the kinds of things we see at St. Cloud. She continues that more subtle forms of bias are far more pervasive. Bottomline is that both kinds of racism continue, neither of which will be captured very effectively in over time survey questions aimed at measuring racism.

    One question I have is what the receiving networks are for Somali immigrants in Minnesota? Ironically, it may be the social liberalism of many segments of Minnesota society who invite refugee groups, who then become targets for the small minority of “hot” racists.

  2. jeffaregularworkinglawyer says:

    St. Cloud State seems like a particularly awful place. As the university’s president admitted (early nominee for understatement of the year) ”There is some reality to the reputation of St. Cloud as a place that struggles with diversity.” Also, the hockey team’s not doing very well this year, either. http://wcha.cstv.com/index-main.html

    As a lawyer, what’s striking to me is that a traditional legal response to discrimination — civil litigation — was tried, was successful, resulted in a broadly crafted remedy, and ultimately didn’t help at all.

    Here’s a quote from the NYT article:

    In 2002, [Prof. Myrle] Cooper and another black professor sent letters to several dozen high schools and churches in the Twin Cities urging minority students not to attend St. Cloud State, warning of a ”long and sordid record of racism.” He said he’d do the same today.

    About the same time as Cooper and his colleague were writing their letters, St. Cloud State settled a federal class action lawsuit filed by current and former faculty members who alleged that school officials had discriminated against Jews and other minority groups for years. As part of the settlement, the school established a Jewish Studies and Resource Center, increased campus security, upped diversity training and reformed discrimination-complaint procedures.

    Yet the problems persisted. An anonymous survey of faculty members contained anti-Semitic remarks. The university’s neighbors found anti-Semitic and racist fliers on their cars.

    Again, this raises questions about the efficacy of the standard institutional responses to bias — education (diversity training, a minority studies program) and enforcement (better complaint procedures, more security cops). Not seeming to help. Any other ideas?

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