All 2 entries tagged Racism

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March 21, 2007

It's in all of us and I hate it

Writing about web page https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/uk/measureyourattitudes.html

My housemate isn’t a beacon of enlightened thought. He is, however, a very nice chap at heart and I know he believes that we should treat people equally regardless of their background. But he just took an online test that reveals he has bq. a moderate automatic preference for White British over Asian British.

This is not just any old online testing website. No Love Calculator to be found here. It forms part of Project Implicit, an academic project linked to some of the top institutions in the US. They admit the online test isn't perfect, but reading their FAQs reveals the perhaps obvious fact that although it only takes 5 minutes and is pretty simple, it is rather well thought through.

This test is not the only evidence of such bias either. The French charity SOS Racisme sent CVs identical in all but name to companies across France. Those sent out with typically French names had a much higher rate of positive responses than those without and I’m sure similar tests here would yield the same results. Yet, I don’t think this is indicative of conscious racism.

As Project Implicit is designed to demonstrate, this prejudice is so ingrained that it probably has a hold on the most ardent supporters of equality without them even knowing. Racism is about so much more than ill-thinking yobs shouting abuse at innocents. It’s about the preconceptions that we all have of other people.

Clearly, we can’t just kick these off, no matter how much we might want to. They pervade all parts of our society, from job interviews to Top Gear. What do we do then? Long term – I’m not sure. I hope they just slowly fade away, but at present, the opposite may well be happening. In the meantime, an awareness that the problem exists is a start. So that even if we have these prejudices against our will, we can very much consciously try to do our utmost to prevent it clouding our vision.

Go on, take the tests yourself.


February 19, 2007

Put the brakes on Top Gear's prejudice…

I’m not complaining about the money that they spend on ridiculous stunts (quite good telly sometimes). I don’t even mind that the footage of one of the presenters nearly killing himself was watched by millions. My beef is that Top Gear reinforces our prejudices and stereotypes.

During tonight’s installment, criticism of Kia cars was based on the notion that

The Koreans eat dogs.

There’s also ill-informed nationalism

We are Britain; we are the inventors of everything.

And I don’t think either of these came from the worst culprit, Jeremy Clarkson. I’m sure I could find countless examples of blatant sexism and there were hundreds of complaints about the presenters’ mocking of post-recovery Richard Hammond.

I enjoy the sarcastic banter. I thought the idea of trying to send a Robin Reliant into space was brilliant. I just don’t think it’s a good message for the BBC to be putting out. Clearly, these aren’t the worst things anyone’s ever said and perhaps for tolerant Warwick students it’s all just a bit of misguided fun. My worry is that the audience is a lot wider than that and unquestioning young people can’t help but see this way of speaking as acceptable and maybe even intelligent.

I don’t want to see the programme end. I’m sure the presenters are bright enough to keep producing such otherwise quality output, without resorting to such narrow-mindedness.


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