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Prejudice and Racism Aren't the Same Thing

Prejudice and Racism Aren't the Same Thing

By Dennis Loo (2/26/14)

When people talk about racism many, perhaps most, treat racism as if it's the same thing as individual prejudice. This is an error.

Racism is both an ideology and a system of domination. In systems that are racist, some groups by virtue of the group that they are labeled as belonging to are considered inferior and less deserving of the rights that the superior group or groups enjoy. Race is a social construction and not a biological feature. In biological terms, there is only the human race; there are not subcategories of distinctly different "races." The notion of race (whites, blacks, etc.) is socially (and historically) constructed and not a natural physical or biological category.

The idea of different races rests upon an arbitrary emphasis on specific and varying, depending upon what culture you're in, overt physical features (phenotypes) such as skin color, hair texture, nose size and shape, stature, etc. In some cultures race is signified by how tall you are. In some it's signified by skin color and in others race has nothing to do with skin color. In biological terms there is greater variation within so-called races than there is across races, which further indicates the arbitrariness of the notion of race. In very homogeneous places like Japan race is invented (the Barukamin) based upon putative traits among those who have historically been confined to professions such as skin tanners.

Prejudice involves stereotypical thinking and is something that individuals may or may not evidence. Racism does not need, although it tends to spawn, prejudice. An example of how racism can exist without racial prejudice is institutional racism in which overt or covert prejudice may not even exist, but the institution itself in its operations and outcomes is indisputably racist. IQ tests, for example, that assume a certain shared cultural pool of experiences, can readily produce racist results by privileging certain cultural knowledge among those taking the test compared to others. Those creating the tests, however, may not think that they have produced a racist test as they may not consciously or unconsciously have any racial prejudice.

Mainstream media companies generally adopt and are guided by notions of beauty that privilege certain physical traits that many white people share and that vary from the physical traits more commonly found among minorities. Do those in the media who make decisions about whose face goes on their magazine covers hold these views of beauty being associated with fair skin and small buttocks in a consciously prejudiced manner? In most cases no. Yet their celebration of this narrow band of what is considered beautiful or sexy is racist in nature.

The fact that racial prejudice exists among at least some members of all ethnicities and "races" does not prove that racism is an equal opportunity phenomenon. It does not show that blacks, for example, are not the victims of a system of domination in which being seen as black is qualitatively different than being seen as white.

As sociologist Allen Johnson puts it in his book, The Forest for the Trees, Sociology as Life, Practice and Promise:

As an individual, I may not feel or act in racist ways, and in my heart I may even hate racism, but all of that is beside the core sociological point that I’m involved in one way or another by virtue of my participation in society itself. If the path of least resistance is for people to take what I say more seriously because I’m white, then I’m likely to receive a benefit of racism whether I’m aware of it or not, and in doing so, I’ve unwittingly participated in racism. This raises the question of how society works and how I participate in it – whether I see this, it’s hard to avoid asking about how I participate in the system that produces such consequences. What are my responsibilities? What could I do differently that would contribute to different outcomes? How can I be part of the solution to racism rather than merely part of the problem?

In other words, by making me aware that I’m involved in something larger than myself, sociological practice gets me off the hook of personal guilt and blame for a world that I didn’t create and that isn’t my fault. At the same time, however, it makes me aware of how I choose to participate in the world and how and why those choices matter. I have no reason to feel guilty simply because I’m white, but I also don’t have the luxury of thinking that racism and white privilege have nothing to do with me. (Pp. 25-26)

The US Supreme Court famously declared in its 1857 Dred Scott decision: “[the black man] has no rights which the white man is bound to respect.”

Think about the exoneration of George Zimmerman’s murder of Trayvon Martin. Translate that Supreme Court decision into the specifics of that case: “Trayvon Martin has no rights which the white man, George Zimmerman, is bound to respect.”

Translate that declaration in terms of the specifics of the Michael Nunn case: “Jordan Davis has no rights which the white man, Michael Nunn, is bound to respect.”

When you do that, the reality of racism and the fact that racism is an institutionally backed system of domination stands out clearly.


+3 # sintricity08 2014-02-27 19:01
I feel racism and prejudice actions are taking place in more discrete ways than they used to, when comparing days of early America when slaves were used for labor. African Americans represent a majority of the prison population but make up a minority of the U.S. population. That fact alone makes me feel like things haven't truly changed in America. We may have a black president, but when looking at the majority of the ruling class in society, they are predominantly white and male.
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0 # Denisse Adue 2014-03-01 05:11
I completely agree. When Obama was elected a lot of people felt that discrimination was going to lessen dramatically but unfortunately that is not the case. Our criminal justice system is considered the most racist institution and we often hear stories on the news as well as outside the news that prove this to be true. Racism and prejudice is still prevalent outside of the criminal justice system as well. Apparently it is occurring quite frequently on college campuses too. I recently read an article in the New York Times that stated that "the number of complaints related to race and ethnicity filed against colleges and universities rose to 860 in 2013 from 555 in 2009." There was even a recent protest last week by Black students at the University of Michigan bringing attention to the racial tension and isolation they face on campus. All of this happening AFTER Obama was voted into office. It's very sad to see that we still have a long way to go when it comes to ending racism.
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0 # Screamingrelaxesme 2014-03-01 06:48
I can't completely agree with your statement for the reason that serval cases have been viewed by the public where it is clearly obvious a crime was based off of racism and yet nothing is done about it because the person being tried is white. We have seen this far too many times in the media and we simply play blind to it when it's right in front of our faces.
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0 # Rod24 2014-03-01 20:31
I agree with you, racism and prejudice still very much do exist in this country. Although it seems as if things are getting better, on the bases of discrimination, it actually is the same if not worse. The prison system is the new way of discriminating against minorities. Once entered into the system these men and women are facing a life time of second-class life. They are legally able to be discriminated against and ever since the War on Drugs was launched back in the 80's, they have become the main target of incarceration.
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0 # screamingrelaxesme 2014-03-02 00:09
I can't completely agree with your statement for the reason that several cases have been viewed by the public where it is clearly obvious a crime was based off of racism and yet nothing is done about it because the person being tried is white or simply not black, this to me is not very discrete. We have seen this far too many times in the media and we simply play blind to it when it's right in front of us. America keeps trying to say we live in a colorblind nation but we have become so consumed with the envision and idea of it we lose the reality that plenty of people are acting on their prejudice preventing us from becoming a colorblind nation.
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0 # jorigby 2014-03-09 02:51
I feel like the majority of the people don't realize that racism and prejudice are still present until they are educated about it. It has become part of society where the majority of the people see right through racist and prejudice statements and do not necessarily think anything about it as if it wasn't harmful towards others or themselves.
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0 # katgrl15 2014-02-27 22:06
Racism may not be defined or has the same definition of prejudice, but I do feel that it is a base for an individual to be prejudice. Prejudice roots from feeling someone is inferior to another and finds reasons behind why they are inferior. In today's society racism and prejudices seem to derive from the color of one's skin. The skin color of choice that seems to be targeted the most is the African American skin. Michelle Alexander states, "It is simply taken for granted that, in cities like Baltimore and Chicago, the vast majority of young black men are currently under the control of the criminal justice system or branded criminals for life". Michelle was referring to racism being the new normal. The criminal justice system does not respect and has a bias against those that are black or those that look as though they are African American. Thus, Michelle Alexander mentions that Baltimore and Chicago are in a current state of racism by branding African Americans as criminals for life.
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-1 # katgrl15 2014-02-27 22:18
I agree with the previous comment that racism is more discrete and shaped into something to make most Americans believe that it does not exist anymore. Michelle Alexander explains that people know the truth but somehow pretends not to know the truth. She states, “Today, most Americans know and don’t know the truth about mass incarceration". Mass incarceration is one of the biggest institutions that practice racism and most people know about it but chooses to almost pretend that it has nothing to do with racism. When it to slavery times, it was obvious that black people were being oppressed and it was noticeable. Nowadays the prison population is majority black people but people feel that this is normal and racist because, "we know that black and brown people are far more likely to be imprisoned that we, as a nation, "We tell ourselves they “deserve” their fate, even though we know—and don’t know—that whites are just as likely to commit many crimes." Prison is a cover up.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-02-27 22:39
If you asked most people in this country if they know how many people are imprisoned and how many are under some form of correctional control, how many do you think would know the answer? Most people haven't heard the term "mass incarceration" and don't know that 7 million are under correctional control or that out of every five people behind bars in the world, the US is holding 1 of those five, even though we're only 5% of the world's population.
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-2 # KG7 2014-02-28 14:59
Speaking from personal experience I am confident (while I can't prove it) that my white privilege kept me from doing jail time (on 2 separate occasions). I was able to hire the best attorney (I didn't step foot into the courthouse nor have a face to face meeting w/my attorney)while many facing criminal charges are at the mercy of the D.A. who are inundated w/cases, who aren't personally invested in their clients cases. My attorney stated, "She is white, a single mother who made a mistake."
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-1 # Rod24 2014-02-28 21:49
I agree with you, prison is definitely a cover up for the true reasons why men and women of color are imprisoned. It is sad to see how many minorities are thrown in jail for petty offenses. Mass incarceration is the biggest institution to practice racism and it is up to the general public, like us, to bring awareness to the rest of society so they know what type of country they live in. These ppl do not deserve the sentences they are serving, they're tricked into pleading guilty and unfortunately there is not much they can do to defend themselves when the color of their skin is black or brown.
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-1 # sas13 2014-03-01 02:16
Yes, Alexander states on page 88 and 89 that people are swept up from the streets and arrested for suspicion of drug possession. They are told that they should take a plea bargain because they will receive less time. This is so wrong when you consider most of these people may be innocent.
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-1 # sas13 2014-03-01 02:21
It is also interesting to see how judges are not giving convicted people longer sentences for drug violations then violent crimes. How does this help the person? Alexander explains on page 89 that most of these offenders are selling or buying because they need to support their drug addiction. Why don't we placed them in rehab progams? Why does the government not want to see these people Rehabilitate?
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-1 # screamingrelaxesme 2014-03-02 06:47
To comment on what you said that "Mass incarceration is the biggest institution to practice racism and it is up to the general public, like us, to bring awareness...”. I defiantly agree with that but the issue with this is that several people have a judgment as soon as terms like felon, inmate or prisoner are used and them automatically shutting down and thinking the worst. Several examples of this are given in The New Jim Crow by Alexander “Remarkably, even in communities devastated by mass incarceration, many people struggling to cope with the stigma of imprisonment have no idea that their neighbors are struggling with the same grief, shame, and isolation.” (PG 166)
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-1 # Rod24 2014-03-07 21:43
I agree that ppl already have a presumption when they hear the word "felon" or "inmate". I was reading an article that said that inmates were finding a way out of their cell and attacking officers and other inmates. Ppl were so quick to say things like inmates were "animals", they needed to be "tamed", what do we want ppl like them out on the st. The CJS is unfair and there is no doubt in my mind why these ppl are acting like "animals". Being in a place like that will drive you insane. In the book, Life Without Parole by Victor Hassine, he describes what it is like in one of the prisons which he gets transferred to. He states "prison designers and managers have developed a precise and universal alphabet of fear that is carefully assembled and arranged- bricks, steel, uniforms, colors, odors, shapes, and management style- to effectively control the conduct of whole prison populations". These men are driven by fear, how can we expect them to act civil living in these type of conditions?
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-1 # screamingrelaxesme 2014-03-09 03:21
Exactly and even more so how are they expected to ever stand stably on their own two feet when if once they’re “free” back in society, doors are not being opened because of the stigma they carry. The CJS has been proven to fail and yet we do hardly anything about it to acknowledge its failure. The common complaint of "what do we want ppl like them out on the st." is something that is commonly heard. Continued...
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-1 # screamingrelaxesme 2014-03-09 03:22
So what is the idea here, commit a crime (regardless of how small) and be kept in jail or prison forever because you will not be allowed to make living again among society? While putting everything into perspective it seems rather obvious that might be their purpose; when you see all the prisons and jails being constructed and the funding into the search of petty crimes, Alexander in The New Jim Crow states “Between 1980 and 1984, FBI anti-drug funding increased from $8 million to $95 million”, in comparison to the lack of rehabilitative or transitional programs, the focus in on catching but never necessarily making things better.
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+1 # Katgrl15 2014-02-27 23:17
Racism can be defined differently but I do feel that it is a base for an individual to be prejudice. Prejudice's roots are from feeling someone is inferior to another and finds reasons behind why they are inferior. In today's society racism and prejudices seem to derive from the color of one's skin. The skin color of choice that seems to be targeted the most is the African American skin. Michelle Alexander states, "It is simply taken for granted that, in cities like Baltimore and Chicago, the vast majority of young black men are currently under the control of the criminal justice system or branded criminals for life". Michelle was referring to racism being the new normal. The criminal justice system does not respect and has a bias against those that are black or those that look as though they are African American. Thus, Michelle Alexan der mentions that Baltimore and Chicago are in a current state of racism by branding African Americans as criminals for life.
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-2 # Denisse Adue 2014-02-28 05:54
Although this is thought to be a time when America is supposedly entering a post-racial era after the election of President Obama, it is evident that racism still exists today. The term Individuals that were born after the overt racial debates and divisions that shaped their parent’s lives are thought to be growing up in a “colorblind” society. Since it is obviously more common now to witness interracial friendships and marriages and because discrimination is a little less overt many people think that racism and prejudice hardly exists. A lot of the discrimination that is experienced is subtle and often times it is those that are not minorities who feel that discrimination is very rare. This has to do with the fact that they themselves are not being isolated or discriminated against, and since maybe they are not prejudice they feel that most others aren't either. The justice system and the work force alone are great examples of how real racism and prejudice is. It's very discouraging.
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-1 # Lyndsey Morris 2014-03-01 22:17
Your comment made me automatically think of the post I read last week. The fact that people are saying we are becoming less racist and open to more things, I believe is incorrect. Yes, we do now have our very first African American president but that doesn't mean racism doesn't take place anymore. The article last week about all of the murders of African Americans by white people and how they got away with their crimes is evidence that we have not come as far as a lot of people say we have. You also made a great point that interracial friendships and marriages are on the rise now more than ever, wish is true. But once again we cannot be fooled thinking this means racism and prejudice is extinct!
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-1 # Denisse Adue 2014-03-02 06:38
Yup. It's very sad to see. Although we've come a long way we still have a long way to go. The fact that we now have a black president does say a lot but evidently it isn't enough. If we continue to ignore the issue thinking that everything is fine we will not progress as a nation.
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0 # LB11 2014-03-02 05:49
I agree with the above comment. I also think that it depends on where you grow up. If you've been in California all your life you might be more inclined to believe that racism has gone extinct. People who are from the deep south where racism is still very evident till this day, are more likely to say racism is nowhere near close to ceasing to exist in America. Also I would argue that the reason why we hear so much about interracial marriages and friendships is because they are not the norm which is the only reason why they are constantly being brought to our attention. If it was a normal thing and everyone excepted them, we would probably never hear about this new age "integration" as much as we do.
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0 # LB11 2014-03-07 03:06
In regards to the increase of interracial friendships and marriages, I completely agree. The media has such a great impact on people that whatever they see or hear on TV, the internet,magazi nes, etc. is evidence enough for them to believe there is a social phenomenon going on and in this case "colorblindness " of people from all different races. However, I also believe that the only reason people even notice integration in modern society is because it is in fact still a taboo and many people are still racist. If we truly have become a colorblind society, things like interracial marriages and black people in predominately white job fields would be a norm and therefore wouldn't need to publicized as often as it is now. When Obama was elected, the main focus for many people was on the fact that hes black. When a white man runs for president nobody says "wow a white man is running for president!" because it is a norm and therefore doesn't need to be mentioned. Thus racism still exists.
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-1 # sas13 2014-02-28 07:06
Racism and discrimination are more prevalent than ever but it is disguised in our criminal justice system. In America we had extreme cases of racism with slavery which enslaved blacks to labor intensive jobs with no pay and rights. Today we have found the criminal justice system as a covert way to keep people of color subordinated. As Alexander states this is our “New Jim Crow”, however, we did not see this shift as the civil rights movement had everyone convinced that racism and discrimination would end. Meanwhile the right wing conservatives had their plan the rhetoric of “law and order”as Alexander states was first mobilized in the late 1950s this rhetoric discriminated blacks. Until the late 60’s this rhetoric grew momentum and divided whites and blacks once again.
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-1 # Dennis Loo 2014-02-28 15:14
Your attorney's statement - "She's white..." tells it all.
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-1 # KG7 2014-02-28 15:19
I 100% agree
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-1 # Rod24 2014-02-28 21:40
Many ppl do not realize that the U.S. is still controlling minorities through mass incarceration. I speak from experience, before reading "The New Jim Crow", I did not realize why the majority of the prison system was mainly Latino/African American. Like many other Americans, I made the mistake of believing that it was something that the minorities were doing that landed them in jail; little did I know then how truly mistaken I was. The truth is that the reason so many of our brothers & sisters are in jail is because of the corrupted system which we live in. Mass incarceration is just a new way to keep women and men of color in "their place". The sad truth is that the U.S. does not care about the under class. Yes, we may have a black president, but this is nothing more then a show that the gov't is putting on for their clapping monkeys (society). Obama is just a puppet that the bureaucracies control, he's no diff then Bush or any other president we have had thus far.
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-1 # sickmacias89 2014-03-01 06:04
Private prisons are things that i don't completely have intel on but know that its probably a bad thing. Just like knowing that touching the hot coal will burn without actually going through with the action. So my question is this, Am i to understand that a private prison is the product of capitalism because it makes some rich older man an investment and more money?? If so then this means people are "okaying" privatized slave labor in their backyards as long as they are safe at night.
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-1 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-01 15:36
Privatizing prisons is a major trend and the investors in them aren't only rich old men. It's part of the neoliberal philosophy that sees privatizing everything as a good thing.
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-1 # katgrl15 2014-03-01 11:05
When reading this article at first, I could not quite understand the difference between prejudice and racism and I was falling victim to being one of those people who saw racism and prejudice as the same thing. Once I started to read the article again, there was actually a clear concise difference amongst racism and individual prejudice. Racism tends to be collective and creates superior groups who make inferior groups feel scrutinized and unwanted. Michelle Alexander points out many times that the superior group is white people and they are racist against black people. She states that, "It is simply taken for granted that, in cities like Baltimore and Chicago, the vast majority of young black men are currently under the control of the criminal justice system or branded criminals for life," due to racism becoming the new normal and currently existent.
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-1 # lcdisney37 2014-03-01 20:59
I agree with you. I think the majority of people could say they have fallen into now knowing the difference of prejudice and racism. Its not only in Baltimore and Chicago, many prisons hold a majority of black men when in reality, if a white man were to be checked he would have a better reason to be sent to jail. This notion that makes a black man a "criminal" all revolves to the fact that they were once enslaved.
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0 # katgrl15 2014-03-01 11:11
Initially I could not distinguish how individual prejudice differed from racism. It is quite simple to see that individual prejudice relates to how people assume and stereotype others base off of something they do not like or is considered unacceptable in their perception. An example of individual prejudice could be a white man not associating with or hating a white girl for wearing her hair in a "black" style because he is prejudice against black women and their over the top hairstyles. When reading Hassine's book chapter 11, it was clear and concise on what racism was compared to prejudice. He shows that racism is so prone in prison, that groups divide themselves into certain racial cliques and create gangs to fight against one another. They did not necessarily have a prejudice against each other but feel they are the superior race, such as the group majority of black men from Philadelphia, to the other groups such as black people from other areas.
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-2 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-01 15:20
When you enter prison you are classified by "race" by the staff. This isn't something that is chosen initially by the inmates. It's the prison administrators. They do this in order to keep the prisoners divided so that it's easier for the staff to control them.

Racism is an ideology and a system of domination. It isn't the same thing as the Philadelphia gang members that Hassine talks about in his book. Prejudice exists among all different "races," but the source of prejudice overall and what keeps it alive overall is racism as an institution and ideology perpetuated by the system, not by specific individuals.
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-1 # katgrl15 2014-03-01 11:23
To clarify a previous comment I had made about mass incarceration, I do not think people are aware of mass incarceration and pretend not to know about it, but are aware about racial discrimination amongst the men that are sent to jail. If I were to ask an average individual to guess what race would most likely fill the prison population, they would already know to answer black. If you proceeded to ask why, they would pretend not to know that it purely has to do with racism, even though they can recognize that racism is behind it. I meant to address, that most people know that black people populate the prison, not necessarily knowing the full extent of mass incarceration, because of racism and the faulty criminal justice system, but choose to use prison as a cover up story and imply that prisoners deserve their sentence and punishment.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-01 15:16
Quoting katgrl15:
most people know that black people populate the prison, not necessarily knowing the full extent of mass incarceration, because of racism and the faulty criminal justice system, but choose to use prison as a cover up story and imply that prisoners deserve their sentence and punishment.

This is a nuanced situation because there are different elements involved. Do most people "choose to use prison as a cover" story for racism? There are racist ideas among the population, particularly white America towards minorities but not exclusively whites, which is a factor, but I would argue that the main problem is a) the CJS & War on Drugs that targets minorities selectively even tho minorities are not more likely to use illicit drugs, and b) relatedly, the media/public officials who characterize the problem as coming from minorities.
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0 # KLR 2014-03-01 22:19
It is interesting to see how social racism builds a basis for many of our individual prejudices. Even though I am not racist, I can see how some of my prejudices came to be based on the society that I grew up in. I would like to take this a step further by saying that social upbringing is a form of racism that build a some prejudices. I went to a high school where some of the Asian kids dressed up in dress clothes. Almost everyone believed they were drug dealers because only drug dealers dressed that nice when they came to school. Nobody really thought they were dressing up because they just wanted to look more professional. I think the real key here is to understand that there is racism and prejudices out there in the world, but we was individuals need to stay aware of these issues when we are making decisions in our lives.
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0 # GA23 2014-03-02 00:12
Going off on a comment made by Professor Loo. If people out in the streets were asked who they think make up the people in prison they would most likely mention some minority. This because of how society has socialized people with the help of the media mostly. It is not just beauty standards that are racist in media, it is mostly everything we see. In the Michelle Alexander the criminal justice system claims that on page 131 "We do not engage in racial profiling." This hard to believe when looking at who makes up most of the population in the system.
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0 # PD06 2014-03-03 20:23
I agree with you totally on this issue. Mass media has put negative images onto minority groups and blames it on the minority for the problem they face. Instead people need to see that the real problem here is not the minority, it is the system.
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0 # GA23 2014-03-02 00:26
Also in the Michelle Alexander book page 131 it says that even though they do not stop people based on race it is "frequently a determinative reason." For instance in the book a white young male in baggy pants in front of a high school who could possibly be selling drugs would be ignored by police even. If it was a black male it most certainly would alarm the police and he would be approached. Racial stereotypes are used frequently not only by police but the public in general. It becomes almost a norm especially if you are not the one being offended.
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0 # Beks113 2014-03-02 02:32
(Part 1) Michelle Alexander states in “The New Jim Crow”, that “as a society, our collective understanding of racism has been powerfully influenced by the shocking images of the Jim Crow Era and the struggle for civil rights” (183). It has been brought to my attention, however that the most common form of racism is not the derogatory statements or violent acts towards a person of another race, but rather it comes in the form of institutionaliz ed racism. Two of the most powerful culprits of this form of racism are our countries education system and the CJS, neither of which are inherently prejudice but are both blatantly racist. They mirror each other in their practices and in their hypocrisy. In reading "Transforming the Ivory Tower", which pertains to the system of higher education in our country, I learned the way in which racism exists and thrives in colleges and universities across the country. Then, in turn, by reading "The New Jim Crow", I learned more about the brazen racism
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0 # Beks113 2014-03-02 02:36
(part 2) that the CJS has been built upon for the past 30 or so years. Both systems have these elaborate cover ups in place in order to fool those who question the systems' practices in regards to race. The education system relies heavily on Affirmative Action to imply that they are not racist in regards to student admittance for colleges. Meanwhile, the CJs utilizes the cover of the War on Drugs to defend themselves against allegations of racism being an integral part of the system. The harsh reality is that Affirmative Action and the War on Drugs are just facades, covering up these institutions’ real motives, which are meant to keep certain people in power (whites) and certain people at the bottom (minorities). When looked at closer it becomes quite apparent just how true this is, when the majority of professors at college campuses are older, white males and the majority of the population in the country’s jails and prisons are young, black males. The scary part is that we put our
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0 # Beks113 2014-03-02 02:38
(part 3) in these institutions, to educate us and to protect us, which they do if you are white. How can we be so quick to trust an institution that teaches its students the importance of progress and equality for all, when it turns out to be hypocritical in its own practices? How can we have faith in a CJS system that preaches “justice is blind”, but then so disproportional ly incarcerates blacks? Well I can say that I allowed it to happen because when I thought of racism i “thought of water hoses, lynchings, racial epithets, and “whites only” signs” (Alexander 183). I was unaware of the truth that “racism manifests itself not only in individual attitudes and stereotypes, but also in the basic structure of society” (Alexander 184). I saw racism as individual prejudice, rather than a structural manifestation not so much based on feelings but rather the status quo. I believe this is how we let flawed systems prevail, because as a society, we are misinformed of the differences, therefore
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0 # Beks113 2014-03-02 02:39
(part 4) we have no idea that the institutions we believe in are actually keeping us from progressing forward to equality.
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0 # mv46 2014-03-02 03:43
This article is very eye opening. I already knew some differences between prejudice and racism, but this brought about the idea to a different extent. It’s interesting how a system as a whole can be racist without anyone in the system being prejudice or having prejudices. The most obvious way that we see this happening is in the Criminal Justice System. One example that can relate to this is the NYPD stop and frisk law that made the officer’s conduct unjust stops practically based on race. This new rule for the officers made the system racist, but not all the officers themselves had prejudices. Racial profiling was strictly enforced in this case. This is just one of many examples that we have in our criminal justice system demonstrating the differences between prejudice and racism. The problem is though that not many people see it this way.
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0 # mv46 2014-03-02 03:44
Many have mistaken the differences between these two very distinctive words. I have done this in the past, but becoming informed changes a person’s perspective dramatically. Before starting this class I did not realize to what extent our criminal justice system is racist. As people become informed I believe they will start to be able to distinguish the differences. The next step is to inform the public.
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0 # Daniel Gomezzzzzzzzz 2014-03-02 03:50
I'm confused honestly, so if a police offer see's a black young man on the street walking and assumes he is up to no good, is that prejudice or racism? Because isn't that being prejudice and racist? prejudice by tying being a "thug" to a black youth? or being racist by thinking that black people are inferior. or is it purely racism do to the fact that it is systematic? I am honestly confused.
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0 # KT10 2014-03-02 05:47
For people to say that racism and discrimination doesn't exist, they obviously haven't watched the news or read a book lately. Like stated by others, although Barack Obama is a black president, doesn't mean that every black person will be treated equally. In my opinion, Obama isn't even considered black, he was raised by whites and lived a very comfortable life and i think he relates more to whites socially and culturally. Our country hasn't solved our racist problems and in fact, I think it has gotten worse, with the rise of black teens killed. Institutionaliz ed racism has grown, just by looking at statistics of the most populated race in jails and discrimination in the workforce. I feel as though racism will never vanish but can soon slowly diminish with a growth of diversity in our country.
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0 # debdawg91 2014-03-02 05:56
I agree that prejudism and racism are not the same. They way I look at it, prejudism is more of a preference for something or someone and it can even rise to the level of dislike. Whereas, racism, I believe takes it to a whole new level and that level is hatred. As we have seen in story after story people attacking other people because of their color and beliefs. One can be prejudice towards someone but not necessary hate that person. It is just a matter of opinions.
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0 # Wolffian 2014-03-02 06:09
Prejudice is older than racism. For example, the Jewish people were very prejudice against the Samarians, and fast-forward XIX century in Mexico; Porfirio Diaz hated the pure blood Mexicans and wanted to get rid of them. What can I say about the USA? One of the most racist-prejudic e countries in the world with the hate crimes committed against black, Hispanics, and many other minorities is despicable. I believe that racism may be around for many years to come, although we have come a long way and are more accepting, we will not accomplish a prejudice-racis t free world.
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0 # Screamingrelaxesme 2014-03-02 13:54
I don’t personally believe a completely unprejudiced society will ever exist. I do believe making yourself aware of personal prejudice thinking and your prejudice believes can defiantly change the route of where racism is being headed. Making a commitment to change your personal prejudice and challenging the prejudicial thoughts and attempting to reason through those believes or ideas will hopefully minimize racism.
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0 # CH 2782 2014-03-02 06:25
Anytime people in general make racists comments, they are hurting an individual by the use of language. Not necessary people have to physical been in contact with Blacks in order to fall in the category of racism and discrimination. I do not think many individuals know about the magnitude of discrimination against Blacks. They are misinformed of the cruelty the system and government are capable of.
I have also read a different book from a different class about middle and upper-class Blacks. Blacks who belong in the middle and upper class have to assert public identities for others to know they are members of the middle class. They have to work harder and dress appropriately for others to distinguish they have position and power to be in that store, and occupation. Many people discriminate Blacks and assume they cannot afford to buy an expensive item from a prestige store without realizing they do have the money to buy that item and many more.
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0 # CH 2782 2014-03-02 06:26
Lastly, a way Blacks use to avoid this hardship is the stage of denial like Michelle Alexander mentioned in The New Jim Crow. Black finds it easier to deny or ignore what is going on in the world as a form of mechanism of protection. This would explain the reason why Blacks would not tell anyone about the crime they have committed, apart from the shame and the stigma they received.
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0 # LeslieB 2014-03-02 07:49
Racism is very much alive in this country; the only difference is we started calling it the war on drugs & most recently the war on terrorism. We have altered our language to suffice our racist needs. We have moved from overt to covert racism. Simply look at the number of A-A in jail today compared to the number of whites. Some say that if we were to just stop talking about race that maybe then we could move on from racism, what an illogical way of thinking. How can one possibly move on from something that is so engrained in our system by simply ignoring it? We can't. Ignoring an issue does not make it go away. If ur doctor says u have cancer & u choose to ignore it that doesn’t mean the cancer is going to cease to exist but rather it will take over ur body & eventually kill u because there is nothing fighting it. The only way to get rid of racism is by paying attention & acknowledging its existence in today’s world. U must accept u have cancer & choose to fight it in hopes of wining.
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0 # Screamingrelaxesme 2014-03-02 13:43
I believe the term for this is cognitive dissonance where an idea does not match up with a behavior or vice versa so we do one of two things we change an idea to match our behavior or we change our behavior to match an idea; humanity strives to be comfortable and they will alter their contradictory beliefs ideas or values to match behavior. I think this is done far too often when committing genocides or any type of inhumane treatment because, if we think of these people as we are, human, the idea of killing, incarcerating or severely punishing someone is most likely not possible. So we alter our thinking of the human being to match some type of inferior or threating status to make or behavior “ok”.
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0 # TiffyWiffy 2014-03-02 07:56
I always saw prejudice and racism as two sides of the same coin. Racism fuels prejudice, and prejudice fuels racism. The example Dr. Loo used is the making and results of a standardized test. I agree with Dr. Loo, but I also feel like prejudice plays a part in the outcome of these tests. For example, my old high school offered extra tutoring before a standardized test. A lot of these tutoring sessions were mandatory for the people who had fallen behind in their classes. However most if not all these mandatory tutoring notices were given to Black and Latin students. Despite there being a lot of Asian students who had fallen behind in their classes, these students were not made to attend these tutoring sessions. I don't feel the blame should fall on the makers of the test in this case. Rather, I feel that the school administrators chose to let their prejudices, regarding the "model minority" stereotype, cloud their decision to allocate help to the students who "really needed it".
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-02 09:08
You are using what is known as eclectic reasoning in that you're treating two factors as of equal importance. Prejudice is not the primary factor.
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0 # Crystal 2014-03-02 08:50
I totally agree with this article. Prejudice and racisms do play a huge roll into the criminal justice system today. It is sad to see that it does but, its always going to until people start taking color and "race" out of the picture and viewing people just as people disregarding what their "skin color" is and how they look. As Michelle Alexander stated, "If we actually learned to show love, care, compassion, and concern across racial lines during the Civil Right Movement-rather than go colorblind-mass incarceration would not exist today."
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0 # sintricity08 2014-03-02 11:33
I agree, racism comes into play when dealing with schools and I feel it is just more discrete. Administrators fall for the stereotypical aspects of what to look for in students, especially when looking at one's skin color. Therefore, racism, which is thinking of another race as inferior, kind of paves the way for people to hold a prejudice, which is a wrongful bias/opinion to hold against a person or race.
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0 # LexTalionis 2014-03-04 00:07
Prejudice and racism seemingly appear the same to me. It is until Dr. Loo clarified the dynamics that both encompass within our society. Racism as aforementioned, can exist without racial prejudice,which explains the domination of people(s) of various countries because of the "color" privilege. Within a HuffPost article March 2013 on race in Brazil, explaining "the racism of exclusion," shedding light further on the global perspective of racial disparities. Though minority numbers dominate the whites in Brazil by 51%, they(minorities )are excluded from privileges enjoyed by whites and/or elites in similar positions. Exclusion is an overt fashion of racism, but I am sure that there are clauses in which to subject without being penalized.
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0 # Daniel Carrillo 2014-03-07 22:13
It seems to me, as Allen Johnson states, just by participating in society we subliminally learn prejudice, and I can't help thinking that this is a direct result of capitalism. It is advertising that sends the message that "fair skin" and/or a "small buttocks" are desirable physical attributes and anyone who does not possess one or both is somehow "less than." Advertising also sends the message that by buying these products you may, if you are not White, identify with White America. Not only that, it is capitalism that initially fueled slavery in our country, and it is our country's foundation of slave labor that, over a hundred and fifty years later, has left us with a legacy of institutional racism (in addition to more overt forms of racism) in America. Would it then be fair to say that racism is a product of capitalism? And would it also be fair to say that capitalist advertising does much to perpetuate both prejudice and racism?
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-08 02:00
Racism precedes capitalism so I wouldn't say it's a product of capitalism but as long as capitalism is around we won't be able to get rid of racism.
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0 # jorigby 2014-03-09 02:43
Institutional racism is everywhere, and it is difficult to escape from because everyone is one way or another a member of an institution or multiple institutions. Institutions get people to be socially involved with one another, whether it is school, work, or simply waiting in line at the DMV. Because of the construction of our society, racism happily appears in the atmosphere where people are in contact with others. It is unbearable to stay away from prejudice and racism because it has become part of the norm, which we know as stereotypes. Most people knowingly or unknowingly apply these stereotypes among others that share similar views to engage "of-the-moment" social interactions. I definitely agree with Allen Johnson's point of being consciously aware that such things like racism and prejudice happens within our society and the best way to reduce those entities is to decide what choices to make when participating in the world.
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Elaine Brower 2

Elaine Brower of World Can't Wait speaking at the NYC Stop the War on Iran rally 2/4/12