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Article about post question 2 analysis and advocacy The Future of
Bilingual Education

Modern Racism and Its Psychosocial Effects on Society including a discussion

about bilingual education
Modern Racism and Its Psychosocial Effects on Society by Neil Brick
by Neil Brick MA Ed. Author E-mail:
This paper will describe and delineate the effects of modern racism on society from
apsychological perspective. It will define different forms of racism and the effects of racism
on the different parts and aspects of society. I will discuss how modern racism may be a step
between overt forms of racism and the elimination of racism. Data will be presented and
discussed from social psychological and sociological studies. The ideas of a variety of
authors writing about the topic of racism and effects will also be enumerated upon.
Racism is defined as an individuals discriminatory behavior and prejudicial attitude toward
people of a certain race or institutional practices (whether motivated by prejudice or not) that
subordinate a certain races people. (Myers, 1993) Subtle prejudice may be defined as
exaggerating ethnic differences, rejecting minorities for supposed nonracial reasons and
feeling less admiration and affection for minorities. I will define modern racism as a subtle
form of prejudice. I define it as modern because though some overt forms of racism appear to
be on the decline (Myers, 1993) other more subtle forms still exist. Subtle forms entail a
subconscious attitude that the holder may be fully unaware of, or one that is known of but

repressed, but yet influences their thoughts and behavior. This attitude may become more
conscious through education and self-exploration.
Sherman believes modern racism has evolved from aggressive prejudicial
behavior to a more subtle form. This behavior is more difficult to see, yet
is seen as more severe. Companies may promise equal opportunity, yet
there is little doubt that this occurs. Subtle and modern forms of racism
are thought of as creating an image that is more politically correct. This
way of discriminating may be seen as a polite form of racism.
Previously, racism was easier to define and institutionalized. (Sherman, 2000)
Aronson, Wilson and Akert define modern racism as acting unprejudiced while
maintaining prejudiced attitudes. They believe that prejudice has become more subtle. People
will hide prejudice to avoid being called racist, but when a situation becomes safe, their
prejudice will be expressed. An example of this is, most Americans say they are opposed to
school desegregation, but most white parents oppose busing their children to desegregate
schools. When questioned, parents will state they dont want their children to spend a lot of
time on a bus. But most white parents dont object to having their children bused from one
white school to another, only when the busing is interracial. Modern prejudice can best be
studied using unobtrusive or subtle methods. Jones and Sigall use what they call the bogus
pipeline, which is a fake lie detector machine. More racial prejudice was present when the
bogus pipeline was used. (Aronson, Wilson, & Akert, 2001) This shows that people
were hiding their racial prejudice, until they felt this would be discovered.
Modern racism also exists in other countries. In studies done in France, the Netherlands and
Great Britain, it was found that the behavior of natives toward immigrants can be predicted

from scores of both blatant and subtle measures of prejudice. People whom score high on the
subtle racism scale but low on the blatant scale tend to reject immigrants in more subtle and
socially acceptable ways.(Aronson, Wilson, & Akert, 2001)
Subtle forms of prejudice can be measured in scientific studies. Duncan in the mid 70s had
White students observe a videotape of a White man lightly shoving a black man during an
argument. Only 13% percent rated the behavior as violent. When the situation was reversed,
73% stated the Black man was acting violently. Attitude researchers like Dovidio state that
the attitudes of prejudice persist in subtle forms. Critics of the existence of subtle prejudice
may reply that policies opposing busing and affirmative action are enforcing the values of
individual choice and self-reliance and are not prejudicial. Devine has shown that automatic
emotional prejudicial reactions linger. A low prejudice person will consciously suppress
prejudicial feelings and thoughts. Resentments in essence still lurk beneath the surface,
though open racial prejudice has declined. (Myers, 1993)
Sue and Sue believe that ethnocentric monoculturalism is dysfunctional in
a pluralistic society like the U. S. Its five components are a belief in
superiority, a belief in the inferiority of others, the power to impose to
standards upon less powerful groups, its manifestation in institutions and
the invisible veil. (Sue & Sue, 1999) In a sense, the invisible veil could be
considered a component of modern or subtle racism. People are all
products of cultural conditioning. Therefore, a persons world view
operates outside of their level of conscious awareness. This world view
contains biased and prejudiced belief systems. People are taught to hate
and fear others that are different. The biggest obstacle toward moving to

a multicultural society may be peoples failure to understand their

unintentional and unconscious complicity that perpetuates bias and
discrimination. (Sue & Sue, 1999)
Cultural tunnel vision could be considered a form of modern or subtle racism. Corey, Corey
and Callanan discuss how many psychology students enter training with monocultural tunnel
vision. They may make statements that they dont want to work with poor people or minority
groups. They may state implicitly or explicitly that minority groups are unresponsive to
professional psychological intervention due to a lack of motivation to change or due to some
sort of resistance in seeking professional help. Wrenn describes the culturally encapsulated
counselor as one who defines reality with one set of cultural assumptions, shows insensitivity
to individual cultural differences, accepts unreasoned assumptions with no proof, doesnt
evaluate other viewpoints nor tries to accommodate the behavior of others and is trapped in
one way of thinking. Sue, Ivey and Pedersen state that many therapeutic practices are biased
against racial minorities and may reflect racism. Sue claims that these practices have
damaged the chance for equal access and have oppressed those culturally different in
society. (Corey, Corey & Callanan, 1997)
One place where modern racism may appear is in the bilingual education and the English
only debate. Crawford summarizes the opposition to Official English by stating that
opponents claim the English only movement justifies racist and nativist biases below a cover
of American patriotism. Secretary of education Bennett spoke in 1985, calling the Bilingual
Education Act a failure and waste of money. Bennetts office claimed his ideas were
supported five-to-one by letters. Most of the supporting letters had less to do with education
and had more statements about illegal aliens on welfare, communities being overrun by
minorities, foreigners trying to impose their culture on Americans and the out-of-control

birthrates of linguistic minorities. Opponents of bilingual education state that teaching in

languages other than English will cause dissension and division and that speaking English is
American and other languages un-American. (Freeman & Freeman, 1994)
Baker states that in many bilingual situations, bilingualism exists along with racism and
disadvantage. Simply speaking the majority language will not suddenly change racism. The
negative attitudes of majority peoples tend to be based on the fear of a different group and a
fear of the loss of economic power. (Baker, 1995)
Baker states that psychological roots of racial prejudice and hostility are separate from
multicultural educations philosophical base. Some state that multicultural education may
leave the racist fabric of society unaltered. When education about racism and anti-racism are
left out of a multicultural program, the program may tranquilize action against racism, and
divert confrontation against racism into harmless channels. Anti-racist multicultural programs
should include a discussion of the structural reason why racism exists, including the
institutionalization of racism. The roots of racism tend to be in fear and misunderstanding, as
well as the unequal distribution of economic rewards and power. Making students bilingual in
itself may not be enough to reverse the injustices and inequalities in society. Cummins
believes that bilingual education only becomes effective when it becomes anti-racist
education. Fishman believes that being secure in ones own identity may be a necessary
prerequisite before accepting other languages and cultures. A language minority might need
to be secure in itself before its becoming multicultural. Security and status in a persons own
language might be important for accepting other cultures and languages. (Baker, 1996)
An interesting question derived from this is, are people that are more
insecure in their own identity more likely to be racist? Could modern racism
be an intellectual ego defense mechanism used by those insecure of their own cultural

identity? Or does modern racism existence in the individual also entail the individuals lack
of knowledge of the basic mechanisms of social influence on the human psyche, as well as a
lack of education of those having subtly racist beliefs?
A consideration of language usage may also help explain how modern racism has continued
into society. Fromkin and Rodman discuss how racial and national epithets tell us something
about the users of these words. The word boy is not a slur when used to describe a child,
but it is a slur when used to describe an adult Black man. In this case, it reflects upon that
attitude of the speaker. Other words like nigger express the chauvinistic and racist attitudes
of society. If bigotry and racism did not exist, then these slurs usages would either die out or
lose their racist meanings. They also mention that many pejorative terms exist for women, but
that there are far fewer for men. If a person views Hispanics or Blacks as inferior, then their
special characteristics of speech will be seen as inferior. What the society institutionalizes, the
language reflects. When everyone in society is equal and treated equally, there wont be any
concern about language differences. (Fromkin & Rodman, 1993) Modern racism may
be culturally reflected in the way certain accents (such as a Hispanic accent) or dialects (such
as Black English) are seen and discouraged.
Dovidio, Mann and Gaertner argue that white opposition to affirmative action is rooted
largely in a subtle, pervasive form of racism they call aversive racism. They define aversive
racism as the adaptation of ones attitude which has resulted from assimilating an egalitarian
value system with racist and prejudiced beliefs. This causes an ambivalence between racial
biases and a desire to be egalitarian and racially tolerant. Some social psychologists state that
aversive racists believe they are nonprejudiced and not overtly racist. But when aversive
racists are uncertain about what the right thing to do is, or if they can justify their actions on
something different from race, their negative feelings toward Blacks will come out. When

white college students were asking to rate Black and White people on a simple good-bad
level, the students rated Whites and Black positively. When the continuum was made more
subtle, Whites were more often consistently rated better than Blacks. The researchers
believed that aversive racists see Blacks as not worse, but Whites as better. When white
college students were asked to rate weakly qualified Black and White job candidates, both
were rejected, showing no bias. When applicants had moderate qualifications, Whites were
evaluated a little bit better than Blacks. When the candidates had strong qualifications, there
was a significant difference in the ratings. The bias was even more obvious when a Black
person was rated in a position superior to the White person evaluating them. The researchers
postulated that the bias was even greater because the possibility of being in a subordinate
position to a Black person threatened deeply held (but possibly unconscious) notions of
White superiority. (Tatum, 1997)










underestimating Black candidates is due to the fact that if an evaluator

expects a weak performance but sees a strong one, the strong
performance is attributed to luck or effort, which can change. Strong
performances based on ability can be repeated (the explanation used in
this theory by White evaluators for White candidates). This shows how
affirmative actions efforts that focus on process rather than outcome may
be ineffective. There are too many chances for evaluator bias to be
manifested. (Tatum, 1997)
The evidence strongly suggests that segregation continues because of
continuing racial discrimination in the banking industries and in real
estate, the continuation of white prejudice against black neighbors and

discriminatory public policies. Black ghettoes continue to contain a

disproportionate number of the nations poor, creating an extremely
disadvantaged environment that only Black people face. The quality of life
in White neighborhoods has not changed very much over the years, but
poor Black neighborhoods have negatively changed greatly. In many








segregated. Intense segregation causes a concentration of poverty 27

percent worse than would occur under complete integration. White
Americans may endorse open housing in principle, yet they are reluctant
to live in neighborhoods with high numbers of Blacks. The main issue is
how race and class interact to create walls to Black socioeconomic
progress that are intense, severe and durable. (Massey & Fischer, 1998)
Racism in this case has created an extremely detrimental effect on Black
Sherman describes one type of modern racism, the glass ceiling effect.
This describes the invisible differences in appraisal, salary and position
between men and women. Modern racism may also be seen in the myths
that certain races may be better or worse in certain abilities, such as
Blacks being better at jumping and running. Due to a lack of familiarity
with other races, people are more likely to unconsciously discriminate
against others. (Sherman, 2000)
Axelson discusses the ramifications of racism. He defines racism as the belief that some races
are inherently superior to other races. Prejudice is defined as the emotional aspect of racism.

The way a culture or a nation names themselves or other nations, may betray their prejudices.
Farb states that when U. S. citizens call themselves Americans, they effectively ignore all
other peoples of the Americas. Racial prejudice, defined as a psychosocial process, can be
used to make one feel superior to others by making erroneous assumptions based on racial
characteristics. The reality is, statistically speaking, the genetic differences between two
different geographical populations are the same as the differences within one population.
Racial preconceptions will hinder the development of the higher levels of personality
functioning, for those perceiving it and those perceived by it. The term cultural group is
more accurate and acceptable language than using the term race.(Axelson, 1998)
Racist attitudes can be used to subtly control and subjugate other groups. Racism plus power
equals control. Racism plus power plus control equals intergroup and interpersonal conflict.
A perpetuation of racial superiority helps the dominant group maintain things they way they
are to keep their advantages over the subdominant groups. These benefits include the gains
manifested in personal psychological feelings. Axelson defines culture lag as the period of
time it takes for a society to reach one of its valued goals. The elimination of racism may be
one of these goals.(Axelson, 1998)
Axelson defines three forms of racism, individual, institutional and cultural. In individual
racism, in a circular and reciprocal process, those perceived as inferior may internalize the
others perception as valid and behave accordingly. The person perceived as inferior may
develop a self-fulfilling prophecy in relation to this, until this cycle is broken. Individualistic
racist beliefs include those that state that all people are treated fairly and equally and can pull
themselves up by themselves, denying the existence of racism entirely and laughing at racist
jokes. The effects of individual racism include lowered self-esteem and inadequate selfconcept. The Pygmalion effect is a self-fulfilling prophecy where people conform to others

expectations regardless of their true abilities. Racism may become a state of mind and a set of
emotions and values, and a set of behaviors. Individual racist modes range from hostile
domination to passive acceptance (defined as avoiding, ignoring or pretending to be correct
and polite). In the social changes of the last twenty years, change, like the reduction of
outward hostility has occurred, yet more understanding is needed before equal acceptance
and good will can occur. (Axelson, 1998)
Institutional forms of racism may include police practices, unemployment, housing and
education issues, discriminatory practices and inadequate welfare programs. Cultural racism
may show up in the forces behind majority group dominance in deciding what is socially
valuable. People tend to take as valuable what is most familiar to them. Prejudiced attitudes
can be found in many cultural elements, including language, education, religion, norms of
morality, economics and aesthetics. A mental and emotional connection of the majority group
with cultural superiority and connecting minority cultures to cultural inferiority makes
cultural racism. This is the hardest racism to recognize. Jones states that cultural racism
occurs when a races achievements are ignored in education and when white WesternEuropean cultural attributes are considered to be without question the best in the world.
(Axelson, 1998)
The use of the terms racism and racist may evoke negative responses and may not help
improve group relations. It has been proposed that the use of the term bias may be more
advantageous and may more accurately reflect the actual conditions in society today. Bias
may be defined as an unreasoned distortion of a persons judgement. This may lead to a
slanted viewpoint, caused by ignorance and a lack of information. Racism could be defined as
representing only extreme conditions. (Axelson, 1998)

But does the use of the term bias help to weaken the terminology used to define modern
racism. Or perhaps both approaches may be necessary from a psychological perspective. The
first, using the term modern racist, may wake a person up to the fact that their perspective
is racist or at least biased. The second can describe to a biased person that they have a
cognitive and emotional bias that needs to change for their growth and societies growth as
Racism and levels of prejudice can also be measured and discussed in self








experience which is a slightly modified version of a part of Dunton and

Fazios Motivation to Control Prejudiced Reactions Scale. The higher the
score, the greater the takers motivation to control prejudice. Another
exercise asks questions about discrimination. The first question asks
about a time they felt they were discriminated against and how they felt
about it. The second question is prefaced by Devines beliefs that ones








discrimination, but one must overcome a lifetime of socialization

experiences first. It is like breaking a bad habit. It takes energy,
conscious attention and effort. The second question asks about a time the
taker felt they discriminated against someone else. The last question asks










(Brannigan, 2002)
In conclusion, modern racism as defined has had serious deleterious effects on the United
States culture and society. These effects are manifested in language, ideas, schools, language

policies, economic stratification social segregation, housing markets, hiring and promotional
schemas, minority members psychological issues and minority access to a variety of social
services and opportunities. The development of modern racism, though discouraging, can be
seen as a positive development from the perspective of the decline of the more overt forms of
racism. However, the lack of knowledge or the denial of the more subtle forms of racism can
be extremely detrimental to both majority and minority group members.
The advent and development of the more modern and subtle forms of racism can be seen as a
major step change along the road toward the goal of the elimination of overt racism and the
total elimination of racism. However, it needs to be fully seen as only a step, albeit a big one
in some ways, but one that needs to be moved to the more advanced step of the total
elimination of racism. Those that dont see modern racism or refuse to acknowledge its
existence may in essence be blocking the progress toward the step of the total elimination of
racism. Or their denial of this step may simply be part of a natural progression of a healthy
growth process, where people move from the improvement of almost eliminating overt
racism, at least in most parts of society, to where people need to see the next step to progress
Ways to educate people to move toward the final step of the total eradication of prejudice and
racism may include taking self tests and questionnaires to develop the awareness of their
individual biases, promoting views that encourage the acceptance of all cultures and
languages as valuable, remembering that overcoming racism, bias and prejudice is like
overcoming a bad habit and that one needs to be persistent in their efforts to overcome
socially promoted internalized biases, education about the deleterious personal and social
effects of racism and the studies that show its pervasive existence and dealing with the
psychological issues of personal insecurities to ensure that one is able to accept other

cultures. Major steps have been made toward the elimination of racism in the past 40 years.
With increased vigilance, hard work and public education, our society should be able to move
from the intermediate step of the development of modern racism to the final step of the
elimination of racism.
American Psychological Association (1993b). Guidelines for providers of








populations. American Psychologist. 48. 45-48. Retrieved January 25,

2003 from









(2001). Social

psychology(4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Axelson, J.A. (1998). Counseling and development in a multicultural
society. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing.
Baker, C.

(1995). A parents

and teachers guide to bilingualism.

Philadelphia: Multilingual Matters Ltd



(1996). Foundations





bilingualism (2nd ed.). Philadelphia: Multilingual Matters Ltd

Brannigan, G. G. (2002). Experiences in social psychology: active learning
adventures Boston, MA : Allyn & Bacon

Corey, G., Corey, M. & Callanan, P. (1997). Issues and ethics in the
helping professions. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing.
Freeman, D. E. & Freeman, Y. S. (1994). Between worlds: Access to
second language acquisition. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Fromkin, V., Rodman, R. (1993). An introduction to language (5thed.).
Orlando, FL: Harcourt Brace & Company
Massey, D. S., Fischer, M. J. (1998, December). Where We Live, in Black

White. The

Nation. Retrieved




Myers, D. G. (1993). Social psychology (4th ed). Columbus, OH : McGrawHill
Sherman, R. (2000). Tutorial produced for Psy 324, advanced social psychology, spring 2000


University. Retrieved




Sue, D. W., & Sue, D. (1999). Counseling the culturally different: Theory
and practice (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Wiley & Sons.
Tatum, B. D. (1997). Why are all the Black kids sitting together in the
cafeteria? New York: Basic Books.
Tags: bilingual education, racism

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