Racism pre-101 resources
July 11, 2016 1:11 AM   Subscribe

The racism 101 resources available via Google are all aimed at the kind of person who might Google racism 101, generally a white liberal person who wouldn't immediately stop reading the first time they see the word "privilege". I'm looking for resources for the person at a stage well before that, if such resources exist.

My family and plenty of my friends are racists. My father makes racist jokes and the rest of my family is progressive enough to be uncomfortable about good ol' racist dad but are the kind of folks sharing links right now about police violence not being racist and all these black people are just making a big deal out of nothing in order to score political points. (They're all Republicans, of course.) (and they'd all, including good ol' racist dad, vociferously deny being racists)

I happen to be in the position where I could talk and they'd actually listen to me, as long as I'm careful, patient, and start with baby steps.

But - I am trying to teach a toddler to hold a crayon and all that's available is guides to calligraphy. If I were to share any of the racism 101 results off the first page of Google the conversation would be over before it began.

I can't use anything that has the word "privilege" - ideally I'd want something that illustrates the concept in as weasel-around-the-word manner as possible (preferably with lots of Republican friendly buzzwords like fairness). I can't use anything that starts with the premise that we're all racist, that there's no reverse racism, etc.

Seriously, my goal for now is just to get them to the point where they'd acknowledge that maybe police violence has a racial element. That would be progress.

I know that the bulk of the work is up to me but if there are any really, really gentle, really super newbie friendly, definitely not openly liberal (openly conservative a big plus!) resources out there, I would definitely be very appreciative of having some backup to help me with this.

(also, I know what helped me a lot in my journey to being less of a racist was reading a lot of articles and blog posts by black people, but this was several years ago. If anyone has any articles to recommend I'd appreciate it. Again, it would need to be stuff that very defensive people could actually read. Ta-Nehisi Coates is definitely way too advanced material at this point)
posted by anonymous to Education (21 answers total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
This video?
posted by fshgrl at 1:19 AM on July 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

This thread has some pretty good suggestions, including this video by Louis CK. Also, this interview with Muhammad Ali.
posted by suedehead at 1:56 AM on July 11, 2016

I'm guessing they'd be more open to a white person's views- you could try a progressive white person who writes/speaks a lot on racism, like Tim Wise. There's also Jane Eliot, famous for her studies and experiments about racism which she once illustrated on Oprah's show- something like that to watch may be helpful, as opposed to an article. Sometimes Bill Maher, though obnoxious, expresses progressive views on race/racism. Also Jon Stewart, John Oliver, Steve Colbert.
posted by bearette at 3:14 AM on July 11, 2016

If you think you can do it without sounding like you are calling them racist, get them to take the Implicit Association test. If they can understand how it works, it might be quite eye-opening. The important thing is to get them to understand that EVERYONE has implicit biases. The test has options for e.g. age as well as race, so you might want to start with that. I think it might be less controversial for them to understand that everyone tends to have unconscious preferences for younger faces. And then you can talk about how the way youth is portrayed in the media and in society contributes to that preference without us actually choosing to dislike old people or anything.

And then moving from there, you might be able to get them to do the race one.

I think it would be key for you to take the tests first, and share your results, along the lines of, "Wow, I always thought of myself as non-racist, but it's amazing how we can subconsciously come to associate white with good and black with bad. And it's amazing how tests like this can detect it, just because we find it easier to interpret a "good word" when it's associated with a white face than when it's associated with a black face."

If they can come to understand and believe in this sort of implicit bias, it might open the door to conversations about how implicit bias can lead police to mistake an innocent object in a black person's hand for a weapon more easily than they would with a white person, for example.

If you feel like even the age test is too much, there are also implicit bias tests around the place for things like coffee vs tea, etc, which might be more of a fun starting point.
posted by lollusc at 3:30 AM on July 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

Mod note: Small edit made to original post for privacy reasons.
posted by taz (staff) at 4:31 AM on July 11, 2016

This post has been one of the top articles on redstate.com for a few days.
posted by deadweightloss at 5:03 AM on July 11, 2016 [14 favorites]

Newt Gingrich, of all people, has made statements in the wake of Dallas and Falcon Heights, stating that there's systemic racism by police against black people. Sorry, can't link now, but if you Google "Newt Gingrich and race" you'll come up with it.
posted by holborne at 5:19 AM on July 11, 2016

I found that the following video and quote from Newt Gingrich got me some traction with similar conservative family members:


“It took me a long time, and a number of people talking to me through the years to get a sense of this. If you are a normal white American, the truth is you don’t understand being black in America and you instinctively under-estimate the level of discrimination and the level of additional risk," Gingrich said.

The quote is around 11 minutes in, if I remember right, so it's helpful to give them the quote rather than hope they notice it in the middle of a 20-minute video. If there is a conservative website your family likes and trusts, you may be able to find coverage of this video on that website, so you can link to a person they trust via a source they trust.
posted by vytae at 5:22 AM on July 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

One of the first things I remember hitting home for me, years ago, was an article about the statistical disparities between people’s experience of the justice system: that white people are less likely to be stopped, less likely to be charged, more likely to be charged with a less serious offence, more likely to be granted bail, are given shorter sentences, are more likely to be granted parole and so on. With the end result that, for example, far more black men end up in prison on drug charges despite comparable rates of using and dealing drugs.

Depending on the person, someone who is not receptive to, say, personal testimony, might find bald numbers more persuasive. Googling throws up various articles of that kind; this one in Slate is relatively short and straightforward, and not *too* editorialising.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 7:41 AM on July 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

I think one way to ease people past the word "privileged" is to say "advantaged" or "having advantages" instead. Because unless you've taken a college class in Sociology, privileged sounds like it means spoiled rich person, and working class people who struggle get pretty offended by being lumped in with upper class twits and bosses, imo.
posted by puddledork at 7:45 AM on July 11, 2016 [9 favorites]

It helps to break things down to individuals, instead of a group. I'm just outside of Baton Rouge and, while most protesters are trying to have a peaceful protest, we now have people coming in from out of state (as well as a few local troublemakers) to do just what your relatives are saying they are doing. So, they are not all wrong. But they are not all right, either.

I have a friend who lives in the area of the protesting. She is terrified. She sent her son to stay with a relative until things settle down. She slept at work last night. She knows that my home (I'm outside of the area) is available to her and her son. You can tell them about her, a black woman, who has been driven from her home in fear. You can encourage them to have compassion for the hard working black and white people who are too poor to live anywhere else, and who are in lockdown, too afraid of white anger and black drama to go to the store for bread. You can explain to them the fear that everyone who has every loved a black boy child has ever had, that no matter how well raised he is or how well spoken, it just takes one moment for him to be treated like a criminal.

Talk about individuals. You can't make rigid people change everything at once but you can wear them down, piece by piece, by slowly filling their hearts with individuals.
posted by myselfasme at 8:13 AM on July 11, 2016 [2 favorites]

I recommend the TV show "What Would You Do?" as a pre-101 course on racism/sexism/etc., if you can get them to watch it or at least some clips from YouTube. The show is certainly open to critique, but I think it often does a great job of illustrating privilege without calling it by name. They put actors in various scenarios like openly sawing the chain off of a bicycle in a public park to see what passerbys do. Predictably, PoC get hassled more than whites. I'm 33 and I remember they used an episode of something like this in my high school sociology class, showing a hidden camera of black people shopping in a store vs. white people, and how unhelpful/rude the staff was, or how they even followed the black people around the store assuming they would steal something. It made enough of an impression that I still remember it 15 years later.
posted by gatorae at 8:36 AM on July 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

On the track of starting with individuals, the phrase, "that hasn't been my experience" will be helpful. E.g.: "Actually, my black co-worker quit driving to work because he was getting pulled over so often, he takes the bus now."

Also, if they're gun rights advocates, pointing out that Philando Castile was shot for having a gun despite being licensed to carry and telling the officer he was armed might be an opening to try.
posted by momus_window at 8:40 AM on July 11, 2016

It's interesting to me, as someone who has recently moved to an extremely conservative area, and who cannot resist reading the comments section of the local newspaper, how much the same talking points come up over and over from the locals on the conservative end of the political spectrum. And they're things that I just have not heard of and do not encounter in my liberal bubble. And they're almost always prefaced by the assertion that they're "facts" -- which, anyone who has taken a statistics course knows, there are always ways to bend numbers to argue almost any point you can think of, and in less that 5 minutes I can come up with official crime statistics which refute these "facts". But what's striking is that the conservatives assert "facts" WAY more often than liberals. Liberals go more for bigger picture, systemic, ideological things and not numbers. It's like they're speaking two different languages. And nobody is listening to each other, they're each just trying to assert that they're right.

Point being, maybe using numbers would help. Try the article Bloxworth Snout linked to above.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 8:41 AM on July 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

> This post has been one of the top articles on redstate.com for a few days.

I second that suggestion; it's a piece by a staunch conservative on a conservative site and should get past the "bleeding-heart liberal" filters.
posted by languagehat at 8:52 AM on July 11, 2016 [2 favorites]

If you think you can do it without sounding like you are calling them racist, get them to take the Implicit Association test.

I'd be careful with this. The professor who developed those tests gave a presentation at my work using the gender one and said she doesn't use the race one in public talks because people's hearts just get broken. As a persuasive technique for a "newbie" it may just be too much.
posted by praemunire at 10:04 AM on July 11, 2016 [2 favorites]

The Implicit Association test may be too much, but familiarize yourself with studies on the phenomenon that even idealistic people who see themselves as not racist will agree with secondary and tertiary assumptions rooted in racism.

An eye opening moment for me was when my husband introduced me to his new best friend that he had been nattering on about for months and had never mentioned he was black. I just assumed he was white because it had never been specified. I didn't care that he was black, but, in that moment, I realized my assumption was rooted in racist culture where certain things are done a certain way.

This might be a useful thing to educate yourself about because the big thing people are averse to is feeling blamed and accused. If you can get them to see it in a way that suggests they aren't evil asshats, they just were taught bad habits that need to change, you might get more receptivity. People who are already better than the blatantly abusive crap around them tend to not take it well when "crucified" for failing to be perfect.

I have mentioned a few times that my ex successfully got my dad to stop telling racist jokes by telling him "Mr. MyMaidenName, I don't find those jokes funny." It worked as well as it did in part because my parents prided themselves on being good people, humanitarian and not racist. Compared to other people around them of their era, they did treat blacks better than the norm. So my dad likely felt ashamed, rather than defensive, in part because he wasn't attacked while being gently rebuked.

When you make people feel personally attacked, they tend to defend their attitudes, choices, whatever in order to defend themselves. This tends to make their attitudes more entrenched. You will generally get better results if you can find a way to convey "This behavior is a bad thing, but you are not a bad person." That's a really hard thing to do. A lot of people seem to want to make the world a better place by sitting atop their high horse, shitting on everyone around them. And when their openly hostile, attacking approach leads to the other side digging in their heels, they use that as additional evidence that they are evil. This is not an approach that wins friends and influences people.

You might also try reading "How to lie with statistics." It can help you more effectively untangle some of the statements you hear and explain why they are BS.

You also may get better results if you try to talk with people individually and learn when to give it a rest. People need time to digest new ideas. Being too pushy tends to be counterproductive.
posted by Michele in California at 10:40 AM on July 11, 2016 [2 favorites]

I made baby steps with my dad by very gently pointing out the advantages he'd had. We went from "fatherless thugs and welfare moms" to "wow, they really have it rough" in about an hour.

I told him to imagine that one thing in his life had been different, through no fault of his own: his father had left his family. Or that his father had been abusive, and his mom had to leave him. Imagine how hard that would be for his mom to raise 5 kids on her own. How she may not have been able to give as much attention to him. How their financial situation would have been different, and they might have needed help. He wouldn't have gone to private school. Without a role model, he may have gotten into trouble. And then factor in that everyone expects him to be a no-good troublemaker, and everyone's suspicious of him because they know what kind of family he comes from. Then he meets my mom, and they have me, and he doesn't know how to be a good husband and father because he's never seen it. So he leaves, or is abusive, and the cycle starts over again.

Now, I haven't mentioned race or police or politics anywhere in that paragraph, but that got the gears turning.
posted by AFABulous at 12:28 PM on July 11, 2016 [7 favorites]

I've been looking for similar materials, and I've found GOPLifer to be pretty good in his phrasing of things. I don't think that there's any explicitly Pre-Racism 101 type resources there, but reading his posts have helped me talk in a way that works with my family. Sometimes.

Good Luck!
posted by DGStieber at 2:20 PM on July 11, 2016

If Bloxworth Snout's statistical approach seems right, here are some links. They don't deal specifically with police brutality, but they help to illustrate that anti-black racism is still very much alive and well in the US, and that it affects people's lives in innumerable ways, large and small.

(You might not want to send these particular links to your friends and family, but they're a starting point.)

– In a 2003 study, experimenters from the National Bureau of Economic Research submitted almost 5,000 fake resumes in response to to more than 1,300 help-wanted ads, across a variety of industries and positions. On some resumes, the applicant’s name was distinctively black (e.g., “Lakisha Washington”); on others, a more typically white name was listed. On average, the “white” names received one callback for every 10 resumes sent out, but the “black” names received one callback for every 15 resumes – a difference of 50%. Original paper; non-technical summary.

– In a similar study in 2014, researchers emailed 6,500 professors at 250 American universities. The emails said, in effect: "I really admire your work. Would you have some time to meet?" They were identical in every detail, except for one: the names of the supposed students. Some were male, some female, and they suggested a variety of racial backgrounds. As you've probably guessed by now, women and non-whites were significantly less likely to get responses.

This 2012 study found that people believe that black people feel less pain than whites.

Airbnb guests with "black" names find it harder to book rentals.

– From 2000 to 2010, the pedestrian fatality rate for black and Hispanic men was twice the rate for white men, even after controlling for factors such as socioeconomic status, location, and alcohol use.

– And there are many, many, many examples of unequal treatment in the criminal justice system. See the video at the bottom of this article.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 1:44 PM on July 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

« Older Cat with urinary blockage - urethrostomy decisions...   |   track this Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.