posts 16 - 30 of 31
Posts: 16

Learning, Unlearning, and Unlearning Some More

Racism and colorism are learned. I find it unfathomable that a child would be inherently cruel or negative toward somebody of a different race or color without having been taught others’ inferiority. This certainly recalls last week’s “othering” discussion: while differences may be noted, they don’t have a negative connotation until given one. Since it is learned, I believe it can be undone. The most famous example is Daryl Davis, the famous black musician and activist who befriended and deradicalized Ku Klux Klan members, convincing them to leave and denounce the group. I also have to draw a slight parallel in my own upbringing. My grandparents are both colorists, as many older generations of East Asians are, and criticized both my skin tone in the sunnier months and the skin tones of my black and brown friends. I can’t fathom taking skin tone into consideration in regards to character, disposition, or any other personality-related traits despite living with authority figures that verbally reinforced that connection daily.

I took the skin tone IAT and was incredibly nervous the entire time. I feared that it would reveal an implicit bias against those with darker skin despite all my efforts to remain truly equal in my perception of other people. While my results did tell me I am unbiased between lighter and darker skin tones, I can’t help but wonder if this was a fair assessment of my unconscious biases. Because I worried that my results would reveal a bias against darker skin tones, it may have subconsciously altered my reactions to be more favorable toward darker skin tones. I do think this is a valuable exercise because it’s a strong reminder of how important it is to unlearn racism, colorism, and other biases we may unknowingly hold, it cannot be an absolute indicator of how unbiased and “woke” we are. Regardless of your results you should continue to strive to learn and actively oppose the "-isms" of the world rather than be content knowing that you are not susceptible to them.

Posts: 16

Reply to berry

Originally posted by berry on November 17, 2020 13:16

I think children learn to discriminate from their parents, even if their parents have never directly told their children their opinions. Children have a tendency to listen and eavesdrop to their parents conversations, and I can confirm I have done this. We believe what our parents believe when we’re young because (in most cases) we trust what they say, and we don’t know any better. I think it’s innate as well, depending on factors like the environment you’re surrounded by. You might think one way if your neighborhood/school is a majority of one race, and you might think differently if your neighborhood/school is more diverse. I think you can unlearn to discriminate, but you have to realize you can form opinions that are different from your family. I think some children struggle with forming their own opinions as they become teenagers. You also have to become aware of the judgements you’re making, and when you do, work on how to think differently and more positively. The Implicit Association Test

(IAT) told me that I have no preference. I'm not surprised by my results because I’ve worked on thinking more positively and making less judgements about people. I’m also surrounded by a more diverse community, and am able to form my own individual opinions. The IAT test seems to be somewhat accurate from my experience taking their tests. I think it was a valuable exercise because it’s always beneficial to get an idea of where you are at when it comes to implicit bias.

I absolutely agree: children will learn everything (good and bad) from their parents, even if they are not teaching it directly to us. It's in their interactions with others, the tone they use when describing individuals, groups, or movements, and the quiet sighs of exasperation they think we don't hear when the news come on. It creates a huge impact upon our earliest lives and in large part is why we see, for example, so many (young) children at Trump rallies, deriding people of color, and/or being violent towards minorities en masse. Environment is also an important factor. In elementary school I lived in a majority-white suburb with very few fellow students of color, of which even fewer were East Asian. While my personal experiences with racism there do somewhat cloud my judgement, I do believe that it resulted from the lack of diversity and the status of East Asians as the smallest racial group.

Dorchester , MA, US
Posts: 10

Discrimination is made not born

I have always believed that racism is not a natural thought, but something that is learned. Obviously being young plays apart as we begin to identify differences , that is a natural thought. But discrimination is influenced by the people in your life at a youn age as that is the most influential point in our life, where we are learning the world around us. That is where you learn your biases and how to treat people around you.

I think this can definitely be undone. Once you are old enough to form your own opinions and educate your views it can be changed. There’s so much you don’t know about when your younger, you mature you grow its part of life and you completely change as a person. I have seen people in my personal life that this was undone and realize where they were extremely wrong.

My IAT score is what I expected it to be. I don’t have a preference over either race. I have enrolled in a public school since I was 3 and it was always a very diverse environment and grew up in a household where my parents always told me to love everyone and to never discriminate against anyone and have always been so supportive of anyone. As well as my older sister definitely had a strong effect on me as I always looked up to her and I feel like a lot of me was like that at a young age is because of her.

withered wojak
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 8

The diversity of origins of the human races by Louis Agassiz, also muh human nature

While there may be some in-group preference regarding race, I think that the vast majority of racist views are learned from others. Humans are super sociable creatures so I'd wager that most of our behavior is either learned or is a result of one's material conditions. To show this, I would like to use the US as an example. Think of the poorest states. When googling it, I got the list of Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky, Arkansas, West Virginia, Alabama, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and South Carolina. When you think of these states, what images/thoughts come to mind? I usually think of some racist people or KKK members (this is ofc a part of my own in-group preference from being a Northerner). Is it a shock that these states are also some of the most racist? Probably not. The unfortunate truth is that racism is learned. While it is true that children can see differences among each other, it is taught that it's acceptable or unacceptable to act on the basis of those differences. While I did not grow up particularly racist as a kid, I was surrounded by many racist people. The majority of the racist kids who I encountered when I was younger were black. This was most likely due to me going to a majority-black school, but I saw these instances as early on as 6 years old. I would notice stuff like at recess how the kids would mostly split where the white children would play with each other and the black children would play with each other. I'm still not entirely sure why it was, but it's pretty simple; we don't necessarily need to know why, it just needs to be fixed. I saw these divisive sentiments begin to show even more when they introduced things like the Advanced Work Classes. These AWC classes were almost all white and I think there were like 3 or 4 white kids total in the non-AWC classes. This really started to get weird. I remember hearing how my classmates would describe the AWC kids as "preppy white kids". This was some wild shit and I think it all extended from how these kids started to get divided up and how it became haves vs have-nots.

Anyways, onto my results. Mine have changed severely since when I was a conservative. I took this test back in 8th grade, and I held a bias towards those with lighter skin tones. When I took this test a few days ago, I was pleasantly surprised to see that I had shifted over to a slight bias towards black people. While it is annoying that I place one race above another (according to a test lol) I am glad that it is not a preference that reinforces the status-quo biases in society.

Anyways yeah, that's my thoughts even though they're probably a giant blob of unreadable garbage. Enjoy :^)

Allston, MA, US
Posts: 17

Some Additional Psychology

First, something to distinguish. Prejudice and discrimination are different. Prejudice is a cognitive thought; discrimination is an act.

Now, having set that there, we can continue.

A great example of discrimination is when children learn schemas. Schemas allow children to develop a framework—the ability to decide what’s what. For example, when they learn what a dog is, they develop a schema: any furry thing they see is a dog. This is assimilation. However, after some period of trial and error, they accommodate, or change their schemas to better represent what it is supposed to be. So, another example is: if the child calls a cat a dog, a parent can point out that they are wrong. The child then picks up on this and edits the schema to then finally decipher and understand what a “dog” is overall.

This type of discrimination, or ability to set a word or definition to things in the universe is powerful. There are also many types of discrimination. This first one I mentioned, clearly, is learned. Children learn to develop schemas to better understand the world around them.

However, another psychology experiment to further explain another type of discrimination is the visual cliff. Essentially, a baby is put on a table. I’d look up an image of a visual cliff, but my best description is it visually mimicked a cliff. When nearing the edge, of the “cliff,” despite there just being a glass pane protecting the child from falling, they would not cross that portion, much less even be near it. Innately, the baby has a sense of what is known as depth perception. It understands that if it continues, it may fall and die. Some cool evolutionary psychology for you.

Most schemas can be unlearned, be it during childhood or anytime in life. The example I gave with the cat and dog: the child learns that the cat, quite simply, isn’t a dog. The schema changes. Innate discriminations are harder to change. These, such as an aversion to foods that taste bad, are more difficult to change. They are biologically built into us. Yet, it didn’t stop Pavlov. Conditioning always exists. Humans are creatures of knowledge and of expanding such knowledge. One of our purposes is we exist to learn. Not only academically, but about the world around us and how we interact with it. We can learn and adapt to any new situation. The innate behavior may persist, but the taught one may quickly disappear.

So: these two aforementioned examples serve as both innate and learned experiences when it comes to discrimination. Not the typical act of discrimination, of, say, being racist, but it serves as a way to transition for me.

So: racial discrimination is, ultimately, learned. We have no prior scientific evidence to conclude that this happened in other generations. Innate implies it is an evolutionarily genetic trait that was passed on from generation to generation to increase fitness. Most animals, of course, can discriminate between others to avoid predators. But we, as humans, do not have that same capability to deal with those types of issues. We are simply humans dealing with other humans.

We are CONSTANTLY exposed to varying views on how people see race. Most people are flat out racist, most unconsciously (more below) do things that they don’t even realize they’re doing.

So: explicit biases occur consciously, implicit biases occur subconsciously. Humans deal with implicit biases more often than not. It’s what happens with police officers. Their poor training leads to them being more likely to shoot black people who are unarmed. Their mind processes first before it can communicate with the person. And they grab the gun and shoot. The training can be improved to ameliorate those biases.

Those aforementioned two paragraphs prove that racial discrimination is learned. Our environment exposes us to these situations, and it propagates the ideas, especially during childhood.

These biases are often hard to change, but they can be changed. Especially with enough practice and effort.

As for me, though, my IAT was: “Your responses suggested a moderate automatic preference for White people over Black people.” For me, that was a bit surprising, as I do tend to find myself as a person who attempts to treat everyone equally. However, I do feel as though I would get a different result. I did take this 20 minutes ago while phasing in and out of sleep.

Overall, the IAT is a good test to use and should be used with police officers to determine who needs a better session for training. But it should only be taken at face value, as it is always just a test.

Anyway, again, explicit and implicit biases can be changed. You can unlearn what is rooted in you. However, a final important thing to note: you may actively believe you are trying to get rid of your explicit biases (so what you cognitively/presently do). Implicit biases, though, take much more effort, as they are an unconscious idea that may be rooted in you, such as, based on your parent’s ideologies.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 9

Is it taught or is it in us when we were born?

Although I believe that discrimination is mostly learned, I do believe that discrimination is also innate. I believe everyone is born with the ability to discriminate but it's elaborated and taught by people who the child trusts such as parents and teachers. I don’t think the parents or the teachers are maliciously teaching children to discriminate but sometimes they are doing it and just don’t know it. In Anderson Cooper’s study for CNN on skin color preferences, I found it interesting that many of the younger kids tend to be more discriminating while most older kids knew it was wrong to base people’s characteristics off of skin color. Even though I still believe discrimination is mostly taught, I think that if taught correctly, children will be able to be less discriminating. But it all depends on the teachers and parents they had, their friends, and what environment they grew up in. I don’t think discrimination will go away anytime soon but I think we are all working on it and are heading in the right direction. The IAT results told me that I was slightly biased towards one race. Although I don’t believe the test is 100% accurate it's still pretty accurate in my opinion. It’s a very valuable exercise that can be used as a starter in recognizing the bias in us.

Posts: 14

discrimination and association

Children learn to discriminate early on, usually from their parents or environment. I think there is a part that is innate, perhaps due to natural selection, and another part that is learned. I definitely think a lot of discrimination can be undone. A lot of discrimination is what the child learns from their enviroment, and when that environment is changed, their views are most likely changing. Personally, my elementary school was mostly white students, my middle school was mostly hispanic, and then BLS. I noticed that as I grew older, with each school, and as I talked to other students who don’t look like me, my views were changing.

I took the race IAT, and I think it said I had no preference between

white and black people. I do think that is true, but to be honest, I don’t think it is a good way to assess the associations we make. As I took the test, I was literally scolding my fingers the whole time, because they were clicking a key before I even had a good look at the picture, and I kept forgetting that the keys had switched at some point. I believe I was not the only one who was clicking the wrong key, according to the sentiments some other classmates shared after. I thought it was a valuable exercise, because although you may be getting frustrated with clicking wrong keys, you still get to see your first associations, and it really makes you think about it a bit more.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 10

Discrimination is learned, and it can just as easily be unlearned.

I don't believe that children are born discriminatory, but I strongly believe that discriminatory attitudes are learned very early in a child's life, much in the same way language is learned. Bias is ingrained in our culture and so for very many people, they grow up having developed implicit biases in how they treat others. Cultural bias picked up from observing the world around them can also be reinforced or combatted by how parents teach children. However, I believe that as we grow up, bias can be un-learned just as easily as it can be learned. As we grow older, we gain a capacity for self-awareness, and I think bias can easily be undone with the right mindfulness.

My IAT suggests a slight preference towards lighter skin tones, and I think the IAT is a good way to measure someone's racial attitudes, as opposed to just hearing what they have to say. I think the IAT is valuable in the way it measures our unconscious bias, but I think multiple trials are required to come up with conclusive data.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 15


I believe that the ability to discriminate is not an innate human mechanism, but an unconscious effect of living in society. From a very young age, children are exposed to the views and opinions of those around them, whether those come from their family, friends, or even a random stranger on the street. It is easy for a child to hear a racist comment and ingrain it into their psyche, especially since they are taught to listen to and obey adult authority figures.

Furthermore, society in general is a major propagator of bias, both overt and subtle. For example, I remember that when I grew up, the dolls that I saw in the toy store all had light skin. This might seem like a very minor thing, but a child could take note of this and realize that white seems to be the only “socially-acceptable” skin color.

In addition, the Clark study makes note of the fact that “knowledge of a difference in terms of the word ‘Negro’ makes a sharp increase from the five- to six-year-old level and a less accelerated one between the six- and seven-year-olds.” It even goes further to posit that this may be because children start school at age six, evidence that the school system directly results in children learning to discriminate in terms beyond simple skin color difference, as well as the beginning of their exposure to institutional racism.

It is possible to undo learned discrimination, though it usually takes a fair bit of effort to do so. The two most important things to do are to recognize that it exists and to educate oneself on the multifaceted monster that is bias. You have to be willing to work to see people the way that they actually are, not just in terms of their skin color or gender or socioeconomic status. Only then can one begin to make headway towards purging oneself of their own biases.

My IAT results said that I had no preference towards one race or another, which is not that surprising, considering that I have attended schools that are majority-black as well as schools that are majority-white. I am unsure, however, if they actually are a good way to assess unconscious bias, especially since the test is based on reaction time, and my hand-eye coordination is terrible. Throughout the entire thing, I was mostly concerned that I was going to press the wrong button, resulting in rather slow reaction times, which might have made the test less accurate. Still, I think that it is worth doing as a diagnostic test of implicit bias, but it should in no way be portrayed as 100% accurate.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 15


Originally posted by yeahhokay on November 17, 2020 22:25

I think this can definitely be undone. Once you are old enough to form your own opinions and educate your views it can be changed. There’s so much you don’t know about when your younger, you mature you grow its part of life and you completely change as a person. I have seen people in my personal life that this was undone and realize where they were extremely wrong.

Yeah, I definitely agree with you. As children grow up, they are exposed to so many different worldviews and beliefs, especially with the sheer interconnectedness of the Internet. Still, I think there is a danger that some children may be exposed to racist propaganda as they grow up and actually incorporate those biases into their beliefs.

Originally posted by gibby on November 16, 2020 21:20

This being said, I do believe that many children in the US are taught to discriminate, whether by their teachers, parents, or peers. A large part of this seems to be within the education system. Many children who grow up in private schools grow up going to school with only people who look like them, and thus have already created bias by the time they get out of elementary school. Some discrimination is also taught outright in our Eurocentric history curriculums.

You make a really good point about the education system. When people grow up with only people that are like them, it is really easy to form an "Other" mentality and view those who look different in a negative manner. In addition, I remember being annoyed in World History class a few years ago, especially since it practically focused on Europe and European colonization, with only a couple of units on Asian and African history.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 9

What is the leading factor in Child Discrimination

I believe that kids learn to discriminate because of their parents, and it is not simply something that can be undone. In the Anderson Cooper video one of the little girls says the dumb child is the darkest child because she is “black black” I refuse to believe that a child is borned with the ability to discriminate to this extent. Granted it seemed like the children would choose towards the skin color their own for good questions, and the opposite skin tone for negative ones. Granted there were also some that picked according to reasons like “That skin tone makes fun of all the other skin tones.” or some children straight up saying “It doesn’t matter what skin tone.” I still refuse to believe parents and adults aren’t the leading cause of discrimination.

My IAT test did show that I was biased towards black people, and that does make sense because I do live in a predominantly black neighborhood, and went to a predominantly black school when I was younger. I think the IAT test was a good way to measure your unconscious bias as for me I didn’t realize how much of a bias I had towards people of the same skin color as me. This was definitely valuable as more than an eye opener, because I honestly didn’t expect the videos seen to disturb me as much as they did.

Posts: 16

The Media is the real villain, it's not the one in the movies.

Discrimination and racism are taught, either indirectly from their environment or more directly through parenting or the media. Through the environment, while growing up, children are most likely surrounded by their friends and family who look like them and share many of the same features, including color of their skin. The majority of children don't travel to other regions or countries, so as a result, they aren't exposed to other world-views, beliefs, and difference in appearances. As well as that, being surrounded by people who look similar to you, causes you to see them as a "tribe," or a group you belong to within the big picture of society. On the other hand, other children are more directly prone to learned discrimination through the media and parenting. At day one, the media begins to plant the idea seed that black people are bad and evil while white people are pure and heroic. A few concrete examples of this process are colorism in the way actors are chosen (typically black actors/actresses are usually light skinned than the majority of black people to adhere to Hollywood's beauty standard), symbolism (in Action movies, the heroes typically wear the color white while the villain will wear black to represent their "evilness") and the blatant lack of representation of people of color in TV and film. In the Clark experiment, when asked what color most adults like, almost all the children chose light skin. The children are even aware of societal preference, and the media contributes a strong factor in that. Children are conditioned by the media to believe that their skin isn't as good as their white counterparts and that they are inferior because they have dark skin. I believe discrimination can absolutely be unlearned and undone. Children need exposure to other people who don't look like them, children need to be taught that good and evil don't lie within skin tone, and most importantly, children must grow up in a community of cultivated respect for all people of color. Prejudice is instinct to human survival from the previous discussion, but prejudice can be controlled and eventually, undone.

My IAT results came back saying that I had no preference to white or black people. I remember taking the test a few years ago and got back that I was biased towards white people. I'd like to attribute the change in results to character development and exposure to more black people throughout the years, and understanding that differences should be valued. However, it's also important to consider that I have poor hand eye coordination and sometimes, I'll unconsciously daze off and my fingers will just twitch, so I don't really know if any of my results were that accurate. I think they are useful to have you think about whether or not you may have an implicit bias, but the method the test uses to go about assessing you won't produce reliable results if you're someone like me. This can be a valuable exercise, even necessary if I may add, for students to gain a better self understanding of where they stand on implicit bias, but the IAT test shouldn't be used as an all defining tool on whether or not you have implicit bias.

The Imposter
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 13

Nature v.s Nurture

1.) The essence of this question has been discussed back-and-forth for a very long time now. It boils down to whether or not humans are more affected in their development by their environment and external factors (nurture) or by some other type of genetic inheritance/biological influence that can't be controlled (nature). Personally, I believe the external factors certainly determine human behavior more so than their innate desires or nature. There's an interesting film on Netflix, "The Social Dilemma", and it delves into the media-marketing industry and how exactly they manipulate the psychology of humans in order to market their products, companies, or in the case of the documentary, expedite the already rapid growth of social media. It's honestly scary when you watch it, but it's also eye opening in the sense that it makes you realize that, ever since we were younger, everything that's on TV, YouTube, or other forms of media, is really just a culmination of sly marketing techniques in order to get us to pay more attention to particular things or rabbit hole down an algorithm of things you may like (like on YouTube). This is the concept of socialization and how our environment plays a major role in developing our perspectives on certain things. Is it possible that children learn to discriminate through a combination of both their nature and whatever they learn? Of course. However, to ignore the era we are living in and how almost everything is a marketing ploy of some sorts, and how important that is in shaping our views would be to miss the whole point of this question. Whether it's innate, learned, or both, I do believe that it can be undone, and that's what education is for.

2.) I think the IAT tests in general are a decent way to asses your own personal unconscious biases, however you shouldn't predicate yourself completely on these types of tests as there are plenty of factors to consider. Also, there's so many of them concentrated in a certain area, so that's good. The IAT results told me something I've pretty much always known about my biases, but that's because I have the privilege of being very self aware since I've indulged in "both worlds" so to speak. The certain preference to a certain race was truly not a surprise tome given how and where I was raised-- aka how I was socialized! I find it very valuable in taking the first step to evaluate yourself and whatever potential biases you may have that you don't know about. Obviously don't completely depend on these types of tests, but it does well in starting that type of internal dialogue with one's self about how they can be better or more aware moving forward.

Posts: 16


Originally posted by The Imposter on November 18, 2020 07:54

There's an interesting film on Netflix, "The Social Dilemma", and it delves into the media-marketing industry and how exactly they manipulate the psychology of humans in order to market their products, companies, or in the case of the documentary, expedite the already rapid growth of social media. It's honestly scary when you watch it, but it's also eye opening in the sense that it makes you realize that, ever since we were younger, everything that's on TV, YouTube, or other forms of media, is really just a culmination of sly marketing techniques in order to get us to pay more attention to particular things or rabbit hole down an algorithm of things you may like (like on YouTube). This is the concept of socialization and how our environment plays a major role in developing our perspectives on certain things.

Great example and I think it definitely exemplifies how humans aren't only manipulated to discriminate through their surroundings or by people, but even in products that they buy, discrimination is everywhere. To add to your example, I watched a documentary of a similar nature where women wouldn't be inclined to buy makeup products otherwise, however it's the marketing of the product that plants an insecurity into women, and that's how business and companies profit off these insecurities. To tie it back to race, in many beauty magazines marketed towards women, light skinned or white women are always pictured on the cover, asserting that they are the beauty standard and look like what women should aim to look like.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 6

Discrimination is somewhat natural, but prejudice and racism is not.

Children learn to discriminate by being a part of society. Those around them how prejudices and discriminate, and so the child learns. It is a basic part of human nature, but it is affected by environment. This can be undone, but it requires a great deal of focus and effort. It is like a bad habit, discrimination can become reflexive and instinctual, causing people to unconsciously reinforce their own prejudice. Personally, the results of the test were telling to me. Personally, I am aware that I have a good deal of unconscious bias against darker skinned people. The way I get around the unconscious bias is by prioritizing the way I interact with new people. I am constantly thinking about how I treat people and try to police my own thoughts in order to cut back racist thinking. I spent a few years in an environment that didn't criticize racist thinking, and that affects my thoughts to this day. However, I myself am constantly looking out for my own racist thinking, and make active efforts to fix and adjust my actions in order to not act on them.

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