Thursday, April 25, 2013

Civil Rights History (Introductory Material)



A "stereotype" is a generalization about a person or group of persons. We develop stereotypes when we are unable or unwilling to obtain all of the information we would need to make fair judgments about people or situations. In the absence of the "total picture," stereotypes in many cases allow us to "fill in the blanks." Our society often innocently creates and perpetuates stereotypes, but these stereotypes often lead to unfair discrimination and persecution when the stereotype is unfavorable.

A stereotype is a way we simplify our world. It is a short-hand way we deal with complex events. Stereotypes become dangerous when they leave us blind to individual differences.


Prejudice: A negative or hostile attitude toward another social group

Threat to self-esteem
Exploitation Theory
Scapegoating Theory
Authoritarian Personality Theory

Discrimination: Refers to an unfavorable action, behavior, outcome or treatment

Less access to:

-approval and popularity

-rights and privileges

-power, knowledge and popularity

Exposure to social risks:

-victimization through violence

-suspicion and blame for crimes

-rejection, alienation and isolation, which contributes to low self esteem, self-hatred and self-destructive behavior

-economic exploitation and oppression

Examples in history have been:

* African-Americans being forced to ride in the back of the bus

* German Jews being required to wear a yellow "Star of David"

* minorities being referred to by pejorative slang names

* minorities being the subject of jokes which poke fun at the target's race, religion, or ethnic origin, and which rely on stereotypes

* Japanese-Americans being isolated in camps during World War II

* Native Americans having their land confiscated in violation of treaties, being the victims of government-sponsored massacres, and being placed on reservations.


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