The Influence of Whiteness
by Purple Bird on November 16, 2016 - 10:53am
The Influence of Whiteness
Boatright-Horowitz, Frazier, Harps-Logan and Crockett’s (2013) study investigated the exposition of students to White privileges and the effects on their attitudes. First, in the article, it is said that white American people believe that racism is a concept that belongs to the past, that does not exist anymore in our contemporary world. Moreover, in predominantly white colleges, people of color who are experiencing overt and covert racism face psychological stress and are seen as complainers whenever they try to bring up the topic. Since being white is normalized, some white students believe that black people should just try fit in that type of society, where white people are privileged. In order to expose these students to the reality of White privileges and to reduce as well racism, the authors decided to conduct a study, which took place in a predominantly white school, involving 274 students who were taking a general psychology course: 214 whites and 66 colored people. To do so, the participants had to rate their levels of agreement towards the list of White privileges, written by McIntosh, through an online survey. After collecting the results, the authors found that white and colored people agreed on specific privileges that white people were beneficiating, such as those involving shopping, travelling and overall quality of life. The results also showed that the students’ view about racism had changed once exposed to the White privileges list and surveys. Furthermore, more students were willing to participate to activities and events that would reduce racism after being exposed to those privileges. In this study conducted by Boatright-Horowitz, Frazier, Harps-Logan and Crockett, students of color recognized that they might experience racism in areas regarding their future professional life, shopping and finding a house with nice neighbors. The biggest finding of this study was the acknowledgement from white people of the real existence of white privileges and their change of attitudes towards racism. To conclude, with their findings, the authors recommend to expose students to White privileges by teaching about it in order to sensitize people in general to racism.
In my opinion, on of the strong part of this article is the emphasis put on the different type of racism, covert and overt, which is discussed just before the study. I think it is important to acknowledge that even in our modern world, racism is still an issue that is perpetuated through false ideas and stereotypes. The consequences related to it are very serious, psychologically speaking, and have tremendous impact on the victims. I also liked the fact that compared to other articles, this study is actually proposing different solutions to reduce racism, instead of just stating the problems and why they are still problematic. Finally, I agree with the point made in the article about teaching White privileges, since it forces people to realize that in some ways, they might be advantaged by their skin color and that this type of discrimination will only exist if people socially agree with it and accept it.
Boatright-Horowitz, S.L., Crocket, N., Frazier, S., Harps-Logan, Y. (2013). Difficult times for college students of colour: teaching white students about White Privilege provides hope for change. Teaching in Higher Education, 18(7). 698-708. 10.1080/13562517.2013.836092.