Life is not fair: African American men and negative stereotypes

20 May

Moi has got plenty to say about hypocrites of the conservative persuasion, those who espouse family values, but don’t live up to them or who support corporate welfare while tossing out that old bromide that individuals must pull themselves up by their bootstraps even if they don’t have shoes.
Because of changes in family structure and the fact that many children are now being raised by single parents, who often lack the time or resources to care for them, we as a society must make children and education a priority, even in a time of lack. I know that many of the conservative persuasion will harp on about personal responsibility, yada, yada, yada. Moi promotes birth control and condoms, so don’t harp on that. Fact is children, didn’t ask to be born to any particular parent or set of parents.

Jonathan Cohn reports about an unprecedented experiment which occurred in Romanian orphanages in the New Republic article, The Two Year Window. There are very few experiments involving humans because of ethical considerations.

Nelson had traveled to Romania to take part in a cutting-edge experiment. It was ten years after the fall of the Communist dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu, whose scheme for increasing the country’s population through bans on birth control and abortion had filled state-run institutions with children their parents couldn’t support. Images from the orphanages had prompted an outpouring of international aid and a rush from parents around the world to adopt the children. But ten years later, the new government remained convinced that the institutions were a good idea—and was still warehousing at least 60,000 kids, some of them born after the old regime’s fall, in facilities where many received almost no meaningful human interaction. With backing from the MacArthur Foundation, and help from a sympathetic Romanian official, Nelson and colleagues from Harvard, Tulane, and the University of Maryland prevailed upon the government to allow them to remove some of the children from the orphanages and place them with foster families. Then, the researchers would observe how they fared over time in comparison with the children still in the orphanages. They would also track a third set of children, who were with their original parents, as a control group.
In the field of child development, this study—now known as the Bucharest Early Intervention Project—was nearly unprecedented. Most such research is performed on animals, because it would be unethical to expose human subjects to neglect or abuse. But here the investigators were taking a group of children out of danger. The orphanages, moreover, provided a sufficiently large sample of kids, all from the same place and all raised in the same miserable conditions. The only variable would be the removal from the institutions, allowing researchers to isolate the effects of neglect on the brain….
Drury, Nelson, and their collaborators are still learning about the orphans. But one upshot of their work is already clear. Childhood adversity can damage the brain as surely as inhaling toxic substances or absorbing a blow to the head can. And after the age of two, much of that damage can be difficult to repair, even for children who go on to receive the nurturing they were denied in their early years. This is a revelation with profound implication—and not just for the Romanian orphans.
APPROXIMATELY SEVEN MILLION American infants, toddlers, and preschoolers get care from somebody other than a relative, whether through organized day care centers or more informal arrangements, according to the Census Bureau. And much of that care is not very good. One widely cited study of child care in four states, by researchers in Colorado, found that only 8 percent of infant care centers were of “good” or “excellent” quality, while 40 percent were “poor.” The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development has found that three in four infant caregivers provide only minimal cognitive and language stimulation—and that more than half of young children in non-maternal care receive “only some” or “hardly any” positive caregiving. http://www.tnr.com/article/economy/magazine/97268/the-two-year-window?page=0,0&passthru=YzBlNDJmMmRkZTliNDgwZDY4MDhhYmIwMjYyYzhlMjg

Because the ranks of poor children are growing in the U.S., this study portends some grave challenges not only for particular children, but this society and this country. Adequate early learning opportunities and adequate early parenting is essential for proper development in children.

Another obstacle many children must overcome is the negative stereotype. Leland Ware opines in the Diverse Education article, Unconscious Stereotypes and Black Males:

In the decades following the enactment of the civil rights laws of the 1960s, old-fashioned, overt discrimination has begun to fade. Klansmen and skinheads are not socially acceptable. However, extensive research conducted over the last 30 years has shown that racial prejudice is pervasive among many who consciously subscribe to a belief in racial equality. Many individuals who believe they have positive attitudes about racial minorities unconsciously harbor racial prejudices. This can cause individuals to engage in conduct that disadvantages minorities without consciously realizing they are doing so. The discrimination occurs when it is not obvious to the perpetrator or when they can point to a race-neutral justification for the actions. Some academics have labeled this phenomenon “colorblind racism.”
Prejudice and stereotypes are the byproducts of ordinary perceptions, categorization, learning, memory and judgment. Categorization is the process by which ideas and objects are recognized, differentiated and understood. It is an essential cognitive activity that enables individuals to reduce the enormous amounts of information they encounter every day to a manageable level. Categorization allows individuals to relate new experiences to old experiences; the unfamiliar becomes familiar. Each object and event is perceived, remembered, grouped into a category and identified. The process is automatic and operates in milliseconds.
The categorization process can also trigger stereotypes. When an individual is seen as a member of a social group, perceptions about that group’s characteristics and behavior influence judgments made about them. Stereotyping involves the creation of a mental image of a “typical” member of a particular category. Individuals are perceived as undifferentiated members of a group, lacking any significant differences from other individuals within the group.
When a particular behavior by a group member is observed, the viewer evaluates the behavior through the lens of the stereotype. This causes the observer to conclude that the conduct has empirically confirmed his stereotyped belief about the group. Stereotypes can be so deeply internalized that they persist in the face of facts that directly contradict the stereotype.
Professor Frances Aboud, who conducted research on prejudice in young children, confirmed that stereotypes develop at an early age. In a study with young children aged three to five, volunteers were given a half-dozen positive adjectives such as “good,” “kind,” “clean” and an equal number of negative adjectives such as “mean,” “cruel” and “bad.” They asked children to match each adjective to one of the two drawings. One drawing depicted a White person and the other showed a Black person. The results showed that 70 percent of the children assigned nearly every positive adjective to the White faces and nearly every negative adjective to the Black faces.
Young children experience a world in which most people who live in nice houses are White. Most people on television are White, especially the people who were shown in positions of authority, dignity and power. Most of the storybook characters they see are White, and it is the White children who perform heroic, clever and generous feats.
Children, who are rapidly orienting themselves in their environments, receive messages about race, not once or twice, but thousands of times. Everywhere a child looks, whether it is on television, in movies, in books or online, their inferences are confirmed. As they grow into adults, these messages remain in their unconscious psyches and can be triggered by the categorization process. This provides the foundation for unconscious discrimination.
Eradicating negative stereotypes about Black men will be difficult, as they are longstanding and ubiquitous. Talking about them will not change people who believe they are egalitarian. However, individuals can be made aware of their unconscious biases.
Harvard’s Implicit Association Test is an experiment that measures the speed at which two concepts are associated. The research shows that unconscious stereotyping and prejudice are widespread. Test takers consistently made more associations between the faces of African-Americans and words having negative concepts. Positive concepts were associated with the faces of Whites. Hundreds of thousands of individuals have taken the test producing similar results.
Recognizing and understanding unconscious discrimination provides a starting point for addressing this problem…. http://diverseeducation.com/article/64283/

Moi wrote about “success cultures in HARD QUESTION: Do Black folk REALLY want to succeed in America?
All moi can say is really. One has a Constitutional right to be a MORON. One must ask what are these parents thinking and where do they want their children to go in THIS society and not some mythical Africa which most will never see and which probably does not exist. Remember, their children must live in THIS society, at THIS time and in THIS place.
Moi wrote in Black people MUST develop a culture of success: Michigan State revokes a football scholarship because of raunchy rap video.

The question must be asked, who is responsible for MY or YOUR life choices? Let’s get real, certain Asian cultures kick the collective butts of the rest of Americans. Why? It’s not rocket science. These cultures embrace success traits of hard work, respect for education, strong families, and a reverence for success and successful people. Contrast the culture of success with the norms of hip-hop and rap oppositional culture.
See, Hip-hop’s Dangerous Values
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1107107/posts and Hip-Hop and rap represent destructive life choices: How low can this genre sink? https://drwilda.com/2013/05/01/hip-hop-and-rap-represent-destructive-life-choices-how-low-can-this-genre-sink/

There is no such thing as a “model minority” and getting rid of this myth will allow educators to focus on the needs of the individual student. Still, the choice of many parents to allow their children to make choices which may impact their success should have folk asking the question of what values are being transmitted and absorbed by Black children.

Resources:
Culture of Success http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/culture-success

How Do Asian Students Get to the Top of the Class?
http://www.greatschools.org/parenting/teaching-values/481-parenting-students-to-the-top.gs

Related:
‘Becoming A Man’ course: Helping young African-American men avoid prison
https://drwilda.com/2013/07/03/becoming-a-man-course-helping-young-african-american-men-avoid-prison/

Study: The plight of African-American boys in Oakland, California
https://drwilda.com/2012/05/27/study-the-plight-of-african-american-boys-in-oakland-california/

Schott Foundation report: Black and Latino boys are not succeeding in high school
https://drwilda.com/tag/african-american-male/

We give up as a society: Jailing parents because kids are truant
https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/12/18/we-give-up-as-a-society-jailing-parents-because-kids-are-truant/

Jonathan Cohn’s ‘The Two Year Window’ https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/12/18/jonathan-cohns-the-two-year-window/

Who says Black children can’t learn? Some schools get it https://drwilda.com/2012/03/22/who-says-black-children-cant-learn-some-schools-gets-it/

Inappropriate discipline: The first step on the road to education failure https://drwilda.com/2011/12/13/inappropriate-discipline-the-first-step-on-the-road-to-education-failure/

Is there a model minority? https://drwilda.com/2012/06/23/is-there-a-model-minority/

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

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