Thursday, February 6, 2014

Spinning Into Butter: "Micro-Prejudice"

Spinning Into Butter raises a number of questions regarding unconscious bias, honest discussion and self-assessment.  It suggests questions about American contemporary culture--particularly now, some 14 years after this play premiered, including six years after the election of a black U.S. President.

Some of these questions hinge on the concept of unconscious bias and its expression, which some psychologists and others have called "micro-prejudice" and "micro-aggression."

This Psychology Today article presents the history of these concepts, with examples.  These prejudices and their expressions are considered "micro" because they are small relative to the past, but they can also be ambiguous.  Was a particular statement really evidence of prejudice?  This is made more difficult (the article says) because the person making the statement is often a friend, colleague or acquaintance.

The author notes: "Ironically, some research and testimony from people of color indicate they are better able to handle overt, conscious and deliberate acts of racism than the unconscious, subtle and less obvious forms. That is because there is no guesswork involved in overt forms of racism."
This article discusses "micro-prejudice" in a college context, with comments from university students.

This is a widely cited academic article on the subject.

One highly prominent event in recent years that might bear on these questions is the killing of Trayvon Martin and the subsequent trial and verdict.  Here is video of President Obama's response, as he explains instances of racial prejudice that he knows from personal experience.

In this article, a Columbia professor relates the Martin case to "subtle prejudice" and micro-aggressions.  There are many other articles on the Internet that discuss these issues from very different points of view.

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