In the steps of creating an applied social psychology intervention the first and second are identifying a problem and coming up with a solution. That sounds so simple and matter of fact doesn’t it? In practice though it is clearly not that easy, yet there are some social problems so devastatingly powerful and serious that identifying and coming up with a solution is a literal matter of life and death. Racism in America and the ongoing murdering of black men in America is an ongoing nightmare that has not abated since blacks were freed after the Civil War. I feel a new fresh and honest look at the stakeholder and perpetuating factors aspects of the first and second steps of intervention creation is more than called for in creating more effective programs to deal with this issue.
Identifying a problem is usually built around the idea of stakeholders who have a vested interest in program development. To say that racism in America is a problem and that there is a huge need for intervention is abundantly clear but I don’t think that all those who are stakeholders are aware of their position or relation to this issue. There are people in our country who actually believe and say that we are a post-racial nation now. There are people who with all the sincerity in the world consider themselves to not be prejudiced and go about their daily lives feeling good about themselves for it. And there are those whom even in dense urban settings feel that racism doesn’t affect them and they have no part or stake in it. Truth is I feel that every single person who stands on US soil is a stakeholder and should be aware of that fact. Slavery was an unspeakable social evil created and supported in the light of totally contradictive rhetoric that stated All men are created equal while simultaneously enslaving and debasing their human brethren. The cognitive constructs or schemas built around quieting the cognitive dissonance of doing these horrible actions and keeping them in place for hundreds of years has created a viral like existence to racism in America especially against blacks that I dare say everyone gets exposed. It’s rampant and insidious. Considering that blacks were used as the financial foundation to build the wealth and power of the US and that they we considered not human but living currency to be used at the will and whim of the white men in power called for staunch suppression and repression of cognitive/emotional processes that might undermine the business of slavery and inform those that supported slavery that they were doing something immoral, wrong and evil. The famous Doll Studies done by Kenneth and Mamie Clark and subsequent versions of the study done show the sad truth of how people of all races and in various locations pick up the virus of racism even as little children. If you are not familiar with it please visit this CNN link. http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/05/13/doll.study/ This particular schema that the children display which has deeply affected their perceptions and therefore their choices and behaviors is I feel the force that perpetuates racism against black in America and negative self hate of blacks towards themselves.
In the creating a solution phase of social interventions I feel that engaging the issue of racism should be done at the level of the schemas currently playing in the minds of almost everyone in America. Specifically finding ways to first illuminate or expose the schema and then dismantle or extinguish it. There have been many studies showing that often time whites, in particular white males are unconscious of their racially biased behavior towards blacks and this is a key problem. The structure, laws, institutions and more seem to be designed with protecting and keeping what I call the white male schema in place. This insures keeping the power, keeping the status quo, and it also insures not having to deal with the cognitive dissonance of emotions of sadness, grief, guilt etc that come along with enslaving, murdering, raping, using and abusing a race of people for your personal benefit. It’s a very deep and hellish thought of being hit with the emotions that those acts would create and this add considerable strength to the walls of these schemas. Black people have their work cut out for them when even the Supreme Court acknowledges that blacks have no part or parcel in the benefits of being an American citizen nor do they have any rights the white people should care to respect. Please watch this video to see the Supreme Court ruling in this matter. This mental position is what put slavery into place from the beginning and has driven governmental policy ever since. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/16/melissa-harris-perry-black-men-killed-by-police_n_5684588.html Breaching the emotional walls however is I feel the route to take to make change. Beyond laws and policies being created, beyond marches, speeches, lofty intentions and platitudes humans need to feel in order to experience deep lasting and genuine change. My research project is designed around this very idea, of engaging the problem at the level of the schemas and along with cognitive acknowledgment, design an intervention that taps into emotional and physiological awareness to phenomena that surround the existence of racial schemas in America.
The items of stakeholders and perpetuating factors have a very salient existence in regards to the specific topic of white racism against blacks in America because of the high level of denial and cognitive dissonance involved. These factors are as common in the American way of life as the air we all breathe here. It’s almost impossible to escape. It’s not that racist attitudes are impossible to change, but when there is monumental fear of losing power and status and exposure for evils done against others, stakeholders and perpetuating factors both become more deeply infected and entrenched in the sickening madness of hate. The so-called Founding Fathers of this country were either very stupid, very evil or very selfish when deciding to go this route when designing their “free” country. If they thought that treatment of other human beings in this manner would have no consequences or repercussions they were not very wise and don’t deserve all the praise they seem to engender.
Billante, J., Hadad, C. (2010). Study: White and black children biased toward lighter skin. Retrieved September 20, 2014 from http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/05/13/doll.study/
Mirkinson, J. (2014). Melissa Harris-Perry’s Searing Tribute To Black Men Killed By Police. Retrieved September 20, 2014 from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/16/melissa-harris-perry-black-men-killed-by-police_n_5684588.html