Stereotype Prejudice and Racism as Barriers Outline STEREOTYPES Definition Negative Effects on Communication Case Study: Asian-Americans PREJUDICE Definition Case Studies Japan and Korea U.S. Media Portrayal of Minorities RACISM Definition The two balls actually have the same size. What we see is what we expect to see. What You Can Learn From This Chapter: How stereotyping and prejudice impede /to make difficult/ communication The effect of media stereotyping and prejudice on face-to-face communication How communication can deal with stereotyping and prejudice A stumbling block to communication is stereotyping and prejudice. The term stereotype is the broader term commonly used to refer to negative or positive judgments made about individuals based on any observable or believed group membership. Prejudice, on the other hand, refers to the irrational suspicion or hatred of a particular group, race, religion, or sexual orientation. The terms are related in that they both refer to making judgments about individuals based on group membership. STEREOTYPE DEFINITION The word "stereotyping" was first used by journalist Walter Lippman in 1922 to describe judgments made about others on the basis of their ethnic group membership. Today the term is more broadly used to refer to judgments made on the basis of any group membership. Who stereotypes? And who is the target of stereotyping? The answer to both questions is that anyone can stereotype and anyone can be the target of stereotyping. Anyone can stereotype groups that they themselves do not identify with. Stereotypes are used by all groups. Until recently, the sign for "Japanese" in American Sign Language was a twist of the little finger at the corner of the eye to denote a slanted eye. The new sign taken from Japanese Sign Language is a hand signal to show the shape of the Japanese islands. Although you may think of stereotypes as being negative judg-ments, they can also be positive. Some people hold positive stereotypes of other individuals based on their professional group membership. For example, some people assume all doctors are intelligent and wise. NEGATIVE EFFECTS ON COMMUNICATION Stereotypes are harmful because they impede communication in at least three ways. They cause us to assume that a widely held belief is true when it may not be. Research conducted by Gordon Allport (1954) showed, for example, that the prevalent stereotype of Armenians as dishonest was proved false when a credit-reporting association gave them credit ratings as good as those given others. Continued use of the stereotype reinforces the belief. Stereotypes of women as ornaments or of people of color as stupid or licentious /sexually immoral/ or of gay men as only interested in sex reinforce a belief that places individual women, African- Americans, and gay men at risk. Popular television may reinforce those stereotypes. Shaheen (1984), for example, has cited the four Western myths about Arabs as shown on television: they are wealthy, they are barbaric, they are sex maniacs, and they are terrorist-minded. When stereotypes lead us to interpret an individual's behavior from the perceptual screen of the stereotype they impede communication. For example, were you to believe that Armenians are dishonest, when you see a person you know to be Armenian taking a package from a car you would be more likely to assume he was stealing it. CASE STUDY: ASIAN-AMERICANS Asian-American groups in the United States have experienced stereotyping, which although positive has impeded communication. The term Asian- American was created to refer to all people of Asian descent in the belief that they shared a common history and struggle in the United States. And up to the 1970s, Asian-Americans were largely born in the United States. The Immigration and Nationality Act amendments of 1965 abandoned the old policy of immigration quotas for each country and established a new system giving preference to relatives of U.S. residents. That change resulted in large numbers of Asian immigrants, and from 1981 to 1989, Asians began migrating to the United States in large numbers. Although these immigrants came from many Asian countries, such as China, the Philippines, Japan, India, Korea, and Vietnam, the continued use of the term Asian-American contributes to a stereotype of some 8 million people of Asian ancestry as a single community. During the civil rights era of the 1960s, "Asian-American" became associated with the stereotype of the "model minority" who achieved success through hard work, perseverance, silent stoicism, strong family ties, and strong support for education. This stereotype seemed to continue the belief that any group can achieve the American Dream if its members "just work hard enough." And this stereotype continues in the media. Asian-Americans of all groups are most often portrayed in the press as industrious and intelligent, enterprising and polite, with strong values, and successful in schools and business and in science and engineering. The stereotype is reinforced in news reports that Asian-American students score much higher on math exams than their White counterparts and that the percentage of U.S. scientists who are Asian-American is two to three times the percentage of Asian- Americans in the total population. Asian-American high school students of all backgrounds complain that teachers often counsel them to go into math and sciences. Some teachers respond that they do this so that immigrants will not have to contend with language problems. Asian-Americans argue that some teachers continue to do this even to those who are fluent in English and that the reason why teachers do this is that they perceive Asians as not being free thinking or extroverted/active, friendly and lively/. The "model minority" stereotype is too narrow and confining/limited/. A smaller percentage of Asian-American students are encouraged to enter the creative fields of art and theater or the management field. PREJUDICE Whereas stereotypes can be positive or negative, prejudice refers to the irrational dislike, suspicion, or hatred of a particular group, race, religion, or sexual orientation (Rothenberg, 1992). Persons within the group are viewed not in terms of their individual merit but according to the superficial characteristics that make them part of the group. Like stereotyping, anyone can be prejudiced and anyone can experience prejudice. Prejudice exists in cultures around the world. CASE STUDIES: Japan and Korea Relationships between the Japanese and the Koreans reflect long-standing prejudice. In 1923, following the great Kanto earthquake in Japan, it was rumored that Koreans were poisoning water supplies. Mob violence left 6,000 Koreans dead. In 1991, the Japanese govern-ment did grant the right to first-generation Koreans to live permanently in Japan under Korean citizenship. However, unlike U.S. policy, chil-dren born in Japan are not automatically citizens unless they have a Japanese parent. Koreans in Japan today say they are victims of social, economic, and political prejudice. Likewise, South Korea experienced 35 years of Japan's repressive colonial rule. There remains a sense oihan, or bitter resentment, that many Koreans feel toward the Japanese. South Korea bans Japanese movies, music, videos, and other forms of popular culture. U.S. Media Portrayal of Minorities To see the extent to which prejudice exist todays in the United States, let's look at survey data and at the portrayal of minorities in the media. Surveys continue to show that prejudiced attitudes exist in the United States (Crosby, Bromley, & Saxe, 1980), that prejudice exists not only between Whites and minority groups but between minority groups as well. These attitudes are reflected in communication media. Writer Langston Hughes created the character Jesse B. Semple, known as "Simple" to his friends in Harlem. Semple once observed, "The only time colored folks is front-page news is when there's been a race riot or a lynching or a whole lot of us have been butchered up or arrested" (Hughes, 1961, p. 230). To some extent, Hughes's statement is true for everyone. News is about the unusual; it's about the extremes of life—not about normal, everyday life. Yet the press seems to cover a much broader range of "White life" than of "minority life." Engagement notices, obituaries, and stories about young, middle- class couples struggling to buy their first home are more likely to be stories about Whites. Only 15% of the poor in the United States are African-American. Most of the violent criminals, drug users, prostitutes, drunks, illiter-ates, high school dropouts, juvenile delinquents, jobless, and poor in the United States are neither African-American nor Hispanic but White. The majority of African- Americans and Hispanics are none of the above, yet the press, they contend, gives them preponderantly negative coverage. A 1993 study by the Annenberg School of Communication com-missioned by the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists found the following: Women portray only one of every three roles in prime time and only one of four in children's television programming. Elderly people are "vanishing" on television even as their numbers in the population increase. Native Americans and Asian-Americans are "conspicuous /could be easily noticed / by their absence." Hispanics get less than 1% of prime-time roles although they constitute 9% of the population. Only 1.3% of major characters on television are poverty-stricken, yet 13% of the U.S. population is poor. Physical disability is visible in only 1.5% of shows,- however, 43 million people in the United States have disabilities. Every communication industry could receive the same scrutiny. For example, how does advertising present minorities? By 1990, mi-norities made up about 25% of the United States population. The Screen Actors Guild survey of female roles in television commercials in 1989 showed that Asians had 1.4% of the female roles, Hispanics had 5.3%, African-Americans had 7.9%, and Whites had 85.3%. Thus advertising does not accurately reflect the presence of minorities. Racism By the year 2000 there may be 6 billion people on earth—no two alike. People come in all sizes and shapes and in many colors. We wear different clothes and have different standards of beauty. Many of us believe in one God, others believe in many, and still others believe in none. Some are rich and powerful, most are not, and many more are desperately poor. DEFINITION You can easily see that people from various cultures differ from one another, but how did differences become the basis of prejudice? Racism is any policy, practice, belief, or attitude that attributes characteristics or status to individuals based upon their race. Racism involves not only prejudice but the exercise of power over individuals based on their race. Racism can be either conscious or unconscious, intentional or unin-tentional GOBINEAU: THE "FATHER OF RACISM" European views on racism or racial superiority are most often associated with the 19th-century French writer Count Joseph Arthur de Gobineau. Although racism existed before Gobineau, his well- known articulation of White racial superiority, Essai surl'ineqalite des races humaines, established his position as the "father of racism"). Gobineau used three discursive strategies: categorizing all people into clearly defined groups—the White, the Black, and the Yellow,- using appearance for evidence saying one could "see" that Whites were the most beautiful,- and arguing for drawing boundaries based only on race and not on other factors such as national lines. Gobineau's reflection can be seen today in the neo-Nazi skinheads who profess to want to awaken Whites to recognize that they are a dying race. Skinheads got their name from some members shaving their heads. The Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith estimates that in the United States in 1992 some 3,500 neo-Nazi skinheads were active in 40 states. Even the most severe critics of the nation's news media concede that there is now much greater sensitivity in the portrayal of minorities. But ethnic stereotypes continue to appear. A Times fashion layout showed a Latino model, wearing a Latino designer's clothes—walking alongside a graffiti-scarred wall. "Do all Latinos live surrounded by graffiti?" asks Alan Acosta, assistant hiring editor at The Times. Racially insensitive and offensive language contributing to harmful stereotypes also remains common: The New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Time and Newsweek—among others— have used the words "invade" or "invasion" when speaking of the influx of Asian-American immigrants or Asian-American business acquisitions in this country; Asian-Americans say this invokes damaging images and memories of World War II. The Las Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Washington Post, Philadelphia Inquirer and Chicago Tribune, among others, have used the word "aliens" to describe immigrants who are here illegally; Latinos say this word makes them seem inhuman— strange outcasts from another world. They would rather be called "illegal immigrants" or "undocumented workers." Television sports commentators, in particular, speak of white athletes as being "smart" or "brainy" or as having worked hard; black athletes are often described as "natural" or "pure" athletes, "gifted" with great speed or strength or jumping ability. These formulations ignore the "natural" physical abilities of many white athletes and the demonstrated intelligence of many black athletes— as well as the hours and years of practice many black athletes put in developing their skills. The July/August 1993 issue of Jack and fill, a nationally distributed children's magazine, contained a story with this exchange: The tiny, ancient master stroked the hair on his chin. "Not end of world, young Freddie. Master Hojo teach you seclet weapon." "A secret weapon, Master Hojo?" "Wong Fong. Ancient Oriental art of tickring? "What exacdy is 'tickring' Master?" "Everybody tickrish some prace or other. Watch carefurry. Wong Fong will show you how to find most tickrish spot on whole human body." The publication's editor explained it as a mistake—an oversight—and that they did not realize the language would be offensive. SPREAD OF PREJUDICE AND RACISM When studying stereotypes, prejudice, and racism, you may be struck with the role that communication can play in either spreading the beliefs or stopping their spread. Prejudice and racism are commonly viewed as being rooted in the child's early socialization and fostered in communication with other people who are prejudiced or racist. Just overhearing racist comments has been shown to negatively effect the listener's evaluation of the person being spoken about. Research studies have demonstrated this effect. In the study conducted in 1985, groups of White college students observed a debate between a White and an African- American student and were asked to evaluate the skill of the debaters. The debates were staged so that half the time the African-American debater won and half lost. Immediately after the debate and before the evaluations, a confederate either made a derogatory ethnic slur against the African-American debater, criticized the African-American debater in a nonracist manner, or made no comment. Ethnic slurs did cue prejudiced behavior. Their results showed that the ratings of the African- American debater who lost was rated significantly lower when the audience overheard the derogatory ethnic slur but not for the winning African-American debater. The researchers comment that evaluations of individual minority group members can be biased by overheard derogatory ethnic labels when the person's behavior is less than perfect. HATE SPEECH Out of such realizations that speech can cue prejudiced behavior in others, some have attempted to restrict that type of speech often referred to as hate speech. Hate speech includes threats or verbal slurs directed against specific groups or physical acts such as burning crosses or spray-painting swastikas on public or private property. Some cities and colleges have adopted policies attempting to ban hate speech. Strong arguments have been raised that such prohibitions are in violation of First Amendment rights. Others counter that hate speech is less like political speech and more like an action, such as a slap in the face, and that such regulations are necessary to protect equality. The United States does prohibit defamation, false advertising, and obscenity. Internationally, the trend since World War II has been to protect individuals and groups from expressions of hatred, hostility, discrimination, and violence. In fact, Australia, Austria, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, and Sweden all have statutes or constitutional provisions prohibiting forms of hate speech. The International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights in Article 20(2) expressly provides that "any advocacy of national, racial, or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law." In 1992 when the U.S. Senate ratified this treaty it stipulated that the United States would not be bound by this provision but would adhere to its own constitution. First Amendment Rights Are expressions of racial or ethnic superiority then protected by the First Amendment? In 1991, a federal district judge voided a University of Wisconsin rule against hate speech saying it was unconstitutionally broad. The University's rule barred speech that was intended to create a hostile learning environment through the demeaning of a person's race, sex, religion, color, creed, disability, sexual orientation, or ancestry. In 1992, in St. Paul, Minn, the Supreme Court held unanimously that cross burning is protected by the First Amendment. The case involved a Minnesota teenage skinhead who burned a cross on the front lawn of the only African-American family in a working-class neighborhood of St. Paul. The teenager was charged under a city ordinance that banned any action that one knows arouses anger in others on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, or gender. The Court used as precedent its earlier ruling striking down laws against flag burning. The Court's ruling made it clear that speech cannot be limited on the basis of its content. Cable television programming One from of the electronic media has been accused of inadvertently disseminating hate: Cable television starting in 1940s as a way of extending the reach of television signals into areas out of range of the broadcast signal, such as mountain areas. Later, cable systems moved into other areas and offered signals from distant stations. Most often, local governments award a franchise to a single cable company that allows it to dig up city streets and use utility poles for its cable. In exchange, the cable operator pays a percentage of its receipts to the city and sets aside channels for use by the public, educational institutions, or the government. The Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984 became the first cable law adopted by Congress. In this act, Congress made cable television the only mass medium required to provide access to its facilities by any member of the public. The act allows cities to require that channels be set aside for public, educational, or governmental use. Local governments can control the content of government use, such as city council meetings, but they have no control over the public use. Even the cable operators themselves have no editorial control except to censor obscene programming. However, the new cable law passed in 1992 did place limits on indecent and obscene programming on public access channels. In 1991, an Anti-Defamation League survey labeled 57 programs as preaching racial and religious hatred on public access channels. These were being shown in 24 of the top 100 markets. Admittedly, public access programming has very few viewers, but this raises the question of First Amendment rights and racism. Should individuals guaranteed access to cable television mass media have no restrictions on their message content other than obscenity? Relation to Hate Crimes It is argued that such attitudes can erupt into hate crimes. Hate crimes grow out of a fear of differences and result in hostility toward those who are perceived as different because of their race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. Incidents of hate crime range from spray-painted graffiti slurs to cross burnings to assaults to murders. Attacks on Jews, gays, and African- Americans, such as the Howard Beach incident in 1986 in which a gang of youths chased and beat an African-American to death in a White Queens, New York, neighborhood, were the catalyst for hate crime legislation. Now nearly every state has some hate crime law. There is some evidence to suggest that over 50% of hate crimes are committed by people under the age of 21. A 1993 FBI report showed that race was involved in 6 of 10 reported hate crime offenses, religion in 2 of 10, and ethnic or sexual orientation in 1 of 10 each. Supreme Court decisions on hate speech leave unresolved whether states can impose extra jail terms on those who intentionally select their victims because of race, religion, or sexual orientation in the same way that existing laws provide for higher penalties for those who murder the President or a police officer. Stereotypes and Prejudice as Barriers One recent research project, for example, has demonstrated that hearing other people express strongly antiracist opinions influences both public and private expressions of racist opinions. In their study, Blanchard et al. interviewed students as they walked to class. In each interview, three people were involved: the White interviewer, a White confederate, and a naive White subject. The interviewer asked the confederate and subject questions about how their college should respond to anonymous racist notes. The confederate always answered first. The study compared how the subjects answered the questions when the confederate answered with the most antiractist statements to how they answered when the confederate answered with the least antiracist statements. The results showed that hearing the confederate express strongly antiracist opinions produced dramatically stronger antiracist opinions than hearing opinions more accepting of racism. In a second study, they showed the same results when the subjects expressed their answers privately on paper. On the basis of this research, it can be argued that cultural norms can minimize the public expression of discriminatory or otherwise interracially insensitive behavior. Yum and Park (1990), however, argue that for well- established stereotypes to change, more frequent information and stronger content is needed. What each of us says about racial discrimination really does matter. Your vocal opinions affect what others think and say. POSITIVE APPROACHES Disney films have been altered over time to remove their original stereotypes: The 1933 version of the "Three Little Pigs" had the Big Bad Wolf disguising himself as a peddler with a heavy Jewish accent. That was changed and reissued using a falsetto voice. The "Pastorale Symphony" section of Fantasia was reedited in 1991 to remove Sun-flower, a Black centaurette/shoeshine girl who buffed the other characters' hoofs. The lyrics to the opening song in Aladdin were changed after objections from the American-Arab Anti- Discrimination Committee; yet no comment was made on the fact that the Arabian Jasmine and her father speak unaccented, standard American English and the "bad guys" speak with foreign accents. USA Today Another more positive approach to prejudice and racism is to present a more balanced picture of minority life in the media. A number of newspapers have made serious efforts to do just that, but none has been more diligent in its efforts than USA Today. Almost every day it publishes four photographs on the top half of the front page. In keeping with the original edict of its founder, Al Neuharth, at least one of those photos shows a member of an ethnic minority and at least one of the other photos shows a woman. The paper's efforts go beyond the design of its front page. A determined effort is made to include minorities in every section and element of the newspaper, in stories of fashion and business, and in drawings and charts. EFFECTS OF SOCIAL PRESSURE Social pressures seem to relate to stereotypes and prejudice. Since 1980, compared to Whites' rate of increase, the percentage of African-Americans doubled, that of Hispanics almost six times, and that of Asian-Americans more than 10 times. By the end of this century, 87% of the nation's population growth will be among minorities. Minorities are already the majority in such major cities as New York, Chicago, Washington, Detroit, Cleveland, Miami, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. As the percentage of minorities in the population increases, does racism necessarily increase accordingly? You might wonder about the relationship between a country's prosperity and racism. In difficult economic times, does prejudice become more pronounced? Targets for hate crimes have changed with the times. During the Gulf War, anti-Arab sentiments increased, and during trade tensions with Japan, Japanese-Americans became targets. SUMMARY Stereotyping is making positive or negative judgments about individuals based on group membership. Stereotyping impedes communication when it leads us to assume the stereotype is true of the group and of the individual and to explain an individual's behavior on the basis of the stereotype. Stereotypes, prejudice, and racism are learned in communication with others who are prejudiced. Stereotyping, prejudice, and racism are also communicated in newspapers, books, and electronic media. Hate crimes grow out of a fear of differences and result in hostility toward those who are perceived as different on the basis of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.
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