20.6 sq mi, some 65,773 people, on a string of islands in the middle of the atlantic. – Bermuda
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“Psychologists Claude Steele and Joshua Aronson created an even more extreme version of this test, using black college students and twenty questions taken from the Graduate Record Examination, the standardized test used for entry into graduate school. When the students were asked to identify their race on a pretest questionnaire, that simple act was sufficient to prime them with all the negative stereotypes associated with African Americans and academic achievement — and the number of items they got right was cut in half”
After having thoroughly enjoyed reading The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, I thought I’d give a try to his latest book, blink.
The above quote is an excerpt from his book identifying one of many examples of how subconscious cues can cause us to change our way of thinking. The simple act of making subjects identify their race caused their test results to plummet to half of those who were not asked to identify their race.
Having previously read studies on the impact of race identification, I wasn’t terribly surprised by the above quote, though no doubt quite a few people would be. It is terribly unfortunate that there is such a negative connotation behind being black in today’s society but what is more unfortunate is that there is very little we can do to change this stigma in the short term. I’ve written in the past about Bruce Gordon’s accountability ladder, under which a guiding principal is that the only true way to be empowered is to “make it happen” and not rely on reasons why you can’t as a means not to.
One of my greatest concerns about today’s Bermuda is that we spend a great deal of time and energy doing exactly what that test above outlines. We quote statistics to say there are less blacks in management as evidence of racism and because you’re black, you’re less likely to get a job. What impact does this have on positive attitudes towards achievement?