Saturday, April 27, 2013

Can Talking About Race Create Unnecessary Animosity?

I just read an article from a British newspaper talking about how racism talks can cause students to be more intolerant. There was a recent study done in the Netherlands that shows that anti-racism lessons can cause animosity to other cultures and therefore increase over intolerance.

            The study does show that children who grow up in neighborhoods of mixed races are more likely to be tolerant and free of hostility. But, when more attention during class time is focused on a multicultural society, it can actually create animosity rather than liberating these hatred views. This is a clear “unexpected negative effect.” It shows that sometimes a certain animosity can be created when talking about discrimination among minority groups. Many of the students have never thought or done any racist actions, so this scholar asks why would we plant the racist thoughts in their head?

            This article brings up an interesting debate. But it seems like to me that by not talking about racial issues that we are in essence, avoiding them. That would mean that we are cowards because we are too scared to bring up racial issues. They’re here; we all know about discrimination and racial issues. There is no point in avoiding them in education. I think what needs to happen is that we need to change HOW we are talking about the racial issues and how we are teaching them to children. We do not want young children and teenagers to have any animosity towards another race. It is necessary to talk about racial issues in our present-day society AND our history. We should talk about the racial issues and instill a theory of multiculturalism within the children without festering up new ideas about hatred. We should talk about the issues but we shouldn’t “rub the children’s noses” in them. When teaching, we can’t be accusing the students of racism when they have never thought or done this. We must draw a clear line between our history and our current times, without totally separating the two. I know that sounds a bit crazy and I’m kind of contradicting myself. I believe we must talk about the history (the past racial issues) like they are in the past, but also realize that we can learn from the past. There are clearly still many racial issues in our society today and we can learn from history as how to fix this.

What are your thoughts on this article and study? Do you believe that talking about racial issues can cause animosity?

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