Imagine you are in heaven and the angel in front of you says: You are going to be born to the world. In America. But guess what? We give you choices. There are some groups in America that are in disadvantaged positions for example Blacks.
Imagine you are in heaven and the angel in front of you says: You are going to be born to the world. In America. But guess what? We give you choices. There are some groups in America that are in disadvantaged positions for example Blacks. So you can choose to be born White or you can choose to be born Black with cash compensation. The cash will be deposited to your bank account when you are born.
Question: If you choose to be born Black in America how much compensation do you think is reasonable? The more specific the better.
The Experience of
Oh is there still racism?
-ANONYMOUS STUDENT ON HEARING THAT A COURSE
ON RACISM WAS BEING OFFERED ON HER CAMPUS
QUOTED IN TATUM (1997 P. 3)
I dont think White people generally undmtand the
full meaning of racist discriminatory behaviors directed
toward Americans of African descent. They seen1 to see
each act of discrimination or any act of violence as an
isolated event. As a result most White Americans cannot
understand the strong reaction n1anifested by Blacks when such
events occur. They feel that Blacks tend to overreact. They
forget that in most cases we live lives of quiet desperation
generated by a litany of daily large and small events that
whether or not by design remind us of our place
in American society.
-ANONYMOUS BLACK PROFESSOR QUOTED IN FEAGIN
AND SIKES (1994 PP. 23-24 EMPHASIS IN ORIGINAL)
What Defines a Stigmatized
Stigma by Association
Responses to Prejudice and
Consequences of Prejudice to the
Vulnerability to Stress
Threats to Self-Esteem
Coping with Discrimination
Psychological Disengagement and
THE EXPERIENCE OF DISCRIMINATION 419
Questions for Review and Discussion
As we saw in Chapter 6 many White Americans think prejudice is more or
less a thing of the past. It is certainly true that more blatant fonlLS of prejudice
have declined in the United States because of both legislative and social changes.
It is also true however that the existence of prejudice and discrimination can simply
be iuvisible to many members of the majority group. It is sometiules difficult
for the majority group to accept that for many people prejudice and discrimination
are a lived experience (Feagin & Sikes 1994 p. 15) and are not inconsequential
beliefs and actions that can siulply be overlooked while getting on with
ones life. Instead for members of stereotyped groups these experiences are
woven iuto the fabric of their lives. Much of this book has focused on theories about
and research on prejudiced people. In this chapter we tell the story of prejudice and
discrimination from the poiut of view of those lived experiences focusiug on the social
psychological research that describes and explains them.
As we have seen in earlier chapters prejudice and discrimination can take
many fonns depending on the actor the situation and the historical time period
in which a person lives. These factors similarly affect those who experience prejudice
creating a dynamic interchange between those who treat others unfairly and
those who are the recipients of this injustice (Dovidio Major & Crocker 2000).
This chapter focuses on the consequences of this exchange as they affect every
aspect of the stigmatized persons life including their academic and economic
achievement and their physical and mental well-beiug.
To fully understand what it is like to experience discrimination it is important to
know what factors set others apart from the dominant group increasing the likelihood
that they will be discriminated against. Recall from Chapter 1 our discussion
of group privilege. This privilege is defined as membership in the dominant
group a status that is seen as nonnal and natural and is usually taken for granted
(A. Johnson 2006). Dominant group membership is sometimes referred to as
majority group membership but this is somewhat of a misnomer. Privileged status
often comes from being in the majority; however it is not defined simply by
420 CHAPTER 11
a groups numerical advantage. For example the British rule of India lasted more
than 300 years; during that time Indians faced severe racial discrimination from the
British even though the Indians greatly outnumbered the British (Dirks 2001)
Similarly although Blacks in South Africa outnumber Whites four to one until
1994 Blacks were subjected to apartheid laws that enforced their segregation
from Whites governed their social life and limited their employment options
(Beck 2000) The vestiges of apartheid continue to affect Blacks in South Africa.
Privileged status then is defined less by a groups numbers and more by its power
and influence. We begin our discussion by outlining the factors that delineate a
groups privileged or disadvantaged status.
What Defines a Stigmatized Group?
~Whether they are consciously aware of it or not individuals with privileged status
define which groups do or do not share this status. In social psychological tenns
those groups that do not share this status are stigmatized or deviant. Stigmatized
-groups differ from the privileged or dominant groups in terms of appearance or
behavior. Members of stigmatized groups violate the nOn11.S established by the
dominant group on these dimensions and as such are lllarked by the resulting
social stigma (Jones et al. 1984). Because of this members of stigmatized groups
are sometimes referred to as the marked and those who are the actors or the ones
who stigmatize are sometimes referred to as the markers. Marked individuals are
devalued spoiled or flawed in the eyes of others (Crocker Major & Steele
1998 p. 504). The consequences of this devaluation are fur reaching and can include
dehumanization threat aversion and other negative treatment including
subtle forms of discrimination (Dovidio et al. 2000).
Which groups are stigmatized by the privileged or dominant group? The
answer depends on the culture and on the historical events that led to the current
cultural context. As we saw in Chapter 1 for example the Irish and Italians were
once considered non~White and were targets of discrimination in the United
States; today they are accepted as part of the White majority (Rubin 1998).
Returning to our earlier examples India is now governed by its own people and
is not subject to British dominance and Blacks in South Africa have made significant
strides toward undoing the effects of apartheid. Hence historical events and
changes in laws and social nonns affect cultural beliefS about who can or should be
stigmatized even if it sometimes takes many years to see their effects. More generally
dominant group members detennine which individuals are stigmatized based
on any number of characteristics including membership in an underrepresented
basic social category such as ethnicity or old age or in a socially deviant category
defined by physical or mental disability weight socioeconomic status or sexual
orientation. People also can be stigmatized because of their acne their mothers alcoholism
a speech impediment or illness among many other things (Jones et al.
1984). To be stigmatized then individuals must have a characteristic that is devalued
by the dominant group and that sets them apart from that group. Regardless of the
source of the stigma in all cases there is shame associated with being nurked