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Contemporary Evolution of Racial Mindset

evanstiegel's picture

For a large population’s set of beliefs to evolve, members of the population who hold novel beliefs must influence others in their beliefs. When more and more individuals consequently hold these original beliefs, the mindset of the population as a whole can evolve. This process has occurred numerous times in American history especially with race. Today, a new outlook on race has emerged in certain communities and when more and more individuals are introduced into this mindset, the popular belief of the American society can evolve. The emerging racial belief is one of more consciousness and understanding of other races and cultures.

Recently, four Bryn Mawr students created a racially provocative Facebook invitation for a party with the tagline "True pimp niggaz spend no dough on the booty." The four students proceeded to mock African-American culture in the party’s description. The immediate response of outrage to the invitation is what has enlightened both the Bryn Mawr and Haverford communities of this socially conscious outlook on race. Both students and faculty members of Bryn Mawr have expressed their feelings about the invitation especially exclaiming the lack of respect it had for certain cultures. In a mass email to the Bryn Mawr community, President Nancy Vickers remarked that the incident was a "derogatory characterization of African-American culture" and that the event has caused "deep offense, anger and pain in the community."

Four Bryn Mawr students created the invitation but that does not mean that they were only members of the Bryn Mawr community who lacked the racially conscious mindset. Several other students willingly accepted the invitation to the party without response or confrontation. The women who created the party and accepted the invitation to the party are likely not the only members of the Bryn Mawr student body who are not racially conscious. In all likelihood, a very large percentage of the Bryn Mawr community probably holds certain racial prejudices. The lack of racial consciousness is not a reflection of these individuals, but rather a reflection of our society. In the past, certain popular racial beliefs did not evolve overnight. It took a long time was needed for Americans to discontinue to see slavery as acceptable, for example. As both Blacks and Whites alike were educated on equality, slavery was eventually acknowledged as an inhumane act that should no longer be tolerated. This evolution of mindset spanned over a long period of time and even necessitated a war before it became the majority belief in the United States.

In order for the widespread mindset of our society to become more racially aware and conscious, more individuals need to be informed of issues pertaining to race. As Nancy Vickers puts it in her email to the Bryn Mawr community, "We must find ways to educate ourselves proactively about racial stereotyping, cultural representations and other complex issues of race relations that are ubiquitous in our society. If we do not, we do a disservice to all our students and will continually replay painful moments such as this." President Vickers does not verbally castigate the four students who created the invitation and those students who accepted the invitation. Rather, she acknowledges that many members of the Bryn Mawr community still are not completely aware of their own implicit racial prejudices and that a change will take proactive education in these areas.

On a small scale, the proactive effort to become socially conscious that President Vickers was referring has already started to occur. The four students who created the invitation publicly apologized to the Bryn Mawr community at a Bryn Mawr Self-Government Association meeting. In their apology, the four students said, "We hope that in the future we can continue dialogue and work toward both a personal social awareness and social reconciliation. Later on in the meeting, one of the students declared that "In the future, I will now be more socially aware of my actions and how I represent the Bryn Mawr community." The apologies appear to be genuine as well as indicating the four students’ desire to become more socially conscious. The desire evolve by these four women can influence other members of the Bryn Mawr community in evolving their own mindsets about race. The public apology appeared in the Bi-College News enabling both the Bryn Mawr and Haverford communities to see four students. The publicity of the event can encourage others to evaluate how conscious they are in regard to racial issues.

In order for the United States majority to acquire this cotemporary, socially conscious view of race, small communities holding the new mindset must influence other communities. As the number of people who are socially conscious continues to increase, a transformation can begin to occur. As both Bryn Mawr and Haverford work for all of their members to become socially conscious individuals, both communities can become active in the current evolution of racial beliefs. As each school sends its educated adults out into the world, more people have the ability to influence others in evolving their own mindsets on race. In a later time, the majority view on race may one that is dramatically more racially conscious.


Anonymous's picture

Contemporary Evolution of Racial Mindset posted on 4/27/07

Before posting an article that assumes that the actions, roles and responsibilties of all four students were the same, concerning the offensive Facebook party invitation, it might be more fair to check individually with each student to find out what each of the four students actually did or didn't do concerning the invitation, as their roles and responsibilities may not have been the same. The creation of the content and the posting of the invitation may not have been done by all four students, with some not even seeing the content of the invitation before it was posted, and their names added later.

Racial stereotyping is reprehensible and wrong, but is it not another form of stereotyping to lump four different students together as if their actions and roles and responsibilities were one and the same, when who actually did what may have been different?