« Last post by Neurotic Guy on Today at 06:00:13 PM »
It is my contention that the core of racial prejudice can be seen in how society (generally) will view the outcome of this incident. If the shooting is deemed to be justified (and I am presuming consensus about this outcome in this hypothetical), Michael Brown will be the face of bad black teens. He will represent confirmation in the collective mind of the majority culture (predominently white and middle class) that we need to keep a very close, wary, and suspicious eye on young black men. In short, a stereotype will be confirmed -- if not consiously, then in our collective subconscious.
In contrast -- and the contrast is at the crux of racial prejudice -- if the police officer is found to be negligent (i.e., a non-justifiable shoot), he, not all white men, will be to blame. Yes, people will condemn his actions; yes, they will want him to pay for his actions; yes, it will confirm in black communities stereotypes about white policemen. However, I, as a white male, will not be held under greater suspision by the majority culture -- I will not be subject to mistreatment by the majority culture based on the color of my skin.
I don't agree with this at all. If the police officer is found to be negligent, not all white men will be to blame, but all white cops will be. Also, as someone who's white and middle class, I don't think your claims of our collective mindset is overly accurate. This isn't the 70s.
Respectfully, I disagree with you. It isn't the 1970's, but that fact doesn't mean that racial and other appearance biases are gone from humanity. Biases vary from individual to individual, but there are trends and tendencies among groups with commom characteristics. I don't mean to suggest that ALL white, middle-class people think exactly the same way, but am suggesting that, broadly, appearance bias is still a factor in our society.
I acknowledged in my post that to the victimed minority, the white-cop stereotypes are confirmed by this incident. I also intonated that this is wrong, just as stereotype confirmation of the angry black teen is wrong. While wrong, I also stated that it's human. Bias and prejudice is something we do as humans -- we take bits of information and draw conclusions. It's as human as breathing. It's not a put-down to you or to me or to anyone; just a statement about what I think to be reality. We (including me) use biased thinking all the time at cblog-- not about race necessarily, but influenced by a host of possible variables (political ideoligy; religion; various cultural influences; individual life experiences). To deny this, IMO, is to deny reality.
My broader point is that the sides we take through our knee-jerk response are influenced (among other things) by race, and then are reinforced through like-minded peers and media-folk. We can get stuck talking about who is 'right' about whether or not the police officer is negligent or righteous in his shoot -- or -- we can talk about why this incident triggers the intensity it triggers. I agree with Nick that the shooting itself may have had nothing to do with race. The aftermath surely does.
Racial bias influences our thinking and our world in 2014 just as it did -- though more blatantly, unabashedly, and even proudly -- in the 70's. Raising awareness could be a positive that comes from the Michael Brown discussion, or it can be burried by hunkering down into ideological postions.