Saturday, October 31, 2015

Prejudice, Discrimination, and Police Brutality

While reading about social justice and civil rights, I began to think about all of the recent reports of police officers using excessive force when interacting with African American men and women.  Such as when the school police officer in South Carolina grabbed the student out of her desk and threw her to the floor for not complying with an order to go with the officer.  When I first read this article and saw the video, I was shocked, and I wondered if this would have happened if the student was white and not African American.   There have been many incidents in the past few years that have been similar to this incident in that a white police officer used excessive force when interacting with an African American suspect or person of interest.

I also began to think about how many times people have seen only some of the facts and leaped to some conclusion that has nothing or very little to do with actual events.  In these cases, events can quickly spiral out of control before all of the facts are known.  This was portrayed in a recent episode of CSI: Cyber in which a video of police brutality was taken out of context, modified to make it look like the African American suspect was killed, and released to the public.  These events led to rioting in the town portrayed in this episode.

Something I thought of while reading about the incident in the South Carolina school and after seeing this episode of CSI: Cyber was that maybe incidents like these would not happen as much if people were better able to relate to the victims of prejudice.  An attempt to teach children what discrimination felt like was made by Jane Elliot in her third grade classroom in 1968 after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.  This was called the brown-eyed and blue-eyed experiment.  In order to demonstrate to her students the effect that discrimination can have on a person, Jane Elliot divided the class by the color of their eyes.  The brown-eyed children were allowed to sit in the front and were told they were better than the blue-eyed children, who had to sit in the back.  She then observed the differences in their behavior.  The following Monday, she switched the groups so that the blue-eyed children were told they were better than the brown-eyed children and observed the changes in their behavior throughout the day.  Although this was a very controversial experiment, the children had had the opportunity to feel what it is like to be discriminated against.


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  2. Although it might have been a controversial experiment that Jane Elliot proposed, it was well intended. The experiment would be relevant to today’s kids in school. I personally don’t think that racism and discriminations are topics that are discussed enough and thoroughly in school. I wonder to if people would make better choices regarding the right of individuals if they were more aware of their actions and there effects. I think kids today are often shelter from the truth and have to assume reality based on their accusations. The news and social media often leave out different perspectives and stories. For example the video that is previously discussed about the girl in South Carolina. I remember seeing this video via Facebook. The clip is a very short clip of what the officer had done. In class we discussed how other countries if they are going to show news they show it all. We also discussed how often a major event such as protest that have full video coverage as well as constant coverage. I think that in America we often forget events once there is no longer coverage in the news. I wonder if often our media and social media provided not enough information for the general public to think about these instances rationally. These instances continually show up in our social media and seem to be just glossed over. I think that experiment discussed previously is a great way to being to address some of these issues. I think there needs to be more of these type of experiments implement into the education standers. I think third grade is a perfect age to begin to teach children truly what prejudice thinking is and how it feels to be a victim of discrimination. We discuss bullying and its effects on a person’s well-being. I don’t think there is enough discussion about hate crimes and other forms of racism and discrimination. I think too often we brush over these topics because they are uncomfortable. I think that we have to get uncomfortable and talk about these issues before we can become comfortable and efficiently addressing the issues in a school setting.

  3. Karen, I really like your post especially because the whole point of this blog is to connect the real world experiences and what society pushes onto us. Like you have stated we really don't get the whole picture when it comes to the media and the coverage they share with us. Most of the times, we only get a headline and a few updates instead of learning all of the details. The media does this on purpose because they are only trying to gain popularity and ratings. They fail to connect that these stories are more than that; they are real people struggling in life with experiences like oppression or discrimination. We all have failed as a society to identify the real problems and openly talk about them because we think they will just disappear. Our ignorance has only caused more issues and most importantly certain groups continue to be ignored. This type of blindness is perpetuated because specific groups are never being targeted so they never have to personally deal with that negative experience. I think by incorporating that experiment by Mrs. Elliot's experiment proves that being discriminated against has negative connotations to anyone no matter their age, race, gender or any other characteristic. This is honestly strange to say but until everyone, even the elite groups, knows the dangers of discrimination nothing will ever change. Yes we can feel sympathy for those oppressed groups, but discrimination will never change until we all know how it really feels.