Disconnected Thoughts

September 5, 2016


Here are some things I’ve been thinking today. If we were eating a meal together, I would probably figure out a way to inject them into the conversation. But because I have no social life, I am sharing them here, in this blog post, with random strangers, lurkers and family members checking up on me.

  • Why We’re Hearing More Racist Comments in “Polite Society”
    • I believe that future social scientists will come to the conclusion that one result of Barack Obama’s presidency was a resurgence in public sphere racist dialogue. Not just as a reaction to Obama, but Obama gave racists an opportunity to say racist stuff that heretofore had been discouraged in public, under the guise of complaining about a President, and it just grew from there.

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The Persistence of Stereotypes

February 5, 2013

woman-in-boxLike all of culture, stereotypes have to be learned. But once they are, they are extremely difficult to purge from one’s mind, or even to subdue into cultural curiosities that have no power over our behavior or thinking. Neuroscientists have long known that it takes much longer to unlearn incorrect information than it takes to learn it in the first place. Holding on to stereotypes is especially easy because evolution wired us to look for patterns as a survival skill. Successful hunting, gathering, farming and escaping predators all rely on forming patterns from our observations.

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Groups It’s OK To Make Fun Of

February 26, 2010

In the year 2010, in the United States, it’s acceptable to make fun of some groups of people. To find out which groups, you only need to turn on a children’s TV station, such as Nickelodeon, or wait until Halloween and see how people dress up. In fact, you, dear reader, may occasionally be promoting some cultural stereotypes without the slightest awareness that you are hurting anyone. I certainly don’t blame you, since some of the most wonderfully open minded people I know engage in this behavior. This post is an opportunity for you to contemplate cultural stereotypes that might at first seem like innocent fun, without being confronted directly. What you take from it is up to you, of course, but I hope that you realize that my feelings are genuine; these things bother me and they may upset other people who generally remain silent about them in public.


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Poverty, Race, and Education in a Capitalist Nation

December 8, 2009

The following essay is adapted from a paper I wrote in 2006. One can only imagine how much more dire the situation is in the wake of the recent recession. The original paper, with references, may be downloaded from the box labeled, ACADEMIC PEACE PAPERS, to the right of this post; click on the “Central High School” link.

Central High School: The Failure of a City

Providence: A City of Contrasts

Central Career and Technical High School is located in and draws its students from Providence, Rhode Island. The Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce boasts of Providence’s recent inclusions in three major lists of top places in the United States to live or do business. Providence was Rhode Island’s first permanent settlement, on land purchased from the Narragansetts, and was later established as the state capital. The city is home to several universities and has long been a center of wealth and commerce in New England. However, even with the loudly touted downtown improvements of the last several years, the rate that children under the age of 18 lived in poverty in providence was a shocking 40.5% in 2000. Read the rest of this entry »

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