Tuesday, April 28, 2009

More Racism Revealed!

I suspect that most of our prejudices are invisible, even to ourselves; without an event to make them visible, they're just part of the background noise in our heads. We make an assumption or set of assumptions, based on our own experiences, that gets validated or invalidated by further experiences, but we don't do it consciously, and probably aren't aware of it unless an event happens that shocks the hidden stereotype into view.

I had one of these today. I had never realized that I've got a stereotype about Russians. I don't think it's a normal social prejudice; I think it's just something I picked up based on my own experiences. The stereotype is, roughly: Russian=Intelligent. And thinking back, I can see where I picked it up; in my entire history with various Russians, I've never met one who wasn't pretty darn smart and well-educated.

And today I met an exception. After a few minutes talking to the guy, I caught myself thinking, "you can't be this stupid -- you're Russian!", and I realized I had this prejudice lurking in my subconscious. It makes me wonder how many other prejudices like this are living in my head....

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