Who is responsible for confronting racism? All of us. But knowing that some of us directly benefit from it means that those with privilege, including the privilege of a college education, must speak and act to challenge entrenched power and inequality. As a community, we can and should rise to confront racism in all its forms, institutional and interpersonal. It may be difficult, uncomfortable work, but we can do it together.
All Americans have experienced the institutionalized practices that benefit some and disadvantage others. Our access to a college education is shaped by the education, wealth and occupations of our parents, the quality of our primary and secondary schools and the neighborhoods in which we grew up—all of which have shaped the deeply unequal distribution of resources on the basis of race. And education is only one domain where we can witness and experience the effects of structural inequality.
As social creatures, we naturally organize and sort our world to better make sense of it and to help us plan and predict our interactions. One piece of this cognitive tendency is to group people by their shared physical properties, including skin color. Although our need to simplify and make sense of the world through categorization does not necessitate attaching value labels to groups, our unequal and segregated society can leave us seeing some groups as sharing common undesirable traits. [Read more...]