Home > culture > Are prejudice and racism taught?

Are prejudice and racism taught?

If you have never heard or watched the following video, you might be a bit horrified.  I am sure no one could get away with doing such an experiment today.  It raises a number of ethical dilemnas.

If my calculations are correct, this “experiment” took place in 1970 with a third grade class of all-white students in Iowa.  I wondered if the results would have been the same in my 1963 all-white third grade class?  Sadly, I think I know the answer.

Saw this on a link from Craving Something More. Chris Tomlinson says about the video.

  1. It makes its point in parable, and powerfully so, which delivers the message straight to the heart.
  2. It awakens hearts that are numb to bias in all its perilous forms.
  3. It begs for a resolution (racial reconciliation) which points us to a greater reality (spiritual reconciliation)

But he also says, “prejudice we see released within these kids is the kind of prejudice that persists even to today.”

I am not so sure about this last statement. My wife and I were discussing this and I don’t think based on this experiment that you can prove that prejudice or racism lies latent within the kids.  As my wife said, it seems that it takes an outside force to teach us to be prejudiced or racist.  In this case, it was the human teacher.  For many of us,  culture may be our teacher.  Whoever or whatever may be our “teacher,” the appeal is made to the wounded, broken, self-centered hearts of our flesh.

Comments welcome!

  1. June 29, 2010 at 8:24 pm


    I left you this comment at CSM in response to your thoughts:

    “I think you make a good point here. I wonder if the capacity, or desire, to judge is found within each of us. But the means (here, prejudice) to express that judgment is learned. Thoughts?”

    Thanks for your gentle correction!


    • June 29, 2010 at 9:08 pm

      I didn’t think I was correcting you but glad it was perceived as gentle!! Thanks for the visit.

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