Perspectives on Race

A Discussion about Events Concerning Race

Ostracism as a classroom exercise

with 3 comments

I recently heard of a sociology class in which the students were all instructed to stand in three separate lines, each visible to one another. The professor read from a list of racially-oriented questions, asking students to step forward or backward depending on their response. For example, students stepped backward if they answered affirmatively to the prompt, “If you ever been beaten because of your race…” The purpose of the exercise was to visually show the stratification of race with regard to privilege. At the end of the exercise, the presumably more privileged white students stood at the front of the line; the Latino, Asian, and mixed-race students stood in the middle; and the African-American students stood at the very back. This illustrates the “Latin Americanization” described in Racism without Racists. As someone who strongly empathizes with the minority community, I found this exercise to be painful and offensive. While I understand the intended purpose of this exercise, I disagree with its execution, as I feel it may have resulted in inadvertent humiliation.

Peace and blessings.


Written by briangaw

November 15, 2009 at 4:53 am

Posted in Uncategorized

3 Responses

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  1. I think this is a very good example of what is discussed in racism without racists. However, I do feel as though an exercise like this can be very effective in showing people what kind of world they live in. The students in that class weren’t forced to be honest in this experiment, they could’ve all lied to make themselves look better, but I think they understood the importance of the activity and knew that for it to be effective they would need to be honest. I think exercises like this one are great and send the message of how minorities are treated differently in our society.


    November 16, 2009 at 1:51 am

  2. I think it was executed just fine. Why hide behind politically correct jargon?


    November 16, 2009 at 3:28 am

  3. I do like the exercise in itself, but I can see your point. However, it is my opinion that, although causing some initial discomfort, the exercise could have more good long term effects than the immediate short term ill affect. It could really change the outlook of some students.


    November 16, 2009 at 4:00 am

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