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Related: race - blaxploitation - ethnicity - stereotype - "yellow peril" trope - "white slavery" trope

The Rex Theatre for Colored People, Leland, Mississippi, USA, June 1937
image sourced here.

1937 - USA

poster for The Black Klansman (1966) - Ted V. Mikels

The The Black Klansman was also called I Crossed the Color Line

Trait ascription bias

Trait ascription bias is the tendency for people to view themselves as relatively variable in terms of personality, behavior and mood while viewing others as much more predictable in their personal traits across different situations. This may be because our own internal states are much more observable and available to us than those of others.

This attributional bias has an obvious role in the formation and maintenance of stereotypes and prejudice, combined with the negativity effect.

A similar bias on the group level is called the outgroup homogeneity bias.


* Kammer, D. (1982). Differences in trait ascriptions to self and friend: Unconscious founding intensity from variability. Psychological Reports 51, 99-102. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trait_ascription_bias [Apr 2005]

Scientific racism

Scientific racism is a pejorative term used against controversial works dealing with race. The terms imply that the claims of such works are motivated more by political opinions than scientific observations.

Often when works purporting to be scientific examinations of racial questions are put out, there is debate over whether or not they are works of "legitimate science" or are simply "scientific racism": the former implying that they contain "objective," non-politically motivated research, and the latter implying that they do not. Often the line between "scientific racism" and "legitimate science" can be exceptionally blurry at the time of initial controversy.

As a term, it originated primarily to describe historical works which purported to be scientific in nature but were often simply veneers of objectivity placed over personal political beliefs. In the USA, works by early 20th century eugenicists are often labeled with this term, as are the theoretical justifications of the 20th century racial hygiene movement which flourished in Germany under the Nazis.

Since the Holocaust and the American Civil Rights Movement, the term has come into use as a common attack on works claiming scientific proof of innate racial differences, especially in the area of intelligence. Among those most prominently attacked as "scientific racists" have been Arthur Jensen, J. Philippe Rushton (IQ and the Wealth of Nations), and Richard Herrnstein (The Bell Curve), among others. Many scientists working in the areas of genetics, human individual differences, and anthropology, however, regard claims about race made in the name of science as fallacious and usually politically motivated. These authors and their supporters generally maintain that the attacks themselves are politically motivated or an overextension of political correctness.

The concept of race is regarded by many as having little use in modern science; see the article on race for the arguments for and against this position.

When the term is applied to modern works, it is often in reference to previous works which are generally agreed upon to be manipulations of statistical or scientific data in order to justify prejudices, such as much of the work done by Cesare Lombroso and Madison Grant. To call much earlier works in science "scientific racism," however, runs the risk of ahistoricism. Some of the work of Charles Darwin, for example, contains many statements which would be considered racist (or "scientific racism") in the current scientific and cultural context, but in their time were only to be expected, historically, from a 19th-century British scholar. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_racism [Sept 2004]


Why is "purist" such a potent insult? I think it relates to the word's etymological echoes (puritanism, and its related tropes of squeamishness, prudishness, and closemindedness) and its semantic traces from other, genuinely reprehensible bodies of thought: eugenics, racial purity, cultural hygiene. "Impurist" music, or what in an earlier age they called "fusion", allies itself with a more virtuous bunch of concepts: multiculturalism, miscegenation, cosmopolitanism. It's especially heartwarming to ally yourself with words like these right now, when European politics is muddied by upsurges of ethnic anxiety about pollution and mixture: Le Pen, Haider, and similar ultra-nationalist figures in Belgium, Rumania, and Norway; racial attacks on migrant workers, asylum seekers, immigrants. While British neo-fascist parties have declined in recent years, the UK's general population remains deeply divided over issues of multiculturalism and European unity; there was a storm of outrage when a Government-funded independent report on multiculturalism declared that the concept of "Britishness" was latently racist owing to its imperial echoes. --Simon Reynolds, 2001

Punk and Reggae

If you add it all up there was no overt racism . You had stupid accusations like the ones at the Jam. Because they used a union jack they must support Right Wing elements. The punks actually had a lot in common with blacks and were certainly more tolerant than other walks of life. Both the Clash and Johnny Rotten ( influential punk figureheads) liked reggae. Don Letts the Roxy Club dj played heavy dub reggae between sets. Chrissie Hynde "The beauty of the punk thing was that ...non discrimination was what it was all about. There was little or no sexism or racism. For a start everyone loved reggae music...There was a kind of innocence, and when I say innocence, I mean innocent ! " The difference between reggae and punk was drugs. Cannabis for the former and amphetamines for the latter. -- http://www.punk77.co.uk/groups/punkthepart2.htm

Minstrel shows

All Coons Look Alike To Me, by the black songwriter Ernest Hogan
image sourced here.

Minstrel shows in the nineties also featured coon songs, songs whose lyrics stereotyped and ridiculed African American culture. Both black and white composers wrote such songs, with one of the most popular being All Coons Look Alike To Me, by the black songwriter Ernest Hogan. In the 1890s over 600 coon songs were published (Whitcomb25). By the end of the century, minstrel shows in the North generally gave way to the quicker-paced, brasher vaudeville, the variety show which quickly became the nation's favorite form of entertainment. It was based on the olio of the minstrel show, and demanded a constant supply of new popular songs. --http://www.bgsu.edu/departments/acs/1890s/ragmusic/music.html [Apr 2005]

Bamboozled (2000) - Spike Lee [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

The minstrel show, or minstrelsy, is an indigenous form of American entertainment consisting of comic skits, variety acts, dancing, and music, usually performed by white people in blackface. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minstrel_show [Apr 2005]

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