Lecture sheds light on racism in America
Addressing approximately 50 UD students and faculty members in the final lecture of the 2005-06 Black American Studies Program series, Jones outlined the way racism in the United States has changed over time, discussed data from recent psychological tests showing the persistence of racism in America and lectured on strategies blacks use to overcome racism.
The stereotype of blacks now is one of criminality, Jones said, referring to findings from recent research. Thats significant and interesting, because the stereotype of blacks in the 1930s was one that portrayed them as happy-go-lucky and genial. Whatever happened to that stereotype in the last 40 or 50 or 60 years has changed the image into one thats far more threatening.
Explaining results from a clinical study in which subjects matched facial images of blacks and whites with objects, Jones made the point that images of black faces are associated with criminal objects at a significantly higher rate than images of white faces.
Showing results from the Implicit Association Test, a psychological test developed at Harvard University in which subjects hit computer keys to link black and white facial images to positive and negative words, Jones further explained how stereotyping works.
Stereotypes live in the mind, he said, and whites perceptions of blacks are in their heads. The speed with which black faces are associated with bad and white faces are associated with good is far faster than the speed with which black faces are associated with good and white faces are associated with bad.
Before concluding his lecture, Jones explained his self-developed TRIOS theory (an an acronym of time, rhythm, improvisation, orally and spiritually), which he defined as a coping structure used by blacks to maintain their self-worth in the face of pervasive racism.
Jones outlined the different strategies of assimilation, humanism, nationalism and minority identification before capping his lecture with an informal dialog with members of the audience.
Jones received his doctorate in social psychology from Yale University in 1970 and has published several books and articles on the psychological implications of prejudice and racism, including Prejudice and Racism, (first edition, 1972; second edition, 1997); A Compelling Interest: Weighing the Evidence on Racial Dynamics in Higher Education (2004); and Reflecting on the Nature of Prejudice (2004).
Before joining the University of Delaware in 1982, Jones taught at Harvard University for six years, winning a Guggenheim fellowship to study in the West Indies in 1973. He also worked at the national headquarters of the American Psychological Association (APA) in Washington, D.C., from 1977 through this past November, where he was instrumental in establishing several programs for minorities, including APAs Minority Fellowship Program.
His articles have appeared in the Journal of Black Psychology, the Journal of Social Issues, Applied and Preventive Psychology and the Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, and he recently was honored by the APA for his long-standing service.
Article by Becca Hutchinson