"It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.” ~ Audre Lorde
Again, thank you all who have continuously read! I genuinely value everyone that takes the time out to read my entries! Every reader is much appreciated, and there is more to come! We are back with some mental health/psych related entries; this entry focuses on in-group biases. I hope y’all enjoy it!
Imagine yourself entering the lunchroom of your new workplace, school, etc. and you scan the room for the most comfortable seat amongst the crowd. What do you do? You sit at the table with people that you would assume to be very welcoming, friendly, and open to you joining their area. What do these people look like? What made you sit next to them? Why didn’t you sit somewhere else?
I hope I was able to get y’all to picture yourself sitting next to people that look like you because that was the plan. (Did I execute lol?) Still, in all seriousness, we have all taken time to scan to find “your group” to be around in spaces of unfamiliarity. I know I have, coming from a predominately Hispanic serving institution, it’s rare to be one of many Black students in a class. Due to that, I often sit next to or close by other Black students just because they look like me.
This is what you would call an example of in-group bias. In-group biases are implicit or explicit favoritism towards a group and/or category that one identifies with. Yet, this understanding of groups and categories occurs way before scanning the lunchroom. Implicit awareness of basic categories such as gender, attractiveness, and age begins in the infancy stage. For example, attractiveness bias and awareness of race have been demonstrated in infants as young as 2 and 3 months, respectively. Additionally, children’s explicit awareness (conscious/verbalized awareness) of gender and racial groups occurs between the ages of 2 to 3 and 5 to 9 years old, respectively. At around the ages of 5-7, children can create in-group favoritism, preference, and positive attitudes towards the groups they identify with.
Yet, this is where some issues may develop regarding people of different identifying groups that can lead to overgeneralizing an entire community. For example, the story of the Exonerated Five is a perfect example of how American media allowed negative stereotypes to overgeneralize the whole group of young Black and Brown men. “Savages,” “wolf pack,” “wilding,” and other animal-like terms were used to describe these innocent teenagers during a critical and life-altering moment. By default, Black and Brown communities are not given the privilege to be apart of the cool table in America’s lunchroom. I am sure we can sit here and name plenty of instances where Black and Brown communities were called everything except children of God. I believe this can stem from the foundation of whiteness that has been deeply implemented in this society. Being that whiteness is a forever-evolving concept, it has been able to morph and adapt to the trying times of its element.
With that being said, I can see how the outgroup homogeneity effect has contributed to the stark social separations between groups. This effect explains that people tend to see members of their groups as very different from each other and underestimate the differences among members of other groups. This can explain why the Exonerated Five were considered “animals” compared to the idolization of the infamous Ted Bundy. Which leads me to my next point, along with the foundation of whiteness and the outgroup homogeneity effect, we also as a society pick and choose when to hold people accountable for their poor actions. The ultimate attribution error demonstrates that people assume that situational factors can explain their own ingroup’s negative behavior. Yet, similar negative actions done by members of other groups are due to their personal characteristics. While my people are deemed the lowest of the low and criminal, we have actual sociopaths like Ted Bundy that is considered a lost cause. You know, “the one that got away but had so much potential.” Yet, how many times are we going to idolize this man and other yt men like him? Like seriously, do better America.
But, it’s not just overall America that entertains these issues. I have seen first hand how our own communities of color have treated each other. We cannot continue to argue and compare our struggles any longer because it is far from productive. Whether or not that strife is within our own community or between others, we have deliberately stopped the advocacy and action that is needed to uplift each other. I don’t know about y’all, but I am tired of hearing about Afro-Latinx being excluded from their identifying groups, the eternal question if Asians are even considered a minority, the clear separation between African and African/Black American communities, the blatant disregard if someone doesn’t look like their race enough ( i.e. white-passing), and overall just being flat out mean girls. Remember Regina George got hit by a bus, mean girls get nowhere in life. We could get a lot more done as a whole if we spent more time enjoying and embracing our differences rather than allowing them to prevent us from being great. Be kind to one another. Go Glen Coco!
I mean, we’re all just tryna eat, right? This is the lunchroom.
P.S. Let’s make fetch happen:)