SO 342 Park University Symbolic Cultural Privilege Discussion

Unit 4: Discussion


The goal of this discussion is to allow you to analytically and creatively examine the unit’s concepts. Through productive discourse with your classmates, you can expand your thinking to consider other points of view and experiences, and challenge each other to see different analytical perspectives. To do so, it is important to write clearly, give reference or context for your examples so that they are understood, and include citations for the source of the points that you make. Use evidence based claims to support your positions and use a sociological perspective when constructing your posts.


  1. Give an example of a microaggression, and describe its impact. Explain the impact of this interactional bias, and how it contributes to division and inequality.
  2. Find an example of symbolic cultural privilege and describe its social impact. This could be a flag or symbol used, a statue or monument, language in a policy or patriotic form. Be creative!

Examples of Racial Microaggressions
Alien in own land
When Asian Americans and Latino
Americans are assumed to be
Ascription of Intelligence
Assigning intelligence to a person of
color on the basis of their race.
“Where are you from?”
“Where were you born?”
“You speak good English.”
A person asking an Asian American
to teach them words in their native
“You are a credit to your race.”
“You are so articulate.”
Asking an Asian person to help with a
Math or Science problem.
Color Blindness
Statements that indicate that a White
person does not want to
acknowledge race
“When I look at you, I don’t see
“America is a melting pot.”
“There is only one race, the human
Criminality – assumption of criminal
A person of color is presumed to be
dangerous, criminal, or deviant on
the basis of their race.
A White man or woman clutching
their purse or checking their wallet as
a Black or Latino approaches or
A store owner following a customer of
color around the store.
A White person waits to ride the next
elevator when a person of color is on
“I’m not a racist. I have several Black
“As a woman, I know what you go
through as a racial minority.”
Denial of individual racism
A statement made when Whites deny
their racial biases
Myth of meritocracy
Statements which assert that race
does not play a role in life successes
“I believe the most qualified person
should get the job.”
“Everyone can succeed in this
society, if they work hard enough.”
Pathologizing cultural values /
communication styles
The notion that the values and
communication styles of the
dominant / White culture are ideal
Asking a Black person: “Why do you
have to be so loud / animated? Just
calm down.”
To an Asian or Latino person: Why
are you so quiet? We want to know
what you think. Be more verbal.”
Speak up more.”
Dismissing an individual who brings
up race / culture in work / school
You are not American
You are a foreigner
People of color are generally not as
intelligent as Whites.
It is unusual for someone of your
race to be intelligent.
All Asians are intelligent and good in
Math / Sciences.
Denying a person of color’s racial /
ethnic experiences.
Assimilate / acculturate to the
dominant culture.
Denying the individual as a racial /
cultural being.
You are a criminal.
You are going to steal / You are poor
/ You do not belong / You are
I am immune to races because I have
friends of color.
Your racial oppression is no different
than my gender oppression. I can’t
be a racist. I’m like you.
People of color are given extra unfair
benefits because of their race.
People of color are lazy and / or
incompetent and need to work
Assimilate to dominant culture.
Leave your cultural baggage outside.
Second-class citizen
Occurs when a White person is given
preferential treatment as a consumer
over a person of color
Person of color mistaken for a
service worker
Having a taxi cab pass a person of
color and pick up a White passenger
Being ignored at a store counter as
attention is given to the White
customer behind you
“You people …”
Environmental microaggressions
Macro-level microaggressions, which
are more apparent on systemic and
environmental levels
A college or university with buildings
that are all names after White
heterosexual upper class males
Television shows and movies that
feature predominantly White people,
without representation of people of
Overcrowding of public schools in
communities of color
Overabundance of liquor stores in
communities of color
“Indian giver.”
“That’s so gay.”
“She welshed on the bet.”
“I jewed him down.”
“That’s so White of you.”
“You people …”
“We got gypped.”
Imitating accents or dialects
People of color are servants to
Whites. They couldn’t possibly
occupy high-status positions.
You are likely to cause trouble and /
or travel to a dangerous
Whites are more valued customers
than people of color
You don’t belong. You are a lesser
You don’t belong / You won’t
succeed here. There is only so far
you can go.
You are an outsider / You don’t exist.
People of color don’t / shouldn’t value
People of color are deviant.
How to offend without really trying
Adapted from:
Wing, Capodilupo, Torino, Bucceri, Holder, Nadal, Esquilin (2007). Racial Microaggressions in Everyday Life: Implications for Clinical Practice.
American Psychologist, 62, 4, 271-286
SO342. Unit 4: Bias, Discrimination, Prejudice, and Racism
Racial Microaggressions
Implicit (Unconscious) Bias
This unit continues to explore the relationship between race, power, and privilege by examining
how racial prejudice and discrimination are enacted at different levels, including the individual
and implicit; interactional; and institutional representational level. New research on the role of
bias at the unconscious, or implicit (unintentional) level has indicated how this form of
discrimination has effects in how students are treated in schools, citizens are treated by police,
and patients are treated by doctors. Along with this week’s readings, these concepts indicate
how deeply embedded racial privilege and discrimination are in all aspects of life, largely in
ways that are unacknowledged, with great social impact. As renewed (though not new)
discussions and protest has centered around the public display of Confederate monuments that
celebrate those who fought to keep slavery legal. These monuments were erected at various
points throughout history, including during the Civil Rights movement in the 1960’s, 100 years
SO342. Unit 4: Bias, Discrimination, Prejudice, and Racism
after the end of the Civil War. Additionally, there has been constant protest and critique of
these monuments since they were erected, due to the lack of representation of other people’s
histories in the same honor. Herbert Blumer analyzes how this group membership, or
allegiance, happens through forms of racial prejudice and the seeing other groups in
oppositional, and inferior ways. Current trends indicate that hate crimes have increased, and
that white nationaliists movements have been growing, exemplified by the “Unite the Right”
rally in Charlottesville, VA in August 2017 which included many self-identified white
supremacist groups, in which one protestor was killed. (Unite the Right Rally)
With this personal and group identity formation around forms of racial superiority, sociologists
identify the variances in forms of discrimination between the implicit and the explicit levels,
particularly in how they can be mitigated. Implicit bias and microaggressions are the results of
being socialized in racialized society, while explicit identification and espousal of white
supremacy, and the promotion of white idealism while deliberately diminishing the racial intent
in monuments and ‘heritage’ arguments, all contribute to the racial stratification system, albeit,
in different ways. Without knowing how we participate in racial discrimination at the implicit
and interactional level through microaggressions, no attempt to change these behaviors can be
made. Arguing that culture and heritage are justifications for things like monuments and
symbolic forms fails to acknowledge the systemic inequality that exists in which ideologies and
representations contribute to. Greater visibility of white supremacy movements creates greater
fear and discord among groups that are already targeted and marginalized.
SO342. Unit 4: Bias, Discrimination, Prejudice, and Racism
“If Microaggressions Happened to White People” MTV News
Study: Black Students More Likely Seen as Gifted by Black Teachers
“The Loss”. Implicit Bias in Doctor’s Diagnosis
“FBI: Spike in US Hate Crimes for Third Year in a Row
Podcast: Onate’s Foot. Story of controversial debate between European descendant and Native
American tribes in the design of a new monument.
“You Won’t Believe What the Government Spends on Confederate Graves”
Kirwan Institute: Understanding Implicit Bias

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