Understanding Racism and Prejudice
Diller & Moule, Chapter 3
•Diller & Moule (2005)
argue that the
majority of White
Americans believe
that this country is
European in ancestry
and White in Identity
and that people of
color are disturbed by
their second class
Defining and Contextualizing Racism
• Racism is
– Universal
– Exists across cultures
– Emerges when there are perceivable
differences among groups struggling for
social power (look at the conflict in Kenya
between Kikuyu and Luo)
Defining and Contextualizing Racism
• “Prejudice is a negative, inaccurate,
rigid, and unfair way of thinking about
members of another group” (Diller &
Moule, 2005, p. 29)
• Racism = prejudice & power that
translates into behavior of the majority
that impacts the object of the
Defining and Contextualizing Racism
• Racism is broad and pervasive in all levels of
society and has three levels
• Individual Racism – actions of individuals
that support racism
• Institutional Racism – manipulation of
societal institutions to benefit the majority
and restrict the choices, rights, mobility, and
access of others.
• Cultural racism – cultural ways of one group
are superior to another
Defining and Contextualizing Racism
• “…people tend to deny, rationalize, and
avoid discussing their feelings and
beliefs about race and ethnicity…. It is
hard to look at and talk about race
because there is so much pain and hurt
involved” (Diller & Moule, 2005. p. 60).
• Please read the example on pp. 31-32
in Diller & Moule (2005).
Individual Racism and Prejudice
• Why is it so easy to develop and
maintain racial prejudices?
• It grows out of normal human traits,
comfort with similarity, suspicion,
categorical thinking, over
– In and out group
– Stereotype of categorical thinking
– “Re-fensing” deals with contradictions to
the stereotype
Psychological Theories of Prejudice
• “In reality, there does not seem to be single
theory that can adequately explain the
impetus toward racism in all individuals”
(Diller & Moule, 2005, p. 35).
– Frustration-aggression-displacement
– Authoritarian Personality
– Manipulation to achieve certain economic and
political objectives (Look at the change in the
political positions of George Wallace)
Implications for Teachers
• Dealing with racism in a healthy and
non-self-destructive manner is,
therefore, a major life challenge for
many students. To be the continual
object of a person’s hatred, as well as,
the hatred of an entire social system is
a source of enormous stress, and such
stress often produces educational
problems. (Diller & Moule, 2005, p. 36)
• See the “Murder of Emmett Till” at
Implications for Teachers
•Awareness of your own prejudices, previous
knowledge, and how they might impact your
perceptions, judgments, and behavior. (what
is this picture)
Implications for Teachers
• The preceding picture was the Rift
Institutional Racism
• Conscious or unconscious – the individuals
working in the system may or may not be
aware of the practices’ existence and the
• Intended or unintended – the practices may
or may not have been purposely created.
• “Lack of intent or awareness should never
be regarded as a justification for the
existence of institutional or individual
racism” (Diller & Moule, 2005, p. 39)
Implications for teachers
• To the extent that the general
structure, practices, and climate of a
school make it impossible for Students
of Color to receive culturally competent
teaching, the efforts of individual
teachers, no matter how skilled, are
drastically compromised. (Diller &
Module, 2005, p. 42)
Cultural Racism
• Schools, like ethnic groups, have their
own cultures: languages, ways of doing
things, values, attitudes toward time,
standards of appropriate behavior and
so on. As participants in schools,
students are expected to adopt, share,
and exhibit these cultural patterns.
(Diller & Module, 2005, p. 43)
Cultural Racism
• Herein lies the real insidiousness of
cultural racism: those who are
culturally different must either give up
their own ways, and thus a part of
themselves, and take on the ways of
the majority culture or remain
perpetual outsiders. (Diller & Module,
2005, p. 43)
Implications for Teachers
• Be aware of the cultural values they
bring to the classroom and
acknowledge how different these
values may be from those of some their
students and their parents.
• Teaching across cultures must involve
negotiation around values that define
the learning environment.
• Teacher preparation is culture bound;
cultures differ in terms of definition of
success and the teacher’s role.
• U.S is European in ancestry and White
in identity in culture.
• Racism = prejudice + power to create
behavior that leads to the systematic
subordination of members of targeted
racial groups who have little social
power … by members of the agent
racial group who have relatively more
social power.
• Racism involves
– Individual
– Institutional
– Cultural
• Implications for teachers
– Understand how the stress of racism
creates challenges for students of color
– Understand how your culture and values
impact what you perceive, think, and do
– Understand how your organizational
culture impacts the interactions among
you, your students, and their community
– Understand what elements of culture need
to be negotiated to create an effective
learning environment in each class.
Reflection Exercise
• When did you first become aware that
people were different racially or
• When did you first become aware of
yourself as a member of a racial or
ethnic group?
• When were you first made aware of
people being treated differently
because of their race or ethnicity?
Reflection Exercise
• When did you first become aware of
being treated differently yourself
because of your own race or ethnicity?
• Are the things about you as a person
that make you feel that you are
different from other people? Describe
them and describe how having these
qualities makes you feel and has
affected you over time?
Reflection Exercise
• When were you proudest being a
member of the group to which you
• When were you least proud of being a
member of the group to which you
• How do you identify yourself
racially/ethnically? Culturally? How has
your sense of race/ethnicity or culture
changed over time?
Reflection Exercise
•How would you describe the extent of your
contact with people who are racially/ethnically
different from you? How has this changed
over time?
• Diller, J. V. & Module, J. (2005).
Cultural Competence: A Primer for
Educators. Belmont, CA. Thomson

Understanding Racism and Prejudice - Winston