Combatting Intentional Bigotry and Inadvertently Racist Acts
By Fletcher A. Blanchard
Blanchard argues that racism is not just an intentional act committed by "mean spirited" people but also acts committed out of lack of knowledge. She explains that most kids entering college have had little to no exposure to other races and are not sure on how to act and end up making "racial mistakes".
Blanchard discusses experiments that she and others have performed to show that racial opinions and attitudes can be altered by others in their surroundings. She discusses three different "codes" of preventing racial harassment on college and university campuses. The first attempt is focused on punishing the few "mean spirited " people but the language used is not as clear as it could be and makes enforcing this code difficult. The second "code" focuses on "civility" which teaches tolerance and acceptance and leaves the punishing to the administrators instead of influencing each other to not act in a racist manner. And the last "code" is a broader scope than dictated by state and federal regulations and focuses on both intentional and unintentional actors of racism. But still fails to look at the reasons of racist acts. Blanchard believes to be successful aspects from all three codes should be compiled into one new useful code.
She does admit it is difficult to protect people from racism while still protecting the first amendment right of freedom of speech. She finishes her article by saying that early interventions in the school systems can have the biggest impact on racism. Encouraging multiracial friendships and exposing naive students to students of color can help to strengthen the knowledge base of students and decrease the incidents of race.
Working together instead of working against each other is the first step in improving racism.