The Three Cs of Reducing Prejudice and Discrimination
David W. Johnson Roger T. Johnson University of Minnesota
Reducing prejudice and discrimination occurs most successfully when majority and minority individuals interact, have positive experiences, form personal relationships, engage in open and truthful discussions with each other, and develop a personal commitment to reducing prejudice and discrimination. While there are many ways in which prejudice and discrimination can be reduced, it is through personal relationships with diverse individuals that the most profound and lasting changes in prejudice and discrimination take place. When prejudice and discrimination become personal issues involving people one cares about, commitment to ending prejudice in oneself and others is developed. When friendships develop among diverse individuals, stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination are reduced ( Pettigrew, 1997). Through personal, one-on-one interaction, categories break down, and outgroup members are perceived in more individualized terms ( Brewer & Miller, 1984; Johnson & Johnson, 1980, 1989; Johnson, Johnson, & Maruyama, 1983; Marcus-Newhall et al., 1993).
There are very few settings in which such personal relationships may be developed. Schools may be the only place where diverse children and adolescents are in proximity for long periods of time. Educators, therefore, may have a unique opportunity to create the conditions for promoting in most (if not all) children, adolescents, and young adults the types of interactions, relationships, competencies, and values that decrease stereotyping and prejudice.
For over 30 years we have been conducting a program of theory, research, and practice to teach children, adolescents, and young adults the procedures and values needed to reduce prejudice and discrimination and to further human rights ( Johnson, 1970; Johnson & Johnson, 1999). To reduce prejudice and discrimination, children and adolescents must live and learn within a school culture