Race and Ethnic Conflict: Contending Views on Prejudice, Discrimination, and Ethnoviolence

By Fred L. Pincus; Howard J. Ehrlich | Go to book overview

Each of these three explanations focuses on a different facet of the problem. The result is that they each lead to different social policies.

* * *

What is the relationship of education to prejudice? There is a widespread belief that increased education decreases prejudice. A central part of the faith in education that most Americans hold is that formal education instills tolerance. There is a kernel of truth to the belief. A small correlation between years of schooling and prejudice does exist: As years of schooling go up, prejudice goes down. That correlation, however, is so small that it is clear that other, more important factors are involved.

The most important factor is, not surprisingly, the content of what gets taught. Obviously people can and do go through many years of school with little or no positive intergroup contacts and with little formal education in intergroup relations and cultural differences. During the 1960s, curricular reform was a major social issue as the prevailing movements for change sought to correct for the absence of minority concerns both in curriculum materials and in the telling of history. These reform issues are again before us, although the struggles are now more directed toward the universities, where the issue has come to be identified as "multiculturalism" and "diversity" in higher education.

The three articles in this section discuss two of the issues mentioned above-- ethnoviolence and multiculturalism--and how they affect college campuses. Howard J. Ehrlich ( "Campus Ethnoviolence") reviews research showing that ethnoviolence by whites against minorities is a major problem at colleges and universities. He then discusses some of the underlying causes of this problem.

Thomas Sowell ( "'New Racism' and Old Dogmatism") also acknowledges the racial/ethnic tensions on college campuses, especially at large northern elite universities. Instead of pointing to ethnoviolence, however, Sowell believes that the causes of tension are the campus policies that favor minority students over whites. Campus administrators punish white students for any actions that offend even a single minority student but ignore similar actions by minority students toward whites. In addition, says Sowell, affirmative action causes resentment among whites.

Ronald Takaki ( "Multiculturalism: Battleground or Meeting Ground?") analyzes the struggle over the university curriculum. Minorities want to broaden the curriculum to include the experiences of their own group, much of which involves past and current oppression. Academic conservatives, on the other hand, either try to protect Eurocentrism or call for a "safe" multiculturalism in which minority contributions are added on to the white majority experience.


NOTES
1.
A small number of social scientists have put forward a contemporary version of a longdiscredited argument that some race/ethnic groups are genetically more intelligent than others. Since this argument has been thoroughly discredited, we will not discuss it in this book.

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