Race Prejudice and Discrimination: Readings in Intergroup Relations in the United States

By Arnold M. Rose | Go to book overview

us than they are with one another. On the other hand, they are self-conscious and reserved because they are alien and different. It is a vicious circle. The more marked the racial differences, the more intense is the racial self-consciousness, and the greater the social distance that separates the alien from the native peoples.

In time, however, what was strange becomes familiar. We discover the same human motives and wishes reflected in the manners of other people of which we are conscious in ourselves. Conduct that formerly struck us as queer becomes familiar and intelligible. Faces once impenetrable become expressive and human.

The race problem turns out, then, in one of its aspects at least, to be a problem of communication. The barriers to communication are not differences of language and of culture merely, but more particularly of self-consciousness, race consciousness, and consciousness of kind; not physical distances merely, but social distances. Whenever representatives of different races meet and discover in one another--beneath the differences of race--sentiments, tastes, interests, and human qualities generally that they can understand and respect, racial barriers are undermined and eventually broken down. Personal relations and personal friendships are the great moral solvents. Under their influence all distinctions of class, of caste, and even of race, are dissolved into the general flux which we sometimes call democracy. . . .


B.Some Factors in Prejudice

45.The Psychology of Race-Prejudice *

William I. Thomas

[In casting about for an explanation of the startling phenomenon of race prejudice, the older sociologists did not immediately abandon the theory based on biological differences. Their thinking was still partly under the domination of the older biologists. The following article by William I. Thomas published in 1904 illustrates the transition from older to contemporary explanations of race prejudice.]

In looking for an explanation of the antipathy which one race feels toward another, we may first of all inquire whether there are any conditions arising in the course of the biological de-

____________________
*
From American Journal of Sociology, 9 ( March, 1904), 593-611. Copyright 1904 by American Journal of Sociology. Reprinted by permission of American Journal of Sociology.

-462-

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