Stereotype training

At Arizona State, students who want to be RAs must play a role-playing game that’s supposed to sensitize them to “the effects of racism, classism and homophobia.” Ryan Visconti, a student given the role of a gay Hispanic, objected.

… Visconti said the students who designed the roleplay overlooked their own stereotypes, such as the notion that white men don’t have to work for wealth because society gives them a free ride. Or the idea that Christian churches are filled with bigots, and people who support traditional family values such as heterosexual marriage are hateful and narrow-minded.

Participants visited “life stations” representing housing, banking, church, jail, transportation and employment.

At each stop, Visconti said he was given scripted responses based on his gay Hispanic identity. He was told he could be a landscaper and live in a ghetto apartment or be unemployed and homeless. Meanwhile, students assigned white identities were encouraged to be business executives.

At Volokh Conspiracy, David Bernstein wonders what would happen if a Hispanic student picked the Hispanic card and was told landscaper is his proper station in life. Would it be actionable discrimination?

About Joanne


  1. I posted over on Volokh:

    I was subjected to a few sessions like this as a faculty member when I worked with a campus residence life department in North Carolina. Along with the student employees, I was given training materials that taught me, for example, that black people don’t tell time like white people. When a black person says “3pm” that doesn’t mean “3pm” like it does for a white person; it means “sort of in the afternoon.”

    I sure never would have known that without the training. “You have to be carefully taught,” you know.

  2. Walter E. Wallis says:

    On the other hand, it is one of the few legal shakedown rackets, and a mighty profitable one, too.
    [A.K.A. Mao maoing the flak catchers]

  3. wayne martin says:

    > When a black person says “3pm” that doesn’t mean
    > “3pm” like it does for a white person; it means
    > “sort of in the afternoon.”

    What about other times, like “9AM”?

  4. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Compared to the Okie jokes when i was growing up, that is modest.