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In this respect, that the former were stereotyped is evidenced by the fact that common perceptions excluded them as equal in societies. Moreover, because they were expected to be subordinated to the white society, it is understood that African-Americans were continued to be perceived as subservient. Since many had been slaves even before being sold to Americans, we can assume that white people misjudged African-Americans as second race, obedient to the surrounding environment and whose role was limited to serving others. It is possible that the society found it impossible to even consider that the people of color could participate socially and actively in society, that they lacked the abilities to become successful. However, we tend to disagree to some extend with Eagly and Diekman when applying their assumption to our case. And this is because the American society, even after abolishing segregation, showed little interest to support intellectual black people or complete integration of African-Americans in the white communities. And this happened not because of the belief that the former lacked any successful abilities but because the idea itself was difficult to accept. People had grown accustomed to prejudice to such extend that it became indeed normal up to the point where it was considered legally inappropriate for black people to be a part of the community.
Desegregation in America opened the path for intergroup contact which, agreeing with Forbes, should work towards ?improving intergroup relations by making people more willing to deal with each other as equals. (2004, p. 70) a study conducted by Robin Williams in the 1950s is relevant in this respect. Addressing only his research for Southport, the study indicated that where no contact was available, there was a higher high prejudice rate ranging at 73% as opposed to where intergroup contact existed. A drop to 53% high prejudice was acknowledged in cases where members belonging to white and African-American groups mingled. In some cases, even when people were presented with the opportunity of intergroup contact, it was acknowledged that, of a 43% rate of opportunity in Bakersfield, California, merely 3% reported actual contact. This takes us back to the dependent factors we were mentioning at the beginning of our analysis. William's study goes to show that contact in the 1950s between the whites and the African-Americans was still limited even upon the declaration that segregation was unconstitutional. Therefore, legal dispositions did not ensure the white citizens of America that people of color were just as equal as them. Indeed, it was not sufficient to initiate legislation to convince people, because cognitive mechanisms had been working for decades against it.
Contact theory can therefore be addressed in relation to segregation of African-Americans in a most relevant context. It does demonstrate that developing relationships between members of different race improves perceptions and reduces prejudice. It does nevertheless assume that such initiatives are exercised consciously by each group individually and collectively. The contact theory therefore fails to prove its hypothesis when prejudice is what prevents people from initiating contact. Different groups will always be different in matters of behavior, beliefs, morals, traditions, etc. but, for Allport, it was a case of accepting such differences and engaging in contact despite them. In this respect, ?in segregated settings, race determines friendship choice; in integrated settings, race is not relevant. (Moody, 2001, p. 690) However, we believe segregation made it difficult for people to engage in contact even after it was dismissed. Moreover, although it was legally unconstitutional, it continued to exist under different forms in the American society which demonstrates that such misperceptions and prejudice work on a subtle level and the repercussions perpetuate long after they have been acknowledged.
Today, segregation is not just historical. In fact, due to neighborhoods being separated from one another, the issue of segregation is once again into the public attention. Contact theory cannot prove viable when the right circumstances cannot be met. In this respect, we are no longer referring to the African-Americans, but indeed imply a broader understanding of the matter. Economic status now decides the quality of children's education. High poverty schools are less likely to provide the necessary contact for children to develop academic ambitions. Teachers do not have the same expectations for children who come from low income environments and are racially different; in fact, those assigned to poor schools are less qualified. Thus, intergroup contact in the twenty first century is now also facing economical prejudice, along with racial segregation.
Bramel, D. (2004). The strange career of the contact hypothesis. In Lee, Y.T., McCauley, C., Moghaddam, F., & Worchel, S. (Eds.), the Psychology of Ethnic and Cultural Conflict: Psychological Dimension to War and Peace (pp. 48-67). Westport, CT, U.S.: Praeger Publishers / Greenwood Publishing Group.
Dovidio, J.F., Glick, P., & Rudman, L.A. (Eds.). (2005). On the nature of prejudice: Fifty years after Allport. Malden, MA, Oxford, UK, Victoria, Australia: Blackwell Publishing.
Fisher, L. (n.d.). American Constitutional Law (Vol. 1). London, New York: Cambridge University Press.
Forbes, H.D. (2004). Ethnic conflict and the contact hypothesis. In Lee, Y.T., McCauley, C., Moghaddam, F., & Worchel, S. (Eds.), the Psychology of Ethnic and Cultural Conflict: Psychological Dimension to War and Peace (pp. 70-88). Westport, CT, U.S.: Praeger Publishers / Greenwood Publishing Group.
Moody, J. (2001). Race, school integration, and friendship segregation in America. American Journal of Sociology, 107(3), 679-716. Retrieved from http://www.soc.duke.edu/~jmoody77/ajs_reprint.pdf
Orfield, G. (2001). Schools more separate: Consequences of a decade of resegregation. The…[continue]
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