In The Broken Ladder Keith Payne describes his experience in

In The Broken Ladder, Keith Payne describes his experience in seeing his first African American man in Maceo, Kentucky. Payne was so astonished to see the man that he almost blurted out something that could have been offensive. Payne’s mother stopped him before he could get his full sentence out. This moment made him realize that there was not much diversity where he lived. Payne begins to explain the different perceptions between white and black people and how discrimination affects each race.

He mentions different studies such as job applications, and prison sentencings that show how African Americans face a more severe level of discrimination than white people. Sociologist Devah Pager tested this theory out by sending a pair of young men to apply for jobs, one was black and one was white. Pager gave them both identical resumes so they would be equally qualified. Of course, the white applicant was contacted more than the black applicants who had the same competence as the white male.

In another study, Kenneth and Mamie Clark ran a racial bias test on young children of both races. The Clarks would show a pair of dolls to each child, one white and one black. They begin to ask them which doll would be their preference based on which one looked good or bad. Throughout the years, this study showed that most of the children preferred white dolls over black dolls.

Payne continues to describe another study that was conducted by Irene Blair that showed if there was a relationship between a person’s appearance and the amount of time they spent in jail.

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Blair showed mugshot photos to people who did not know anything about the person shown in the mugshots. At the end of this study, it showed that the darker the inmate looked, the longer they would be sentenced for similar offenses. Lastly, Payne describes a situation that occurred in 2014 where a young man named Levar Jones had a rough encounter with an officer. Jones was pulled over and the officer asked for his license, as Jones began to reach for his license the officer shot at him. The officer automatically assumed that since Jones was black, he would retaliate. Soon after that, the officer sees Jones’ license and then tells him that he got pulled over for a seatbelt violation. Payne then explains that the killings and shooting of unarmed African American men have become the focus of America’s racial issues.

In reference to the Levar Jones incident, Payne conducted his version of the implicit bias test. Payne’s goal was to test whether a person is more likely to think that a harmless object was a weapon if it was paired to a black person. This showed how the perception of black men was affected by the judgement of society. Payne concludes by saying that implicit bias lies with the beliefs that make up our society.

“Prologue : A More Perfect Union: Barack Obama’s American History.” Barack Obama : American Historian, doi:10.5040/9781350032378-006.

Barack Obama’s “A More Perfect Union” speech begins with him quoting the U.S. Constitution on how America is supposed to be a unified country. He begins to explain how the Constitutional Convention granted everyone equal rights and opportunities. However, this did not include the slaves because the founders wanted the slave trade to carry on for many years. Obama mentions that the reason why he is running for president is because he feels like he is what America needs in order for a change to occur. Obama also believes that we could overcome the racial issues of our past as well as racial inequality if we are willing to do our part, because the complexion of our skin does not determine who we are. His solution for ending discrimination is to take responsibility for our own lives.

Obama then acknowledges that his pastor, Reverend Wright’s comments caused controversy for everyone. He begins to express that coming from a black community can be difficult, but we cannot dismiss his comments just because it is an uncomfortable topic. Obama explains how racial injustice is still occurring in the African American community because it has been passed down from earlier generations. Legalized discrimination was the leading cause of African Americans not having the opportunities to grow economically as everyone else. Obama concludes that the only way to move forward is by embracing our past without becoming victims of it.

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