The Knee Jerk Effect: Why More Education Does Not Equal Less Racism

In every American elementary school, students are taught about the “good” side of slavery and the “bad” side of Reconstruction. Students are taught that segregation was a product of white people wanting to keep blacks away from them. 


And when they go to college, like I did, they learn more about the history of racism in America. But seldom receive an analysis as to why it happened or what can be done now


The vast majority of white students today believe that institutionalized discrimination ended with segregation and Jim Crow laws. They believe that if we just move past our racist past, then everything will work out in the end. 

With this mindset, it is easy for understanding race relations in America not to become a priority in most schools. Ergomo has more information on why more education does not equal less racism.


But as demonstrated in the book The Knee Jerk Effect. Why More Education Does Not Equals Less Racism by economist Thomas Sowell. Institutionalized racism is not a thing of the past. 


It has not been eradicated, and it is always a danger to society as a whole. Sowell’s book provides an excellent analysis of this dangerous and forgotten form of discrimination.


So it seems that we’re not very close to the post-racial American society we were promised. This is where education comes in. We know that a stronger, better educated workforce is more productive and not to mention more intelligent. 


And if you’re serious about ending racism. Then you have to get serious about educating people who don’t have degrees yet. That’s why we’re here with five reasons why a higher level of education. It is just as likely to make racism worse instead of better.

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  • Racism Is The Education Of The Ignorant

The higher the educational level, the more likely it is for a person to be racist. That’s the point of this one. In studies, people at all educational levels are equally likely to have prejudiced views about certain races of people. But those people with higher education are more likely to become outspoken about it and act on them. 


College students are just as unlikely as high school punks to be racist. Until they get that piece of paper saying they graduated college and become eligible for a better job. 

The older someone gets, the more jaded they get against anyone who isn’t somehow superior to them. They know it, we know it, and so does the interracial couple walking down the street.


  • Social Justice Is Becoming A Part-Time Job


It’s a tough life trying to be a social worker these days, but we shouldn’t expect better results from anyone. Who was paying attention in class over the past four years. The number of students who self-identify as a social justice advocate is on the rise at colleges and universities. Across the country, but they’re not being taught anything about how to do it effectively. 


They’re not being taught that systemic discrimination is pervasive in our society. And that its real effects are often on an individual level (i.e., our friends). They’re not being taught that they can’t do it all from their university computer lab or on their smartphone. 


They are not being taught about how to recruit or retain a diverse workforce and create powerful, positive social change. They are just being taught that they should feel guilty for living in a society. Where people of color are systematically unjustly dehumanized and dehumanizing propaganda is thrown at them constantly.


  • Immigration Out Of Ignorance


Countless studies have shown that the vast majority of Americans are ignorant on issues pertaining to the immigration system. From popular vote to border security, Americans are either misinformed or completely oblivious about the reality of the immigration system.  


This ignorance then leads to fear that is used to justify hate and discrimination. If we want people who have watched their families crumble from deportations. And their friends become refugees to not hate the immigrants who are coming here for a better life. We have to first start educating people about what’s actually happening with said immigrants.

  • The Worst Education Is The Best Education


If you don’t believe there is such a thing as bad education. Then you’re probably involved in it yourself right now. We’re not talking about actual certification here, but rather education in general. If you’re looking for a reliable way to determine whether or not someone is racist. Or if they’re even aware they might be racist. Then look no further than their education level. It’s easy to spot the people with more education than you. 


They tend to know more about the things that matter. And are far less likely to judge you for who you are. They’re also much less likely to be dismissive of any differences in race or ethnicity. Or religions that don’t affect them because they have yet to benefit from them personally.


The Knee Jerk Effect does a great job of demonstrating that racism is not just the blatant hatred and bigotry we associate with it, it can exist in forms that are less obvious and more difficult to see.

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