In a recent article, a professor of social work claims that the many Gallup Polls that are used as a barometer on how the public is responding to race relations is ineffective because of their questioning techniques. The Gallop Poll questioning techniques are not designed to solve problems but only collect information as a tool to promote the importance of Gallop Polling. The best way to improve race relations is utilize a process that brings people on one accord for a solution.
According to the article, Worried About Race Relations? Your Answering the Wrong Question, Boston University School of Social Work professor Phillipe Copeland ascertains that the Gallop Poll questions are not provocative enough to elicit appropriate responses. Copeland suggest using questions such as:
- Do you believe people are treated differently because they’re Black?
- Do you believe that’s still happening?
- Who do you feel is responsible for changing that?
Copeland’s suggestion for more provocative questioning will only cause people to exhibit characteristics associated with a dysfunctional organization. A dysfunctional organization begins with defensive mechanisms.
Defense mechanisms are the unwritten rules an individual learns and utilizes to effectively deal with circumstances that are upsetting, embarrassing, or threatening. Defensive mechanisms transform into skilled incompetence.
Skilled incompetence is the outcome of the defense mechanisms we have internalized. When the defensive behaviors we’ve learned are transformed into a learned behavior, that behavior becomes a skill – albeit an incompetent skill – that we consider necessary in order to deal with issues that are embarrassing, threatening, or upsetting.
Skilled incompetence transforms into a defensive routine. Defensive routines are the third level. When the skilled incompetence is automatically exhibited at all times, the behavior is now a defensive routine.
Defensive routines lead to fancy footwork. Fancy footwork happens when individuals try to deny the behavioral inconsistencies they exhibit, or else they place blame on other people, which results in distancing themselves from taking responsibility for their behavioral inconsistencies.
Fancy footwork leads to organizational malaise. During this phase the individuals in the organization will seek to find fault within the organization rather than accept responsibility for their actions and correct their behavior accordingly. The individual continues the process by accentuating the negative and deemphasizing the positive in an effort to cover up their actions. The organizational malaise is further exacerbated by a refusal of one or all the members to discuss their area of responsibility.
As people continue to contend with race relations, they continue to deny its existence which is a direct symptom of organizational malaise. The recommendation of more provocative questions serves no purpose to improve race relations because of the economic system in which we exist.
In an economic system such as capitalism, the real fight is about scarce resources and not race relations. The primary scarce resource is money. This is why the income gap between Blacks and Whites is so prominent. For Example, a recent Pew research study indicates that the financial gap between Blacks and Whites has hit it’s greatest disparity since 1989.
In 2010, the median wealth of White households was eight times higher than Blacks. Presently that figure has increased to 17 times to it’s highest rate in two decades, according to Pew Research Center analysis of data from the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances. In addition, Federal Reserve data shows that the economic recovery of White versus Black households, from 2010 to 2013, was a 2.4 percent increase for Whites and a 33.7 decrease for Blacks. It will remain that way for years to come because of the battle for scarce resources.
Herein lies the big problem; How do we get people to transform their thinking regarding race relations so that all races benefit? When race relations improve, there will be a transfer of wealth and many White, Black, European, Asian, Middle Eastern, and African people are protecting themselves from becoming victimized by the efforts to improve race relations in America.
In order to best transform a system at it’s most effective point, which is called it’s inflection point, we must begin with our education system. As many researchers have indicated, children enter the education system with racial biases. However, the education system supports the biases of the majority which continues to fuel problems associated with adverse race relations.
All the best,
Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 4707 Cherry Hill, NJ 08034
Author of Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships and Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships: Methodology
“The model that you use to analyze teacher-student relationships is a good one for most school districts”.
~ Joe Vas ~ Perth Amboy Mayor
“Dr. Campbell’s Cultural Relationship Training Program is comprehensive, informative, and should be required training for all schools”
~ Darrell Pope ~ Hutchinson Kansas NAACP President