Segregation: Tragedy of the Mind

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Dane McQuillan
Se registró el día 16 de marzo de 2017
  • 2 Artículos

Segregation: a reflection of how our brain categorizes everything we see and do.

Picture a living thing—say, a dog. Now imagine a hammer. You just activated two different areas of your visual cortex, the brain region that processes eyesight. Thinking of a dog activates an area that deals with animate objects, whereas a hammer excites one that processes inanimate things.

Now a new study shows something surprising: the same thing would have happened even if you had never seen a dog or a hammer before (Nicole Branan). Organizing things such as skin color also happens naturally. This is okay, but for some people, organization becomes segregation in their head. People do not do this 100% on their own however; society tends to put the idea that one skin color is more superior than another in our heads as well.

This can be stopped, if we learn to tell the difference between natural organization and segregation early on.

The first step to racism is our visual cues. Seeing white people, and seeing black people. They look different externally, but are they truly different? Some people will say yes, but can they explain how? Most likely they cannot. People at a young age are taught that things that look different, are different, translating directly to racism. In the Civil Rights Movement, a majority of the black community was being beaten regularly, but why? Sure, they were protesting, but wasn’t it for their right to be treated the same as everyone else?

“When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have to speak up. You have to say something; you have to do something” - John Lewis. Letting events such as the beating of protesters happen, is enabling others to automatically look at the victims as lesser human beings. When a generation's mindset stays the same, they tend to pass it down to their kids and so on.

A good example of someone who lived this is George Wallace. Starting out as a leader of segregation, then nearing the end of his life, turning himself around and helping the fight for equality. Yes, it did take 5 bullets, and a whole lot of time spent with his nurse, who happened to be black, but in the end, he realized his wrongdoings and how he could help. Wallace was born and raised with the idea that the black community should be treated like lesser people, he was a reflection of what most white people at the time thought. Stopping these ideas early in someone's life could make a huge difference. Luckily Wallace, after he had been shot and was recovering in the hospital, was assigned a black nurse. He at first refused, but eventually gave in. Getting to know her opened his eyes to the compelling idea that all people are the same no matter how they look. If we realize color is simply just color, life would be much easier and equal.

“Racism is endemic to life in the United States, so infused in the structure of U.S. culture as to be the organizing logic of daily life” - Omi and Winant. Now that you can identify these steps, hopefully, you can catch and stop yourself, before that thought can be expressed. Certain thoughts are natural, like seeing someone of different skin color than you, and categorizing them in your head. We, however, cannot let these thoughts turn into prejudice. If anything, it would not hurt to get rid of those thoughts completely.

Free your mind of segregation and hate.

Pass these liberated ideas on to your kids.

Release the next generation from this crippling tragedy of the mind.


Branan, Nicole. “Are Our Brains Wired for Categorization?” Scientific American, Accessed 2 Oct. 2017.

“John Lewis Quotes.” BrainyQuote, Xplore, Accessed 2 Oct. 2017.

Project, The Good Men. “Why It's So Hard to Talk to White People About Racism.” The Huffington Post,, 30 Apr. 2015, Accessed 2 Oct. 2017.

“Anti-Racist Teaching: Working to Reveal Unconscious Bias and Structural Racism.” Ed.D. Educational Leadership, Accessed 2 Oct. 2017.

Bobo, Lawrence “Race, Racism, and Discrimination: Bridging Problems, Methods, and Theory in Social Psychological Research” Harvard University, Accessed 2 Oct. 2017.

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