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The conflict between whites and blacks is not devoid of social perception, conformity, and social recognition as crucial components. This conflict has been witnessed in countries that have citizens with both white and black origins.
In many countries, such as the United States of America and South Africa, the conflict between the two ethnic groups has been bad, and in some cases has turned out to be ugly with members engaging violently. The conflicts between members of different ethnic groups have been attributed to social class, politics, and old stereotypes as practiced by most people.
The conflicts, sometimes, arise when a group that feels discriminated against in a given political or social field tries to strengthen its position. In the African countries for example, the conflict between whites and blacks are mainly attributed to the fact that whites are known to have colonized most of the nations in the continent. The process of colonization is known to have been characterized by cruel treatment of the African slaves (Turnbull, 1965).
On the other hand, the conflicts in the two American continents originate from the fact that the whites are historically known to have been the slave masters of the blacks. As slave masters, the whites subjected blacks to miserable living conditions. The fact that this happened a long time ago is not a reason strong enough to heal the wounds to enable members of the ethnic communities to live in peace.
There are people in one group who look down upon those in the other group. It is also important to note here that there are those who have developed a feeling of inferiority. This has, in the end, resulted in conflicts that have prompted them to acquire a given level of social status (Shiraev & Levy, 2010).
Conformity in Blacks and Whites
Conformity refers to a state of life in which people are compelled by circumstances around them to change their attitudes, and their general behaviour. This is usually done with the aim of holding onto a given social or group norm. According to Shiaev and Levy (2010), it is a natural human conformity approach for people to develop the need to maintain positive relationships with those around them.
This has a final target of ensuring that the majority are accommodated. Under conformity, it is known that people tend to surmount the obstacles that exist, and which block them from living according to the expectations of the society.
This enables people to live in good graces with other members of the society who are of different ethnic origin. Judgment is usually employed when there is a feeling that failure to change one’s natural behavior can result in a non-positive consequence by the members of the other ethnic community.
This explains why, for example, whites tend to practice lifestyles common among the blacks whenever they visit African countries. This involves, among many other aspects, the way their dressing is done.
It has also been witnessed in American politics that certain blacks have rallied behind certain white candidates for elective posts to avoid situations that would be interpreted in ethnic terms. When people embrace such behavior, there is a general reduction in the tension that would otherwise build up between the members of the two different ethnic groups (Verkuyten, 2005).
Relationship between Social Perception and Social Cognition
It can be stated here that social perception is an element that falls under social cognition. Through this element, an individual finds it possible to perceive the manner in which people from other ethnic groups carry out their duties within a given social world. Social cognition refers to “the way people interpret, remember, and process information about the world and themselves” (Shiraev & Levy, 2010, p. 256).
Through social perception, it is possible for one to understand how the natural world goes together with socialization, and how each one of them affects the other. On the other hand, social cognition refers to the manner in which the perceived information is gathered, stored, and processed.
In order to explain the concept of perception, and enhance a further understanding of cognition, contact hypothesis was formulated. This holds that the negative attitudes that exist between members of any two conflicting groups can be mediated and addressed through contact of the parties in the conflict.
In the conflict between blacks and whites, the greatest social perceptions that fuel the conflict between the two ethnic groups on a daily basis are economy, social status, and politics (Verkuyten, 2005). It is generally believed that politics is responsible for the many economic challenges blacks face, and this is what has fueled the conflicts between the two groups.
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Addressing the Social Perceptions
The application of the contact hypothesis as a valid approach in solving the conflicts between blacks and whites has been barred by some of the social perceptions embraced by the conflicting groups.
It is important for governments all over the world to address the problem of economic disparity among members of the two communities, especially the black community. This could be achieved through the government ensuring that all people get access to equal economic opportunities regardless of their race or ethnic origin (Verkuyten, 2005).
It is also important for the political system in countries where such conflicts exist to embrace a unifying approach while doing politics. In the United States for example, the greatest part of the conflict was fueled by the perception that the whites had put in place political measures that would ensure their supremacy over the blacks. This was sometimes evident when measures suggested to enhance equality among the two groups were opposed with the greatest force (Shiraev & Levy, 2010).
Finally, it is important for the class system to be addressed to ensure that there is successful integration of all cultures among the members of the two groups. This can be addressed when children from both communities are encouraged to school together. Through this approach the children grow up with a clear understanding that all people are equal regardless of their race or ethnic origin (Verkuyten, 2005).
For many decades, there has been discord between blacks and whites all over the world. Social perceptions started and propelled by politics have resulted in the hatred that characterizes the relationship between blacks and whites. Social cognition and conformity have been identified as some of the greatest forces that prevent the integration and coming together of the two groups.
Much has been achieved in efforts to reduce the conflict between the two ethnic groups that have, in some instances, engaged in very violent confrontations (Horowitz, 2001). However, it will take several decades for the two communities to engage in full cooperation, integration and trust.
Horowitz, D. L. (2001). The Deadly Ethnic Riot. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Shiraev, E. B., & Levy, D. A. (2010). Cross-cultural psychology: Critical thinking and contemporary applications. Boston: Pearson/Allyn Bacon.
Turnbull, C. M. (1965). Wayward Servants: The Two Worlds of the African Pygmies. Garden City, New York: The Natural History Press.
Verkuyten, M. (2005). The Social Psychology of Ethnic Identity: European Monographs in Social Psychology. New York: Psychology Press.