The kind of awareness a sociological imagination produces can be unsettling because it forces us to see things we would prefer not to. If forces us to pay attention to the hardships and options other people face. If we understand how others’ circumstances differ from our own, we are more likely to be empathetic, to give them the respect they deserve as human beings. We are less likely to condemn them unfairly for doing things we dislike or disagree with. In fact, having a sociological imagination can help decrease the amount of hatred and conflict in the world.
I sometimes visualize the ongoing cycle of racism
as a moving walkway at the airport.Active racist behavior is equivalent to
walking fast on the conveyor belt.The person engaged in active racist behavior
has identified with the ideology of white supremacy
and is moving with it.Passive racist behavior is equivalent to standing still on the walkway.No overt effort is made, but the conveyor moves
the bystanders along to the same destination
as those who are actively walking.Some of the bystanders may feel the motion of the conveyor belt,
see the active racists ahead of them, and choose to turn around,
unwilling to go to the same destination
of the white supremacists. But unless they are actively walking
in the opposite direction at a speed faster than
the conveyor belt — unless they are actively anti-racists— they will
find themselves carried along with others.
Beverly D. Tatum
Answer these questions: sociological imagination
Where Do You Stand?
Where are you on the moving walkway?