MLK Day Lecture: Dr. Claude Steele, “Whistling Vivaldi”

frustration is the experience that triggers the relevance of the stereotype

To watch: http://brown.edu/web/livestream/archive/2012-steele.html

{ black students, women in math, white athletes }

The title of the talk comes from an anecdote that Dr. Steele relates: a young black man realized that when walking down the street, people perceived him as a threat: they clutched their purses, crossed to the other side, looked away, etc. However, if he whistled Beatles songs or Vivaldi tunes (i.e. the one Vivaldi tune), people on the street treated him like a normal human being, would look him in the eye, say “How are you?”, etc.

On a semi-related note: It’s cute that “identity” in social science is something that makes people unique and different for everyone, whereas “identity” in algebra is something that does not change elements at all (e.g. adding 0, multiplying by 1), and the same for “everyone” (all group elements, per operation).

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