Statement of Topic
I chose to use the racism as the social event to base this essay on because racism is still a strong factor in our social climate today. As evidenced in an article from the Daily News in October, a young Black male, Trayon Christian, was arrested at a high-end department store, Barney’s, in New York City for purchasing a $349.00 belt. The article indicates that Trayon was accused of using a fake debit card to purchase the belt. Trayon claims that he was saving up paycheck to paycheck in order to purchase the belt and was racially profiled by the salespeople. He filed a lawsuit claiming that the New York City Police detained him because they couldn’t believe he could possibly afford such an expensive belt. This is clear evidence of stereotyping and how racism still affects the world we live in.
In addition, the New York Times reports that this is not an isolated case. There have been several lawsuits against big corporations including Barney’s and Macy’s. Several complaints have been surfacing from black shoppers who feel they have been victims of racial profiling. These complaints are even targeting well-known celebrity figures (Goodman, 2013).
After reading the articles, several questions came to mind like why did the salesperson assume the debit card was fake and why was this young male held by the police for so long? On the other side of that, why did this young Black male and many others feel the need to purchase an expensive item like this? Is this for status and/or recognition?
Although this is a clear case of discrimination, stereotyping, and racism, there are several theories that can be related to this case. However, the social behavioral perspective relates best to this case because these behaviors exhibited by both parties were learned behaviors. The social behavior perspective is described as the following:
• Human behavior is learned when individuals interact with the environment.
• All human behavior is learned by the same principles: association of environmental stimuli, reinforcement, imitation, and personal expectations and meaning.
• All human problems can be formulated as undesirable behavior.
• Al behavior can be defined and changed (Hutchinson, 2013, p. 62).
Human behavior is learned and, therefore, can be unlearned. Russian physiologist, Ivan Pavlov, discovered classical conditioning theory where behavior is learned through association between an environmental stimulus and a naturally occurring stimulus. Pavlov showed that dogs naturally salivate (unconditioned response) in response to meat powder on the tongue (unconditioned stimulus). Then he used a ringing bell (conditioned stimulus) and found that the dogs salivated (conditioned response) (Hutchinson, 2013, p. 63). In this case, discrimination is the ability to differentiate between the conditioned stimulus and other stimuli. So it was assumed by the salesperson that this male couldn’t afford the $350 belt. There...