Mental Mojo : How to Nail Your Next Job Interview

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And so I, I sort of highlight in the book how, you know, getting your child a summer job or a summer internship or you know, some type of really elite opportunity that will help them ultimately get into college or you know, an elite college at that, you know, that, you know, one way to think about that is, oh, I'm just, I'm just trying to help my kid, you know.

Hagerman: But I think another way to think about that is, how can you really say that you value equal opportunity and fairness and then simultaneously be using your own position of privilege to get your kid more stuff, right? Those two things don't align. And so that I think, that's what I call the conundrum of privilege in my book. And I do think it's a conundrum. I, you know, I'm not trying to speak badly about these parents, that they are faced with a conundrum. And that's really difficult to do. But at the same time, you know, I don't want to let them off the hook, you know, they are in, in effect reproducing the very patterns that they say they seek to challenge.

So you're setting me up nicely for my next question about structural inequality and then we'll try and finish by what are some of the things that parents can do. So, if you haven't thought about this topic very much listeners as I had not until fairly recently, I might say that America seems like a pretty meritocratic country and if you work hard then you really can get ahead. And I know that you've already cited Dr. Hagerman, Dr. Bonilla-Silva's work on this topic, which is how society allocates differential economic, political, social, even psychological rewards to groups along racial lines that are socially constructed.

And so there's a list of examples in your book at the very beginning and you kind of rip through them super fast in one paragraph. And so I'm wondering if we can kind of pull them apart a little bit because you've given sort of a lot of major categories of examples of how systems are not meritocratic and they do have these racists sort of overtones to them. So very, very briefly, I wonder if we could talk about education, maybe discipline in schools.

So we know that, you know, when it comes to children specifically, race really structures all kinds of, you know, aspects of their lives. And so in terms of education, there's a host of scholarship in this area. Lots of different things to look at. But we know for example, that the ways that black bodies get policed even in school settings is different than the way that white bodies get policed in school settings.

There's a really powerful book called Despite the Best Intentions by Amanda Lewis and John Diamond and they do a 5-year ethnography at a public school actually, and find that there are these really striking patterns of which kids could ask for their hall pass as they walk down the hall and you know, during class or something, you know, who gets suspended, who gets expelled.

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There are a number of studies from my colleagues in criminology that are looking at the school-to-prison pipeline and how children of color are tracked at very early ages into basically the juvenile justice system. And so, yeah, so there's a lot of research in that area and you know, I can, I can talk more about it if you'd like, but I think that, that those are some of the major, the major themes.

Thanks for covering a little bit of ground pretty briefly. Um, I think the key thing to point out there is this can start with something as simple as asking for a hall pass. I mean, if you think about how it snowballs from there, maybe if that kid doesn't have a hall pass, then they get put into detention.

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Certain number of detentions you get suspended, certain number of suspensions you get expelled and so it sort of snowballs from something that is a very minor thing and that we probably wouldn't even think of if we don't sort of put, put our right thinking hats on that this is a racially charged way of asking, of querying whether a student has a hall pass or not. And one other thing that just came to mind too, you know, it's not like the kids in these schools don't notice these things, right?

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Hagerman: I mean the kids in my book, the white kids in my book were very much aware of this one particular role at their school, which was no hoods up. So you weren't allowed to have your hood up on your sweatshirt.

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And a lot of these kids wore sweatshirts with hoods and the white kids over and over and over again who went to the integrated school would tell me this rule is only applied to the kids that are Black that like I wear my hood up all the time and nobody ever tells me to take it off. That's not fair, you know. So it's like, it's not like the kids don't get it. And when I say that, I mean it's not just that the Black kids don't get it, but it's the White kids also get it. Like everyone understands what's happening.

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Um, which I think is really powerful because often I think we assume that children are not aware of these things or that, you know, they're not thinking about these things or whatever. But I did not find evidence that that would be the case. And what does the Black kid take away from this experience and what is white kid take away from this experience? The White kid it takes away, huh!

This is a rule and it doesn't apply to me. Jen: Which is a powerful lesson to learn. So moving on from schools, what about how young people interact with the juvenile justice system? So, um, you know, the juvenile justice system is again, a really big and complex sort of machine, but we do know that some of these things that happen in schools are directly then linked to things happen in the juvenile justice system.

You know, I think that we often think that our justice system, maybe is really fair, but I certainly have had the opportunity to have some exposure to it in ways that make it very clear that who has good legal representation, who has, you know, parents who can afford to take off from work to show up to these hearings to advocate for their child.

There's a moment in my book where one of the older kids that one of the children in my study, his older brother had been arrested for having marijuana on him and his father talks about how, you know, when they went to meet with the judge, the judge was like, oh, you're here. Hagerman: Look at that. You're, you're a white dad and showed up to support your kid. So, I'm going to let your kid off with a very limited penalty. So again, really complicated. But that kind of gives you a concrete example for my research. Thank you. And also how children's parents interact with the justice system has implications for what they learned about this as well.

Hagerman: Absolutely, and I think, you know, even that even that way, dad's sort of knowledge of the law, he consulted with a lawyer before he went, you know, he had the economic resources to do that, you know, all of these things sort of put him in a different position to advocate for his child in addition to the fact that he's white.

And that obviously brings with it a host of assumption, you know, the benefit of the doubt. Oh, this guy, you know, this was just some kid being a kid, you know, rather than, oh, this is a criminal. Jen: Yeah, for sure. And, and also black parents are criminalized and institutionalized at a much higher rate than white parents as well.

I think the, I think it's five times blacks are incarcerated at five times the rate of whites. And so what happens to a child when their parent is incarcerated? A whole host of impacts from economic to social to… Dr. Jen: I mean you name it. One thing that surprised me was that you mentioned interactions with the healthcare system have potentially these racialized overtones. Can you tell us about that? Hagerman: Sure, yeah. There's this really powerful study. There's a number of studies, but there's one that was really striking to me that found that black children with acute appendicitis or less likely than white children to receive pain medication when they went to the emergency room.

And this comes out of health scholarship, you know, this isn't necessarily just sociology, but this is research that's coming out that's being published in medical journals about the racial disparities in outcomes of kids but also in their actual treatment and if you actually think about that, right, that like this idea that some children based on the social category of race are like can tolerate more pain than other kids.

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I mean that's just. I think that's really bad. I read that study when I saw it. I almost couldn't believe it when I saw the title of the study in your references and I dug it out and I mean it just boggles the mind. These are people with a medical degree who presumably understand something about how pain works. Well, I mean, where do these ideas even come from? Hagerman: Well, I mean I think that idea, if you look to the history of race, I mean going back even to slavery, I mean these ideas that certain bodies are different, you know, and, and that certain bodies can tolerate different types of pain and suffering.

I mean it's, you know, maybe some would argue that that's too dramatic of a link, but I don't think it is. Dorothy Roberts has a really great book called Killing the Black Body and she has a discussion in there, about, sort of this was in the context of motherhood, but you know, I think that these, these racial stereotypes or myths that are so pervasive in our society about, you know, different groups, they have these historical roots and I think that that's probably where a lot of this stuff comes from.

And as another intersection with school, I found another paper that talked about how psychiatric and behavioral problems among minority youth often result in punishment in school. Whereas if you're a white child exhibiting the same behavior, you are more likely to end up getting mental health care. What about things like housing inequalities? Now, the reality is, you know, these are systemic problems.

These are things that are, you know, have these historical roots and these are practices and policies and yeah. Jen: Sorry, just to interrupt, I want to be absolutely explicit here.

This is the federal government of the US who is saying which neighborhoods black people can live and in which neighborhoods white people can live in. Is that right? I mean where you live and be able to feel confident that when you go home you're not going to be evicted and you know, I mean there's so much around housing that I think is important when thinking about the recent mortgage crisis and thinking about some other patterns around homes and even connections to wealth and wealth inequality. You know, there's a really big issue, but absolutely it's something that structures children's racialized experiences.

Yeah, and just to draw that one out a little bit. I think it's called reverse redlining in the most recent mortgage crisis where black families were given these a subprime loans at higher rates than white families were and so they defaulted at higher rates and obviously your house for middle class Americans is one of the major ways that you pass on wealth to your descendants.

And so these families have worked hard. They put down their payments and they find that they can't pay on the house. They lose the house and so they lose for an entire generation this way of passing on wealth that the white family who is less likely to get into that subprime loan is going to be able to continue to pass on to their next generation.

And I mean, as you said, you know, a home is typically the largest component of somebody's wealth portfolio and so to not… to have to be able to even buy a home in the first place requires a tremendous amount of wealth in terms of a down payment and so forth.