The Popeye Paradox (Inside Higher Ed)



On college campuses throughout the nation, writes Dartmouth’s Denise Anthony in an opinion piece for Inside Higher Ed, “dynamics like implicit bias, stereotype threat, racial anxiety, and microaggressions generate systematically different experiences for underrepresented groups in higher education—dynamics that affect interaction and decision making. Yet because many (typically white) administrators and faculty members don’t see those dynamics, they don’t understand what is driving the anger, frustration, and demands of the protesters.”

Here’s where an old cartoon character can be of service, says Anthony, a professor of sociology and the vice provost for academic initiatives.

“Paradoxically, an old sexist and racist cartoon character, Popeye, the white, hypermasculine aging American sailor trying to adapt to civilian life in the 1930s and 1940s, offers a way to understand how underrepresented groups (racial and ethnic minorities and women) experience higher education in America,” writes Anthony. “My aim is to in no way trivialize the important concerns that the protesters are raising, but rather to show why Popeye might have some relevance today as a metaphor.”

Read the full opinion piece, published 3/16/16 by Inside Higher Ed.

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