Kira Hudson Banks | St. Louis Public Radio

Kira Hudson Banks

Kira Hudson Banks

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: What comes to mind when you hear the word privilege?

Many people become defensive and want to distance themselves from it. “My life isn’t perfect. I didn’t ask for all this. I don’t feel powerful...”

Privilege is not about deserving, asking or working for something. It just is.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: It’s not about a courtroom verdict. It’s about the verdicts delivered the moment a Black man is assumed to being up to no good simply because he is a Black man. Those blatant judgments and high profile examples certainly sting but so does the accumulation of no or slow service, assumptions of inferiority, questioning of integrity, body language of avoidance, or the false compliment of "you're so articulate." It all functions to make clear that little is expected of you -- or your kind -- and that respect is not immediately granted.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Welcome to the final installment of the Racial Baggage Challenge! Hopefully you shed some “weight” and learned something about yourself in the process.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: This week builds on and facilitates the expansion of your networks exercise from last week. After doing much personal awareness work and reflecting on the stories we are told about others, we will begin to expand our knowledge of others.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Last week we talked a great deal about stereotypes.

You might be asking yourself, “So what? I think I get it, but what do I do with all this awareness?”

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: We’ve spent some time together of the past couple of weeks and have established a few things:

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: This week, we will focus our lens on culture and our own personal stories. We will reflect on the various cultural groups we belong to and how we have been socialized into our group memberships and the values, traditions and norms that have been transmitted.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Welcome to week two! If you didn't get a chance to participate in week one, you can always revisit  previous challenges throughout this process.

This week we will focus on race as a social construct. That might sound odd if this is the first time you are hearing the term. But, to break it down, it means that race is real yet not real -- biologically, a weak differentiator, yet socially a strong determinant.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon - Comments during the recent mayoral debate sparked a discussion over how segregated and integrated St. Louis really is. Even before that debate came to the fore, I had been sharing tips and personal stories about how I and those around me are working to make integration real in St. Louis. The Beacon has asked that I bring that effort to its site.

We've all heard about the controversy of Glenn Beck's Restoring Honor rally, which took place on the 47th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream Speech." The analysis has largely been stuck on the question of whether Beck should or should not have held his rally on the landmark date.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 29, 2008 - I've been struck by, well, a number of things in the past month. However, the most striking dynamic has been the consistent hypocrisy of Palin supporters crying sexism when McCain supporters have slammed Obama's camp time and time again for even mentioning race. Initially, I laughed ("Oh, now when it's convenient, it's OK to point out inequities.); then I was dumbfounded ("Seriously? You're going to play the gender card after blasting Obama and Clinton for mentioning their identities?"); and now I think I've got it.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 15, 2008 - As we reflected on the tragedy of 9/11, my mind shifted to the psychological aftermath of hypervigilence and misperceptions. The reality is that in a number of ways we "went after" those who looked like our perpetrators long before the Bush Doctrine. Muslims and people of Arab descent were targets of hate crimes, satire, comedic insult, distorted media images and the like.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 28, 2008 - CNN's special report on being Black in America raised a host of issues, but the one that stood out to me most is education.

The achievement gap is not a new problem. Black children continue to under-perform and we continue to be unsure how to remedy the situation. The special raised the question of whether students should receive monetary incentives for good grades.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 15, 2008 - Intent does not equal impact. After all is said and done, that phrase holds true - in the courts of law and in personal relationships.

If you hit someone with your car unintentionally, it does not make the impact (i.e. bodily harm and legal charges) any less real. If you make an honest statement about a friend or colleague and he or she is offended, you can talk at length about the person being overly sensitive or your motive not being malicious, but the impact will most likely remain.

To take account of race or to not take account of race, that is the question -- or at least it is in transracial adoption.

The rates of transracial adoption have increased dramatically in the past decades, and research and the law are trying to keep up. From the social research perspective we've learned a few things. Historically, research on transracial adoption found no differences in outcomes for kids adopted across race compared to same-race families.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Sen. Barack Obama is a bi-racial man running for president. Most people label him as African-American. Any way you slice it, some people do not support him solely because of his race. There, I said it.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon:  I've never liked the term colorblind. I think it's problematic and a complete contradiction. How would you feel if I claimed to be unable to see a significant part of you? Even if you wouldn't have a problem with it, the concept is inherently flawed. Being blind to people's differences isn't the answer; not judging them on these differences is.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The Supreme Court’s recent ruling rejecting the argument that lethal injection is inhumane allowed some states to resume executions, but it only addresses a small sliver of the controversy. Justice Stevens went on record stating that the practice of capital punishment might very well be unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court’s recent ruling rejecting the argument that lethal injection is inhumane allowed some states to resume executions, but it only addresses a small sliver of the controversy. Justice Stevens went on record stating that the practice of capital punishment might very well be unconstitutional.  

about the author
Kira Hudson Banks, PhD, grew up in Edwardsville and is assistant professor of psychology at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Ill.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: I’ve decided that to achieve what Sen. Barack Obama referred to in his recent speech on race — the perfection of our union — we need to stop providing superficial remedies to social problems. I’ve begun to liken affirmative action to an anachronistic medical procedure that continues to be performed despite more advanced knowledge. It’s like treating the surface wounds and ignoring the underlying infection. Let me be clear: The need for affirmative action still exists. Unfortunately, race still powerfully affects individuals and shapes institutions. The malady still exists, but the remedy needs some updating.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Hurricane Katrina reinforced that race colors how we perceive the world and events around us. Our fear of talking about race paired with our flawed goal to be "colorblind" has left us having parallel conversations rather than a collaborative dialogue. Some say racism is anachronistic while others experience its relevance daily.