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I See Psychology… Everywhere

The Myth of the Down Low

Nice piece in Slate about the myth of the down low.  For the unfamiliar, “on the down low” is a term used to describe an apparently heterosexual man (typically African American) who lives a secret second life as a gay man.  He may have a family who doesn’t (or does) suspect, but, for various reasons, he does not reveal his orientation.

What I like about this article is that it exposes the often irrational ways in which people latch onto a relatively unusual event and turn it into a phenomenon.  Illusory correlations come to mind here, where we see a relationship between two factors that are really pretty rarely linked.

The articles author,

It also helps that the Down Low is the sort of threat that white commentators of all political stripes like to condemn. Conservatives get to disparage black people’s inherent amorality (a band of men is endangering their families to have sex with other deceptive men), liberals can attack our inherent homophobia (the black community is so thuggish that the men can’t even admit to being gay), and everyone gets to agree that black America is, in a nutshell, a nuthouse. In short, shaking your head over the DL is the perfect way to shake your head over how awful it is to be black.

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12 March 2007 - Posted by | Stereotyping, Prejudice, & Discrimination

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