“The Justice Department, under the [Ronald] Reagan Administration, has vigorously pursued every available opportunity to limit relief in Title VII cases to persons who qualify as ‘victims.’ This narrow concept of victimization ignores the evidence that the destiny of an individual depends in part upon the status and participation of the group to which he or she belongs. The Reagan Administration makes the assumption that equality may be secured for an individual without regard to the status of others in the individual’s group. This assumes that an individual’s respect, opportunities and achievements result entirely from his or her own efforts and that the respective status of the group to which the individual belongs has no effect on society’s presumptions of competence or conceptions of merit. Sociological and psychological research reveals that the contrary is true. Group membership, when a salient characteristic, often unconsciously affects the perception, cognition and judgment processes. A prominent social psychologist has suggested that perceptual and judgmental distortion serve to cognitively and practically perpetuate a social world consistent with the power held by the dominant groups in the society. Therefore, in order for society to positively view individuals from powerless groups, there must be changes in the overall status of these groups.”

Source: Linda S. Greene. Twenty Years Of Civil Rights: How Firm A Foundation? 37 Rutgers L. Rev. 707,750-2. 1984-1985.


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