Corey Barnes


Adrian Piper provides an excellent way of thinking about both what motivates discrimination and the relationship between stereotyping and discrimination. Piper elucidates two kinds of political discrimination, namely first- and higher-order political discrimination. The relationship between discrimination and stereotyping can be captured by a form that I call “discrimination from descriptive stereotyping.” Here, stereotypical properties are taken to be possessed by and principally define individuals because of groups to which they belong; they are descriptive properties explain what group-members must be like. Discrimination results from and is thought to be justified by the perception that group-members must unfailingly possess certain negatively valued attributes because they belong to targeted groups. In this article I add a form of discrimination as related to stereotyping that has been rather overlooked, call it “discrimination from normative stereotyping.” Here, stereotypes prescribe criteria for what legitimate members of some group are like, and thus which attributes group-members ought to possess. Discrimination results from a failure of group-members to possess these stereotypical attributes. And thus negative evaluations that lead to discrimination are not made insofar as persons are thought to possess some negatively valued attribute. Herein I take discrimination from normative stereotyping to explain the use of particular slurs, namely race-traitor terms such as “Uncle Tom” and “Nigger Lover.” Targets of these slurs are discriminated against in some sense because they are perceived as failing to be legitimate group-members.