Racial differences in conflict resolution as seen on America’s Next Top Model

I have 3 television shows that I’m watching right now, but I’m all caught up on them, so yesterday I started watching the current season of America’s Next Top Model.

This is a show that I have never regularly followed but have somehow managed to see almost all the seasons of.  And every season there is one dynamic that always shines through–black girls vs. white girls.

It’s not so surprising that the black girls all become friends and the white girls all become friends, but I have noticed that these groups usually don’t get along.

The black girls go off on the white girls for being fake and the white girls complain to each other about how bitchy the black girls are.

I wouldn’t dare to make any statements about black culture and white culture in general in the U.S., but as represented through the show, I am inclined to draw a few conclusions.

White girls learn that it is rude to criticize someone directly to her face, but since they still have those negative feelings, they share their opinions with their other friends.

Black girls learn to confront a problem head-on and, apparently, immediately.

This could just be stereotyping coming to the forefront and having a role in the editing, but in every season (and often every episode), a black girl will explode after a white girl has only said one thing.  In this season, Anslee, a white girl, also explodes without warning, but according to the testimony of the black girls on the show, Anslee is in their camp and not with the rest of the white girls.

Since the white girls find this abrasiveness “un-classy” and uncontrolled, they don’t reciprocate, but are offended enough to talk about the incident later on in private.

The black girls then find this behavior fake because the white girls are, in effect, two-faced–they act one way in front of the black girl and another way to one another.

As a white girl myself, I too find the nearly episodial black girls’ yelling fits and name-calling to be immature and emotional, and I definitely would talk about those girls later on in the day with my friends.  I wouldn’t yell back and defend myself because that would dignify the others’ behavior.

Yet, if I had grown up black, (and if, indeed, this is an accurate cultural difference and not just a stereotype perpetuated by TV) then telling someone exactly how I felt when I felt it would be the only reasonable thing to do.  Hiding my emotions and only revealing them later to people who were not even involved would be VERY fake.  I should at least give the person I’m angry with the dignity of knowing that she has offended me.

If any of these girls on the show were actually smart enough, they would have figured out that they have different conflict-resolution styles, and they would have sat down and discussed how to reconcile their cultural differences.  I mean, this happens EVERY season.  And all of them watch the show before they go on it.

I’ve realized recently that, although I’m not afraid of disagreeing with people, I hardly ever tell them when I am upset with them. (This does not apply for people I date).  But I rarely tell my friends when they are annoying me or when they have offended me or hurt me.  I’d rather deal with it myself than have to tell my friend that, essentially, something is wrong with her.  Since I never actually attempt to solve the problem and instead avoid it or change my method of coping with it, the problem continues to come up over and over again, and I am left more frustrated than I was the first time the problem occurred.

I think I need a change in strategy.

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