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Race and Ethnicity
Transcript of Race and Ethnicity
University of Portland
a socially constructed category based on perceived physical or genetic differences between groupings of people
"Race" is best understood as a classification system that assigns individuals and groups to categories that are ranked or hierarchical
social construction signifies that meaning is created (constructed) socially – through social interaction. Things have meaning because we give them meaning
What "race" is this man?
racial sorting exercise
Early conceptualizations of race
racial differences used to be attributed to biology.
Is there a genetic or biological basis for race?
There is no evidence of genes, traits, or characteristics that are able to distinguish between races
human subspecies do not exist
most traits are inherited independently
skin color, eye shape/color, hair color/texture, musical talent, athletic ability
99.9% of human characteristics are common to all
within the tiny variation, 85% occurs within local populations
Plessy v. Ferguson (1896):
"The statute of Louisiana, acts of 1890, c. 111, requiring railway companies carrying passengers in their coaches in that State,
to provide equal, but separate, accommodations for the white and colored races,
by providing two or more passenger coaches for each passenger train, or by dividing the passenger coaches by a partition so as to secure separate accommodations; and providing that no person shall be permitted to occupy seats in coaches other than the ones assigned to them...
are not in conflict with the provisions either of the Thirteenth Amendment or of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
What are the consequences of claiming race is a biologically or genetically founded category?
Linked to hierarchical ordering of races
genocide: the deliberate and systematic extermination of a racial, ethnic, national or cultural group
Tuskeegee Syphilis Study
romantic, sexual, or marital relationships between people of different so-called race groups
Richard and Mildred Loving
Loving v. Virginia, 1967
The decision cleared the way for interracial marriages nation-wide
There are still informal rules against interracial marriage/dating... (remember difference between real/ideal, de jure/de facto...)
Overall approval ~87% in 2013, compared to 4% in 1958.
Blacks' approval is 96%
Whites' approval is 84%
so, if race isn't real, then what?
DOES NOT MEAN THAT RACISM ISN'T REAL, EITHER.
The Thomas Theorem
"If situations are defined as real, they are real in their consequences."
we still use racial categories
pretending to be "colorblind" can prolong discrimination and inequality
racism has changed over time, but it is still quite persistent
South Asian Americans
[Story of Ian]
Ethnic differences become basis of stigmas that cannot be removed via assimilation
Stigmas become basis of extreme hierarchy
There are no clear-cut "races", only a range of physical variations among human beings.
The genetic diversity within populations that share visible traits is as great as the diversity between them.
Racial distinctions are more than ways of describing human differences.
Racial differences reproduce patterns of power and inequality in society.
The "one-drop rule"
cultural entrenchment of traditional racial hierarchy
mixed-race individuals are more likely to be associated more with their minority parent group
self-identify as Black
both have one black and one white parent
Tiger Woods identifies as multi-racial.
Created his own racial/ethnic category.
The Problem with our classification system:
the PROCESS by which understandings of race are used to classify individuals or groups of people.
an idea, attitude, feeling about the characteristics of a group that is applied to all members of that group and is unlikely to change regardless of the evidence against it
prejudice operates mainly through stereotyping
unequal treatment of individuals based on their membership in a social group, usually motivated by prejudice
Example: believing that all Asian students excel at academics
Example: evaluating the test scores of Asian students more stringently
discrimination carried out by one person against another
discrimination carried out by institutions (political, economic, educational and other) that affect all members of a group who come into contact with it
racism can be overt or covert
racism can be intended or unintended
Theories of Racism
"racism without racists"
many whites claim to "not see race"
there are 4 types of color-blind racism
Belief in inferiority
Jim Crow segregation (institutionalized, de jure), from 1866 to about 1954
A restaurant owner excluding Blacks because they do not want to serve them.
racism pervades all of society's structures in a systematic manner
in this view, all institutions (police, health care, educational system) favor certain groups while discriminating against others
Where do we see institutional racism? Examples?
some students have difficulty recognizing the pervasiveness and persistence of contemporary racism
others experience it on a daily basis
while tremendous strides have been made, racism is NOT a thing of the past.
2003 survey says
59% of whites believe that race relations in the U.S. are "good"
24% of whites believe that they are bad
48% of blacks believe that race relations are good
37% of blacks believe that they are bad
contemporary theories of racism
ignores reality of persistent inequality
this statement implies that racism cannot exist if individuals do not intentionally commit acts of discrimination/racism
developed by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva
Jim, Computer Software Person, 30 yrs. old, white
I think it’s unfair top to bottom on everybody and the whole process. It often, you know, discrimination itself is a bad word, right? But you discriminate every day. You wanna buy a beer at the store and there are six kinda beers you can get from Natural Light to Sam Adams, right? And you look at the price and you look at the kind of beer, and you...it’s a choice. And a lot of that you have laid out in front of you, which one you get? Now, should the government sponsor Sam Adams and make it cheaper than Natural Light because it’s brewed by someone in Boston? That doesn’t make much sense, right? Why would we want that or make Sam Adams eight times as expensive because we want people to buy Natural Light? And it’s the same thing about getting into school or getting into some place. And universities it’s easy, and universities is a hot topic now, and I could bug you, you know, Midwestern University I don’t think has a lot of racism in the admissions process. And I think Midwestern University would, would agree with that pretty strongly. So why not just pick people that are going to do well at Midwestern University, pick people by their merit? I think we should stop the whole idea of choosing people based on their color…
Bill, Manager of Manufacturing Firm, 50s, white
I don't think it's anybody's fault. Because people tend to group with their own people. Whether it's white or black or upper-middle class or lower class or, you now, Asians. People tend to group with their own. Doesn't mean if a black person moves into your neighborhood, they shouldn't go to your school. They should and you should mix and welcome them and everything else, but you can't force people together. If people want to be together, they should intermix more. [Interviewer: OK. So the lack of mixing is really just kind of an individual lack of desire?] Well, individuals, it's just the way it is. You know, people group together for lots of different reasons: social, religious. Just as animals in the wild, you know. Elephants group together, cheetahs group together. You bus a cheetah into an elephant herd because they should mix? You can't force that [laughs].
Kim, Midwestern College Student, white
Yeah, I totally agree with that. I don’t think, you know, they’re all like that, but, I mean, it’s just that if it wasn’t that way, why would there be so many blacks living in the projects? You know, why would there be so many poor blacks? If they worked hard, they could make it just as high as anyone else could. You know, I just think that’s just, you know, they’re raised that way and they see that parents are so they assume that’s the way it should be. And they just follow the roles their parents had for them and don’t go anywhere.
Minimization of Racism
Sandra, retail person in her 40s, white
I think if you are looking for discrimination, I think it’s there to be found. But if you make the best of any situation, and if you don’t use it as an excuse. I think sometimes it’s an excuse because people felt they deserved a job, whatever! I think if things didn’t go their way I know a lot of people have tendency to use prejudice or racism as whatever as an excuse. I think in some ways, yes there is (sic) people who are prejudiced. It’s not only blacks, it’s about Spanish, or women. In a lot of ways there [is] a lot of reverse discrimination. It’s just what you wanna make of it.
frames of colorblind racism
a note on reverse discrimination:
it is an UNJUSTIFIED CLAIM.
claiming reverse discrimination through affirmative action policies, for example, is essentially de-favoring any program that would change the status of minorities in any significant way
affirmative action can be interpreted as "discriminatory" but it is necessary to improve the status of minority groups
If everyone had an equal chance, it may be different.
in the words of Jimmy, social worker, black:
Yeah it's discriminating against whites, but in the sense that you already got all the power of a position and all. And it's like you're a hundred percent and all and if I say go down to 97% you'll holla' you're discriminating against me and all. But, you know what I mean, you need some discrimination [laughs].
"Well, racism affects all blacks but affirmative action affects a certain percentage of whites. So you really can't compare. You know, like this, they call it anti-[lowers his voice] discrimination, or, you know, you can't compare the two"
why do we have affirmative action policies?
Do we live in a post-racial nation?
Some have used Obama's two victories in the presidential election as a reason for the "end of racism"
this video taps into the "point" of talking about racism - colorblind racism - in the context of Obama's 2008 election as being perceived as "the end of racism"
this is a "remix" of various film clips that portray the overplayed racial stereotypes in Hollywood. It uses AVATAR as an anchor. All films have the same narrative about a white protagonist's encounter with the "Other," or an entity or person that is NOT white. There are 17 films, from over the past 75 or so years, which speak to how persistent and ubiquitous the representations associated with this narrative is.
think about this for a minute:
..."from the 1600s to the 1960s - about 90% of this society's existence - whites were the major or exclusive beneficiaries of almost all major programs of government aid and resource support."
"For only 10% of the society's existence, since the late 1960s, have African Americans and other Americans of color had significant - if still substantially restricted by much racial discrimination - access to many of the major wealth-generating resources provided by an array of local, state, and federal governments in the United States."
- Joe Feagin, from Systemic Racism (2006)
e.g, the homesteading act
the G.I. bill
the new racial ideology (colorblind racism) is still about justifying the various social arrangements and practices that maintain white privilege
Black unemployment still disproportionately high compared to whites.
People of color are disproportionately poor - Blacks and Latinos have poverty rates of 24% and 21% respectively, compared to 10% for whites (as of 2009), and also more likely to remain poor.
Income and wealth inequality persists.
Alabama Miscegenation Law
Voted off by popular election in 2000
with 60% of the vote
developed by Joe R. Feagin
oppression has included:
exploitative and other oppressive practices of whites
the unjustly gained socioeconomic resources and assets of whites
long-term maintenance of major socioeconomic inequalities across what came to be defined as a rigid color line
systemic racism encompasses a BROAD range of white-racist dimensions:
racist ideology, attitudes, emotions, habits, actions and institutions of whites in this society.
systemic racism is FAR MORE than a matter of racial prejudice and individual bigotry.
It is a material, social, and ideological reality that is well-embedded in major U.S. institutions.
whites main beneficiaries
2 (short) readings:
Wildman & Davis, Making Systems of Privilege Visible
Feagin & Vera, Confronting One's Own Racism
What's the difference between race & ethnicity?