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Race and Racism in the US

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Andrew Fish

on 22 March 2018

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Transcript of Race and Racism in the US

is a social construct
Race:
Race and Racism in the US
a social construct is:
an idea, category, concept, or "reality" created by humans
so: race is...
labels for physical characteristics that humans
invented to categorize each other into groups

what race is not:
a significant biological reality
any traits, or genes that distinguish members of "different races"
distinct or separate biological categories
genes influencing skin pigment have zero influence upon
hair color
eye shape
athletic ability
blood type
musical talent
intellectual ability
Most genetic variation exists WITHIN races
Race invented to categorize people in ways beneficial to whites
historically
used to
justify

genocide
slavery
inequality
injustice
So what is racism?
And isn't it, like, basically
over? I mean, Obama and
stuff...
Plus I hardly ever
use...err...hear
the "N" word!
Racism:
a form of oppression that describes the interlocking multi-leveled system that
consolidates social power to the benefit of white people and the disadvantage of
people of color.
in other words, racism is a system of inequality, advantage, and disadvantage
System of racism is maintained and
operationalized on three dimensions:
a) contextual dimension
b) conscious/unconscious dimension
c) applied dimension
how racism is maintained
how it can be
intentional or
unintentional
what racism looks like in practice on the individual, institutional, & cultural levels
3 levels
1. Individual
2. Institutional
3. Cultural
Everything is
fine right?

History & Racism
white advantage has been cumulative & compounding
average white household wealth vs black wealth
(wealth = assets, i.e. house,
stocks, savings, cars, etc)
Whites
Hispanics
Blacks
Racial Categorization
& Hierarchy
Believed in existence of
distinct racial categories
physical/intellectual
differences
Early US: class/religious
distinctions more important
identity =
"Christian"
"Englishman"
in early writing
During colonial period, "White" begins to appear in laws/documents
as wealthy planters embraced chattel slavery, wrote laws that turn blacks into a permanent lower caste
white features = superior
dark features = inferior
Early US race logic:
1 drop rule
black = 1 drop of "black blood"
1/8 black
+ 7/8s white
= black
in some states
in another 7/8s = white
in some, 1/16 = black
After Slavery, laws enforced race
segregation
1896 Plessy v Ferguson cemented
segregation (separate but “equal”)
as law for 60 years
Plessy
7/8s white
sat in whites only train
car
forced to sit in colored car
argued he was deprived
of "valuable property"
whiteness, and privs
it conveyed
whiteness as property continues to be recognized by courts
people sue in defamation lawsuits, for not being recognized as "white"
interracial marriage legally banned in many states until 1967
Supreme Court
ruled bans
unconstitutional
in Loving v Virginia
1960 less than 1%
marriage in US
interracial
What we learn
from history of
race -
Race is dynamic
doesn't always
mean same thing
at the same time
its meaning is literally fabricated by legal & social structures
courts
cultures
religions
to benefit those in power
we have unraveled some advantages/disadvantages
but there was
a lot to
unravel...
Colorism & Color Hierarchy
favoring light skin over dark skin
people of color who consciously/unconsciously accept the color ideals of broader society
e.g.
"I'm better than
she because
she is darker
than I."
"I'm better than
she because
she is darker
than I."
Research shows:
darker skin =
inferior education
lower salaries
lower marriage rates
longer prison terms
Traced back to slavery
white masters had intercourse
with lighter skinned slaves
lighter skinned offspring
"privileged"
less demanding work
(domestic chores,
servants, etc)
Post slavery
AA's employed "brown
paper bag" test
darker than bag = not admitted to
social clubs
churches
black fraternities/sororities
Coca-cola
didn't pick
no black bear
for their
mascot
Media perpetuates colorism
TV/Magazines
disproportionately
use lighter skinned
models
Dark skinned men
disproportionately
cast as dangerous,
violent
Colorism occurs
globally in every
racial/ethnic
group where
skin tone
variation exists
Casting Call for "Straight
Outta Compton"
Post civil war:
40 acre plots of land set aside for former slaves
in George & SC
Fed gov returns land to white landowners
w/ no $ or land, most AA's become sharecroppers
pieces of land leased to AA's
at harvest, AA's keep a "share" of profits
(usually 1/2)
bought needed items (tools, clothing, etc) on credit
Merchants imposed high interest rates
most money earned used to pay down debts
often cheated/abused/exploited
“Just work all the year long and at the
end of the year, what they say—‘You
done fine Jim or John, you come out
just even…. Maybe you do better next
year.’”
—Mississippi sharecropper, 1935
trapped in cycle of dependence/poverty
During Reconstruction:
pres. Johnson allowed Southern states to elect all-white (democrat) governments
KKK uses terror to target/silence AA's and Republicans
many Confederate leaders return to power
1865: 13th Amendment ended Slavery
"Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."
except
punishment
duly convicted
States criminalized things like unemployment
only enforced upon AAs
filled local jails
white businessmen/plantation owners asked gov to allow use of prisoners as “workers”
slaves
"convict leasing"
worked plantations
mines
lumber camps
rail roads
working conditions horrendous
as many as 1:10 died per year
convict leasing stretched into 20th century
Alabama last to end practice in 1928
Jim Crow laws:
laws created to subordinate AAs
segregated
bathrooms
classrooms
transportation
jail cells
black/white hospital
patients kept apart
nurses could only
treat own race
neighborhoods become segregated
Local customs reinforce AAs inferior status
"boy" or "auntie" to refer to adults AAs
AAs look down, or get off sidewalk when whites pass
failure to heed "racial etiquette =
lives at risk
AAs killed for exercising rights/standing up for selves
Legal system - never a fair trial
white mobs practiced vigilante "justice"
often
accused
of raping
a white
woman
“This is strictly a white man’s
country…. If the northern negrolover wants to stop negro lynching in the South, he must first get the right conception of the proper relation that must necessarily exist between the races and teach and train the negro race along these lines and in this way remove the cause of lynching.”

—Mississippi Governor Theodore Bilbo,
July 1, 1919
1882-1968
3,446 AAs lynched
not all were recorded
Mississippi highest
581
15th Amendment
Section 1.
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

states introduced literacy tests most black people couldn't pass to vote
created poll taxes most AAs couldn't afford
requirements
only imposed
upon AAs
Supreme Court
upheld these laws
as constitutional,
somehow
AA life in cities
1890-1940 many AA's move to cities
better off than sharecroppers
mostly jobs whites didn't want
servants, gardeners, cooks,
janitors, porters, bellhops
AA women - domestic workers
in wealthy/mid-class households
Often, whites wouldn't hire skilled AA laborers
carpenters,
builders
AA professionals worked in AA communities
AA lawyers excluded from courtrooms
AA doctors only
saw AA patients
AA students taught in inferior schools
rarely beyond 8th grade
1930s Mississippi per
pupil funding:
W: $31.33
AA: $5.94
1916: no 4 year AA public HS in Mississippi
Memphis TN, 1949
Housing
home ownership = major way middle class fam accumulate wealth/pass it on to next gen
AA's experienced generations of housing discrimination by
local
state
federal gov
individuals
white politicians
loan officers
developers
people wanting to
live in all white
communities
Federal Housing
Administration
est. 1934
sets standards for:
construction
loans (who gets them)
insuring loans
real estate sales/mortgage lending
based upon race
translation:
FHA decided who bought where
type of housing available
redlining -
not loaning money
to someone in a poor
area
racial zoning -
where AA's
live
all this means:
if you were an AA, you couldn't get a loan
white, moving to AA area = no loan
AA moving to white area = no loan
White selling to AA =
no loan
Realtors incite fear about AA's moving into neighborhoods
whites panic, sell homes at low price
realtors buy low
sell to AA's high
FDR New Deal:
subsidized white-only suburban development
AA neighborhoods deteriorated
gov used eminent domain to confiscate AA's
property for business development
benefited white developers
throughout 20th century, all this kept AA's
from significant home ownership
2016
13:1 household
wealth disparity
Banks less likely to loan to AA applicant with:
same earnings
ed level
comparable
job
as a white
People of color pay higher interest than s
living in "bad" neighborhoods =
< access to resources
useful networks
employment opportunities
exposure to:
poorer health
conditions
negative social
conditions
crime
gangs
Education
white areas w/ higher property taxes =
more $ for schools
charter schools have increased segregation
segregated schools more likely to:
have overcrowded/inadequate facilities
less rigorous curriculum
fewer highly qualified teachers
fewer AP courses
inadequate info about colleges, financial aid
Teaching force largely white/monolingual
84% white
less knowledgeable about
students' families/communities
less aware of challenges of
racism
"Hey buddy. Have
you really tried,
like, not being
depressed?
Because I
exercise and
have hobbies,
I've never felt
depressed!"
Social/cultural disconnects lead To:
disciplinary actions
"zero tolerance" policies
AA/Lat students more harshly
treated
creating...
40% expelled students =
black or latino
70% in school arrests
black
students 3.5x
more likely to
be suspended
than whites
2009 LAU out-of-school suspension
Hispanic 62%
black 33%
white 3%
2x less likely to grad
68% of all males in state/federal prison
Have no HS diploma
Criminal Justice System
deeply affected by prejudice & discrimination
Federal & State
policies
war on drugs
stop & frisk
3 strikes
over-incarceration of
poor/working class AA/Latinos
58% of prison pop
2.3 million inmates
(25% of world prison pop)
nearly 1 million are AA
AA's incarcerated at 6x the rate of whites
AA's = 13% of US pop.
The War on Drugs
14 million whites & 2.6 million AAs
report using drugs
5x as many
arrested at
10x the rate
AA's = 59% of state
prison drug offenders
AA average time served
for drug offense:
58.7 mo
White average
time served for
violent offense:
61.7 mo
Cocaine vs
Crack
prosecuted
at a 100:1
ratio
crack:
5 grams = 5 year mandatory minimum
coke:
500 grams = 5 years
crack: 79% arrested users = AA
Implicit Bias
judgement or behavior that results from unconsciously associating a member of a group with a stereotype
Americans of all races who implicitly associate AA's with adj. such as
dangerous
aggressive
violent
criminal
contribute to disparities in the
criminal justice system
affects how police do
their job
fosters racial profiling
In the system, minorities face (at least implicit) bias at every stage
council
(overworked, less qualified, assumption of guilt)
Prosecutors
which cases to pursue
what charges
what sentence
Judges
Juries
affects ability to be
objective
skews judgement in cases w/ AA's
towards guilty
regardless of
evidence
evidence
indicates
that
implicit
racial bias
affects
all these
Full transcript