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Racial Inequality and Racism (3/17) Structures of Group Inequality.

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1 Racial Inequality and Racism (3/17) Structures of Group Inequality

2 Feagin, again Feagin’s thought experiment, “Starship Earth” argued that disproportions of income, power, housing, etc. are always wasteful and divisive if they are allowed to get too large, But he further argues that this set of problems is much more serious if the disproportions are tied to an ascriptive trait, such as race. Those kinds of inequalities are particularly bad.

3 The 4 Myths Racist America (2001) criticizes 4 myths: 1. American is basically a diverse, open, non- racist society 2. There is a vanishing residue of prejudice and racist inequality. 3. Affirmative action goes too far and privileges minorities. 4. Nothing can be done. Change must be slow.

4 1. America is a racist society It is true that the US is diverse, and will be majority minority by 2050, But it is not as diverse as many. What has been distinctive and almost unparalleled is the extreme forms of racial subordination and genocide, From chattel slavery to the present, That are built into the institutional structure. Feagin’s core argument is that racism is systemic A pattern of the whole society That has interdependent parts, That must be understood as a whole.

5 What is a “race,” sociologically Visible differences are neither necessary nor sufficient for sociological races, Which are socially constructed. That is a race is any group that is considered to be a race. Therefore relations between ethnic and religious groups may become or may stop being treated as racial.

6 The US: the one drop rule The US rule for ascribing race is extremely unusual. Traditionally, black-white race relations have been governed by the rule that one is “black” if any of one’s ancestors is “black.” This was necessitated by the unique set of social, legal and political structures of slavery and Jim Crow

7 What are the racial regimes in SMMM? 1. Genocide: the attempted extermination of an entire people. 2. Expulsion: the forced transfer of a population to another area or to camps. 3. Subjugation: the creation of a second class citizenship. 4. Segregation: systematic social separation. 5. Assimilation: social and cultural melting pot.

8 What have been the regimes in the US? All five regimes appear in American history. The text suggests that the elimination of most Native American tribes was unintended. I disagree. But intentions are beside the point. Chattel slavery was a unique institution, although all forms of slavery are extremely degrading and destructive of the family, etc. And Jim Crow was a nearly unparalleled institutional subjugation.

9 How much is US race a matter of black v. white? Often the central issue is how similar black/white relations are to ethnicity. Feagin argues that they are dissimilar, but black/ white relations are central because: Relations between Europeans and Native Americans, Chinese, and Hispanic Americans were shaped by slavery, and immigrant groups defined themselves as “not black” by separating themselves from blacks. Sociology, Micro, Macro and Mega spends about 4 times as much space on other groups.

10 Peculiarities of U.S. slavery Race relations in the US have a dynamic that is different largely because slavery was different. Unlike Latin America, in the U.S. the definition of slaves as property was not checked by any structure of family, religion or other kinds of legal rights. And it was often accompanied by rituals of dehumanization. E.g. slaves eating from a trough.

11 2) The Myth that racism ended long ago There have been really important transformations 1. abolishing slavery in the mid-19 th c. and 2. abolishing enforced segregation (Jim Crow e.g. de jure segregation of education) in the mid-20 th c. But in both cases, a substantial minority of whites resisted the change, And the majority was not willing to carry through.

12 Reactions to reactions to loss of privilege. Feagin argues that in each of these cases, the majority of whites did not necessarily support inequality, But some whites felt that they were losing out (at least relatively), And the majority of whites (largely because of stereotypes, rather than theories) were unwilling to interfere.

13 But isn’t that ancient history? Many people say that that was then and this is now; blacks should get over it. One index of how a society has progressed is who it honors. Who is the American that has the most monuments to his memory? Forrest – founder of the KKK. Why?

14 The cumulative character of privilege: There is a structure of unjust enrichment and unjust impoverishment. For example, when slavery was ended, there was no transfer back of the accumulated wealth. Active Civil Rights really only occurred from the late 1960’s to the early 1970’s. Administrations since then have been opposed or hamstrung.

15 The pattern of change in attitudes in the US

16 The dynamic of race today Table 21.4 (*p.406) details “four centuries of legal progress and setbacks.” different people conceive of that dynamic in different ways. There has been a sharp decline of views such as “There should be laws against intermarriage,” (though 10% to 20% of the white pop. still agrees with such items.) But most of the change was completed by 1968, and there has also been a decline in support for reducing existing inequalities.

17 What is the relation between prejudice and racial inequality Myrdal’s argument was that racism and racial inequality reinforce each other. Racism Racial Inequality + + This is sometimes wrongly interpreted to mean that “racism” is the individual sentiment that produces discriminatory behavior.

18 Myrdal vs. Feagin Feagin criticizes Myrdal as proposing a model that seems to suggest an attitudinal model: Prejudice Discrimination Racism Feagin, as the theorist of institutionalized discrimination, argues that the relations go: Racism Discrimination Prejudice

19 Institutional discrimination and systemic racism Feagin suggests that over American history, racism, as a pervasive institutional system maintains itself as a structure of inequality and privilege. Racism is not a matter of prejudice. It is maintained by relatively little individually prejudiced action (except in response to change efforts).

20 How much racial inequality is there? Feagin Racism directly or indirectly costs the average black American about 10% of their life span; 40% of their income; and 90% of their wealth. Sociology, Micro, Macro and Mega: 1990 WhiteBlackHispanic % 4 yrs col. 22%11%9% % in poverty 11%32%28% Median inc. $36,915$21,423$23,431

21 Individual, Institutional and Cultural racism in SMMM Individual racism is individual prejudice or discrimination Institutional racism are institutionalized structures that disadvantage a group, and which are often maintained for reasons having little to do with prejudice. Cultural racism is a belief in the superiority of European culture.

22 #3 Myth that affirmative action goes too far. Feagin argues that the playing field has been partly leveled by affirmative action. But in housing, employment, schooling and other areas, the reality is still one of a non- level playing field that privileges white males. He suggests that white males usually overlook immense structures of privilege (such as feeder schools and legacy admissions) in order to attack any counterbalance.

23 #4 The Myth that nothing can be done There are not only huge shifts in attitudes, But also large differences and relatively rapid changes in different institutions. The army went from largely vertically segregated to the most integrated large institution in the US in decades. The process was similar to that pictured in Remember the Titans

24 The problem in the army and other armed forces: The problem was that vertical segregation was divisive. Incoming candidates differed in test scores, such that allowing those scores to determine placement insured it. Are the test score differences innate or due to differences in schools, etc. The army argued that there was evidence of the latter, and if so it is unjust as well as inefficient to accommodate to it.

25 Nature of army programs A set of four main compensatory programs. None insures one a position, only a chance. They are not aimed to replace the educational system, but to remedy the cumulative racial inequality.

26 The army and the navy, again. Feagin does not believe that the army is any more “utopian” than the navy. Nor were the average sentiments of either most people or most officers different. The main difference was a commitment by the leadership to a sufficient set of policies directed at both inequality and prejudice.


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