2 The Myth of RaceRace can be defined as a group of people who share a set of characteristics — usually physical ones — and are said to share a common bloodline.Racism is the belief that members of separate races possess different and unequal human traits.Sometimes people argue that racism is no longer an issue in the United States. It is true that our race relations have changed, but many sociologists argue that racism has not been eliminated. In the past, it was socially acceptable in many places to display racist attitudes and to use racial slurs. That’s not politically correct or acceptable anymore, so people tend to reserve their attitudes until they know they are in like-minded company. However, this in no way means that racism has been eliminated; it’s just more difficult sometimes to identify (which, many argue, is actually worse).
3 The Myth of RaceRace is a social construct that changes over time and across different contexts.Humans, regardless of their race, are 99.9% genetically identical. However, race is still used to classify people, and sometimes race is a basis for differential treatment of individuals or groups of people. Sociologists, then, have come to understand race as a social category, based on real or perceived biological differences between groups of people. Race is more meaningful to us on a social level than it is on a biological level.To be white in America, for example, went from being a somewhat inclusive category in the late eighteenth century to being much more narrowly defined in the mid- to late nineteenth century and then shifted back to a broader definition in the mid-twentieth century. All these changes were in response to social realities.In ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, the idea of race did not exist as we know it today. People recognized broad physical differences between groups of people, but they did not discriminate based on those differences.As Europeans came into contact with different peoples and cultures during the Age of Exploration, racism was used to justify the conquest and colonization of foreign lands.
4 The Concept of RaceMany historical efforts to explain race were biased due to ethnocentrism (the judgment of other groups by one’s own standards and values).In the nineteenth century a number of scientists and thinkers researched and attempted to “explain” racial differences. However, what they were really doing was “explaining” white superiority.
5 The Concept of RaceSocial Darwinism, another nineteenth-century theory, was the notion that some groups or races evolved more than others and were better fit to survive and even rule other races.
6 The Concept of RaceBackers of eugenics (the science of genetic lines and the inheritable traits they pass on from generation to generation) claimed that traits could be traced through bloodlines and bred into populations (for positive traits) or out of them (for negative traits).This thinking influenced immigration policy in the early twentieth century as undesirable populations were kept out of the country so as not to pollute the “native” (i.e., white) population.
7 The Concept of RaceThe one-drop rule, which evolved from U.S. laws forbidding miscegenation, was the belief that “one drop” of black blood makes a person black. Application of this rule kept the white population “pure” and lumped anyone with black blood into one category.This rule was critical in the Supreme Court case Plessy vs. Ferguson, which upheld the Jim Crow laws.
8 The Concept of RaceMiscegenation is the technical term for a multiracial marriage.Miscegenation was illegal throughout some states in the United States until 1967, when the United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled, in Loving vs. Virginia, that anti-miscegenation laws are unconstitutional. With this ruling, these laws were invalidated in the remaining 16 states that still had them at that time.
9 The Concept of RaceToday DNA testing is used to determine people’s racial makeup, and while this process may be more accurate on some level than nineteenth-century racial measures, it still supports the notion of fixed, biological racial differences.
10 Racial RealitiesRacialization is the formation of a new racial identity in which new ideological boundaries of difference are drawn around a formerly unnoticed group of people.Racial categories change over time. Look at the census: the categories of races change very frequently. In fact, 2000 was the first year in which respondents were allowed to select “one or more race” in the racial category. Prior to 2000, respondents were forced to select only one race, even if they would describe themselves as bi- or multiracial.Racial categories never have firm boundaries. For example, there is no set regulation for determining racial identity. A person may have ancestry from mixed descent, but may not identify with that descent. Or a person who was born in the United States, and whose parents and grandparents were also born in the United States, might classify him- or herself as Cuban because a great-grandparent was from Cuba. Racial categories are flexible.A recent example of racialization is the anti-Muslim backlash in America since 9/11. Being Muslim is linked in the minds of Americans to being Arab, so anyone who “looks Arab” (for men it’s often linked to skin color and facial hair and perhaps clothing and for women it’s often linked to the use of a head scarf) is thought to be Muslim and therefore anti-American.
11 Racial RealitiesJen’nan Read discusses her research on the experience of Muslims in the United States.In this interview, Read talks about the difference between being Arab, which is an ethnicity, and being Muslim, which is a religion. She notes that in the United States most Muslims are not Arab – they are South Asian. Most Arabs in the United States are not Muslim – they are Christian. Ask the class whether they previously had assumed that Muslims were ethnically Arab. You can also ask the students to discuss what social factors influence how Muslims are portrayed in the media.
12 Race versus EthnicityRace is imposed (usually based on physical differences), hierarchical, exclusive, and unequal.Ethnicity is voluntary, self-defined, nonhierarchical, fluid, cultural, and not so closely linked with power differences.An ethnic identity becomes racialized when it is subsumed under a forced label, racial marker, or “otherness.”The Amish, for instance, are a distinct ethnic group in American society, linked by a common heritage that includes language, religion, and history; the Amish people, with few exceptions, are also white. The Jewish people, on the other hand (contrary to what the Nazis and other white supremacists may believe) are an ethnic group but not a race. Ethnicity and race are sometimes related, but they are not inextricably linked.
13 Race versus EthnicitySymbolic ethnicity is ethnicity that is individualistic in nature and without real social cost for the individual.You might have made a friend recently yet had no idea that she was of Irish heritage until St. Patrick’s Day, when she proudly displayed her ethnicity. This ethnicity may not impact the day-to-day lives of people of Irish descent, but it becomes relevant in this occasion. This is an example of symbolic identity.Whites who explore and express an affinity for their European roots can be said to be adopting a symbolic ethnicity. It makes them feel good about their heritage and it’s something they can focus on and express when they choose to; it isn’t an identity that they must assume all the time.
14 Minority––Majority Group Relations Pluralism, in the context of race and ethnicity, refers to the presence and engaged coexistence of numerous distinct groups in one society, with no one group being in the majority.Pluralism not only permits racial and ethnic variation within one society, it actually encourages people to embrace diversity – to exchange the traditional melting pot image for a “salad bowl.” At the core of multiculturalism is tolerance of racial and ethnic differences.
15 Minority–Majority Group Relations Segregation is the legal or social practice of separating people on the basis of their race or ethnicity.Segregation was official policy in the United States, particularly in the South, until the 1960s.Despite being illegal for over 40 years, there is still ample evidence of segregation in American society today, particularly in schools, housing, and prisons.Segregation: For example, in the U.S. South up to the 1960s, not only did blacks live in separate neighborhoods, they were restricted to “coloreds”-only sections of buses, parks, restaurants, and even drinking fountains.
16 Group Responses to Domination Four ways that groups respond to oppression are withdrawal, passing, acceptance, and resistance.Acceptance and resistance can actually be closely linked, as members of an oppressed group might appear to accept their subordinate position while internally they feel enormous resentment.Overt collective resistance can take the form of revolution, nonviolent protest, or riots.
17 Prejudice, Discrimination, and the New Racism Prejudice refers to negative thoughts and feelings about an ethnic or racial group.Discrimination refers to harmful or negative acts against people deemed inferior on the basis of their racial category.It is important to distinguish between prejudice and discrimination. Prejudice is an internal evaluation and discrimination is an action. While it makes sense to see these things as happening chronologically or in order, it is important to know that that’s not always the case. Some people may be prejudiced yet not discriminate against individuals. Others may discriminate yet not be prejudiced (for instance, a manager doesn’t hire Chinese people because other people in the office don’t like Chinese people, although the manager doesn’t actually dislike Chinese people at all).
18 Prejudice, Discrimination, and the New Racism While overt racism is, for the most part, considered unacceptable in America today, there is a new kind of racism on the rise in America and elsewhere that focuses on cultural and national differences, rather than racial ones.Many people argue that the new racism is even more dangerous. Although overt racism is definitely problematic, at least it can easily be seen and pointed out!
19 How Race Matters: The Case of Wealth A wealth gap exists between whites and minority groups in America that has historical roots and that cannot be overcome simply through income equality. Public policies formulated to address white-nonwhite disparities have not paid close enough attention to this particular legacy of racism.You may remind students of Max Weber’s idea of life chances, that our opportunities in life are different depending on the class into which we are born. We talked earlier about how race and gender intersect with class; how could a person’s race affect their life chances?Health care is an area in which we find widespread disparity between racial and ethnic groups. Disparities in access to health care may help explain the life expectancy rates for men and women of different races.
20 The Future of RaceThe 2000 Census created separate categories for race and ethnicity and for the first time allowed people to check off more than one box for racial identity. These changes have given us a better idea of the diversity of the American population.It is predicted that by 2050 whites will no longer be a majority in the United States. This change could bring about a narrowing of the definition of white, as happened in the nineteenth century, as whites try to demarcate boundaries around their group in relation to the growing minorities.
21 Studying RaceJennifer Lee explains how sociologists think about race and describes the differences between race and ethnicity.In this interview, Jennifer Lee explains how sociologists think about race and describes the differences between race and ethnicity. Ask the class to summarize these differences and discuss some examples of expressions of ethnicity rather than race.
22 Studying RaceJennifer Lee describes her research on the shifting color line in the United States.Lee talks about her research on race. She notes that race in America was once divided in two – black and white. Now, with more Asian and Latino immigration, the racial dynamics are changing in the United States. Some people argue that the divide – the "color line" – is between whites and others. Lee views the color line as being between blacks and others, including, but not only, whites. She argues that for Latinos and Asians, immigration status is more important than race.Ask the class to think of examples of media depictions of blacks, whites, Asians, and Latinos support that Lee's view about the "color line.“ Use this video as an introduction to how contemporary sociologists talk about and study race. It may raise some interesting discussion points about race as a contemporary sociological issue.
23 Concept Quiz 1. Ethnocentrism is _______. the notion that ethnic ties are fixed in a deeply felt connection to one’s homeland culturethe idea that we should recognize differences across cultures without passing judgment on, or assigning value to, those differencesthe judgment of other groups by one’s own standards and valuesthe adoption of a symbolic ethnicity for certain holidays or cultural eventsAnswer: C
24 Concept Quiz2. How was the one-drop rule related to laws forbidding miscegenation in the United States? The one-drop rule reinforced anti-miscegenation laws because any offspring of a mixed-race union would be categorized as black.The one-drop rule was a precursor to formal laws forbidding miscegenation.When anti-miscegenation laws were struck down in the courts, the one-drop rule was an informal way of enforcing the same policy.all of the aboveAnswer: A
25 Concept Quiz 3. A pluralistic society is one in which _______. numerous distinct cultures engage and coexist peacefully within one large sociocultural frameworknumerous distinct cultures live within the same political boundaries but do not interactnumerous distinct cultures live within the same political boundaries but may experience great tension and inequalitynumerous distinct cultures vie for power and domination within one large sociocultural frameworkAnswer: A
26 Concept Quiz4. __________ is the least explored, and perhaps the most striking, of the disparities in social outcomes between blacks and whites in the United States.Income disparityHigh incarceration rates among blacksThe wealth gapThe difference in educational attainmentAnswer: C
27 Concept Quiz5. The “new racism” couches its rhetoric in terms of _______ between groups rather than _______.religious differences; intellectual differenceslearned differences; innate onesbehavioral differences; physical differencescultural differences; physical differencesAnswer: D
28 Discussion Questions1. Would you consider yourself to be from a multiracial background?yesnoWould be great to help with a discussion about problems with the census prior to 2000.
29 Discussion Questions2. If you met a person of a different racial background than yourself but with whom you seem to have a lot in common, would you consider dating that person?yesnoI’m not sure.This question and the next could lend themselves to a discussion about changing attitudes and trends about multiracial relationships…
30 Discussion Questions3. If you fell in love with a person of a different racial background than yourself, would your family be accepting of that person?yesnoI’m not sure.
31 Jennifer Lee — Color line You May Ask YourselfVideo Interview PresentationsChapter 9Jennifer Lee — Color line