Samir’s Selection 07/28/2015 (p.m.)

  • Joe Feagin, a sociologist, and a leading researcher of racism in the United States for more than 40 years >>>

    tags: racism USracism discrimination culture hatespeech sociology anthropology philosophy myth propaganda children race

    • Joe Feagin, a sociologist, and a leading researcher of racism in the United States for more than 40 years.
    • racial-ethnic theory in social science
    • the empirical reality of racism in the United States
    • the what, why and who of the systemic white racism that is central and foundational to this society
    • inadequate analytical concepts like prejudice, bias, stereotyping and intolerance. Such concepts are often useful, but were long ago crafted by white social scientists focusing on individual racial and ethnic issues, not on society’s systemic racism.
    • Because prejudice is only one part of the larger white racial frame that is central to rationalizing and maintaining systemic racism, one can be less racially prejudiced and still operate out of many other aspects of that dominant frame. That white racial frame includes not only racist prejudices and stereotypes of conventional analyses, but also racist ideologies, narratives, images and emotions, as well as individual and group inclinations to discriminate shaped by the other features. Additionally, all whites, no matter what their racial prejudices and other racial framings entail, benefit from many racial privileges routinely granted by this country’s major institutions to whites.
    • I have learned much about how this country’s racial oppression became well institutionalized and thoroughly systemic over many generations, including how it has been rationalized and maintained for centuries by the broad white racist framing just mentioned.
    • Another key insight is about how long this country’s timeline of racial oppression actually is. Most whites, and many others, do not understand that about 80 percent of this country’s four centuries have involved extreme racialized slavery and extreme Jim Crow legal segregation.

      As a result, major racial inequalities have been deeply institutionalized over about 20 generations.

    • One key feature of systemic racism is how it has been socially reproduced by individuals, groups and institutions for generations. Most whites think racial inequalities reflect differences they see as real — superior work ethic, greater intelligence, or other meritorious abilities of whites. Social science research is clear that white-black inequalities today are substantially the result of a majority of whites socially inheriting unjust enrichments (money, land, home equities, social capital, etc.) from numerous previous white generations — the majority of whom benefited from the racialized slavery system and/or the de jure (Jim Crow) and de facto overt racial oppression that followed slavery for nearly a century, indeed until the late 1960s.
    • G.Y.: What then are we to make of the concept of American meritocracy and the Horatio Alger narrative — the rags to riches narrative?

      J.F.: These are often just convenient social fictions, not societal realities. For centuries they have been circulated to justify why whites as a group have superior socioeconomic and power positions in American society. In the white frame’s pro-white subframe whites are said to be the hardest-working and most meritorious group. Yet the sociologist Nancy DiTomaso has found in many interviews with whites that a substantial majority have used networks of white acquaintances, friends and family to find most jobs over their lifetimes. They have mostly avoided real market competition and secured good jobs using racially segregated networks, not just on their “merit.” Not one interviewee [out of approximately 150 to 200] expressed seeing anything wrong with their use of this widespread system of white favoritism, which involves “social capital” passed along numerous white generations.

    • In its modern racialized sense the term “race” was created by white American and European analysts in the 17th and 18th centuries in order to explain how they, as “good Christians,” could so extensively and brutally oppress, initially, indigenous and African Americans. There was no well-developed American hierarchy of “races,” a key feature of systemic racism, before white Europeans and white Americans made that the societal reality in the Americas by means of the Atlantic slave trade and the genocidal theft of indigenous peoples’ lands. Whites were soon framed as the virtuous and “superior race,” while those oppressed were dehumanized as the “inferior races.”
    • That white frame is made up of two key types of subframes: The most-noted and most-researched are those negatively targeting people of color. In addition, the most central subframe, often the hardest to “see,” especially by whites, is that reinforcing the idea of white virtuousness in myriad ways, including superior white values and institutions, the white work ethic, and white intelligence. This white-virtue framing is so strong that it affects the thinking not only of whites, but also of many people of color here and overseas. Good examples are the dominant American culture’s standard of “female beauty,” and the attempts of many people of color to look, speak, or act as “white” as they can so as to do better in our white-dominated institutions.
    • “The First R: How Children Learn Race and Racism”
    • white children learn major elements of the dominant white racial frame at an earlier age than many previous researchers had recognized. Backed up now by much other social science research, we know that many white children as young as 2- to 4-years-old have already learned and used key features of the white racist frame. Our research shows that these children have learned not only elements of the anti-others subframes, but also the strong white-virtue subframe.

      One example of this latter subframe involved a white child confronting an Asian child who was starting to pull a school wagon. She put her hands on her hips and arrogantly made the assertion that “only white Americans can pull this wagon.” In these field observations we also found that young children of all backgrounds gain knowledge of racial framing from peers in classrooms and play settings, not just from relatives in home settings. Moreover, in everyday interactions they frequently did much more than imitate what they had heard or seen from others. They regularly acted on their racist framing in their own creative ways.

    • J.F.: That commonplace ape framing involves vicious stereotyping, narratives and emotion-laden imagery. That complexity is why we need a broader white racial frame concept. Only a little research and theorizing have been done on the emotions of that white frame, but in my research they clearly include at least white anger, hostility, disgust, fear, envy and greed. There is research linking ape imagery to white reactions to black faces and white attributions of black criminality. For more than two centuries that blacks-as-apes imagery has been part of the dehumanizing process enabling whites, who see themselves as “good people,” to engage in extensive racial oppression. Our most famous white “founder,” Thomas Jefferson, in his major book, “Notes on the State of Virginia,” even suggested that Africans had sex with apes.
    • black framing of whites is usually different and generally more direct-experience-related. There are very few generic jokes stereotyping whites in our interviews with blacks, and what pained joking there is, is mostly about the actual discrimination black interviewees have experienced from whites.
    • backstage racism
    • front-stage racism
    • Getting rid of a few racial stereotypes is hard enough, and there has been some success at that, but when they are connected to hundreds of other “bits” of racist stereotyping, ideology, imagery, emotions and narratives of that white racial frame, it is even harder to begin a successful process of substantial deframing and reframing toward an authentic liberty-and-justice framing. Such reframing takes great effort and a long period of time in my experience. Nonetheless, some social science research is encouraging in regard to changing at least limited aspects of that dominant white frame.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.


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