I’ll start with a funny Dave Chappelle video on studying white people:
Now for the serious bit…
Whiteness as Personified Oppression
What is Whiteness?
Douglass Massey in his work Categorically Unequal argued that the root of any racial stratification system is in its ability to categorize and rank human beings. Without categorization a society cannot build the social or physical barriers that create inequality or oppression. As social scientists this means that we must not only understand the stratification systems themselves but we need to understand the genesis and functioning of the categories that are used to construct the stratification systems. With this perspective in mind, whiteness and white people become an important social object to study in our effort to understand race and racism. Continue reading
Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the “Boston Bombers”.
Of course everyone in America and presumably elsewhere knows the story of the recent bombings in Boston. The perpetrators of the attack, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, are the center of a storm of blogging, article writing, and commentary on Tumblr and Twitter; not necessarily because of their attack per se but because of their racial identity. The importance of their racial identity can be summed up in this: most terrorist attacks against the United States have been committed by white men but in almost all of those cases the first suspects were assumed to be Arab, Black, or African. Tim Wise, the ideal type of the white anti-racist, wrote a very powerful piece on how white privilege creates the ideology that allows for everyone to be scared of Arabs when whites are doing all the killing. And here’s when the Tsarnaev brothers come in. Many anti-racist bloggers, Tim Wise included, have been using the opportunity of the bombers being white to highlight the privilege and racism embedded in how we deal with terrorism. Although I understand the purposes of these blog posts and articles, they are all missing an important point: It doesn’t matter that they’re white and making it a point of stating such leave a lot of room for blowback to occur. Continue reading
So below is a short introduction into what Black Feminism is, why it is needed, & then a little reading list of some books I have found profoundly helpful. Liberation politics should not be divided nor should it be on a quest for liberation while it stifles the voices of other oppressed groups. Black feminism is a core component of our struggle against oppression & domination & we need to remember that this is not a Black woman’s issue. Black feminism is for everybody, it is inclusive, empowering, & liberating. Continue reading
Marx’s Social World
The majority of scholars who interact with Karl Marx know him as a scholar of the Enlightenment era who was concerned with on the surface the functioning of capitalism in Europe but on a deeper level the development (or non-development) of freedom in society and how changes in the relation of humanity to itself, what it produces, and other human beings affect this process. In order to proceed we must define what Marx meant by the concept of freedom. For Marx freedom was fundamentally tied to labor and action, which is the degree to which one was able to act on the world on their own terms. The achievement of this is seen as the prerequisite for true freedom and self-actualization, the state in which an individual can achieve the fullest humanity through bring their inner self out through their labor and action. For Marx the development of different social orders can be seen as the appropriation of the freedom of action/ labor of society for the benefit of one group. Continue reading
Currently there are over 2 million individuals incarcerated, with over half a million prisoners released each year. There is thus a large and growing number of humans being processed through the criminal justice system that raises important questions about the potential consequences of this level of imprisonment. Over the past three decades the number of prison inmates in the United States has increased by more than 600%, leaving it the country with the highest incarceration rate in the world Of the nearly 2 million individuals currently incarcerated, roughly 95% will be released, with more than half a million being released each year. According to one estimate, there are currently over 12 million ex-felons in the United States, representing roughly 8% of the working-age population. Of those recently released, nearly two-thirds will be charged will be charged with new crimes and over 40% will return to prison within three years. The incarceration rate for young black men in the year 2000 was nearly 10%, compared to just over 1% for white men in the same age group. Young black men today have a 28% likelihood of incarceration during their lifetime, a figure that rises above 50% among young black high school dropouts (Wright and Decker 2012).
Devah Pager devised an experimental design where she constructed a fabricated pair of job applicants who were matched on all features, except their criminal history in order to measure the interactive effects of one’s race and one’s criminal record on chances of being employed. Pager then sent out matched pairs, white pairs, and black pairs, to apply for jobs in Milwaukee and noted how far the candidates got in the interview process. During the study Pager recorded the employer’s likelihood of: 1) dismissing the applicants right away, 2) checking their references, 3) calling them back for further interviews, and offering them the job. Pager found that while whites were offered more jobs than blacks and applicants with no criminal history were offered more jobs than those who had served time, even whites with criminal pasts were more likely to be hired than blacks who had led law-abiding lives. She found that employers were more likely to hold stereotypes, and suspected young black men of being prone to crime as well as being unreliable employees. The results of the study illustrated that 34% of whites without criminal records received callbacks,17% of whites with criminal records received callbacks, 14% of blacks without criminal records received callbacks, 5% of blacks with criminal records received callbacks, demonstrating criminal as well as racial bias among employers. It should be questioned what micro level processes bar felons, especially African-American felons from receiving employment. Potential variables could felon’s style of interaction with abeyant employers. Sub-variables could include speech intonation, type of vernacular used, as well as improper use of grammar as possible deterrents. This could verify whether employers simply rejected felons based on their preconceived notions of criminals as well as members of minority races, or if there were other determinant rationales such as use of language as a signifier as one’s willingness to work and get along with in the work place (Pager 2012).
Works Cited: Pager, Devah. 2012. “The Mark of a Criminal Record”. Constructions of Deviance.
Wright, Richard. T. and Decker, Scott H. 2012. “Deciding to Commit a Burglary”. Constructions of Deviance.