Chapter 5: The effects, types, forms, frequency and results of racism

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The Effects of Racism

Between me and the other world there is ever an unasked question: How does it feel to be a problem? (W. E. B. Du Bois).

 Racism has been defined as:

“Racial prejudice that has been incorporated into the activities and procedures of major institutions, corporations, social systems (such as those related to housing, education, and health), and other arenas of major social activity (such as politics, the media, finance, and banking)” (OEMA, 2007).

Racism serves “both to discriminate against ethnic minorities and to maintain advantages and benefits for White Americans” (ibid.). It contains the essential tension of not-so-egalitarian applied presences of the historically different races, with races derived from Northern Europe being considered civilized, whereas all other races are considered inferior (Jones, 1997).

Race and ethnicity. Race is defined as a “human group . . . [aggregated] by virtue of innate or immutable characteristics” (van den Berghe, 1967). Ethnicity is defined as a social group aggregated through cultural criteria and customs. Race as a construct tends to contain within it long-standing connotations of nativism,[1] despite having been debunked in an overwhelming manner in favor of the variable of race as a sociopolitical construct (HGMIS-ORNL, 2003; OMB, 1995, 1997; Shih, Bonam, Sanchez, & Peck, 2007; Smedley & Smedley, 2005; Sternberg, Grigorenko, & Kidd, 2005).

Carter (2007) defined racism as “a complex set of rational and logical beliefs and attitudes that serve to justify the superiority of the dominant racial group, while deemphasizing its systemic characteristics and sociohistorical context.” Jones (1997) defined racism as building “on the negative-attitude view of prejudice” and incorporating:

  1. The purported biological bases of group characteristics;
  2. The assumed superiority of one’s own race (ethnocentrism); and
  3. The rationalization of “institutional and cultural practices that formalize the hierarchical domination of one racial group over another” ().

According to Jones, racism has five basic elements as follows:

  1. Beliefs about racial superiority and inferiority;
  2. Ethnocentrism, with the concurrent rejection of customs, ideas, peoples, and practices divergent from the ethnocentric norm;
  3. Conferral of privilege through a racially-based and dominant-cultural national system;
  4. Personal and collective thoughts, feelings, and behaviors emanating from various cultural-institutional social structures that support racism; and
  5. The systematic attempt to prove the rationality of applied policies and practices based on racial differences.

Continue reading “Chapter 5: The effects, types, forms, frequency and results of racism”

Chapter 4: State of the nation in 2008 / Aftermath of 9/11 / Hate crimes and racial ridicule

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State of the Nation in 2008

I have wept as I have gone from city to city and seen how far people have wandered from God (Billy Graham).

Both overt and covert racism continued to plague America, despite significant gains in civil liberties for racial and ethnic minorities, in addition to the ramp-up of federal anti-discrimination laws. In 1989, a White male shot “105 rounds from the . . . [AK-47 assault rifle purchased over the counter], killing five Southeast Asian children because he blamed minorities for taking jobs away from White men” (Sue, 2005).

Rodney King, an African American male, was beaten with significant brutality in 1991 by police officers in Los Angeles (LA), California, after having been arrested for motor speeding and evading arrest (Cable News Network [CNN], 2001). Three officers were acquitted from charges of having used excessive force against King in a trial by jury, the composition of which was 83% White. This acquittal sparked off the LA race-related riots of 1992, deemed the worst in the history of the city. During the riots, arson, assaults, and murders ensued by both Whites and Blacks. These riots lasted six days and ended after mandated interventions by the California National Guard, the US Army, and the US Marines. After the verdict had been handed down, the mayor of LA declared that the assailants of Rodney King did not deserve to be police officers. In the meantime, President Bush reiterated that the judicial system had worked (Mydans, 1992).

In 1997, an immigrant from Haiti was strip-searched, raped, and sodomized with a toilet plunger by some New York City police officers in Brooklyn after having been arrested and handcuffed for disorderly conduct (Sue, 2005). In 1998, three White males belonging to a White supremacist prison gang lynched an African American male in Texas in a savage manner, then “chained [him] to a pickup truck and dragged [him] to death, while his body was practically shredded and torn apart” (ibid.). This incident is discussed in more detail in the chapter The First African American US President. In 2000, a 21-year-old White male member of the supremacist group World Church of the Creator shot without compunction several African Americans, Asian Americans, and Orthodox Jews in Illinois and Indiana.  Continue reading “Chapter 4: State of the nation in 2008 / Aftermath of 9/11 / Hate crimes and racial ridicule”

Chapter 3: Covert racism

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Covert Racism

Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force (Martin Luther King, jr.).

Covert racism tended to replace overt racism in the US after the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Covert racism has been found to be associated with liberal political attitudes (Dovidio & Gaertner, 1996, 2000), whereas overt racism has been found to be associated with conservative political attitudes (Sue et al., 2007a, b). Although simplistic in nature to the point of naiveté, this dichotomization on the racism spectrum can serve to foreground the predominance of covert racism from the mid-20th century onward and provide an initial understanding of its internal workings and external manifestations. Covert racism persists to this day in addition to overt racism, which has returned among the American people in very recent history.

Starting with the Freedom Summer of 1964, three civil rights activists were killed in Mississippi by the KKK (Southern Poverty Law Center [SPLC], 2007). Despite the most intense federal investigation being carried out at the time and the successful identification of more than 20 perpetrators, just one perpetrator was prosecuted. The case became known as Mississippi Burning.

Non-therapeutic clinical study. In 1965 the US Army, supported by the Dow Chemical Company, carried out a non-therapeutic clinical study on 70 inmates at the Holmesburg State Prison in Pennsylvania to study the untreated effects of dioxin[1] (Cockburn & St. Chair, 1998-1999; Hornblum, 1997). Dioxin was injected subcutaneously into the selected participants, most of whom were African American males. Biopsies and painful procedures were frequent.  Continue reading “Chapter 3: Covert racism”

Chapter 3: Outlawing overt racism

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Outlawing Overt Racism

What difference if I hail from North or South, or from the East or West? My heart is filled with love for all of these (Don Raye).

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 (78 Stat. 241) was enacted almost 188 years to the date of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It marked a turning point in US history. This Act, with its 11 statutes, was a landmark piece of legislation that outlawed overt racism and discrimination nationwide in all forms and settings in a permanent and irrevocable manner.

Title I of the Act reaffirmed the right to vote of US citizens irrespective of race and prohibited discriminatory barriers. Title II provided injunctive relief for anyone denied “full and equal enjoyment” (ibid.). of public accomodations due to color, national origin, race, or religion. Title III desegregated public facilities and established the right to equal protection, while Title IV desegregated public education and gave the US Attorney General the right to prosecute discriminatory institutions.

Title V established the Commission on Civil Rights, while Title VI mandated racial nondiscrimination in all federally-assisted programs including those related to education. Title VII established the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, together with various affirmative action programs and policies. Title VIII established the need for registration and voting statistics, whereas Title IX established procedures for intervention in civil rights cases. Title X established community relations services, while Title XI addressed miscellaneous related needs at the legislative level.

Outlawing Jim Crow and anti-miscegenation. The 24th Amendment outlawed the Jim Crow poll taxes in 1964, whereas the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (42 U.S.C. 1973) outlawed the voting literacy tests and broke “the segregationist lock on the ballot box” (The White House, 2006). In the same year, President Johnson issued Executive Order 11246 (The White House, 1965), which implemented the baseline standard of equal opportunity in employment. The SCOTUS through Loving v. Virginia of 1967 (288 U.S. 1) ruled that anti-miscegenation laws were illegal and overturned the Racial Integrity Act in Virginia, Pace v. Alabama, and similar laws.

Racism had at long last become illegal in the US. However, given its institutionalization in the very heart and mind of the nation, as well as in the individual and collective psyches of the American people, it did not vanish at the strokes of the legislative pens. Racism became repressed and remained ever-present, emerging in more insidious and subtle forms from micro- to macro-levels of society as covert racism.

Chapter 3: Reactions to overt racism

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Reactions to Overt Racism

This land is your land, this land is my land,
From the California to the New York Island,
From the Redwood Forest, to the Gulf stream waters,
This land was made for you and me (Woody Guthrie)
.

Legal revocations of overt racism in the nation started with the intervention of some liberals from the North. These liberals had become allies of the racial and ethnic minorities in question, because they believed that what was happening was inhumane and contradicted the founding ideals of the nation (Jones, 1997).

Freedom from slavery. During the third year of the American Civil War, Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the US, issued the Emancipation Proclamation (The White House, 1863) that liberated all the slaves held in states external to the Union (the Confederate States; Jones, 1997). Slaves held within the Union itself were not liberated and among the latter one could find those in the possession of Lincoln himself. Slavery was abolished in every state through the 13th Amendment in 1865. Section 2 of the 14th Amendment of 1868 revoked the Constitutional clause whereby a slave had been defined as three-fifths of a person. The 15th Amendment of 1870 guaranteed voting rights for everyone irrespective of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.  Continue reading “Chapter 3: Reactions to overt racism”

Chapter 3: Building the new empire

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Building the New Empire

Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: In God is our trust.
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave (Francis Scott Key).

Overt racism (1787-1964). Virtue principles were codified in the US Constitution (Library of Congress, 2016) in addition to those found in the Declaration of Independence, to extend and confirm the right to equality, freedom, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all human persons who were to live in the new nation. But in Article 1, Section 2 of the same Constitution, a racialized double standard was instituted from the outset by defining a slave as three-fifths of a whole free person, for the manifest purpose of official representation in Congress and the Electoral College. Slaves had been imported into the US from Africa and the trade had not ceased. Article 1 thus defined African Americans and human persons of African descent as less-than-human, denying them the right to official representation in the new democracy (de Tocqueville, 1835-1840/2000). The latent intent of Article 1 was to legitimize slavery as a way of maintaining a cheap agricultural and mining labor population for those of White colonial stock.

The Judiciary Act of 1789 (1 Stat. 78) established the diversity jurisdiction of the nation to define foreign citizens and subjects as aliens. The Naturalization Act of 1790 (1 Stat. 103) restricted US citizenship to “free White persons” (Ancheta, 1998) – in practice, White males. In theory, therefore, America was a functioning democracy. In practice, however, it was a racialized plutocracy (Thandeka, 1999).

Translocation of the Indians. The Indian Removal Act of 1830 (4 Stat. 411) and multiple removal treaties facilitated the translocation and re-education of Native Americans through the 1950s, ostensibly to protect and ‘civilize’ them into American culture. In reality, the forced translocation of the natives facilitated more governmental land appropriation through the practices of covert genocide and legalized land fractionation for cotton-growing, these actions extending the border-frontier of the nation by millions of acres. Andrew Jackson, the 7th President of the US, had declared these removals necessary for “pecuniary advantages” (Richardson, 1908). He also considered the natives to be childlike, decadent, and rude savages.  Continue reading “Chapter 3: Building the new empire”