Concepts of Racism and Discrimination
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Published: Thu, 16 Aug 2018
Race has been an issue in North America for many years. Eduardo Bonilla-Silva discusses the new racism in his book, Racism without Racists. Bonilla-Silva classifies the new racial discrimination as color blind racism. Color blind racism is then structured under four frames (26). Color blind racism is believed to have lead to the segregation of the white race from other minorities called white habitus. Color blind racism and white habitus has affected many people, whom don’t even realize that they are currently affected, have been or will be affected.
Color blind racism is an “ideology, which acquired cohesiveness and dominance in the late 1960s, explains contemporary racial inequality as the outcome of nonracial dynamics,” according to Bonilla-Silva (2). In order to analyze color blind racism, Bonilla-Silva relies “mostly on interview data (11)” through a 1997 Survey of Social Attitudes of College Students and a 1998 Detroit Area Study (DAS) (12). Bonilla-Silva then breaks down the analysis of color blind racism into four central themes to convey how whites explain a world without racial issues: abstract liberalism, naturalization, cultural racism, and minimization.
Abstract liberalism is “ideas associated with political liberalism and economic liberalism” (28). Abstract liberalism is used for a wide range of issue therefore Bonilla-Silva gives a few different examples of when this frame is used. Rationalizing Racial Unfairness in the Name of Equal Opportunity was used when asking white students “if minorities should be provided unique opportunities to be admitted into universities” (31). Most whites will state that everyone should have an equal opportunity. Those whites, “ignored the effects of past and contemporary discrimination on the social, economic, and educational status of minorities,” argues Bonilla-Silva (31). Some of the other views explained are: “The Most Qualifiedâ€¦”: A Meritocratic Way of Defending White Privilege, “Nothing Should be Forced upon People”: Keeping Things the Way They Are, and Individual Choice or an Excuse for Racial Unfairness and Racially Based Choices. The reasoning for abstract liberalism usually deals with equal opportunity, choice and individualism as a defense to white privilege (28). In this frame, it says that you can’t allow preferential treatment to certain groups to promote racial equality because equal opportunity is available for everyone. This denies that there are any advantages to whites based from history.
Cultural racism uses the “they don’t have it altogether” statement (39). “The essence of the American version of this frame is “blaming the victim,” arguing that minorities’ standing is a product of their lack of effort, loose family organization, and inappropriate values,” stated Bonilla-Silva (40). Kara a MU student states, “black people that I’ve metâ€¦I don’t want to say waiting for a handout, but to some extent, that’s kind of what I’m like hinting at,” when asked what she thought about “blacks lacking motivation” (40). Other students used a kinder response to the above question leading to a family structure issue, a lack of education, and financially that blacks had to get a job at an earlier age than whites (41). Cultural racism is the basis of most racism today. The blame game is used in all situations. People’s egos don’t like to believe that the problem occurs because of themselves. If it isn’t my fault, it must be yours! All of these frames are not solely separate. Each frame can and are intertwined when talking to most of the students. According to Bonilla-Silva, when minimization of racism and cultural racism are mixed, “the results are ideologically deadly” (40).
Minimization of racism is the belief of whites that race is not the concerning issue. Bonilla-Silva analysis the DAS survey response to the question if the students believed that discrimination was currently a problem. The white and the black groups both responded with a high percentage that they disagreed or strongly disagreed (43). “Although whites and blacks believe discrimination is still a problem, they dispute its salience as a factor explaining blacks’ collective standing,” states Bonilla-Silva (43). A more through question was then asked to clarify and blacks believed that discrimination was alive and still is alive (43). Minimization explains, simply, that race is no longer a factor. People sometimes state that minorities are too sensitive.
Naturalization is the next frame discussed. Bonilla-Silva believes that this frame was used “particularly when discussing school or neighborhood matters, to explain the limited contact between whites and minorities, or to rationalize whites’ preferences for whites as significant others” (36). Students would use words such as “natural” or “that’s the way it is” when using this frame (37). Bonilla-Silva uses segregation questions to show examples of the naturalization frame. The question would ask why people segregate in schools or where they live. Most would respond, “its human nature (39)” or “I don’t really think it’s a segregationâ€¦peopleâ€¦spend time with people that they are like” (37). According to Bonilla-Silva, “As white neighborhoods develop, white schools follow- an outcome that further contributes to the process of racial isolation” (39). This racial isolation Bonilla-Silva calls white habitus. Naturalization says that people self select or are hedonistic but why do people live in all white or black neighborhoods? This may be due to the long history of segregation or selection of realtors to sell only to a certain ethnicity for a certain area.
White habitus is a “radicalized, uninterrupted socialization process that conditions and creates whites’ racial taste, perceptions, feelings, and emotions and their views on racial matters” (104). Bonilla-Silva stated, “One of the central consequences of the white habitus is that it promotes a sense of group belonging and negative views about non whites” (104). Whites interpret segregation as natural or as “just the way things are” (112). The white race does not have to think about their race because of their dominance. This issue expands when racial segregation occurs. Besides the absence of noticing one’s race, white respondents did not seem to see any problems in having an all white neighborhoods. White’s reported being friends with blacks but then later when asked more questions never named a black friend. The research showed that less than 10% of whites actually had black friends even when interracial friendship were available, whites did not cross the “color line” (108).
The impact of white habitus is significant. Racial segregation causes “attitudinal, emotional, and political implications” (125). Other impacts are the negative effect naturalization and justifications of racial segregation; creates a greater distance between races; lack of empathy and the lack of the reality of colorblind racism (123-125).
Colorblind racism affects you, me, and everyone in this world. It is the new racism. Bonilla-Silva states, “Color-blind racism forms an impregnable yet elastic ideological wall that barricades whites off from America’s racial reality” (181). Not only does it cut white Americans off it allows them to justify what is happening without the harshness of the past (181). Blacks are affected by color blindness, also. They fall within the four frames similar to white but on a smaller scale. Blacks were more direct in their answers but color blind racism had some “indirect and direct effects on blacks” (172). Color blind racism has shaped some black’s way of thinking about segregation (171). It has allowed some blacks to believe in the “culture of poverty” concept (172). “The struggle against color-blind racism will have to be waged not only against color-blind whites, who cannot see the centrality of race in America, but also against the many slightly color-blind blacks,” concluded Bonilla-Silva (172).
In my opinion, the only way to work on the struggle against racial inequality is to continue to talk about it, learn about it, and emphasize the effects of it. Based on the information provided in Bonilla-Silva’s book, I can assume that most white are not around to see or hear the racism compared to the minorities that deal with it on a daily basis. Most whites live in primary white neighborhoods so they do not have the opportunity to be aware of racism or sometimes they don’t pay attention to it because it doesn’t involve them. Sometimes whites say they have black friends but in reality they may have seen black people but never connected with a black person on a friendship level. In order to understand one another and get along, it is important to integrate and learn about each race.
Integration of all forms is the key to dissipating racism. The Dynamics of Racial Residential Segregation states, “Sociologists and policymaker have long viewed racial residential segregation as a key aspect of racial inequality” (Charles, 2003). This article along with many other sociology classes, books, and articles state that segregation is an issue of our past and present. We have made some integration movement since the Apartheid days but this is not enough. We have to level the playing field. If it takes the government getting involved to promoting integrated communities, then I think that is what should be done. People do not like new rules or regulations, so why can’t the government promote integration like they promote new federal laws such as the DUI legal limit of .08%. If you move into an integrated community of a certain percent then you will receive a tax cut or some type of benefit. This promotes people to live with other races and eventually it will become second nature. Obviously, the government cannot make those integrated communities communicate but I believe that with time neighbors will start to talk to one another or if nothing else some type of promotion for community block parties, similar to when I was a kid, would assist in the communication process. That is how I remember meeting the neighbors. Community block parties are non-existent now days but I believe they are beneficial to everyone! With a little effort from everyone, we can make it happen, a life without racism!
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