orgtheory.net

the post-racist society: a hypothesis vindicated

A couple of years ago, I wrote a post called “post-racist, not racial.” This post made people incredibly angry. Most of the anger was misguided because people simply didn’t read the post. For example, many people thought I said that race had ended or that there was no more racism. This is actually what I said: “The term ‘post-racial’ implies that we are somehow ‘beyond race.’ Of course, that’s not true. Also, people use the term ‘post-racial’ when they are trying to evade difficult discussions of race. Or as a way of avoiding blame for their own tasteless actions.”

This is what I argued: “Racial discrimination is no longer legitimate.” In other words, if you understand “legitimacy” the way sociologists use the term – as meaning that a belief or practice publicly acceptable, then you being a racist is not legitimate. For example, you can’t walk around in a white robe and still be respectable. You can’t advertise hotels that only accept White guests. That is what I meant when I wrote that people no longer build “racism into our laws and culture.”

Here’s I’ll add more evidence that we’ve shifted from the pre-Civil Rights regime to this post-racist cultural position. Since 2013, we’ve seen:

There seems to be two interesting responses to my views. First, maybe racism has just transformed itself. Seamster and Ray made this argument in Sociological Theory. That can absolutely be true but consistent with the thesis. If you can’t publicly trash non-White people, then you have to go underground. Seamster and Ray is also consistent with the view that racism has layers, public and private, and that we’ve now chipped away significantly at the public version, but private versions can mutate. Second, what about Trump and other openly racist people? As social scientists, I hope that you can understand that I’m talking about trends, not outliers and exceptions. For example, the people at Charlottesville, in my view, represent a very vocal minority. They’re dangerous, but they aren’t the majority and I don’t see any evidence that we’re seeing a return to, say, the early 1900s where the Klan could literally win elections and control the statehouse. Bottom Line: Racism and racial inequality is real, but 21st century American is a really different place than before. And that’s a good thing!

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Written by fabiorojas

December 10, 2020 at 12:26 am

Posted in uncategorized

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