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Beyond Discrimination

Racial Inequality in a Post-Racist Era

Fredrick C. Harris, Robert C. Lieberman

Publication Year: 2013

Nearly a half century after the civil rights movement, racial inequality remains a defining feature of American life. Along a wide range of social and economic dimensions, African Americans consistently lag behind whites. This troubling divide has persisted even as many of the obvious barriers to equality, such as state-sanctioned segregation and overt racial hostility, have markedly declined. How then can we explain the stubborn persistence of racial inequality? In Beyond Discrimination: Racial Inequality in a Post-Racist Era, a diverse group of scholars provides a more precise understanding of when and how racial inequality can occur without its most common antecedents, prejudice and discrimination. Beyond Discrimination focuses on the often hidden political, economic and historical mechanisms that now sustain the black-white divide in America. The first set of chapters examines the historical legacies that have shaped contemporary race relations. Desmond King reviews the civil rights movement to pinpoint why racial inequality became an especially salient issue in American politics. He argues that while the civil rights protests led the federal government to enforce certain political rights, such as the right to vote, addressing racial inequities in housing, education, and income never became a national priority. The volume then considers the impact of racial attitudes in American society and institutions. Phillip Goff outlines promising new collaborations between police departments and social scientists that will improve the measurement of racial bias in policing. The book finally focuses on the structural processes that perpetuate racial inequality. Devin Fergus discusses an obscure set of tax and insurance policies that, without being overtly racially drawn, penalizes residents of minority neighborhoods and imposes an economic handicap on poor blacks and Latinos. Naa Oyo Kwate shows how apparently neutral and apolitical market forces concentrate fast food and alcohol advertising in minority urban neighborhoods to the detriment of the health of the community.

Published by: Russell Sage Foundation

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi

Tables and Figures

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pp. vii-x

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pp. xi-xii

Fredrick C. Harris is professor of political science and director for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia University.

Robert C. Lieberman is professor of political science and provost at The Johns Hopkins University.

Anthony S. Chen is associate professor of sociology and political science at Northwestern University, where he is also faculty fellow at the Institute...

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pp. xiii-xiv

This book began life as a series of intense conversations during and after the 2008 presidential election. Barack Obama’s stirring campaign and dramatic election seemed to signal at once the maturation of a new pattern of American politics, in which a serious racial barrier to achievement had been shattered, and a new attentiveness to questions of race and inequality...

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Introduction. Beyond Discrimination: Racial Inequality in the Age of Obama

Fredrick C. Harris, Robert C. Lieberman

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pp. 1-36

Contemporary racial inequality in the United States poses a dual challenge for social scientists and policy analysts. It is, first, a serious policy problem. Nearly half a century after the peak of the civil rights movement, racial identity remains a significant predictor of class status and life chances. Across a wide range of social and economic domains—income...

Part I. The Political Development of Racial Inequality

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Chapter 1. The End of “Race” as We Know It? Assessing the “Postracial America” Thesis in the Obama Era

Rodney E. Hero, Morris E. Levy, Benjamin Radcliff

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pp. 39-72

In his highly influential analysis of democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville ([1848] 1966, 475–76) contended that “democratic . . . peoples’ passion for equality is ardent, insatiable, eternal and invincible.” On the other hand, he also recognized the profound importance of and problems posed by race in American society. Tocqueville emphasized America’s liberal...

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Chapter 2. The American State as an Agent of Race Equity: The Systemic Limits of Shock and Awe in Domestic Policy

Desmond King

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pp. 73-104

The historical infirmity of the American state in ameliorating the nation’s searing racial inequalities is notable. It is even more striking when set against the same state’s gargantuan military, fiscal, cultural, ideological, and political capacities, which have enabled the United States to dominate modern affairs since the Second World War and to maintain legitimacy...

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Chapter 3. Racial Inequality and Race-Conscious Affirmative Action in College Admissions: A Historical Perspective on Contemporary Prospects and Future Possibilities

Anthony S. Chen, Lisa M. Stulberg

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pp. 105-134

The racial composition of undergraduates attending American colleges and universities has experienced a far-reaching transformation over the past sixty years. At the midpoint of the twentieth century, most institutions of higher education were racially exclusive, whether by policy or custom. The overwhelming majority of students going to college were...

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Chapter 4. Racial Inequality in Employment in Postracial America

Dorian T. Warren

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pp. 135-154

How do we understand persistent racial inequality in employment in an era of increased African American and Latino political and social inclusion? This question is one of the most significant and enduring challenges in our current post–civil rights, postindustrial, and so-called postracial era: the issue of increasing economic inequality in communities of color. The...

Part II. Attitudes and Individual Behavior

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Chapter 5. A Measure of Justice: What Policing Racial Bias Research Reveals

Phillip Atiba Goff

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pp. 157-185

How does one explain persistent racial inequality in the face of declining racial prejudice? This riddle, which I call the “attitude-inequality mismatch” question (or the AIM question, for short), is the fundamental problem facing contemporary scholars of race in the United States (as well as the rationale for this volume). A related and equally provocative question...

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Chapter 6. The Social Psychology of Symbolic Firsts: Effects of Barack Obama’s Presidency on Student Achievement and Perceptions of Racial Progress in America

Valerie Purdie-Vaughns, Richard P. Eibach

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pp. 186-212

As Frederick Douglass noted when he observed some of the first political achievements of emancipated black Americans, the human imagination is captivated by pioneers. Indeed, popular history is often a chronicle of pioneers: the first explorer to circumnavigate the globe, the first woman appointed to the United States Supreme Court, the first man to...

Part III. Politics and the State

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Chapter 7. Unhappy Harmony: Accounting for Black Mass Incarceration in a “Postracial” America

Vesla M. Weaver

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pp. 215-256

As Americans altered history in sending the first black man to the White House, another less celebrated record was charted: one-third of young black men witnessed Barack Obama’s milestone under the jurisdiction of the criminal justice system. In addition, 13 percent of black men could not cast a vote, as they were disenfranchised owing to a past or current criminal...

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Chapter 8. The “Stickiness” of Race in an Era of Mass Incarceration

Devah Pager

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pp. 257-274

In the summer of 2009, the Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. was unceremoniously arrested at his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, when police mistook him for a burglar. The flurry of media attention, culminating with a “beer summit” hosted by President Obama, revived long-standing debates about the prevalence of racial profiling and the degree to...

Part IV. Economics and Markets

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Chapter 9. The Ghetto Tax: Auto Insurance, Postal Code Profiling, and the Hidden History of Wealth Transfer

Devin Fergus

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pp. 277-316

In the recent health care debate, President Obama and his conservative critics such as George Will found rare common ground by appropriating auto insurance as the model for health insurance, whose reform the president called “key to turning around the economy” (Associated Press 2009). For African American and Latino consumers, however, holding up auto...

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Chapter 10. Racial Segregation and the Marketing of Health Inequality

Naa Oyo A. Kwate

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pp. 317-348

The dismantling of state-sanctioned discrimination substantiates in the American imagination the notion of a postracial world, particularly with the election of President Barack Obama. But anyone walking through a black neighborhood knows that the United States is not “postracial.” The persistence of de facto segregation in most U.S. cities reminds us that we...


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pp. 349-362

E-ISBN-13: 9781610448178
E-ISBN-10: 1610448170

Page Count: 376
Publication Year: 2013

Edition: 1

OCLC Number: 872655600
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Subject Headings

  • Minorities -- United States -- Social conditions -- 21st century.
  • Minorities -- United States -- Economic conditions -- 21st century.
  • Equality -- United States.
  • Racism -- United States.
  • Post-racialism -- United States.
  • United States -- Race relations.
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