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Changing Inequality

Rebecca M. Blank

Rebecca M. Blank offers the first comprehensive analysis of an economic trend that has been reshaping the United States over the past three decades: rapidly rising income inequality. In clear language, she provides an overview of how and why the level and distribution of income and wealth has changed since 1979, sets this situation within its historical context, and investigates the forces that are driving it. Among other factors, Blank looks closely at changes within families, including women’s increasing participation in the work force. The book includes some surprising findings—for example, that per-person income has risen sharply among almost all social groups, even as income has become more unequally distributed. Looking toward the future, Blank suggests that while rising inequality will likely be with us for many decades to come, it is not an inevitable outcome. Her book considers what can be done to address this trend, and also explores the question: why should we be concerned about this phenomenon?

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The Changing Terrain of Race and Ethnicity

The legal institutions of overt racism in the United States have been eliminated, but social surveys and investigations of social institutions confirm the continuing significance of race and the enduring presence of negative racial attitudes. This shift from codified and explicit racism to more subtle forms comes at a time when the very boundaries of race and ethnicity are being reshaped by immigration and a rising recognition that old systems of racial classification inadequately capture a diverse America. In The Changing Terrain of Race and Ethnicity, editors Maria Krysan and Amanda Lewis bring together leading scholars of racial dynamics to study the evolution of America’s racial problem and its consequences for race relations in the future. The Changing Terrain of Race and Ethnicity opens by attempting to answer a puzzling question: how is it that so many whites think racism is no longer a problem but so many nonwhites disagree? Sociologist Lawrence Bobo contends that whites exhibit what he calls “laissez faire racism,” which ignores historical and structural contributions to racial inequality and does nothing to remedy the injustices of the status quo. Tyrone Forman makes a similar case in his chapter, contending that an emphasis on “color blindness” allows whites to be comforted by the idea that all races are on a level playing field, while not recognizing the advantages they themselves have reaped from years of inequality. The book then moves to a discussion of the new ways that Americans view race. Eduardo Bonilla-Silva and Karen Glover argue that the United States is moving from a black-white divide to a tripartite system, where certain light-skinned, non-threatening minority groups are considered “honorary whites.” The book’s final section reexamines the theoretical underpinnings of scholarship on race and ethnicity. Joe Feagin argues that research on racism focuses too heavily on how racial boundaries are formed and needs to concentrate more on how those boundaries are used to maintain privileges for certain groups at the expense of others. Manning Marable contends that racism should be addressed at an institutional level to see the prevalence of “structural racism”—deeply entrenched patterns of inequality that are coded by race and justified by stereotypes. The Changing Terrain of Race and Ethnicity provides an in-depth view of racism in modern America, which may be less conspicuous but not necessarily less destructive than its predecessor, Jim Crow. The book’s rich analysis and theoretical insight shed light on how, despite many efforts to end America’s historic racial problem, it has evolved and persisted into the 21st century.

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Chicanas and Chicanos in School

Racial Profiling, Identity Battles, and Empowerment

By Marcos Pizarro

A powerful account of how racial identity issues affect Chicana/o students’ school success.

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Chicano Experience, The

An Alternative Perspective

Alfredo Mirandé

Mirandé offers a detailed examination of Chicano social history and culture that includes studies of: Chicano labor and the economy; the Mexican immigrant and the U.S.-Mexico border conflict; the evolution of Chicano criminality; the American educational system and its impact on Chicano culture; the tensions between the institutional Church and Chicanos; and the myths and misconceptions of "machismo."

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Child Care in Black and White

Working Parents and the History of Orphanages

Jessie B. Ramey

This innovative study examines the development of institutional child care from 1878 to 1929, based on a comparison of two "sister" orphanages in Pittsburgh: the all-white United Presbyterian Orphan's Home and the all-black Home for Colored Children. Drawing on quantitative analysis of the records of more than 1,500 children living at the two orphanages, as well as census data, city logs, and contemporary social science surveys, this study raises new questions about the role of child care in constructing and perpetrating social inequality in the United States.

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Chocolate and Corn Flour

History, Race, and Place in the Making of “Black” Mexico

Laura A. Lewis

Located on Mexico's Pacific coast in a historically black part of the Costa Chica region, the town of San Nicolás has been identified as a center of Afromexican culture by Mexican cultural authorities, journalists, activists, and foreign anthropologists. The majority of the town's residents, however, call themselves morenos (black Indians). In Chocolate and Corn Flour, Laura A. Lewis explores the history and contemporary culture of San Nicolás, focusing on the ways that local inhabitants experience and understand race, blackness, and indigeneity, as well as on the cultural values that outsiders place on the community and its residents. Drawing on more than a decade of fieldwork, Lewis offers a richly detailed and subtle ethnography of the lives and stories of the people of San Nicolás, including community residents who have migrated to the United States. San Nicoladenses, she finds, have complex attitudes toward blackness—as a way of identifying themselves and as a racial and cultural category. They neither consider themselves part of an African diaspora nor deny their heritage. Rather, they acknowledge their hybridity and choose to identify most deeply with their community.

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Chocolate City

A History of Race and Democracy in the Nation's Capital

Chris Myers Asch

Monumental in scope and vividly detailed, Chocolate City tells the tumultuous, four-century story of race and democracy in our nation's capital. Emblematic of the ongoing tensions between America's expansive democratic promises and its enduring racial realities, Washington often has served as a national battleground for contentious issues, including slavery, segregation, civil rights, the drug war, and gentrification. But D.C. is more than just a seat of government, and authors Chris Myers Asch and George Derek Musgrove also highlight the city's rich history of local activism as Washingtonians of all races have struggled to make their voices heard in an undemocratic city where residents lack full political rights.

Tracing D.C.'s massive transformations--from a sparsely inhabited plantation society into a diverse metropolis, from a center of the slave trade to the nation's first black-majority city, from "Chocolate City" to "Latte City--Asch and Musgrove offer an engaging narrative peppered with unforgettable characters, a history of deep racial division but also one of hope, resilience, and interracial cooperation.

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City in a Garden

Environmental Transformations and Racial Justice in Twentieth-Century Austin, Texas

Andrew M. Busch

The natural beauty of Austin, Texas, has always been central to the city's identity. From the beginning, city leaders, residents, planners, and employers consistently imagined Austin as a natural place, highlighting the region's environmental attributes as they marketed the city and planned for its growth. Yet, as Austin modernized and attracted an educated and skilled labor force, the demand to preserve its natural spaces was used to justify economic and racial segregation. This effort to create and maintain a "city in a garden" perpetuated uneven social and economic power relationships throughout the twentieth century.

In telling Austin's story, Andrew M. Busch invites readers to consider the wider implications of environmentally friendly urban development. While Austin's mainstream environmental record is impressive, its minority groups continue to live on the economic, social, and geographic margins of the city. By demonstrating how the city's midcentury modernization and progressive movement sustained racial oppression, restriction, and uneven development in the decades that followed, Busch reveals the darker ramifications of Austin's green growth.

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City Kids

Transforming Racial Baggage

By Maria Kromidas

City Kids profiles fifth-graders in one of New York City’s most diverse public schools, detailing how they collectively developed a sophisticated understanding of race that challenged many of the stereotypes, myths, and commonplaces they had learned from mainstream American culture. Drawing from more than a year of close observations and interviews with students, anthropologist Maria Kromidas not only examines how we can best support children’s antiracist practices, but also considers what they might have to teach us.

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Civil Racism

The 1992 Los Angeles Rebellion and the Crisis of Racial Burnout

Lynn Mie Itagaki

The 1992 Los Angeles rebellion, also known as the Rodney King riots, followed the acquittal of four police officers who had been charged with assault and the use of excessive force against a Black motorist. The violence included widespread looting and destruction of stores, many of which were owned or operated by Korean Americans in neighborhoods that were predominantly Black and Latina/o. Civil Racism examines a range of cultural reactions to the “riots” anchored by calls for a racist civility, a central component of the aesthetics and politics of the post–civil rights era.

Lynn Mie Itagaki argues that the rebellion interrupted the rhetoric of “civil racism,” which she defines as the preservation of civility at the expense of racial equality. As an expression of structural racism, Itagaki writes, civil racism exhibits the active—though often unintentional—perpetuation of discrimination through one’s everyday engagement with the state and society. She is particularly interested in how civility manifests in societal institutions such as the family, the school, and the neighborhood, and she investigates dramatic, filmic, and literary texts by African American, Asian American, and Latina/o artists and writers that contest these demands for a racist civility.

Itagaki specifically addresses what she sees as two “blind spots” in society and in scholarship. One is the invisibility of Asians and Latinas/os in media coverage and popular culture that, she posits, importantly shapes Black–White racial formations in dominant mainstream discourses about race. The second is the scholarly separation of two critical traditions that should be joined in analyses of racial injustice and the 1992 Los Angeles rebellion: comparative race studies and feminist theories.

Civil Racism insists that the 1992 “riots” continue to matter, that the artistic responses matter, and that—more than twenty years later—debates about issues of race, ethnicity, class, and gender are more urgent than ever.


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