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A Change Did Come
In Houston, as in the rest of the American South up until the 1950s, the police force reflected and enforced the segregation of the larger society. When the nation began to change in the 1950s and 1960s, this guardian of the status quo had to change, too. It was not designed to do so easily. Dwight Watson traces how the Houston Police Department reacted to social, political, and institutional change over a fifty-year period—and specifically, how it responded to and in turn influenced racial change. Using police records as well as contemporary accounts, Watson astutely analyzes the escalating strains between the police and segments of the city’s black population in the 1967 police riot at Texas Southern University and the 1971 violence that became known as the Dowling Street Shoot-Out. The police reacted to these events and to daily challenges by hardening its resolve to impose its will on the minority community. By 1977, the events surrounding the beating and drowning of Jose Campos Torres while in police custody prompted one writer to label the HPD the “meanest police in America.” This event encouraged Houston’s growing Mexican American community to unite with blacks in seeking to curb police autonomy and brutality. Watson’s study demonstrates vividly how race complicated the internal impulses for change and gave way through time to external pressures—including the Civil Rights Movement, modernization, annexations, and court-ordered redistricting—for institutional changes within the department. His work illuminates not only the role of a southern police department in racial change but also the internal dynamics of change in an organization designed to protect the status quo.
Black Literature from James Weldon Johnson to Percival Everett
What effect has the black literary imagination attempted to have on, in Toni Morrison’s words, "a race of readers that understands itself to be ‘universal’ or race-free"? How has black literature challenged the notion that reading is a race-neutral act? Race and the Literary Encounter takes as its focus several modern and contemporary African American narratives that not only narrate scenes of reading but also attempt to intervene in them. The texts interrupt, manage, and manipulate, employing thematic, formal, and performative strategies in order to multiply meanings for multiple readers, teach new ways of reading, and enable the emergence of antiracist reading subjects. Analyzing works by James Weldon Johnson, Zora Neale Hurston, Ralph Ellison, Jamaica Kincaid, Percival Everett, Sapphire, and Toni Morrison, Lesley Larkin covers a century of African American literature in search of the concepts and strategies that black writers have developed in order to address and theorize a diverse audience, and outlines the special contributions modern and contemporary African American literature makes to the fields of reader ethics and antiracist literary pedagogy.
The Vision of a More Perfect Multiracial Union
The concept of a more perfect union remains a constant theme in the political rhetoric of Barack Obama. From his now historic race speech to his second victory speech delivered on November 7, 2012, that striving is evident. "Tonight, more than two hundred years after a former colony won the right to determine its own destiny, the task of perfecting our union moves forward," stated the forty-fourth president of the United States upon securing a second term in office after a hard fought political contest. Obama borrows this rhetoric from the founding documents of the United States set forth in the U.S. Constitution and in Abraham Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address."
How naive or realistic is Obama's vision of a more perfect American union that brings together people across racial, class, and political lines? How can this vision of a more inclusive America be realized in a society that remains racist at its core? These essays seek answers to these complicated questions by examining the 2008 and 2012 elections as well as the events of President Obama's first term. Written by preeminent race scholars from multiple disciplines, the volume brings together competing perspectives on race, gender, and the historic significance of Obama's election and reelection. The president heralded in his November, 2012, acceptance speech, "The idea that if you're willing to work hard, it doesn't matter who you are, or where you come from, or what you look like . . . . whether you're black or white, Hispanic or Asian or Native American." These essayists argue the truth of that statement and assess whether America has made any progress toward that vision.
It's hard to imagine discussing welfare policy without discussing race, yet all too often this uncomfortable factor is avoided or simply ignored. Sometimes the relationship between welfare and race is treated as so self-evident as to need no further attention; equally often, race in the context of welfare is glossed over, lest it raise hard questions about racism in American society as a whole. Either way, ducking the issue misrepresents the facts and misleads the public and policy-makers alike. Many scholars have addressed specific aspects of this subject, but until now there has been no single integrated overview. Race and the Politics of Welfare Reform is designed to fill this need and provide a forum for a range of voices and perspectives that reaffirm the key role race has played--and continues to play--in our approach to poverty. The essays collected here offer a systematic, step-by-step approach to the issue. Part 1 traces the evolution of welfare from the 1930s to the sweeping Clinton-era reforms, providing a historical context within which to consider today's attitudes and strategies. Part 2 looks at media representation and public perception, observing, for instance, that although blacks accounted for only about one-third of America's poor from 1967 to 1992, they featured in nearly two-thirds of news stories on poverty, a bias inevitably reflected in public attitudes. Part 3 discusses public discourse, asking questions like "Whose voices get heard and why?" and "What does 'race' mean to different constituencies?" For although "old-fashioned" racism has been replaced by euphemism, many of the same underlying prejudices still drive welfare debates--and indeed are all the more pernicious for being unspoken. Part 4 examines policy choices and implementation, showing how even the best-intentioned reform often simply displaces institutional inequities to the individual level--bias exercised case by case but no less discriminatory in effect. Part 5 explores the effects of welfare reform and the implications of transferring policy-making to the states, where local politics and increasing use of referendum balloting introduce new, often unpredictable concerns. Finally, Frances Fox Piven's concluding commentary, "Why Welfare Is Racist," offers a provocative response to the views expressed in the pages that have gone before--intended not as a "last word" but rather as the opening argument in an ongoing, necessary, and newly envisioned national debate. Sanford Schram is Visiting Professor of Social Work and Social Research, Bryn Mawr Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research. Joe Soss teaches in the Department of Government at the Graduate school of Public Affairs, American University, Washington, D.C. Richard Fording is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science, University of Kentucky.
American Women's Poetics from Antislavery to Racial Modernity
Race and Time urges our attention to women’s poetry in considering the cultural history of race. Building on close readings of well known and less familiar poets—including Elizabeth Margaret Chandler, Sarah Louisa Forten, Hannah Flagg Gould, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Sarah Piatt, Mary Eliza Tucker Lambert, Sarah Josepha Hale, Eliza Follen, and Mary Mapes Dodge—Gray traces tensions in women’s literary culture from the era of abolitionism to the rise of the Plantation tradition. She devotes a chapter to children’s verse, arguing that racial stereotypes work as “nonsense” that masks conflicts in the construction of white childhood. A compilation of the poems cited, most of which are difficult to find elsewhere, is included as an appendix.
Gray clarifies the cultural roles women’s poetry played in the nineteenth-century United States and also reveals that these poems offer a fascinating, dynamic, and diverse field for students of social and cultural history. Gray’s readings provide a rich sense of the contexts in which this poetry is embedded and examine its aesthetic and political vitality in meticulous detail, linking careful explication of the texts with analysis of the history of poetry, canons, literacy, and literary authority.
Race and Time distinguishes itself from other critical studies not only through its searching, in-depth readings but also through its sustained attention to less known poets and its departure from a Dickinson-centered model. Most significantly, it offers a focus on race, demonstrating how changes in both the U.S. racial structure and women’s place in public culture set the terms for change in how women poets envisioned the relationship between poetry and social power.
Gray’s work makes contributions to several fields of study: poetry, U.S. literary history and American studies, women’s studies, African American studies and whiteness studies, children’s literature, and cultural studies. While placing the works of figures who have been treated elsewhere (e.g., Dickinson and Harper) into revealing new relationships, Race and Time does much to open interdisciplinary discussion of unfamiliar works.
How Candidates Invoke Race in U.S. Political Campaigns
In our evolving American political culture, whites and blacks continue to respond very differently to race-based messages and the candidates who use them. Race Appeal examines the use and influence such appeals have on voters in elections for federal office in which one candidate is a member of a minority group.
Charlton McIlwain and Stephen Caliendo use various analysis methods to examine candidates who play the race card in political advertisements. They offer a compelling analysis of the construction of verbal and visual racial appeals and how the news media covers campaigns involving candidates of color.
Combining rigorous analyses with in-depth case studies-including an examination of race-based appeals in the historic 2008 presidential election—Race Appeal is a groundbreaking work that represents the most extensive and thorough treatment of race-based appeals in American political campaigns to date.
No issue in American higher education is more contentious than that of race-based affirmative action. In light of the ongoing debate around the topic and recent Supreme Court rulings, affirmative action policy may be embarking on a new path. As an alternative to race-based affirmative action, some analysts suggest affirmative action policies based on class. In Race, Class, and Affirmative Action, sociologist Sigal Alon studies the race-based affirmative action policies in the U.S. and the class-based affirmative action policies in Israel. Alon evaluates how these different policies foster campus diversity and socioeconomic mobility by comparing the Israeli policy with a simulated model of race-based affirmative action and the U.S. policy with a simulated model of class-based affirmative action. Alon finds that affirmative action at elite institutions in both countries is a key vehicle of mobility for disenfranchised students, whether they are racial and ethnic minorities or socioeconomically disadvantaged. It improves their academic success and graduation rates and leads to better labor market outcomes. The beneficiaries of affirmative action in both countries thrive at elite colleges and in selective fields of study. They would not be better off attending less selective colleges instead. Alon finds that Israel’s class-based affirmative action programs have provided much-needed entry slots at the elite universities to students from the geographic periphery, from high-poverty high schools and from poor families. However, this approach has not generated as much ethnic diversity as a race-based policy would. By contrast, affirmative action policies in the U.S. have fostered racial and ethnic diversity; a level that cannot be matched with class-based policies. Yet, class-based policies would do a better job at boosting the socioeconomic diversity at these bastions of privilege. The findings from both countries suggest that neither race-based nor class-based models by themselves can generate broad diversity. According to Alon, the best route for promoting both racial and socioeconomic diversity is to embed the consideration of race within class-based affirmative action. Such a hybrid model would maximize the mobility benefits for both socioeconomically disadvantaged and minority students. Race, Class and Affirmative Action moves past political talking points to offer an innovative, evidence-based perspective on the merits and feasibility of different designs of affirmative action.
This collection of essays offers a comprehensive overview of colonial legacies of racial and social inequality in Latin America and the Caribbean. Rich in theoretical framework and close textual analysis, these essays offer new paradigms and approaches to both reading and resolving the opposing forces of race, class, and the power of states.
The contributors are drawn from a variety of fields, including literary criticism, anthropology, politics, and sociology. The contributors to this book abandon the traditional approaches that study racialized oppression in Latin America only from the standpoint of its impact on either Indians or people of African descent. Instead they examine colonialism's domination and legacy in terms of both the political power it wielded and the symbolic instruments of that oppression.
The volume's scope extends from the Southern Cone to the Andean region, Mexico, and the Hispanophone and Francophone Caribbean. It contests many of the traditional givens about Latin America, including governance and the nation state, the effects of globalization, the legacy of the region's criollo philosophers and men of letters, and postulations of harmonious race relations. As dictatorships give way to democracies in a variety of unprecedented ways, this book offers a necessary and needed examination of the social transformations in the region.
Reinterpretations for the New Century
Bringing together an impressive range of new scholarship deeply informed both by the legacies of the past and current intellectual trends, Race Consciousness is a veritable Who's Who of the next generation of scholars of African-American studies. This collection of original essays, representing the latest work in African-American studies, covers such trenchant topics as the culture of America as a culture of race, the politics of gender and sexuality, legacies of slavery and colonialism, crime and welfare politics, and African-American cultural studies. In his entertaining Foreword to the volume, Robin D. G. Kelley presents a startling vision of the state of African-American Studies--and the world in general--in the year 2095. Arnold Rampersad and Nell Irvin Painter, chart the different disciplinary and theoretical paths African-American Studies has taken since the 19th century in their Preface to the volume.
Debunking a Scientific Myth
Race has provided the rationale and excuse for some of the worst atrocities in human history. Yet, according to many biologists, physical anthropologists, and geneticists, there is no valid scientific justification for the concept of race. To be more precise, although there is clearly some physical basis for the variations that underlie perceptions of race, clear boundaries among “races” remain highly elusive from a purely biological standpoint. Differences among human populations that people intuitively view as “racial” are not only superficial but are also of astonishingly recent origin. In this intriguing and highly accessible book, physical anthropologist Ian Tattersall and geneticist Rob DeSalle, both senior scholars from the American Museum of Natural History, explain what human races actually are—and are not—and place them within the wider perspective of natural diversity. They explain that the relative isolation of local populations of the newly evolved human species during the last Ice Age—when Homo sapiens was spreading across the world from an African point of origin—has now begun to reverse itself, as differentiated human populations come back into contact and interbreed. Indeed, the authors suggest that all of the variety seen outside of Africa seems to have both accumulated and started reintegrating within only the last 50,000 or 60,000 years—the blink of an eye, from an evolutionary perspective. The overarching message of Race? Debunking a Scientific Myth is that scientifically speaking, there is nothing special about racial variation within the human species. These distinctions result from the working of entirely mundane evolutionary processes, such as those encountered in other organisms.