I’m trying to study for my Sociology course and I need some help to understand this question.
Write two o more paragraphs answering the following questions:
- Construct a definition of the terms “white privilege” and “white supremacy.”
- Provide an example of each, if different.
- Do white privilege and/or white supremacy shape the lives of Americans today? How?
After submitting your answers, please reply to at least three (3) of our classmates’ posts, pointing out their good points as well as any limitation you see in their arguments.
Your original answer to the questions as well as your reply-comments to other students must be of substantial quality in order to get points. Substantial quality includes a demonstration that you have completed the required readings and videos and thought critically about them. Your answers and reply-comments must be original, use your own ideas and words. Do not copy from any website or written material from another person.
Here are the resources:
Race and Ethnicity
An ethnic group is a social construct and it refers to a social category of people who share a common culture. Ethnic groups develop because of their unique historical and social experiences that become the basis for the group’s ethnic identity. Ethnic identification may be strengthened when a group faces prejudice or is the target of exclusionary practices. Ethnicity gives people a sense of community. Ethnic identification can be voluntary, but most of the time it is involuntary.
A race is primarily a social construct and it is a term used to describe a group treated as distinct in society based on certain characteristics, some of which are biological, that have been assigned social importance.The social categories used to divide groups into races are not fixed, and they vary from society to society.
Racialization is the process whereby some social category, like social class, ethnicity, or nationality, takes on what is perceived in the society to be racial characteristics. Race is thus socially constructed, based on certain characteristics that have been assigned social importance in society by the most powerful group(s) in a society for political and economic purposes. Definitions of race are created and maintained by the most powerful group (or groups) in society and what these presumed group differences mean in the context of social and historical experience.
Racial formation is the process by which a group comes to be defined as a race. This definition is supported through official social institutions such as the law and the schools. The biological differences presumed to define different racial groups are somewhat arbitrary and different groups use different criteria to define racial groups. Most variability in biological characteristics is within and not betweenracial groups.The out-group homogeneity effect occurs when all members of any out-group are perceived to be similar or even identical to each other and differences between them are perceived to be minor or nonexistent.
Prejudice, Discrimination, Racism
Minority and Dominant Groups
A minority group is a subordinated, oppressed, exploited and /or marginalized population. Minority refers to any distinct group in society that shares common group characteristics and is forced to occupy low status in society because of prejudice and discrimination. Minority group status is not a numerical representation, as indicated by the apartheid system in South Africa where Blacks were a numerical majority. Minority groups possess characteristics regarded as different and suffer prejudice and discrimination by the dominant group. Membership is frequently ascribed (not achieved) and members feed a strong sense of group solidarity. The group that assigns a racial or ethnic group a subordinate status is called the dominant group or social majority.
Prejudice is the evaluation of a social group, and individuals within that group, based on conceptions about the social group that are held despite facts that contradict it. Prejudice involves both prejudgment and misjudgment. Everyone possesses prejudices. People who are more prejudiced are also more likely to stereotype others by race or ethnicity, and gender, than those who are less prejudiced. Prejudice is revealed in the phenomenon of ethnocentrism – the belief that one’s group is superior to all other groups. Generally, the greater the difference between groups, the more harshly the out-group will be judged by an ethnocentric individual of an in-group, and the more prejudiced that person will be against members of the out-group.
Discrimination is overt behavior that treats members of a particular group unequally just because they belong to that group. Racial-ethnic discrimination – the unequal treatment of a person based on race or ethnicity-, takes many forms, may be combined with other forms of discrimination (like gender discrimination), and does not necessarily go together with prejudice. Despite legislation outlawing discrimination in employment and housing, the income gap and residential segregation indicate that discrimination is still practiced.
Racism, both attitudinal and behavioral, is the perception and treatment of a racial or ethnic group, (and member of that group) as intellectually, socially, and culturally inferior to one’s own group. Different forms of racism include:
- old-fashioned or traditional racism (or Jim Crow racism).
- aversive racism.
- laissez-faire or symbolic
- color-blind racism.
Institutional racism is negative treatment and oppression of one racial or ethnic group by society’s existing institutions based on the presumed inferiority of the oppressed group. It persists because of the economic and political power that accrues to dominant groups because of their position in social institution. Institutional racism can exist even without prejudice being the cause. It can be seen in persistent economic inequality, in racial profiling and other forms of unequal treatment in the criminal justice system, and even in such everyday activities as sales transactions.
Theories of Prejudice and Racism
Psychological Theories of Prejudice
- Scapegoat theory (Links to an external site.) is based on the principle that frustrations in achieving social and economic success causes dominant group members to vent the resulting anger as aggression toward minority group members. The minority group is then blamed as being the cause of the lack of success.
- The older authoritarian personality theory (Links to an external site.)links such characteristics as a tendency to rigidly categorize other people, the inclination to submit to authority, conformity, intolerance of ambiguity, and the inclination toward superstition to a greater likelihood to stereotype. Some research links high authoritarianism with high religious orthodoxy and extreme varieties of political conservatism.
Sociological Theories of Prejudice and Racism
Sociological theory focuses on explaining racism, although speculation about the existence of prejudice is a component of these theories.
Functionalist Theory: This theory argues for assimilation of minorities for race and ethnic relations to be functional to society. The opposite of assimilation is cultural pluralism, or different racial groups co-existing side by side without one taking on the identity of the other.
Symbolic Interaction Theory: Symbolic interaction theory also studies how race and ethnicity are socially constructed. Also, contact theory argues that interaction between Whites and minorities will reduce prejudice on the part of both groups only when: the contact is between individuals of equal status, contact is sustained, and participants agree upon social norms favoring equality.
Conflict Theory: Conflict theorists argue that class inequality is an inherent and fundamental part of social interaction in all groups, cultures and societies. The current ‘class vs. race’ controversy demonstrates how important class and race are in explaining inequality and its consequences. The theory also focuses on the interaction of class, race, and gender through the intersection perspective, which acknowledges that gender differences are viewed differently within different racial or class groups.
William Julius Wilson (1980:1-2), a noted African-American Harvard University professor, wrote the following in his book The Declining Significance of Race: “Race relations in America have undergone fundamental changes in recent years, so much so that now the life chances of individual blacks have more to do with their economic class position than with their day to day encounters with whites. As the nation has entered the latter half of the twentieth century . . . many of the traditional barriers have crumbled under the weight of the political, social, and economic changes of the civil rights era. A new set of obstacles has emerged from structural shifts in the economy …Specifically, whereas the previous barriers were usually designed to control and restrict the entire black population, the new barriers create hardships essentially for the black underclass; whereas the old barriers were based explicitly on racial motivations . . . the new barriers have racial significance only in their consequences, not in their origins.” The implications of this statement are staggering, for at the very heart of Wilson’s statement is the assertion that race is no longer as important as it used to be. Instead, it is class, or socio-economic status, that determines how one is treated by political and social institutions. Moreover, Wilson has gone on record suggesting that where there was once de jure racial discrimination, there is today only de facto racial discrimination; where there was once overt and intentional racial discrimination, today there is only racial discrimination in outcome. Ultimately, Wilson’s argument is that where race was once a determining factor, today, race has made way for class. To make his argument, Wilson identifies three stages in the development of race relations:
- Antebellum Slavery and the early Post-bellum Era– Period marked by a plantation economy and a caste-like system organized along racial lines. Belief in the genetic inferiority of the Negro race. Thus, this period is one that is properly identified as an overtly racist era.
- Late Nineteenth/Early Twentieth Century – Era of rapid industrial expansion. The shift from an agricultural to an industrial system of production contributed to the growth of a black urban community as blacks migrated to industrial centers. Although blacks entering industrial jobs still received menial pay and discriminatory treatment, a black business class began to develop to serve the needs of the expanding black communities. Also, Blacks benefited from the New Deal and from collective bargaining agreements. Essentially, white workers were dependent upon black workers to negotiate for better wages and better working conditions. This meant, however, that both blacks and whites would benefit, even if blacks were still receiving less pay.
- Post-World War II – Class conflict replaces race conflict. There is a widening gap between working and educated blacks and unemployed blacks and undereducated blacks.
Diverse Groups, Diverse HistoriesRace and ethnicity are formed through a long and complex social and historical process. In order to review the history of racial/ethnic groups in America, I recommend watching the following videos
Attaining Racial and Ethnic Equality
- The Civil Rights Strategy
- Several strategies have been used to achieve greater equality including political mobilization, legal reform, and social policy.
- The major force behind most progressive social change in race relations was the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.
- Based on the passive resistance philosophy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., learned from the philosophy of satyagraha of Mahatma Gandhi, the movement encouraged resistance to segregation through nonviolence.
- The movement culminated in the passage of the Civil Rights Bill and the Voting Rights and Fair Housing Acts of the 1960s.
- Radical Social Change
- Perceiving the civil rights agenda as too limited and slow in bringing about social change, the militant Black Power movement saw inequality as stemming from the institutional power that Whites had over Black Americans.
- Malcolm X, before his break with the Black Muslims, advocated a form of pluralism demanding separate institutions for Black Americans.
- The Black Power movement of the late 1960s demanded self-determination and self-regulation of Black communities.
- It spawned militant movements like the Black Panthers, as well as La Raza Unida and the American Indian Movement (AIM).
- Overall, the Black Power movement dramatically altered the nature of political struggle and race and ethnic relations in the United States.
- Research by Harvard University’s Civil Rights Project indicates that schools are now more segregated than they were 30 years ago.
- Affirmative Action
- The tension between color-blind and race-specific policies is a major source for many of the political debates surrounding current race relations.
- The debate is exemplified in the controversy over affirmative action programs, on whether wide-based minority recruiting and the use of admission slots in education and set-aside contracts on jobs are quotas.
- Legal decisions on the state and federal level continue to challenge affirmative action and related strategies.
- The Legal Defense Fund (LDF) of the NAACP forcefully argues for the preservation of affirmative action.
- In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court decided two cases modifying the 1978 decision that race could be used as a criterion for admission to higher education or for job recruitment as long as rigid quotas were not used. The decisions ruled out the use of a point system interpreted as a type of quota, but allowed race to be used as a factor in admissions decisions, along with other factors.
- The Civil Rights Strategy