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RACE & ETHNICITY
In 1986, Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone remarked that the average American intellectual standard is lower than the average Japanese standard because of the blacks and Hispanics in the U.S. He has often said that the source of Japan's strength lies in its "racial homogeneity." Eleven years later, University of Texas Law School Professor Lino Graglia triggered a firestorm of criticism for his remarks that "Blacks and Mexican-Americans are not academically competitive with whites in selective institutions. It is the result primarily of cultural effects. They have a culture that seems not to encourage achievement. Failure is not looked upon with disgrace."
It has been said that race is the plague of civilization. Even in such supposedly race-blind societies as Israel, the specter of racism raises its head. In the Caribbean islands, social stratification corresponds with shade of skin. In 1977, Andrew Young, at that time the chief U.S. representative to the United Nations, claimed that a race war in South Africa would inevitably precipitate racial conflict in the United States. Some countries, like Great Britain and Australia, eliminate the potential for conflict by simply denying or severely limiting entry.
However, American society has always been enriched by its waves of immigrants. John Kennedy observed how Alexis de Tocqueville saw the United States as "a society of immigrants, each of whom had begun life anew, on an equal footing. This was the secret of America: a nation of people with the fresh memory of old traditions who dared to explore new frontiers ..."
Here we consider some of the sociological facets of race and ethnicity, and how they are interwoven with other dimensions of social stratification.
ETHNICITY AND RACE: GENERAL INDEXES
MINORITY GROUP = A group typically numerically inferior to the rest of the population of a state, in a non-dominant position, whose members--being nationals of the state-- possess ethnic, religious, or linguistic characteristics distinguishing them from the rest of the population. Typically, members of a minority group share a sense of solidarity and a desire to preserve their culture, traditions, religion, or language. A minority group can sometimes be a numerical majority in a minority group position. Minority group status is not a matter of numbers; it is determined by the presence of distinguishing features such as discrimination. Central features characterizing a minority group are:
The members of a minority group suffer various disadvantages at the hand of another group;
A minority group is identified by group characteristics that are socially visible;
A minority is a self-conscious group with a strong sense of "oneness";
People usually do not become members of a minority group voluntarily; they are born into it;
By choice or necessity, members of a minority group tend to marry within the group."
[Source, A.J. Jongman & A.P. Schmid. Monitoring Human Rights. Manual for Assessing Country Performance. Leiden, LISWO, 1994. 350 pp. + software, p.257 (from Part III:Glossary, which defines some 750 terms).]
"All of Us Are Related, Each of Us is Unique" an exhibit on the illusion of race from Syracuse University
Race and Ethnicity Link Index
Voice of the Shuttle: Minority Studies Page
American Studies Resources on the Internet: Race and Ethnicity
European Centre for Minority Issues [.pdf]
National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
Carnegie Mellon's English Servers humanities texts online: Race
Allyn and Bacon's "Race, Ethnicity, and Inequality" links
Ethnic and Racial Politics Homepage (U. of Utah Course)
Gophers and Information
The World-Wide Web Virtual Library: Migration and Ethnic Relations
International Migrations & Ethnic Relations
Proposition 209 in the News
The only group to have involuntarily immigrated to the United States, to have been forcibly stripped of its culture, African or black Americans has as a group yet to receive its fair share of the American dream. Of those surveyed in a Fall 1995 TIME/CNN poll, 56% of blacks did not believe that discrimination against them would ever diminish (compared to 27% of whites). And while near two-thirds of whites thought that race relations would eventually improve, only 44% of blacks agreed.
But it is worth remembering how much change has occurred in recent decades. Read, for instance, about the 1955 lynching of 14-year-old Emmett Till in Bebe Campbell's "The Boy in the Water" or check out James Allen's "Without Sanctuary: Photographs & Postcards of Lynching in America" (for state lynching rates 1882-1927 click here). As recently as the 1960s, Southern blacks could not even drive on the same road as whites, having to pull over to the side and wait until the road was again theirs. (See the National Park Service's "We Shall Overcome: Historic Places of the Civil Rights Movement") In March of 1995 Mississippi lawmakers finally ratified the 13th Amendment, the one abolishing slavery--130 years after the fact. Click here to see the 1997 Gallup Poll Social Audit on Black/White Relations. Another fact-filled resource is the National Urban League's annual report on the progress of African Americans, "The State of Black America 2000: Blacks in the New Millennium."
The thirtieth anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's death in 1998 produced considerable stocktaking. Take a look at PBS Frontline's page "The Two Nations of Black America", which features economic trends data and interviews with Eldridge Cleaver, Julian Bond, Jesse Jackson, Angela Davis, and William Julius Wilson. Also worth a look is The Nation's "Voices From History," assembled in honor of Black History Month 2000 with articles and resources from over the past 135 years.
Professor James D. Unnever's Sociological Comparisons between African-Americans and Whites
Javanoir's Guide to African American Resources on the Internet
New York Times's "Racial Issues and Identities: A guide to Resources on the Web"
PBS's Frontline's "The Two Nations of Black America"
U.S. Department of State's Office of International Information's Gateway to African American History
Trinity University's 2002 Observation of Martin Luther King, Jr., Day
African American Sites
The Universal Black Pages
AFROLinks Afrocentric Guide to the WWW
Race links from Carnegie Mellon EServer
The African American Web Connection
African American Webliography
Black/Africa n Related Resources (Art McGee's List)
African American Studies Center (Smithsonian)
Atlantic Monthly Forum, "Race In America"
Separate But (Un)Equal--Marking 100th anniversary of Plessy v. Ferguson
The Universal Afrocentric Events Calendar
Meanderings Home Page
The AFRO-American Newspapers Home Page
Cyber City of Elam for African Americans
The Afrigeneas Homepage--genealogical resources
HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES OF THE AFRICAN AMERICAN EXPERIENCE
"Been Here So Long"-- narratives of former slaves
Excerpts from Slave Narratives, Steven Mintz (U. Houston)editor
The Underground Railroad from National Geographic
Frederick Douglass Papers at the Library of Congress
From PBS, The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow: Emancipation ended slavery, but not its legacy
The 1921 Tulsa Race Riot a "conspiracy of silence" has nearly erased this sad chapter in race relations from the nation's collective memory
Taeku Lee's (JFK School of Government) "Black Insurgency and the Dynamics of Racial Attitudes in the United States, 1956-64"
Black Resistance: Slavery in the United States (compiled by Carolyn L. Bennett and Matt Evans)
Digital Schomburg Images of 19th Century African Americans
Mark Hill's maps of percent of states' populations enslaved, 1790-1850
Civil Rights in Mississippi Digital Archive from the University of Southern Mississippi
National Archives and Records Administration's civil rights electronic records
The Atlantic Monthly's "Flashbacks" includes the following articles in its February 12, 1997 electronic issue "Black History, American History":
Frederick Douglass, "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?" (July 5, 1852)
Frederick Douglass, "Reconstruction " (Dec. 1866)
Booker T. Washington, "The Awakening of the Negro" (Sept., 1896)
W.E.B. Du Bois, "Strivings of the Negro People" (Aug., 1897)
Booker T. Washington, "The Case of the Negro" (Nov., 1899)
W.E.B. Du Bois, "The Training of Black Men" (Sept., 1902)
Ralph McGills' reflections of his 1963 interview with Du Bois (Nov. 1965)
Martin Luther King, "Letter from Birmingham Jail: The Negro is Your Brother" (Aug., 1963)
Gale Research's Black History Month's Resource Center, with section on the Tuskegee Experiment
Time.com's Celebrating Black History (2002)
Selections from The African-American Mosaic: A Library of Congress Resource Guide for the Study of Black History and Culture
Black History in Words and Pictures, from the Library of Congress
Chidi Denis Isizoh's African Traditional Religion page
Women and Slavery in the U.S.
African American History from Mississippi State University
Black History Museum -- Interactive Excursions
Isis: African American Women in History
Ex-Slave Narrative Collection
Slave Voices from the Duke University Special Collections Library
366th Infantry Home Page
National Civil Rights Museum
Negro Baseball Leagues
INSTITUTIONAL CASE STUDIES
"History of Race in Science" (project of Evelynn Hammonds, Michelle Murphy, and Stephanie Higgs of MIT)
Brookings Institution Research on Race and Minority Politics
Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, founded in 1970, a non-profit institution that conducts research on political, economic, and social policy issues of concern to African Americans.
Congressional Black Caucus Foundation
African American Newspapers listings sorted by state
DATA AND GRAPHS
African-American Population Statistics
Cardiovascular disease in the Black population
THE WORKINGS OF THE "MELTING POT": INTERMARRIAGE
Certainly one mechanism by which the American melting pot works is through the intermarriages of different racial, ethnic, and national groups. By 1980, according to the U.S. Census, only one quarter of American-born, non-Hispanic whites was married to someone with an undivided ethnic heritage identical to his or her own. Take, for instance, the case of Italian Americans: of those born before 1920, some 8 percent had mixed ancestry, compared to over 70 percent of those born after 1970.
The melting pot has not, however, melded that many unions across racial lines. Roughly 99 percent of African American women and 97 percent of African American men marry one of their race. This is not to deny that considerable changes have occurred in recent decades. For every 100,000 married couples in the United States, in 1990 there were 396 black-white unions, compared to 126 in 1960.
Public attitudes and state laws have not historically promoted biracial marriages. Until the 1967 Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court decision, sixteen states, most of them Southern, had anti-miscegenation laws preventing such couplings. Since 1972, the NORC General Social Surveys have included the question "Do you think there should be laws against marriages between Blacks and whites?" In the 1972-75 period, some 38 percent of white Americans agreed with the statement. By the 1990s, only 18 percent agreed. Looking at levels of agreement by birth cohorts over time, observe that support for miscegenation laws consistently declines the younger the cohort and that cohort consensus remains basically constant over time.
THINKING ABOUT RACIAL STEREOTYPES
The dust has yet to settle from Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray's The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life. Therein it is claimed that the social and economic advantages whites have over blacks is due to their greater intelligence. Among the many shortcomings of the authors' logic and methodology is the simple fact that there is only one species of the human race; it cannot be broken into biological units such as race. Further, in studying the variability of intelligence between those in our racial taxonomy, molecular biologists have found that more than 85 percent is among individuals within the same race.
Nevertheless, most of us hold preconceived theories about attributes of those in various groups and view others through their stereotypes. For instance, three-quarters of African-Americans believed in 1994 that whites are "insensitive to other people" and 42 percent said that Asian-Americans are "unscrupulously crafty and devious in business" (Harper's Magazine, 1994). Stereotyping is undoubtedly a natural process, used by individuals to simplify the world and to make life somewhat predictable. Nevertheless, we always need to remember the maxim of W.I. Thomas that if people believe something to be true it will be true in its consequences.
Let's examine Americans' perceptions of the intelligence of whites and blacks. In 1990, the National Opinion Research Center asked a random sample of non- institutionalized, English-speaking Americans 18 years of age and older a series of questions dealing with characteristics of various racial and ethnic groups. Included were the following: Do the people in the following groups tend to be unintelligent (1) or do they tend to be intelligent (7)? Whites? The intelligence of Blacks? Here analyzed are the differences in intelligence scores given by white and black Americans. If, for instance, a person gave an intelligence score of 4 for whites and 4 for blacks, then that person sees no racial difference; if one scores whites as 4 and blacks as 5 then that person sees blacks as generally being more intelligent than whites. Presented in the graphs below are the mean difference scores given by whites and blacks broken down by age and by education.
Click here to see
Stereotypes of blacks' and whites' IQ by race and age
Stereotypes of blacks' and white's IQ by race and education
How do you interpret these correlations? Consider framing them in terms of Derrick Bell's ("Dr. King's Legacy: A Help or Harm in the Racial Struggle?" Trinity's Martin Luther King keynote speech presented on Jan. 17, 2000) thesis that blacks are the key societal glue, the social stabilizers, of American society as they are always perceived to be below everyone else. Even the poorest whites still see themselves better than blacks and thus do not agitate the system for social change. And the new immigrants from Asia and Latin America have learned this mindset as well. In sum, without racism the American melting pot does not work.
To investigate how racism might take the fizz out of class conflict, consider the following table from the GSS:
% WHITES AGREEING THAT "LARGE DIFFERENCES IN INCOME
ARE NECESSARY FOR AMERICA'S PROSPERITY (n=706)
EDUCATION: HS DROPOUT HS GRAD SOME POST-SECONDARY
4+ YEARS COLLEGE TOTAL
Believe blacks smarter or as smart as whites 34% 28% 25% 16% 24%
Believe whites are smarter than blacks 38% 31% 42% 43% 37%
From the TOTAL column on the right we observe that whites believing that they are smarter than blacks are more likely to agree that national prosperity requires large differences in income--an important belief for a status quo that features one of the largest gaps between the haves and have-nots in the developed world.
As recently as 1950, the Census counted fewer than 4 million U.S. residents who would fall under the catch-all category "Hispanic" (see Linda Robinson's Hispanics don't exist" on the supposed 17 major Latino subcultures in the U.S.). By 2000 there are an estimated 35.3 million Hispanic people, or nearly 12.5% of the population, and their numbers are growing nearly five times faster than the general public (see Census Brief, "The Hispanic Population") .
For a fascinating article on matters of ethnic identity see Rosario Ferré on Puerto Ricans' identity.
The World-Wide Web Virtual Library: Latin American Studies
National Council of La Raza
U of Texas Center for Mexican American Studies
UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center
The Tomas Rivera Center
Chicano! Home Page of PBS Series
LatinoLink Home Page
Latin American Economic Data Bank
Things Latino-CyberRaza from EgoWeb-Ain't I beautiful?
CLNET Home Page
The Hispanic/Latino Telaranya
Rubén Martínez and Joseph Rodríguez's "The New Americans"
HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES OF THE
HISPANIC AMERICAN EXPERIENCE
Hispanic America USA
The Census Bureau reported in 1990 that the Asian population grew nearly seven times as fast as the general American population and three times as fast as the black population. Nearly 23% of Asian-Americans are of Chinese heritage and about 19%, or 1.4 million people, trace their roots to the Philippines. Japanese-Americans, who in 1960 represented 52% of the Asian-American population, now represent 11.7%, just ahead of East Indians, at 11.2%, and Koreans, at 10.9%.
Asian-Nation "an exploration of the historical, political, social, economic, and cultural elements and issues that make up today's Asian American community" maintained by C.N. Le
Robert Irie's Asian American Resources
Arthur Hu's Asian American indices of diversity: a wealth of statistics and press clippings
Philippine News, USA
KOREA CONNECTION NETWORK
CKAC's Home Page
CAL Internet Korea Directory
HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES OF THE ASIAN AMERICAN EXPERIENCE
The Japanese American Internment
"Suffering Under a Great Injustice" Ansel Adams's Photographs of Japanese-American Internment at Manzanar from the Library of Congress's American Memory
A More Perfect Union: Japanese Americans and the U.S. Constitution from the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History
War Relocation Authority Camps in Arizona, 1942-1946 "In this era of renewed concern over the potential impact of racial profiling, the University of Arizona Library's exhibit on the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II is a well-timed reminder of the inanity of such actions, to say nothing of their disruptiveness in the lives of (otherwise) ordinary American citizens." The Scout Report, January 18, 2002
National Association of Arab Americans
Native American Home Pages by Lisa Mitten, University of Pittsburgh.
NativeWeb Home Page "Resources for Indigenous Cultures around the World"
American Indian Resources from Will Karkavelas of Osaka University
The American Indian Quarterly
Native American Indian: Art, Culture, Education, History, Science
The People's Paths
Native American Links
Indigenous Peoples' Literature
Burning Feather's Native American Information Pages
NW Indian Fisheries Commission
HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES & IMAGES
National Museum of American Indian
Mark Hill's map of Indian Battles, 1846-90
Phil Konstantin's On This Date in North American Indian History
Troy Johnson's American Indian History and Related Issues
Historical Archive Collection of Nez Perce People, Lands & "Americana" Photos
NW Coast Indian History
American Indians of the Pacific Northwest--from American Memory/Library of Congress
Edward Curtis's The North American Indians Photographic Images--from American Memory/Library of Congress