99 posts categorized "Race and Ethnicity"

August 25, 2014

Michael Brown, Ferguson, Missouri, and the Invisibility of Race

Peter_kaufmanBy Peter Kaufman

Fans of the Colbert Report are familiar with Stephen Colbert’s long-running routine about not seeing race (here is one of many examples during his interview with Michelle Alexander).  Pretending to be a conservative talk-show host, Colbert often pretends that he does not see race and that we live in a society where skin color is no longer important. He is especially fond of emphasizing this last point given that we have a Black president in the White House.

Although Colbert is playing this role to get laughs from his audience, the sad irony is that the majority of conservatives and a fair number of whites actually subscribe to this point of view.  The idea that race is no longer important in the United States becomes particularly evident when there are confrontations between Black citizens and white police officers. The fatal shooting of Michael Brown, the unarmed Black man who was killed in Ferguson, Missouri, on August 9, offers a prime example.

Continue reading "Michael Brown, Ferguson, Missouri, and the Invisibility of Race" »

June 17, 2014

A Sterling Reputation and the Importance of Impression Management

RaskoffBy Sally Raskoff

Have you heard the many news reports accounting the many issues revolving around Donald Sterling? I’m speaking about the 2014 installment that began in April. (He’s had previous flurries of bad press…)

Mr. Sterling and his wife, Shelly, have co-owned the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team and have many residential investments. He started as an attorney, then invested in residential properties, and was very successful financially. He has published regular full-page ads in the Los Angeles Times (and others) showing his philanthropic efforts to many different organizations and causes.

Continue reading "A Sterling Reputation and the Importance of Impression Management" »

May 20, 2014

Drafts and Objectification

WynnBy Jonathan Wynn

“With the first pick of the 2014 draft, Nick selects Ashley from AP Physics…”

Like many of my fellow beleaguered Buffalo Bills fans, I spent last weekend tracking the 79th annual NFL Player Selection Meeting—the draft—hoping that my team will finally find the pieces needed to string together its first playoff season in 14 years. There was another draft, however, making a lot of news in California.

In Orange County a different kind of selection meeting was happening. Senior boys from Corona del Mar High School gathered at an undisclosed location and in ceremonial garb for an annual ritual. The boys were “drafting” girls to be their prom dates. Although many of the boys claim there is no money involved others say that boys exchange cash to “trade up” to a better position in the draft to select the girl they want to go to prom with. One year a kid paid $140 to draft the girl he wanted to bring to the prom.

Continue reading "Drafts and Objectification" »

November 25, 2013

Race Education at Your Front Door

WinklewagnerFULL By Rachelle Winkle-Wagner
University of Wisconsin - Madison 
Assistant Professor, Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis

After a devastating report about racial stratification in Madison, Wisconsin, the city in which I live, I am thinking a lot about social stratification and the way in which we keep reenacting it. In the report in Madison, the findings maintained that although the city is outwardly progressive, with a major university and many self-proclaimed White liberals, it way may also be one of the “racist cities in America” in terms of racial stratification; over three-quarters of the city’s Black population live in poverty, and there are persistent racial disparities in educational outcomes.

As a White scholar of race in education, I am particularly interested in the “education” that people are getting about race, not just in our formal brick-and-mortar institutions, but in everyday life.  Recently, a woman in a suburb of Detroit, Renisha McBride, had a car accident in the middle of the night. Unarmed, and needing help, she knocked on a door of a suburban White homeowner, and she was shot in the head. Since then, the homeowner has made a claim that the shooting was “justified” because he feared for his safety. While the homeowner is facing murder and manslaughter charges, his case is likely to rest on whether he was “reasonable” to shoot an unarmed Black woman in the face.  

Continue reading "Race Education at Your Front Door" »

November 22, 2013

Football and the Performance of Race

WynnBy Jonathan Wynn

The discussion of the Jonathan Martin/Ritchie Incognito case would be incomplete without mention of its racial components.

It was somewhat unsurprising that even after news of his alleged harassment that Dolphins teammates rallied around Incognito. He seemed to be a team leader, and well liked for his puckish demeanor. What was surprising was the way they did it. The Miami Herald detailed a series of player reactions to the Incognito’s alleged racism with all voices claiming that he wasn’t racist. He is, to them, an “honorary black man.”

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November 18, 2013

The Sociology of Harassment

WynnBy Jonathan Wynn

Last year I wrote about pranks and I have received several phone calls over the last two weeks from sports radio folks wanting me to talk about the alarming story coming out of the Miami Dolphins football team. These talk radio guys seem to want to know: “Isn’t a prank just a prank?” The answer has to do with power, institutions, masculinity in sports and, in this case, race.

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November 07, 2013

Racism on College Campuses

Peter_kaufmanBy Peter Kaufman

 A few weeks ago there was a racist incident on my campus. In one of the resident Racist msghalls, a message was written on a whiteboard that said, “Emmett Till Deserved to Die.” After the message was removed a new message appeared shortly thereafter that said, “You Can’t Erase the Truth.”

Unless you know the story of Emmett Till, you are probably unaware of how hateful and threatening this racist message is. For those who didn’t learn this story in history class (which is probably most of us), Emmett Till was  fourteen years old when he was kidnapped and brutally murdered in Mississippi in 1955 for allegedly talking to a white woman.

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October 18, 2013

Redskins, Blackskins, Brownskins, Whiteskins: Race and Team Mascots

Peter_kaufmanBy Peter Kaufman 

This is a busy and stressful time to be President of the United States: The government was until recently shutdown, he’s facing an impasse with Congressional Republicans, the on-going violence in Syria (not to mention the rest of the Middle East), the recent commando raids in Libya and Somalia, the early snags of the Affordable Care Act (i.e., Obamacare), and the naming of the new chief of the Federal Reserve. Despite all of this, President Obama found time recently to weigh in on a matter that many Americans are probably more familiar with than most of these other current events: The Washington Redskins football team mascot.  

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September 04, 2013

White Privilege and Orange is the New Black

WynnBy Jonathan Wynn 

Summertime’s for fun and relaxation, but unfortunately the switch controlling the sociology part of my brain rarely turns off. So when I watched the Netflix show, Orange is the New Black, a few gears turned in my head. If you didn’t see it or read the book, you might want to look it up. Race. Class. Gender. Culture. Mental health. Deviance. Religion. Drugs. It’s a streaming Intro to Sociology class ready for unpacking!

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August 30, 2013

Good Times and Social Problems

Pratt-HarrisPhotoBy Natasha C. Pratt-Harris, Assistant Professor & Criminal Justice Program Coordinator
Department of Sociology & Anthropology, Morgan State University      

When I was a college student, I scheduled classes around syndicated episodes of Good Times, a 1970s sitcom about the intact African American Evans family of five who lived in a housing project on the south side of Chicago. Although the show had been off the air for nearly 15 years and I had watched every episode, I found myself running back to my dorm room between classes to watch the show. 

I am sure that if YouTube or a smart phone were around then, I would have had more ease in satisfying my Good Times fix.  While I thought I was being purely entertained, I was an evolving sociologist who was experiencing social problems on the tube.  My near-obsession with the show made sense when I became a professor.  When I teach social problems in the classroom, I often discuss the Good Times story lines.  I had come to realize that what I once thought was purely humorous could become a tool in an online class. 

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