166 posts categorized "Race and Ethnicity"

September 13, 2021

James Loewen and the Sociology of Sundown Towns

Colby King author photoBy Colby King

Sociologist James Loewen passed away on Thursday, August 19 at the age of 79. In an obituary in the New York Times, he is described as a “civil rights champion who took high school teachers and textbook publishers to task for distorting American history, particularly the struggle of Black people in the South, by oversimplifying their experience and omitting the ugly parts.”

Loewen first worked as a professor at Tougaloo College, a historically black college in Mississippi. He later worked at the University of Vermont, and as a visiting professor at Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.

Loewen is probably most famous for his book Lies My Teacher Told Me, which my friend Myron Strong writes about here. Loewen produced other important work as well. For example, Facing South, the online magazine for the Institute for Southern Studies republished Loewen’s article “Lies Across the South” from the Spring/Summer 2000 issue of Southern Exposure in an effort, “to deepen understanding of the long movement for memorial justice in the South — and appreciation for Loewen's critical contributions to it.” Memorials and landmarks continue to be sites where we continue to struggle over racism and place character, as I wrote about in an  Everyday Sociology Blog post about the removal of the Confederate Flag from the South Carolina state house grounds in 2015. In this article written 15 years earlier, Loewen emphasized that, “All across the South, from Maryland to Texas, historical markers, monuments, and historic sites get history wrong, mostly on purpose.”

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September 02, 2021

Lies My Teacher Told Me: In Memory of James Loewen

Myron strongBy Myron Strong

In my Intro to Sociology courses, I often recall a story I told students when I was teaching at Little Rock’s Parkville High School in Little Rock, Arkansas while working on my masters in secondary education. While analyzing a canonized text on King Arthur to a group of 10th graders, I pointed to many of the problems centered around gender, class, violence, and history. At one point, I got heated and yelled, “they don’t want you to know this!” The students looking somewhat confused, asked who doesn’t want us to know? Surprised by their responses, I scrambled and replied, “the school board.”

I laughed thinking about it and the story warms me, in part because it reminds me of the book the Lies My Teacher Told Me. James Loewen, who passed away on August 19, 2021, published the book in 1995. It became an instant classic as it challenged the Eurocentric, white, patriarchal, narrow views of classroom texts by presenting an alternative text that corrected many of the myths and lies that are taught by the education system.

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August 30, 2021

“The Right Look”: Emotional and Aesthetic Labor in Ballet

Jenny Enos author photoBy Jenny Enos

It is no secret that jobs are not what they used to be. While Karl Marx’s disturbing depiction of alienated and lifeless factory workers in the mid nineteenth century may still ring true to some, our working conditions have arguably only gotten worse. The so-called “gig economy,” in which steady jobs are replaced with task-based independent contract work, has taken a strong hold in our society. Corporations like Uber, Lyft, and Instacart are making immense profits by hiring only independent contract workers (rather than employees), who are ineligible for benefits and exempt from minimum wage requirements – no matter how many hours these independent contractors actually work. Their argument, of course, is that limiting independent contract work would decrease flexibility and jeopardize the quirks of modernity we all hold near and dear – like ride sharing or food delivery .  

As our economy has expanded and morphed, so has scholars’ understanding of what “labor” actually means. In 1983, Arlie Hochschild famously published The Managed Heart: Commercialization of Human Feeling in which she details the advent of “emotional labor” in the growing service economy. According to Hochschild, emotional labor is the work we do (usually daily, on the job) to “induce or suppress feeling in order to sustain the outward countenance that produces the proper state of mind in others” (20).

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August 12, 2021

Place Matters: Learning from South Central Dreams

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

Who we are is shaped by the places we live, and we in turn shape these places. This is one of the resounding messages in a new book by my colleagues, Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo and Manuel Pastor, South Central Dreams: Finding Home and Building Community in South LA.

When many people hear the phrase “South Central LA” they may think they know a lot about the area, even if they have never been to Los Angeles. Movies like Colors (1988), Boyz n the Hood (1991), and Menace II Society (1993) brought the collection of neighborhoods known as “South Central” to national attention, painting the area as a bleak landscape of gangs, violence, and mayhem.

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August 05, 2021

Unconventional Combat: Exploring Intersectionality through the Study of Military Veterans

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

When you picture a military veteran, what image comes to mind? A buff young man? An older man wearing his weathered uniform?

Michael Messner’s new book, Unconventional Combat: Intersectional Action in the Veterans’ Peace Movement, gives us insights into the lives of veterans who may not neatly fit into the public image of what a vet “looks like.” In this follow-up to his 2018 book Guys Like Me, Messner shares the often-hidden experiences of veterans: women, those who identify as gender fluid, persons of color, including Native Americans, and LGBTQ+ people, including two-spirit individuals.

These categories, of course, are not mutually exclusive, which is the main point of the book: people’s identities are intersectional, which shapes the way they navigate their relationships with institutions (such as the military) and organizations (like those formed as part of the veteran’s peace movement).

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August 02, 2021

Asian American Hate: Exploring the Intersection of Race and Gender

Myron strongBy Myron Strong

More than a year ago in my post, "Fear, Race, and the Yellow Peril," I explored many of the historical aspects of anti-Asian hate. Racialization of COVID-19 served as a catalyst for the increase of violence that has manifested in mass shootings, violent attacks, shunning, civil rights violations, verbal, and online attacks.

Equally disturbing are that most of the attacks have been directed toward women. This brings to mind dangerous stereotypes noted in the article “From Exotic to Invisible: Asian American Womens' Experiences of Discrimination,” where authors Shruti Mukkamala and Karen Suyemoto explore the consequences of the many stereotypes associated with Asian women. The authors note that Asian women are seen as docile and subservient, overly sensual or erotic ("The Geisha"), the manipulative and untrustworthy "Dragon Lady," or the hardworking, conscientious worker bee.

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July 26, 2021

Who are the Stars at Your University?


Janis prince innissBy Janis Prince Inniss

I will never forget the day Dr. Levine told me that Lillian Rubin was coming to teach at Queens College. I couldn’t believe that he knew her! Or that she would be teaching at my school and I could take a class with her. In terms of today’s music celebrities, he might as well have said that Rihanna, Dua Lipa, or Ariana Grande was going to grace Kissena Hall. Before that conversation, I had read Dr. Rubin’s book Intimate Strangers and marveled at what seemed to be her ability to get into people’s heads and to explain issues that, as a 22-year-old, I was beginning to notice. Even the name of the book captured my attention as I struggled to understand intimate relationships.

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July 19, 2021

Who is Afraid of CRT?

Myron strong

By Myron Strong

Sociologists Rashawn Ray and Alexandra Gibbons recently wrote article for the Brookings Institution noting that the term “critical race theory” (CRT) has been mentioned 1,300 times in less than four months on Fox News. They attribute this to critical race theory becoming a new boogie man for people unwilling to acknowledge our country’s racist history and how it impacts the present.

This boogie man is getting bigger in some of the media and state governments who spread misinformation and propaganda. This plays on the fears of many whites who have not been given the tools to process change, and lack the proper understanding of the historical context for the circumstances of people of color.

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July 12, 2021

Bridgerton: Groundbreaking or Same Old Stereotypes?

Janis prince innissBy Janis Prince Inniss

You’ve probably seen Bridgerton, the sexy Shondaland Netflix standout. If you haven’t, the first eight episodes of the series premiered in December 2020 on Netflix. The series is based on eight books written by Julia Quinn, featuring stories of romance in the Regency era.

This first season focuses on the “market launch” of the eldest daughter of the white Bridgerton family: Daphne is 21 years old and therefore ready to occupy her most important functions and only possible roles as wife and mother. Set in London in 1813, the show centers on Daphne as she and other young women vie for the affections and proposals of men, young and old.

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April 05, 2021

Vaccine Disparities and COVID-19

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

As I write, both of my parents just received their second COVID-19 vaccinations. This is of course a great relief, since they are in their 70s, but their experience highlights some of the inequities built into the scramble to get vaccinated.

While the U.S. supply cannot keep up with demand at the moment, in some countries there is no supply at all. According to UNICEF, and reported by NPR, about 130 countries had no vaccine as of mid-February. In the U.S., the distribution varies quite a bit per state, with some states vaccinating at twice the rate of others. (See this NPR Tracker to find out how your state compares.)

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