Beyond Discrimination

Beyond Discrimination: Racial Inequality in a Post-Racist Era

Fredrick C. Harris
Robert C. Lieberman
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 376
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    Beyond Discrimination
    Book Description:

    Nearly a half century after the civil rights movement, racial inequality remains a defining feature of American life. Along a wide range of social and economic dimensions, African Americans consistently lag behind whites. This troubling divide has persisted even as many of the obvious barriers to equality, such as state-sanctioned segregation and overt racial hostility, have markedly declined. How then can we explain the stubborn persistence of racial inequality? InBeyond Discrimination: Racial Inequality in a Post-Racist Era, a diverse group of scholars provides a more precise understanding of when and how racial inequality can occur without its most common antecedents, prejudice and discrimination.

    Beyond Discriminationfocuses on the often hidden political, economic and historical mechanisms that now sustain the black-white divide in America. The first set of chapters examines the historical legacies that have shaped contemporary race relations. Desmond King reviews the civil rights movement to pinpoint why racial inequality became an especially salient issue in American politics. He argues that while the civil rights protests led the federal government to enforce certain political rights, such as the right to vote, addressing racial inequities in housing, education, and income never became a national priority. The volume then considers the impact of racial attitudes in American society and institutions. Phillip Goff outlines promising new collaborations between police departments and social scientists that will improve the measurement of racial bias in policing. The book finally focuses on the structural processes that perpetuate racial inequality. Devin Fergus discusses an obscure set of tax and insurance policies that, without being overtly racially drawn, penalizes residents of minority neighborhoods and imposes an economic handicap on poor blacks and Latinos. Naa Oyo Kwate shows how apparently neutral and apolitical market forces concentrate fast food and alcohol advertising in minority urban neighborhoods to the detriment of the health of the community.

    As it addresses the most pressing arenas of racial inequality, from education and employment to criminal justice and health,Beyond Discriminationexposes the unequal consequences of the ordinary workings of American society. It offers promising pathways for future research on the growing complexity of race relations in the United States.

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-817-8
    Subjects: Sociology, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Tables and Figures
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Contributors
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. Introduction Beyond Discrimination: Racial Inequality in the Age of Obama
    (pp. 1-36)
    Fredrick C. Harris and Robert C. Lieberman

    Contemporary racial inequality in the United States poses a dual challenge for social scientists and policy analysts. It is, first, a serious policy problem. Nearly half a century after the peak of the civil rights movement, racial identity remains a significant predictor of class status and life chances. Across a wide range of social and economic domains—income, wealth, employment, education, housing, health, criminal justice, and others—African Americans and other minority groups consistently lag behind whites, with severe consequences not only for the well-being of disadvantaged group members but also for the health of American democracy (Wilson 1999; Hochschild...

    • Chapter 1 The End of “Race” as We Know It? Assessing the “Postracial America” Thesis in the Obama Era
      (pp. 39-72)
      Rodney E. Hero, Morris E. Levy and Benjamin Radcliff

      In his highly influential analysis of democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville ([1848] 1966, 475–76) contended that “democratic . . . peoples’ passion for equality is ardent, insatiable, eternal and invincible.” On the other hand, he also recognized the profound importance of and problems posed by race in American society. Tocqueville emphasized America’s liberal and civic republican political values. But his qualification for race identified what has recently been recognized as a powerful inegalitarian or hierarchical normative tradition that has provided justifications for racial-ethnic and other social differentiation, indeed stratification and inequality, in American politics (Smith 1997).

      It has...

    • Chapter 2 The American State as an Agent of Race Equity: The Systemic Limits of Shock and Awe in Domestic Policy
      (pp. 73-104)
      Desmond King

      The historical infirmity of the American state in ameliorating the nation’s searing racial inequalities is notable. It is even more striking when set against the same state’s gargantuan military, fiscal, cultural, ideological, and political capacities, which have enabled the United States to dominate modern affairs since the Second World War and to maintain legitimacy at home. These raw capacities are described in this chapter as ”shock and awe,” a shorthand for the set of formidable policy measures and resources the U.S. political executive draws on to set the agenda and sometimes to achieve policy priorities (Weir and Skocpol 1985; Posner...

    • Chapter 3 Racial Inequality and Race-Conscious Affirmative Action in College Admissions: A Historical Perspective on Contemporary Prospects and Future Possibilities
      (pp. 105-134)
      Anthony S. Chen and Lisa M. Stulberg

      The racial composition of undergraduates attending American colleges and universities has experienced a far-reaching transformation over the past sixty years. At the midpoint of the twentieth century, most institutions of higher education were racially exclusive, whether by policy or custom. The overwhelming majority of students going to college were white—no matter where in the country they went to school. Of course, African Americans did go to college in modest numbers, but most of them attended historically black colleges and universities in border or southern states. A tiny handful of black students were enrolled in the predominantly white schools of...

    • Chapter 4 Racial Inequality in Employment in Postracial America
      (pp. 135-154)
      Dorian T. Warren

      How do we understand persistent racial inequality in employment in an era of increased African American and Latino political and social inclusion? This question is one of the most significant and enduring challenges in our current post–civil rights, postindustrial, and so-called postracial era: the issue of increasing economic inequality in communities of color. The broader structural transformations of the American economy coupled with the significant decline in union density over the past thirty years have shaped current levels of inequality and poverty in communities of color (Massey 2007). For example, before, during, and even after the Great Recession that...

    • Chapter 5 A Measure of Justice: What Policing Racial Bias Research Reveals
      (pp. 157-185)
      Phillip Atiba Goff

      How does one explain persistent racial inequality in the face of declining racial prejudice? This riddle, which I call the “attitude-inequality mismatch” question (or the AIM question, for short), is the fundamental problem facing contemporary scholars of race in the United States (as well as the rationale for this volume). A related and equally provocative question, however, is this: Why have we not answered this question yet? Racial attitudes have improved from the past half century (Devine and Elliott 1995; Dovidio 2001), but racial inequalities in law enforcement, health care, and education have not seen commensurate reductions during the same...

    • Chapter 6 The Social Psychology of Symbolic Firsts: Effects of Barack Obama’s Presidency on Student Achievement and Perceptions of Racial Progress in America
      (pp. 186-212)
      Valerie Purdie-Vaughns and Richard P. Eibach

      As Frederick Douglass noted when he observed some of the first political achievements of emancipated black Americans, the human imagination is captivated by pioneers. Indeed, popular history is often a chronicle of pioneers: the first explorer to circumnavigate the globe, the first woman appointed to the United States Supreme Court, the first man to walk on the moon, the first successful heart transplant on a human patient. These and other pioneers capture the public’s imagination because they challenge people’s prior beliefs about the limits of human nature or the constraints on what is achievable in human societies. It is this...

    • Chapter 7 Unhappy Harmony: Accounting for Black Mass Incarceration in a “Postracial” America
      (pp. 215-256)
      Vesla M. Weaver

      As Americans altered history in sending the first black man to the White House, another less celebrated record was charted: one-third of young black men witnessed Barack Obama’s milestone under the jurisdiction of the criminal justice system. In addition, 13 percent of black men could not cast a vote, as they were disenfranchised owing to a past or current criminal record (The Sentencing Project 2009).

      Why, during an era of formal equality, do large disparities in imprisonment persist? Why did disparities grow from a more equal criminal justice system? Why, in the aftermath of one of the largest rights expansions,...

    • Chapter 8 The “Stickiness” of Race in an Era of Mass Incarceration
      (pp. 257-274)
      Devah Pager

      In the summer of 2009, the Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. was unceremoniously arrested at his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, when police mistook him for a burglar. The flurry of media attention, culminating with a “beer summit” hosted by President Obama, revived longstanding debates about the prevalence of racial profiling and the degree to which deeply entrenched associations between blackness and criminality continue to shape the opportunities and experiences of African Americans today.

      In many ways, the Gates incident tapped into one of the most “sticky” features of race in contemporary America. Blacks in this country have long been...

    • Chapter 9 The Ghetto Tax: Auto Insurance, Postal Code Profiling, and the Hidden History of Wealth Transfer
      (pp. 277-316)
      Devin Fergus

      In the recent health care debate, President Obama and his conservative critics such as George Will found rare common ground by appropriating auto insurance as the model for health insurance, whose reform the president called “key to turning around the economy” (Associated Press 2009). For African American and Latino consumers, however, holding up auto insurance as a triumph is a deeply troubling rewriting of history, one that buries from public memory the hidden consumer tax inner-city and inner-ring city motorists—disproportionately female, African American, and Latino—have paid since the 1970s, when auto insurance became mandatory in most states. This...

    • Chapter 10 Racial Segregation and the Marketing of Health Inequality
      (pp. 317-348)
      Naa Oyo A. Kwate

      The dismantling of state-sanctioned discrimination substantiates in the American imagination the notion of a postracial world, particularly with the election of President Barack Obama. But anyone walking through a black neighborhood knows that the United States is not “postracial.” The persistence of de facto segregation in most U.S. cities reminds us that we have not moved beyond the strictures of race. African Americans stand alone in the level of segregation they have faced for several decades in many U.S. cities (Massey and Denton 1993), and though there have been declines in U.S. segregation over time, they are relatively small (Iceland,...

  11. Index
    (pp. 349-362)