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Whitewashing Race

Whitewashing Race: The Myth of a Color-Blind Society

Michael K. Brown
Martin Carnoy
Elliott Currie
Troy Duster
David B. Oppenheimer
Marjorie M. Shultz
David Wellman
Copyright Date: 2003
Edition: 1
Pages: 349
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt1pn8hj
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  • Book Info
    Whitewashing Race
    Book Description:

    White Americans, abetted by neo-conservative writers of all hues, generally believe that racial discrimination is a thing of the past and that any racial inequalities that undeniably persist-in wages, family income, access to housing or health care-can be attributed to African Americans' cultural and individual failures. If the experience of most black Americans says otherwise, an explanation has been sorely lacking-or obscured by the passions the issue provokes. At long last offering a cool, clear, and informed perspective on the subject, this book brings together a team of highly respected sociologists, political scientists, economists, criminologists, and legal scholars to scrutinize the logic and evidence behind the widely held belief in a color-blind society-and to provide an alternative explanation for continued racial inequality in the United States. While not denying the economic advances of black Americans since the 1960s,Whitewashing Racedraws on new and compelling research to demonstrate the persistence of racism and the effects of organized racial advantage across many institutions in American society-including the labor market, the welfare state, the criminal justice system, and schools and universities. Looking beyond the stalled debate over current antidiscrimination policies, the authors also put forth a fresh vision for achieving genuine racial equality of opportunity in a post-affirmative action world.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-93875-5
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. Preface
    (pp. vii-xii)
  5. Introduction: Race Preferences and Race Privileges
    (pp. 1-33)

    At the turn of the last century, the African American leader and scholar W. E. B. Du Bois declared that the “problem of the twentieth century” was “the problem of the color line.” Today, as a new century begins, race is still a pervasive and troubling fault line running through American life. We are not divided because we fail to “get along” as Rodney King lamented after the Los Angeles riots a decade ago. Nor is it because diehard advocates of affirmative action insist on stirring up racial discord. What divides Americans is profound disagreement over the legacy of the...

  6. 1 Of Fish and Water: Perspectives on Racism and Privilege
    (pp. 34-65)

    According to a well-known philosophical maxim, the last thing a fish notices is the water. Things that are unproblematic seem natural and tend to go unnoticed. Fish take the water they swim in for granted, just as European Americans take their race as a given, as normal. White Americans may face difficulties in life—problems having to do with money, religion, or family—but race is not one of them. White Americans can be sanguine about racial matters because their race has not been (until recently) visible to the society in which they live. They cannot see how this society...

  7. 2 The Bankruptcy of Virtuous Markets: Racial Inequality, Poverty, and “Individual Failure”
    (pp. 66-103)

    Almost forty years after the civil rights revolution ended, two questions bedevil most discussions of racial economic inequality: (1) Why has deep poverty endured in the black community alongside a burgeoning black middle class? (2) Why do large gaps remain in family income, wages, and employment between blacks and whites? For many people this is the paradox and the bane of the civil rights revolution. How is it, they ask, that civil rights laws ended racial discrimination and left behind an unruly black underclass and substantial racial inequality?

    Most people assume that white racism cannot account for this paradox. The...

  8. 3 Keeping Blacks in Their Place: Race, Education, and Testing
    (pp. 104-131)

    Nothing in the debate over affirmative action arouses so much passion as the topic of racial preferences in college admissions. Many whites feel admissions procedures that take race into account are unfair and counterproductive. They think that admitting African Americans with mediocre SAT scores to elite schools instead of white students with superior SAT scores is obviously the result of a double standard. They also believe strongly that the policy makes no sense when a superior college education has become the major pathway to wealth and status. Students should be admitted to colleges, they feel, solely on the basis of...

  9. 4 Been in the Pen So Long: Race, Crime, and Justice
    (pp. 132-160)

    The problem of crime among urban blacks is arguably the most visceral, emotional aspect of the debate about race in America today. Probably even more than welfare or affirmative action, the question of black violence has fueled a fundamental shift in the debate that began in the late 1960s and accelerated in the 1970s and 1980s. In these decades blacks lost the moral high ground in the eyes of numerous white commentators, including many former liberals. Between the flowering of the civil rights movement and the Reagan years, the image of black youth in particular underwent an extraordinary transformation: the...

  10. 5 Civil Rights and Racial Equality: Employment Discrimination Law, Affirmative Action, and Quotas
    (pp. 161-192)

    For conservatives, affirmative action and other color-conscious policies betray the original goals of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. The promise of a color-blind society was perverted, as they see it, by a succession of liberal political elites and civil rights activists who demanded race-conscious remedies, and by Supreme Court decisions that distorted the original legislation. School busing, affirmative action in employment and college admissions, and the creation of black or Latino majority legislative districts, conservatives argue, are the result of judicial fiat. All these policies were, therefore, imposed undemocratically, and it is no wonder that they...

  11. 6 Color-Blindness as Color Consciousness: Voting Rights and Political Equality
    (pp. 193-222)

    When the Supreme Court ruled inShaw v. Reno, the 1993 North Carolina redistricting case, that it may be unconstitutional to create black or Latino majority legislative districts, the Court cut short a political revolution ignited by the 1965 Voting Rights Act (VRA). The counterrevolution continued as the Court went on to strike down several new black-majority congressional districts created by the 1990 redistricting process. When state legislators began to redraw district boundaries, many conservatives applauded the Court’s halt to race-conscious redistricting. Although the Court insisted it was upholding a color-blind Constitution, its decisions actually hollowed out the principles of...

  12. CONCLUSION: FACING UP TO RACE
    (pp. 223-252)

    Those of us who came of age in the 1960s grew up in a society where racism was overt. It was difficult to ignore or deny; the evidence of segregation was often as stark as the lettering on a “whites only” sign. The visibility of racial discrimination, together with the moral power of the civil rights movement, mobilized people of all races against Jim Crow laws and ushered in landmark civil rights legislation to end it. Divided into black and white, the world was relatively uncomplicated, and the options were straightforward. One favored either integration or segregation.

    The majority of...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 253-300)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 301-324)
  15. About the Authors
    (pp. 325-326)
  16. Index
    (pp. 327-338)