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Creating a New Racial Order

Creating a New Racial Order: How Immigration, Multiracialism, Genomics, and the Young Can Remake Race in America

Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 282
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  • Book Info
    Creating a New Racial Order
    Book Description:

    The American racial order--the beliefs, institutions, and practices that organize relationships among the nation's races and ethnicities--is undergoing its greatest transformation since the 1960s.Creating a New Racial Ordertakes a groundbreaking look at the reasons behind this dramatic change, and considers how different groups of Americans are being affected. Through revealing narrative and striking research, the authors show that the personal and political choices of Americans will be critical to how, and how much, racial hierarchy is redefined in decades to come.

    The authors outline the components that make up a racial order and examine the specific mechanisms influencing group dynamics in the United States: immigration, multiracialism, genomic science, and generational change. Cumulatively, these mechanisms increase heterogeneity within each racial or ethnic group, and decrease the distance separating groups from each other. The authors show that individuals are moving across group boundaries, that genomic science is challenging the whole concept of race, and that economic variation within groups is increasing. Above all, young adults understand and practice race differently from their elders: their formative memories are 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and Obama's election--not civil rights marches, riots, or the early stages of immigration. Blockages could stymie or distort these changes, however, so the authors point to essential policy and political choices.

    Portraying a vision, not of a postracial America, but of a different racial America,Creating a New Racial Orderexamines how the structures of race and ethnicity are altering a nation.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-4194-3
    Subjects: Political Science, History, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. List of Figures and Tables
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xiii-xviii)

    a racial order—the set of beliefs, assumptions, rules, and practices that shape the way in which groups in a given society are connected with one another—may seem fixed. Racial orders do change, however. The change may be gradual, as when America evolved over two centuries from being a society with slaves to a slave society, or cataclysmic as when slavery or serfdom is abolished or apartheid instituted. A racial order can change for some groups but not others; the Immigration Act of 1924 denied all Asians and most Europeans and Africans, but not Latin Americans, the right of...


    • 1 Destabilizing the American Racial Order
      (pp. 3-18)

      many americans, like the first two people quoted above, believe that we must recognize, and should perhaps celebrate, clear differences among racial and ethnic groups in the United States. Even if race is “merely” a social construct with no biological basis, it has a huge impact on the quality and trajectory of individual lives and on American society and politics more generally. Whether group boundaries are intended to include or exclude, everyone apparently knows where to draw the lines and what the lines imply.

      But group boundaries that seem fixed, even self-evident, at a given moment are surprisingly unstable across...


    • 2 Immigration
      (pp. 21-55)

      immigration is destabilizing and changing all five components of the American racial order—Americans’ understanding of what a race is, their system for classifying individuals, the relative position of groups, official or quasi-official permissions and prohibitions, and social interactions among groups. It is making each racial or ethnic group more heterogeneous as well as adding new ones to the mix. Elites’ political action more or less accidentally opened the doors to massive immigration; individuals’ decisions to start a fresh life in a new country turned the anticipated trickle into a rush. What the political implications will be remains unclear. The...

    • 3 Multiracialism
      (pp. 56-82)

      soon after the 1965 Hart-Celler immigration act was passed, the Supreme Court struck down laws forbidding interracial marriage in the 1967 decisionLoving v. Virginia.¹ The demographic changes resulting from immigration combined over the next few decades with the new freedom of marital choice to produce a rise in interracial and interethnic marriage. The number of mixed-race children increased as a natural consequence, as did social and emotional commitments to the idea of racial mixture. Advocacy groups politicized these changes in the 1990s by seeking oficial recognition of mixed-race ancestry and identity. As we discussed in chapter 2, the OMB...

    • 4 Genomics
      (pp. 83-112)

      immigration and racial mixture are very old topics in American history; indeed, theyareAmerican history. Genomics is a new topic, whose eventual scientific and social import may rival that of immigration and mixture. TheEconomist, normally sober and cautious, breathlessly describes “the sense of barely contained expectations,… advancing into the unknown,… [that is] both exciting and mysterious.” Its clichéd prediction that the impact of twenty-first century biology will be “for both good and ill” captures well the mix of dire warnings and excited revelations one finds in the encounter between race and genomics.

      A genome, briefly, is “an organism’s...

    • 5 Cohort Change
      (pp. 113-138)

      during a historical era with a stable racial order, participants share a few key collective memories that help explain its origins and lineaments. Opinions about these events and the racial order itself will differ, but many people will note the same moments—in the current racial order, the Selma march, Watts riot, grape boycott, fall of Saigon—as meaningful markers of their political period.¹ When a collective memory fades or fragments, the moral force of the associated racial order is weakened, although behaviors may not change until something impels them into a new channel. Thus acollective racial memory—distinct...

    • 6 Blockages to Racial Transformation
      (pp. 139-164)

      immigration, multiracialism, genomics, and cohort change are separately and cumulatively challenging the racial order of the late twentieth century. But nothing is certain. We have already discussed counter-vailing evidence, events, and laws that inhibit transformation and ways in which transformation may be successful but unappealing. However, we have not yet considered deeper structural conditions that could halt creation of a new American racial order or distort it almost beyond recognition.

      We see four main impediments to the creation of a new order. First, some people will be harmed by or feel great loss as a consequence of change that weakens...


    • 7 The Future of the American Racial Order
      (pp. 167-182)

      sherlock holmes’s observation applies not only to murder but also to politics and social science research. One’s judgment of the nature and trajectory of the American racial order can shift dramatically depending on which evidence is placed in the foreground or pushed into the background. Douglas Massey provides evidence that the United States is on the verge of subjecting undocumented Mexican immigrants “to the harshest, most exploitive, and cruelest treatment that human beings are capable of inflicting on one another.” An equally eminent sociologist, Richard Alba, provides different evidence, showing that “non-zero-sum mobility in the near future [will] allow changes...

  8. Notes
    (pp. 183-212)
  9. References
    (pp. 213-254)
  10. Index
    (pp. 255-260)