racecraft the soul of inequality in american life by k fields and b fields n.
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racecraft the soul of inequality in american life by k fields and b fields

“The term race stands for the conception or the doctrine that nature produced humankind in distinct groups, each defined by inborn traits that its members share and that differentiate them from members of other distinct groups of the same kind but of unequal rank…Fitting humans into any such grid inevitably calls forth the busy repertoire of maneuvering that is part of what we call racecraft.Race is the principle unit and core concept of racism“ (pp. 16-17).

Racecraft: the Soul of Inequality in American Life by K. Fields and B. Fields
racecraft cont d

“Racismrefers to the theory and the practice of applying a social, civic or legal double standard based on ancestry, and to the ideology of such a double standard…Racism is not emotion or state of mind, such as intolerance, bigotry, hatred, or malevolence…Racismis first and foremost a social  practice, which means that is an action and a rationale for action, or both at once” (p. 17).

“Distinct from raceand racism, racecraft does not refer to groups or to ideas about groups’ traits, however odd both may appear in close-up.  It refers instead to mental terrain and to pervasive belief” (p. 18).

Racecraft (cont’d)
significance of the work

Historical – exposes intellectual and political schism in the black community, between moderates such as Booker T. Washington and more radical Du Bois

    • accommodation vs. agitation
  • Social scientific – features a new “voice,” more “soulful” than detached
    • Facts alone not enough to motivate change
  • Theoretical – introduces interrelated concepts of the color line, double consciousness and the veil
Significance of the work
slide5

The color lineis multidimensional, manifesting as:

    • “racialized social institutions” (e.g., Jim Crow laws)
    • “symbolic status hierarchy”
    • “internalized attitude”

[See Fig. 7.2, p. 337.]

“The problem of the 20th century is the problem of the color line—the relation of the darker to the lighter races of men in Asia and Africa, in America and the islands of the sea.”

du bois s multidimensional approach to race class
Du Bois’s multidimensional approach to race & class

Nonrational

A

C

T

I

O

N

Color line

(symbolic status hierarchy)

Color line

(internalized attitude)

Collective

Individual

ORDER

Color line

(racialized social institutions)

Rational

the color line as racialized institutions

racialized social institutions: colonialism, slavery, Jim Crow laws, redlining, ‘SAT’ (standardized testing regime more broadly), the War on Drugs, i.e.,

    • drug policy/policing/sentencing
    • ‘differential punishment’ e.g., harsher penalties for possession/distribution of ‘crack’ vs. (more expensive) ‘powder’ cocaine, which is more likely to be used by whites
The color line as racialized institutions
double consciousness

Double consciousness manifests in:

    • the power of white stereotypes on black life and thought (dealing with the misrepresentation of one's own people while also having the knowledge of reflexive truth)
    • the racism that excluded black Americans from the mainstream of society, being American or not American
    • most significantly, the internal conflict between being African and American simultaneously
Double consciousness
consciousness of otherness

Parallels Simmel’s discussion of The Stranger

    • Both Simmel & Du Bois employ “veil” metaphor to convey the sense of separateness among people in modern society
  • The notion of double consciousness can be applied to a range of other social categories considered “other”
    • women, minorities of all kinds, the undocumented, the disabled, and so on
Consciousness of “otherness”
the peculiar sensation of being black in america

“After the Egyptian and Indian, the Greek and Roman, the Teuton and Mongolian, the Negro is a sort of seventh son, born with a veil, and gifted with second-sight in this American world,--a world which yields him no self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world. It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others, of measuring one's soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his two-ness,--an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.”

The “peculiar sensation” of being black in America
anna julia cooper 1858 1964 a voice from the south 1892

Like Du Bois, Cooper emphasized giving “voice” to submerged points of view

  • Argues that categories such as race, gender, and class do not capture, by themselves, the situation of black women
  • The black woman “is confronted by both a woman question and a race problem”
  • Views higher education as the key to ending women’s physical, emotional, and economic dependence on men
    • Sided w/Du Bois et al. in the debate on strategies for black empowerment and equality
Anna Julia Cooper (1858-1964) A Voice From the South (1892)
web du bois vs booker t washington

Du Bois and Washington were on opposite sides of critical political & intellectual debates within the black community, debates that continue, in some form, today

  • Du Bois was radical, Washington, moderate
    • Washington promoted the Atlanta Compromise, a conciliatory approach toward southern white supremacy, whereas Du Bois favored confrontation
    • Washington promoted industrial education in trades for blacks, whereas Du Bois viewed higher education, at least for the ‘Talented Tenth,’ as critical for the advancement of all black people
      • Talented Tenth would be the “vanguard”
WEB Du Bois vs. Booker T. Washington
it begins with colonialism

Once the color line began to pay dividends” through the colonization and exploitation of Africa and Africans beginning in the 15th century, race became central to world history

Africa’s poverty is inexorably linked to colonialism and imperial domination – wealth of the colonial empires of England, France, Germany and the U.S. “comes directly from the darker races of the world”

It begins with colonialism
race and mass incarceration

Recent books by Michelle Alexander (The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, 2010) and Douglas Blackmon (Slavery by Another Name, 2008) argue mass incarceration of blacks today is parallel to enslavement and peonage laws, a new “Jim Crow”

 racialized social institution

In A Plague of Prisons: The Epidemiology of Mass Incarceration in America, Ernest Drucker (CUNY-John Jay) likens mass incarceration to an epidemic and advocates a ‘public health’ approach to the problem

Race and mass incarceration
m ass incarceration trends consequences

Today there are more African Americans under correctional control than there were enslaved in 1850

1 in 3 young African American men will serve time in prison if current trends continue, in some cities more than half of all young adult black men are currently under correctional control (Alexander, p. 9)

As of 2004, more African American men were disenfranchised (due to felon disenfranchisement laws) than in 1870, the year the 15thAmendment was ratified, prohibiting laws that explicitly deny the right to vote on the basis of race

Mass incarceration: trends & consequences
nypd stop and frisk racial profiling

In 2011, 685,724 New Yorkers were stopped by the police, a 603% increase since the program began in 2002

    • In 2002, stops totaled 97,296
  • Of those stopped for street searches

nearly 9 in 10 were completely innocent (neither arrested nor issued summons)

  • 87% were Black or Latino
    • 350,743 black (53 %), 223,740 Latino (34 %),

61,805 white (9 %)

NYPD “Stop and Frisk” – racial profiling?
how the war on drugs gave birth to a permanent american undercaste m alexander

Type of stratification resembles caste, which Weber conceptualized as status distinctions that become embedded in institutions, law, policy

This vast new racial undercaste — and I say “caste”, not “class,” because this is a population which is locked into an inferior status by law and by policy — this vast population has been rendered largely invisible through affirmative action and the appearance of success with, you know, a handful of African Americans doing well in universities and corporations…

Young men of color, in particular, are labeled as felons, labeled as criminals, at very young ages, often before they even reach voting age, before they turn eighteen. Their backpacks are searched. They’re frisked on the way to school, while standing waiting for the school bus to arrive. Once they learn to drive, their cars are searched, often dismantled in a search for drugs. The drug war waged in these poor communities of color has created generations of black and brown people who have been branded felons and relegated to a permanent second-class status for life.

“How the War on Drugs Gave Birth to a Permanent American Undercaste” - M. Alexander
thirteenth amendment to the us constitution

AMENDMENT XIII

Section 1.Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. [emphasis added]

Section 2.Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Passed by Congress January 31, 1865. Ratified December 6, 1865.

Note: A portion of Article IV, section 2, of the Constitution was superseded by the 13th amendment.

Thirteenth Amendment to the US Constitution
weber s e thnic segregation and caste

Status groups may evolve into closed castes

    • Status distinctions may be guaranteed not merely by conventions and laws, but also by religious sanctions
    • Evolution of status to caste is more likely when underlying differences are considered "ethnic“
    • Ethnic segregation grown into a caste transforms horizontal and unconnected coexistences of ethnically segregated groups into a vertical social system of domination & subordination
  • Remember:
    • Ethnic communities are based on a belief of commonality rather than any objective “racial differences”
    • Relationship between ethnicity/race & social status is variable
  • Undocumented immigrants might also be considered an “undercaste,” as lack of legal status leaves them without basic rights and protections
Weber’s “ethnic segregation and caste”
a critique of white supremacy empire

A more radical critique than The Souls of Black Folk

“The Souls of White Folk” focuses on the political economy of race, racism, whiteness, and white supremacy

“the first major analysis in Western intellectual history to probe deeply White identity and the meaning of Whiteness” (Feagin 2003: 11)

A critique of white supremacy & empire
key points

White privilege is invisible to Whites

    • whereas Blacks command “clairvoyance”
  • Blacks can see what it means to be White
    • African Americans are “clairvoyant”
  • Blacks can see both the hypocrisy and delusion of Whites
Key points
white supremacy

white supremacy is the belief that the “white race” is superior to other races and should therefore dominate other races

    • influences institutions, both national and international
    • underpins Western imperialism and the global ‘status hierarchy’ of nation-states
White supremacy
racism and color coding

“This theory of human culture and its aims has worked itself through warp and woof of our daily thought with a thoroughness that few realize. Everything great, good, efficient, fair, and honorable is ‘white’; everything mean, bad, blundering, cheating, and dishonorable is ‘yellow’; a bad taste is ‘brown’; and the devil is ‘black.’ The changes of this theme are continually rung in picture and story, in newspaper heading and moving-picture, in sermon and school book, until, of course, the King can do no wrong,—a White Man is always right and a Black Man has no rights which a white man is bound to respect.” (369)

Racism and ‘color coding’
du bois writngs grow more militant

In Darkwater(1920), Du Bois asserts “the dark was preparing to meet the white world in battle”

“By the God of Heaven, we are cowards and jackasses if now that the war is over, we do not marshal every once of our brain and brawn to fight a sterner, longer, more unbending battle against the forces of hell in our own land” (Du Bois, Crisis, May 1919)

Du Bois’ writngs grow more militant
europe perfected master slave dialectic

“The using of men for the benefit of masters is no new invention of modern Europe. It is quite as old as the world. But Europe proposed to apply it on a scale and with an elaborateness of detail of which no former world ever dreamed. The imperial width of the thing,—the heaven-defying audacity—makes its modern newness.” (368)

EUROPE perfected ‘Master-slave’ dialectiC
conquest in the name of civilization

Whither is this expansion?...How many of us today fully realize the current theory of colonial expansion, of the relation of Europe which is white, to the world which is black and brown and yellow? Bluntly put, that theory is this: It is the duty of white Europe to divide up the darker world and administer it for Europe's good.(368)

 Colonial conquest as ‘White Man’s Burden’

Conquest in the name of ‘Civilization’
colonialism a way out of long pressing difficulties

‘There is a chance for exploitation on an immense scale for inordinate profit, not simply to the very rich, but to the middle class and to the laborers. This chance lies in the exploitation of darker peoples.”

“Here are no labor unions or votes or questioning onlookers or inconvenient consciences. These men may be used down to the very bone, and shot and maimed in "punitive" expeditions when they revolt. In these dark lands "industrial development" may repeat in exaggerated form every horror of the industrial history of Europe, from slavery and rape to disease and maiming, with only one test of success,—dividends! (369)

Colonialism:“A way out of long-pressing difficulties”
the cause of war is preparation for war

“The cause of war is preparation for war; and of all that Europe has done in a century there is nothing that has equaled in energy, thought, and time her preparation for wholesale murder. The only adequate cause of this preparation was conquest and conquest, not in Europe, but primarily among the darker peoples of Asia and Africa; conquest, not for assimilation and uplift, but for commerce and degradation. For this, and this mainly, did Europe gird herself at frightful cost for war.” (bottom, 369)

“The cause of war is preparation for war”
racism and color coding1

“This theory of human culture and its aims has worked itself through warp and woof of our daily thought with a thoroughness that few realize. Everything great, good, efficient, fair, and honorable is ‘white’; everything mean, bad, blundering, cheating, and dishonorable is ‘yellow’; a bad taste is ‘brown’; and the devil is ‘black.’ The changes of this theme are continually rung in picture and story, in newspaper heading and moving-picture, in sermon and school book, until, of course, the King can do no wrong,—a White Man is always right and a Black Man has no rights which a white man is bound to respect.” (369)

Racism and ‘color coding’