Preface: This was written in 2015, and I notice I reference declines in ‘overt racism’ (taken from a 2011 article). I wonder if the author of the original article still feels that overt racism is on the decline?
A Summarization of:
Somewhere between Jim Crow & Post-Racialism: Reflections on the Racial Divide
In his article, Lawrence D. Bobo discusses race relations and racism between white and black Americans today in a context that explores both the history of race relations and current perspectives.
Bobo describes the changes made in 1965 and after as a result of the civil rights movement and the continuing decline of what he calls ‘Jim Crow racism’, or very overt racism that was a common feature of American culture for a good portion of the twentieth century such as discriminatory housing practices and segregation.
Bobo suggests that despite the policies put in place as a result of the Civil Rights movement to eliminate discrimination and inequality, it has not completely disappeared but rather taken on more subtle forms. Economic inequalities still exist to a large degree, negative perceptions of people based on skin color still exist, inferior access to education, and the criminal justice system is biased in such a way that we are seeing a disproportionate number of black people being incarcerated (Bobo, 2011).
On the positive side of things, though, there is a growing middle class among black Americans, a decrease in overt racism, and a growing number of black Americans who are filling a variety of important roles within our society (Bobo, 2011).
It is a relevant topic discussion to have now in particular due to the erupting tensions that have been occurring in response to racially motivated police brutality or in response to the murders in South Carolina. Right now, race relations are a hot-button issue as African-Americans and others attempt to draw attention to the inequalities that are still very present in our culture while others make attempts at denying the issue or insinuating that African-Americans are exaggerating. This is not a new attitude, as Bobo mentions it in his article describing it as a perspective that describes “black complaints and grievances…as well-worn tales…if not now pointedly false assessments” (Bobo, 2011).
Statistically speaking, the evidence tends to point towards the gaps between white and black Americans being very real, and, in some areas, they are widening. An article provided by The New York Times cites statistics pointing towards the gap in unemployment and in educational attainment between black and white Americans as one that has widened over the years (Irwin, 2014).
There are no quick fixes to the issue of racism in America, unfortunately. The biggest step citizens of this country could make at this point would be acknowledging that problem exists rather than dismissing claims of discrimination as false. The Harvard Implicit Association Test has shown that 70% of participants have a preference for white people over black (Tierney, 2008). Rather than calling African-Americans liars when they share their experience or trying to draw attention to white experiences, it might prove beneficial if people were willing to simply listen and accept what is being said. The biggest barrier we have to progress right now is denial, and until we can get over that hurdle we cannot hope to move past today’s issues with racism.
Bobo, L. (2011). Somewhere between Jim Crow & Post-Racialism: Reflections on the Racial Divide in America Today. Daedalus, 140(2), 11-36.
Irwin, N., Miller, C., & Sanger-katz, M. (2014, August 19). America’s Racial Divide, Charted. Retrieved June 27, 2015, from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/20/upshot/americas-racial-divide-charted.html?_r=0&abt=0002&abg=1
Tierney, J. (2008, November 18). A Shocking Test of Bias. Retrieved June 27, 2015, from http://tierneylab.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/11/18/a-shocking-test-of-bias/?_r=0
Take the race implicit association test here: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/user/agg/blindspot/indexrk.htm