How Race Is Conjured

Posted in Articles, Interviews, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2015-06-29 22:20Z by Steven

How Race Is Conjured


Karen E. Fields, Independent Scholar

Barbara J. Fields, Professor of History
Columbia University, New York, New York

The fiction of race hides the real source of racism and inequity in America today.

In the three years since Trayvon Martin was killed, the realities of police racism and violence, of segregation from schools to swimming pools, and of the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow have returned to mainstream discussions. And now as Confederate flags disappear in the wake of the murders in Charleston, racism is once again at the center of the popular consciousness.

There is a window, then, for the US left to push a deeper and broader conversation about the implications of racism and to build working-class organizations that fight for social justice for all.

But that opportunity will only be open to the degree we can overcome the ideological legacy of the last three decades. Since the 1980s, structural inequality has been increasingly replaced by personal responsibility as the main explanation for gross inequality. At the same time, attention to persistent and structural racism faded, supplanted by a focus on race and “race relations.”

This could not have been possible without the enshrinement of race as a natural category, the spread of the fiction that certain traits define members of one “race” and differentiate them from members of other races.

No one has better articulated why race cannot serve as the starting point for discussions about inequality in the United States — and what we miss when they are — than Barbara and Karen Fields, authors of the 2012 book Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life.

Barbara and Karen were interviewed for Jacobin last week by Jason Farbman, a member of the International Socialist Organization in New York…

Read the entire interview here.

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The Scholar Denied: W. E. B. Du Bois and the Birth of Modern Sociology

Posted in Biography, Books, Forthcoming Media, History, Monographs, Social Science, United States on 2015-06-22 01:17Z by Steven

The Scholar Denied: W. E. B. Du Bois and the Birth of Modern Sociology

University of California Press
August 2015
320 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 9780520276352
Adobe PDF E-Book ISBN: 9780520960480
ePUB Format ISBN: 9780520960480

Aldon D. Morris, Leon Forrest Professor of Sociology and African American Studies
Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois

In this groundbreaking book, Aldon D. Morris’s ambition is truly monumental: to help rewrite the history of sociology and to acknowledge the primacy of W. E. B. Du Bois’s work in the founding of the discipline. Calling into question the prevailing narrative of how sociology developed, Morris, a major scholar of social movements, probes the way in which the history of the discipline has traditionally given credit to Robert E. Park at the University of Chicago, who worked with the conservative black leader Booker T. Washington to render Du Bois invisible. Morris uncovers the seminal theoretical work of Du Bois in developing a “scientific” sociology through a variety of methodologies and examines how the leading scholars of the day disparaged and ignored Du Bois’s work.

The Scholar Denied is based on extensive, rigorous primary source research; the book is the result of a decade of research, writing, and revision. In exposing the economic and political factors that marginalized the contributions of Du Bois and enabled Park and his colleagues to be recognized as the “fathers” of the discipline, Morris delivers a wholly new narrative of American intellectual and social history that places one of America’s key intellectuals, W. E. B. Du Bois, at its center.

The Scholar Denied is a must-read for anyone interested in American history, racial inequality, and the academy. In challenging our understanding of the past, the book promises to engender debate and discussion.


  • Preface
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: Race and the Birth of American Sociology
  • 1. The Rise of Scientific Sociology in America
  • 2. Du Bois, Scientific Sociology, and Race
  • 3. The Du Bois–Atlanta School of Sociology
  • 4. The Conservative Alliance of Washington and Park
  • 5. The Sociology of Black America: Park versus Du Bois
  • 6. Max Weber Meets Du Bois
  • 7. Intellectual Schools and the Atlanta School
  • 8. Legacies and Conclusions
  • Notes
  • References
  • Illustration Credits
  • Index
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The problems with Rachel Dolezal and the social construction of race

Posted in Gay & Lesbian, Interviews, Media Archive, Passing, Social Science, United States, Videos on 2015-06-22 00:25Z by Steven

The problems with Rachel Dolezal and the social construction of race

Nerding Out with Dorian Warren

Dorian Warren, Host and Associate Professor of Political Science and International and Public Affairs
Columbia University, New York, New York

Christina Greer, Assistant Professor of Political Science
Fordham University, The Jesuit University of New York

Allyson Hobbs, Assistant Professor of History
Stanford University

Joseph Lowndes, Associate Professor of Political Sciences
University of Oregon

Dorian Warren talks with professors Allyson Hobbs, Christina Greer, and Joseph Lowndes about what the social construction of race does and does not mean in the case of Rachel Dolezal. Plus, writer and advocate Parker Molloy speaks on what the media gets wrong when it compares the experiences of the transgender community to those of Rachel Dolezal.

Watch the interview (00:50:52) here.

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“Empathy does not preclude accountability:” Jay Smooth on Rachel Dolezal

Posted in Media Archive, Passing, Social Science, United States, Videos on 2015-06-19 20:46Z by Steven

“Empathy does not preclude accountability:” Jay Smooth on Rachel Dolezal


Jay Smooth

Last night, while I was in the midst of making a video on the Rachel Dolezal situation, the news broke of this horrific racist killing in Charleston South Carolina. After much deliberation we have decided to release the video as scheduled, and I believe its core message is still relevant to the moment. But please know my whole heart is with the people of Charleston, Emanuel AME Church, and everyone affected by this wholly unthinkable yet all too American act of terrorism.

Watch the video here.

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Study illuminates why multiracial Americans almost never call themselves white

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2015-06-18 15:31Z by Steven

Study illuminates why multiracial Americans almost never call themselves white


Jenée Desmond-Harris

Look up any article about President Obama that focuses on his role as the first black president.

Go ahead, do it now.

Scroll down to the comments.

I promise you, you’ll find earnest inquiries asking why the president is considered black or biracial when his mother is white. You’ll find people who are sincerely saddened by the idea that he would “reject” her contribution to his heritage. You’ll find people who are legitimately confused about why half black plus half white sometimes equals black and sometimes equals biracial, but rarely if ever seems to equal white…

This is why multiracial people don’t normally identify as white

A new study by Pew Research Center takes a comprehensive look at the experiences of multiracial Americans.  Using a different approach than the census by taking into account people’s parents’ and grandparents’ racial backgrounds in addition to their self-reported race, it concluded that multiracial adults currently make up 6.9 percent of the adult American population.

One of its many findings has to do with multiracial identity, and that age-old question of why mixed-race Americans like Obama and so many others don’t seem to give their white parents’ ethnicity the same weight as their other heritage when it comes to self-description…

The study revealed that people who identify as multiracial say they experience discrimination based on the part of their heritage that is not white. Here’s how Pew explained it in the write-up (emphasis added):

For multiracial adults with a black background, experiences with discrimination closely mirror those of single-race blacks. Among adults who are black and no other race, 57% say they have received poor service in restaurants or other businesses, identical to the share of biracial black and white adults who say this has happened to them; and 42% of single-race blacks say they have been unfairly stopped by the police, as do 41% of biracial black and white adults. Mixed-race adults with an Asian background are about as likely to report being discriminated against as are single-race Asians, while multiracial adults with a white background are more likely than single-race whites to say they have experienced racial discrimination.

This echoes the way Obama has explained why he calls himself black. “I’m not sure I decided it,” he once said in an interview with 60 Minutes. “I think, you know, if you look African-American in this society, you’re treated as an African-American.”

He later told PBS, “If I’m outside your building trying to catch a cab, they’re not saying, ‘Oh, there’s a mixed-race guy.'”…

Read the entire article here.

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One Drop of Love: Written and Performed by: Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni

Posted in Arts, Autobiography, Census/Demographics, History, Live Events, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2015-06-18 01:28Z by Steven

One Drop of Love: Written and Performed by: Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni

2015 TCG National Conference
Theatre Communications Group
Westfield Insurance Studio Theatre, IDEA Center
1375 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio
Friday, 2015-06-19, 20:00 EDT (Local Time)

Produced by Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni, this extraordinary one-woman show incorporates filmed images, photographs and animation to tell the story of how the notion of ‘race’ came to be in the United States and how it affects Cox DiGiovanni’s relationship with her father. A moving memoir, One Drop takes audiences from the 1700s to the present, to cities all over the U.S. and to West and East Africa, where both father and daughter spent time in search of their ‘racial’ roots. The ultimate goal of the show is to encourage everyone to discuss ‘race’ and racism openly and critically. Watch the trailer here. The performance will be followed by a brief discussion with Ms. DiGiovanni.

For more information, click here.

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Prof. Khanna widely consulted in Dolezal controversy

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Passing, Social Science, United States on 2015-06-17 22:41Z by Steven

Prof. Khanna widely consulted in Dolezal controversy

UVM Department of Sociology
University of Vermont

Prof. Nikki Khanna, an expert in shifting racial identities and the social construction of race, has been widely sought after by the media in the wake of the controversy about Rachel Dolezal. Some of the media outlets where she was quoted or appeared include:

Read the entire press release here.

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Mimicry is Not Solidarity: Of Allies, Rachel Dolezal and the Creation of Antiracist White Identity

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Passing, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2015-06-17 21:12Z by Steven

Mimicry is Not Solidarity: Of Allies, Rachel Dolezal and the Creation of Antiracist White Identity

Tim Wise: Antiracist Essayist, Author and Educator

Tim Wise

In a country where being black increases your likelihood of being unemployed, poor, rejected for a bank loan, suspected of wrongdoing and profiled as a criminal, being arrested or even shot by police, the mind boggles at the decision of Rachel Dolezal some years ago to begin posing as an African American woman. Yes perhaps blackness helps when you’re looking for a job in an Africana Studies department, selling your own African American portraiture art, or hoping to head up the local NAACP branch—all of which appear to have been the case for Dolezal—but generally speaking, adopting blackness as one’s personal identity and as a substitute for one’s actual whiteness is not exactly the path of least resistance in America.

And so, cognizant of the rarity with which white folks have tried to pass as black over the years—and in all likelihood for the above-mentioned reasons, among others—many have chimed in as to the personal, familial and even psychological issues that may lie at the heart of her deceptions. Not possessing a background in psychology I am loathe to spend too much time there, but having said that, it strikes me that there is an important, largely overlooked, and quite likely explanation for Dolezal’s duplicity, and one the importance of which goes well beyond her and whatever deep-seated emotional baggage may have contributed to her actions. Indeed, it has real implications for white people seeking to work in solidarity with people of color, whether in the BlackLivesMatter movement, Moral Mondays in North Carolina, or any other component of the modern civil rights and antiracism struggle. It is one I hadn’t really thought much about until I read something yesterday, a comment from one of her brothers (one of the actual black ones, adopted by her parents), to the effect that while Dolezal had been a graduate student at Howard, she felt as though she “hadn’t been treated very well,” at least in part because she was never fully accepted—she the white girl from Montana who paints black life onto canvas, and quite well at that—at this venerable and unapologetically black institution.

…Most disturbing of all, there was another path, however much Dolezal showed no interest in treading it. Whether intended or not, make no mistake, by negating the history (and even the apparent possibility) of real white antiracist solidarity, Dolezal ultimately provided a slap in the face to that history by saying that it wasn’t good enough for her to join…

Read the entire article here.

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How Fluid Is Racial Identity?

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Identity Development/Psychology, Latino Studies, Law, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2015-06-17 15:33Z by Steven

How Fluid Is Racial Identity?

Room for Debate
The New York Times

Heidi W. Durrow, Novelist

Amanda Kay Erekson, President

Angela Onwuachi-Willig, Charles M. and Marion J. Kierscht Professor of Law
University of Iowa

Nancy Leong, Associate Professor of Law
University of Denver

Mark Hugo Lopez, Director of Hispanic Research
Pew Research Center

Kevin Noble Maillard, Professor of Law
Syracuse University

It’s been a busy month for exploring boundaries of identity. Should Emma Stone play an Asian character in the movie “Hawaii?” Is Caitlyn Jenner a “real” woman? Did Rachel Dolezal commit racial fraud? The chatter accompanying these examples underscores a fundamental suspicion of personal ambiguity.

Meanwhile, multiracial couplings and births are at an all time high. People may view themselves as multiracial, monoracial or they change their identity over time. How fluid is racial identity, and where will we be in 50 years?

Read the discussion here.

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Pew: Multiracial Americans Now Make Up 7% Of Population

Posted in Audio, Census/Demographics, Interviews, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2015-06-12 21:16Z by Steven

Pew: Multiracial Americans Now Make Up 7% Of Population

Wisconsin Public Radio
Thursday, 2015-06-11, 16:35 CDT

Aliya Saperstein, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Stanford University

Jennifer Sims, Adjunct Visiting Professor of Sociology
University of Wisconsin, River Falls

According to Census data, only about 2 percent of Americans consider themselves to be multiracial, but a new report out Thursday from Pew suggests that the real number of people with multiracial backgrounds is more than three times that. It also shows that the number of people who identify as…

Listen to the story (00:22:49) here.

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