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This paper formulates a new model of racial integration for African Americans in the United States, based upon a careful consideration of the weaknesses in previous models. Instead of spatial mixing, this model of integration calls for transformed habits of interaction between citizens in public spaces, as well as a redistribution of power, understood as access to resources and opportunities. Integration along these lines would produce mutual transformation rather than compulsory assimilation. However, this model does not necessarily answer the concerns of integration critics who question the capacity of the United States to achieve true racial equality. Hence, the conclusion considers three significant obstacles to the achievement of integration, and acknowledges that unprecedented, radical transformations would be necessary to lay the groundwork for integration. In the end, both integration pessimism and a renewed commitment to integration are reasonable and defensible responses to our still-segregated present.
This essay explores W. E. B. Du Bois’s evolving sense of disillusionment with the liberal paradigm in an effort to stimulate critical thinking about an American political culture consumed by both the fear and purported legitimacy of private competition. Du Bois always encouraged sustained critical appraisal of an American society torn between winners and losers, the favored and the damned. As his thinking developed into the 1930s, he focused more squarely upon the logic of capital accumulation, or the structural imperative to expand power in the service of private interest, and always in response to a suspicion or fear of the other—the competitor. I suggest that Du Bois’s claims about the racially biased character of the competitive society, as well as his argument, put forth in a series of speeches and writings on “Negro education,” that Black colleges ought to facilitate the critique of this society, may have some normative import today as widespread, often unreflective acquiescence to the principles of competitive liberalism seems poised to exacerbate and further legitimize racial and economic inequities.
School choice is promoted as one strategy to improve educational outcomes for African Americans. Key themes in Black school choice politics are empowerment, control, and agency. Using qualitative interviews with seventy-seven poor and working-class Black parents in Chicago, this article asks: How well do the themes of empowerment, agency, and control characterize the experiences of low-income African American parents tasked with putting their children in schools? Also, what kind of political positions emerge from parents’ everyday experiences given the ubiquitous language of school choice? I find that in their own recounting parents focused on finding a quality school while experiencing numerous barriers to accessing such schools; parents expressed experiential knowledge of being chosen, rather than choosing; and parents highlighted the opacity, uncertainty, and burden of choice, even when they participated in it quite heartily. I argue that their stories convey limited and weak empowerment, limited individual agency, and no control. Their perspectives conjure policy frameworks and political ideologies that require a discussion of entitlements and provision, rather than choice.
This research examines the extent to which negative attitudes toward African Americans influence public reactions to restoring political rights to felons. We argue that race-neutral policies, such as felon disenfranchisement laws, are non-separable from racial considerations, as images of criminals and felons are typically associated with Blacks. Such attitudes produce collateral consequences for felons, hampering the restoration of their full political rights and, ultimately, their citizenship. Predispositions, such as racial attitudes and political ideology, provide both racial and nonracial justifications for supporting these laws, yet, there are no empirical accounts of their relational effects on opinion toward felons’ rights. Using nationally representative survey data, we find that racialized resentment and ideology exert the most influence on the reactions to policies seeking political rights for felons as well as beliefs about the value of doing so. Consistent with much of the literature on attitudes toward ameliorative racial policies, higher levels of racial resentment strongly predict lower support for felons’ political rights among both conservatives and liberals, yet, racial resentment is most influential among liberals. Conservatives exhibit the highest levels of racial resentment, but its impact is depressed more by agreement on both racial attitudes and opposition to political rights of felons.
Sociologists have neglected the politically channeled and racially connected role of leveraged debt in mass incarceration. We use qualitative and quantitative data from California, circa 1960–2000, to assess how Republican entrepreneurial leveraging of debt overcame contradictions between parochial preferences for punishment and resistance to paying taxes for building prisons. The leveraging of bond debt deferred and externalized the costs of building prisons, while repurposed lease revenue bonds massively enlarged and extended this debt and dispensed with the requirement for direct voter approval. A Republican-dominated punishment regime capitalized debt to build prisons in selected exurban Republican California counties with growing visible minority populations. We demonstrate that the innovative use of lease revenue bonds was the essential element that enlarged and extended funding of California prison construction by an order of magnitude that made this expansion a boom. With what Robert Merton called the consequences of imperious interest, this prison expansion enabled the imprisonment of an inordinately large and racially disproportionate inmate population.
Some scholars argue that Latina/os in the United States may soon become White, much like the supposed Whitening of Eastern European immigrant groups in the early twentieth century. High rates of White racial identification on surveys among Latina/os is one explanation provided for this assertion. However, personal identification is but one element of racial boundary maintenance. It is when personal identification is externally validated that it is most closely associated with group-based experiences. This article maps components of the White-Latino racial boundary that may be permeable to White expansion by examining conditions under which Latina/os self-identify as White and report that they are externally classified as White by other Americans. Employing novel data from the 2006 Portraits of American Life Study, this article shows that nearly 40% of Latina/os sometimes self-identify as White, yet a much smaller proportion—only 6%—report being externally classified as White by others. Moreover, logistic regression analyses suggest that for those with light phenotypical features and high levels of socioeconomic status, the odds of reported external Whitening are increased. Interestingly, phenotypically light Latina/os with low-socioeconomic-status levels have low probabilities of reporting external classification as White when compared to their phenotypically light and high-socioeconomic-status counterparts, suggesting that the combination of both skin color and class may be central to the White-Latino racial boundary. Results also indicate that many who report external Whitening do not prefer to self-identify as White. In sum, multidimensional measures of racial classification indicate that only a very small minority of Latina/os may be “becoming White” in ways that some previous researchers have predicted.
Since 1969, the procurement powers of government have been used proactively to assist minority-owned businesses. Originating in the U.S. Small Business Administration, the practice of targeting procurement contracts to minority-owned business enterprises (MBEs) has expanded throughout government and corporate America. Compared to other minorities, Black-owned firms have been the most active participants. Preferential procurement has been controversial for decades, and its effectiveness for assisting bona fide MBEs has been repeatedly questioned. “Front-company” abuses have received abundant media attention; allegations of reverse discrimination have inspired legal challenges; the judiciary has often thrown out procurement preferences targeted to minorities. Less attention has focused on understanding whether racially targeted procurement preferences have assisted minority-owned businesses.
As the multi-billion dollar government and corporate procurement market opened up, employment in Black-owned firms operating in the impacted industries soared. Growing access to procurement opportunities encouraged firm creation and expansion. Government entities operating successful programs actively screened out front firms, eased bonding requirements, downsized and unbundled contracts, and paid MBE vendor invoices promptly. In the process, they effectively lowered key barriers limiting MBE participation in mainstream procurement markets. Well-designed and administered programs succeeded because they created a less discriminatory environment, thus allowing talented entrepreneurs to build large firms. Problems notwithstanding, preferential procurement programs have been highly successful, and this success is a reflection of declining barriers unleashing the creativity of new generations of Black entrepreneurs.
This paper draws insights from the sociological study of residential segregation and the institutional perspective on organizations to examine the influence of the racial and ethnic composition of the neighborhood on organizational disbanding. The analysis, which combines panel data on a probability sample of nonprofit human service organizations with census data, reveals systematic differences: The percentage of Blacks and Latinos in the census tract is positively associated with the odds that organizations surveyed in 2002 had disbanded by 2011 after controlling for a variety of organizational and environmental factors. By contrast, an increase in the percentage of Whites in the census tract decreased the odds of organizational disbanding. Results highlight the effects of the racial and spatial landscape on organizational life chances, with implications for the capacity of the nonprofit human services sector to reach the most isolated and disadvantaged populations.