Race in America

Race in America

Race in America Matthew Desmond Harvard University

Mustafa Emirbayer University of Wisconsin-Madison

B� W. W. NORTON & COMPANY, INC. New York • London

W. W. Norton & Company has been independent since its founding in 1923, when William Warder Norton and Mary D. Herter Norton first published lectures delivered at the People’s Institute, the adult education division of New York City’s Cooper Union. The firm soon expanded its program beyond the Institute, publishing books by celebrated academics from America and abroad. By mid-century, the two major pillars of Norton’s publishing program—trade books and college texts—were firmly established. In the 1950s, the Norton family transferred control of the company to its employees, and today—with a staff of four hundred and a comparable number of trade, college, and professional titles published each year—W. W. Norton & Company stands as the largest and oldest publishing house owned wholly by its employees.

Copyright © 2016 by W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. Copyright © 2010 by Matthew Desmond and Mustafa Emirbayer

Previous edition published under the title Racial Domination, Racial Progress: The Sociology of Race in America

All rights reserved Printed in the United States of America

Editor: Karl Bakeman Project Editor: Diane Cipollone Editorial Assistant: Mary Williams Managing Editor, College: Marian Johnson Managing Editor, College Digital Media: Kim Yi Production Manager: Vanessa Nuttry Media Editor: Eileen Connell Media Project Editor: Danielle Belfiore Media Editorial Assistant: Grace Tuttle Marketing Manager, Sociology: Julia Hall Design Director: Rubina Yeh Designer: Anna Reich Photo Editor: Trish Marx Permissions Manager: Megan Jackson Composition: Graphic World Manufacturing: Quad Graphics-Taunton

Permission to use copyrighted material is included on p. A85

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Desmond, Matthew, author. [Racial domination, racial progress] Race in America / Matthew Desmond, Harvard University, Mustafa Emirbayer, University of Wisconsin-Madison. — [2015 edition]. pages cm Previous edition published under title: Racial domination, racial progress. New York : McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2010. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-0-393-93765-7 (pbk. : alk. paper) 1. United States–Race relations. 2. Race. I. Emirbayer, Mustafa, author. II. Title. E184.A1D36 2015 305.800973–dc23 2015033574

W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110-0017 W. W. Norton & Company Ltd., Castle House, 75/76 Wells Street, London W1T 3QT wwnorton.com

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For Tessa



Preface xv

CHAPTER 1: Race in the Twenty-First Century 2 A Cancer 3 American Racism in the Twenty-First Century 6

Five Fallacies about Racism 7 Racial Domination 10 Symbolic Violence 14 Intersectionality 16

A Biological Reality? 18 “Obvious” Physical Differences 19 Athletic Ability and IQ 21

Athletic Ability 21 Intellectual Ability 23

Whiteness 25 The Race That Need Not Speak Its Name 26 White Privilege 27 White Antiracists 30

Race Is a Social Reality 32 Symbolic Category 32 Phenotype or Ancestry 34 Social and Historical Contexts 35 Misrecognized as Natural 35

Ethnicity and Nationality 37 Thinking Like a Sociologist 42

CHAPTER 2: The Invention of Race 46 Modernity Rising 48

viii Contents

Colonization of the Americas 50 The Spanish Conquest 50 The English Conquest 53

The Invention of Whiteness and Blackness 55 Africans Enslaved 57

The Atlantic Slave Trade 57 The Rise of the Cotton Kingdom 61 The Horrors of Slavery 62 Resistance, Great and Small 65 From Emancipation to Jim Crow 67

Manifest Destiny 69 Conquering Mexico and the Invention of the Mexican American 69

“The Indian Problem” 72

Immigration from Asia and Europe 75 The Invention of the Asian American 75 Immigrants from the Old World 77

Racial Discourses of Modernity 79 America’s Racial Profile Today 82 We, The Past 86

CHAPTER 3: Politics 88 The Civil Rights Movement 90

The NAACP 93 SCLC and Church-Driven Direct Action 93 SNCC and Youth-Driven Direct Action 95 Freedom Summer 97 The Selma-to-Montgomery March 99 Other Ethnic Movements 102

Backlash 105 Partisanship and Representation 108

Partisanship and Racial Polarization 108 Political Representation 112 Gerrymandering 113

Voting 116 The Effects of Racial Attitudes on Voting Behavior 116 Principle-Implementation Gap 118 Voter Intimidation and Felon Disenfranchisement 119

Contents ix

Elections and Implicit Racial Appeals 122 The Longing for Color-Blind Politics 125

CHAPTER 4: Economics 128 Economic Racism from the New Deal to Reaganomics 130

When Affirmative Action was White 130 The End of Industrialization 133

Income and Wealth Disparities 134 Income Inequality 134 Wealth Inequality 136

Chasing the American Dream: Poverty and Affluence 139 The Causes of Poverty 140 Black Poverty, Black Affluence 142 American Indian Reservations 145 The Struggles of Immigrants 147

Labor Market Dynamics 152 Getting a Job 152 Racial Antagonism and Interracialism in a Split Labor Market 154 Power and Privilege in the Workplace 156

Welfare 157 Why Is American Welfare the Size It Is? 157 Who’s on Welfare? 158 Does Welfare Lead to Dependency? 159

When Affirmative Action Wasn’t White 160 What is Affirmative Action? 161 Does Affirmative Action Help Those It Was Intended to Help? 162 Does Affirmative Action Hurt White Men? 164 Is Affirmative Action an Affront to American Meritocracy? 165

The Value of Inconvenient Facts 166

CHAPTER 5: Housing 168 Racial Struggles over Residence in Twentieth-Century America 169

The Racialization of Neighborhoods 170 Migration and Urbanization 170 The Origins of the Ghetto 173

x Contents

White Fight and White Flight 175 Urban Unrest 178

Racial Segregation 181 The Role of Economic Factors 183 The Role of Personal Choice 183 The Role of Housing Discrimination 185 The Costs of Segregation 186

The City 188 Unaffordable America 188 Advanced Marginality: The Ghetto 189 Ethnic Enclaves 190 Interracial Conflict: Blacks and Koreans 191

The Suburbs 192 Rural America 194

Colonias and Bordertowns 194 Life on the Reservation—and Environmental Racism 195 The Changing Face of Rural White America 198

Toward an Integrated America 200

CHAPTER 6: Crime and Punishment 202 The Rise of the American Prison 204

The Lynch Mob and the Prison Labor Camp 204 The Prison Boom 206 The Color of America’s Incarcerated 209 Severe Sentencing 210 The Rise of the “Law and Order” Politician 211 Repressing the Civil Rights Movement 213

Fear 214 Criminalizing Darkness 215 Do Immigrants Increase Crime? 217 The Arabization of Terrorism 220

Crime 223 Drug Trafficking 223 White-Collar Crime 224 Violence against Women 226 Homicide 228

Contents xi

Punishment 231 American Police State 231 Unjust Sentencing 235 The Many Costs of Mass Incarceration 237 Do Prisons Make Us safer? 239

Things Are Not What They Seem 241

CHAPTER 7: Education 244 “I Have a Right to Think!”: Racial Battles over Education, 1900–1970 245

The Colonizer’s Education: Indian Boarding Schools 246 “Spoiling Field Hands”: Early African American Education 248 “Separate Is Not Equal”: School Desegregation 251

Whiteness in Education 254 Whiteness in the Curriculum 254 Whiteness on College Campuses 257

Educational Inequality 259 The Role of the Family 261

Cultural Capital 261 Social Capital 264

The Role of Culture 265 Does Culture Help Explain Asian-American Educational

Achievement? 265 The Model Minority 266 Oppositional Culture 268 Stereotype Threat 269

The Role of Schools 271 Students Advantaged, Students Betrayed 271 Tracking 274

Combating Educational Inequality: The Case of Affirmative Action 275

How Does Affirmation Action in Education Work? 275 How Does Affirmative Action Affect Whites and Asians? 276 Is Affirmative Action the Most Effective Program? 277

The Benefits of a Multicultural Learning Environment 278

xii Contents

CHAPTER 8: Aesthetics 280 Race and Art in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century America 282

The Reign of Minstrelsy 282 Voices from the Underground 284 The Rise of Multiculturalism 285

Racial Representation in Art 286 The White Aesthetic 287 The Racist Aesthetic 291 The Antiracist Aesthetic 295 The Promise and Pitfalls of Hip-Hop 298

The Racialization of Art Worlds 300 The Power of the White Gaze 300 The Racial Structures of the Aesthetic Sphere 303 Highbrow and Lowbrow Culture 305

Cultural Appropriation 308 Making Sense of Cultural Appropriation 309 Racist Appropriation 310 Antiracist Appropriation 312

The Sociology of Art, the Art of Sociology 314

CHAPTER 9: Associations 316 The Ordeal of Integration and the Rise of Ethnic Nationalism 318

The Segregated Community 319 Toward Integration: Associational Coalition Building 320 Away from Integration: The Case for Ethnic Nationalism 322

Civil Society in a Multiracial Democracy 325 Racial Variation in Civic Participation 325 Homophily in Associational Life 327 Racial Domination and the Decline of Social Capital 330 Identity Politics and the Fragmentation of Civil Society 332 What Is “Political Correctness”? 334

Hate Groups 336 Organized Racism 336 Who Joins Hate Groups? 338

Contents xiii

Cyber Communities 340 The Digital Divide 340 Virtual Racism 341 Virtual Empowerment 343

Religious Associations 344 Religious Illiteracy and Intolerance 344 Racialization of the Religious Sphere 345 Explaining Racial Homophily in Religious Life 349 Religion and Racial and Ethnic Identity 350

American Promise 352

CHAPTER 10: Intimate Life 354 The Family since Colonialism and Slavery 355

The Black Family under Slavery 356 Brave New Families: The Emergence of Interracial and Same-Sex Unions 358

Race and the Family Today 362 Explaining Racial Differences in Marriage Rates 363 Interracial Marriage 366 Doing the (Racial) Work 369 Divorce 370 Out-of-Wedlock Births 371 The Consequences of Single Motherhood 375

The Self and Identity Formation 377 Interaction Troubles 377 Intersectional Identity 379 Racial Authenticity 382 What To Do with White Identity? 386

The Problem with “Identity” 388

CHAPTER 11: Toward Racial Democracy 392 What Are the Goals? 395

Color-Blindness 395 Multiculturalism and Cosmopolitanism 398

xiv Contents

Racial Democracy 403 What Are the Goals for Individual Transformation? 405

How Do We Bring About Change? 408 Change at the Individual Level 408 Change at the Interactional Level 413 Change at the Institutional Level 416 Change at the Level of Collective Action 418

We Who Believe in Freedom 421

Glossary A1 Notes A9 Credits A85 Index A89



More than a generation after the Civil Rights Movement, we continue to be tongue- tied when it comes to race and, as a result, are constrained from fully understanding our society and fellow citizens.

Old ways of thinking about race and ethnicity no longer seem to apply in a society that has moved well beyond the struggles of the 1950s and 1960s, a society that now confronts problems of racial division in some ways far more complex and ambiguous than those of straightforward segregation or bigotry, persistent as those tendencies may still be in the present day. What is needed is a new way of thinking about race for a society itself quite new. This book addresses that pressing need. It is our hope that Race in America will provide a more effective language with which to think and talk about—and effectively to address—the problem of racial inequal- ity and injustice in today’s society. (An earlier version of this work, which now is significantly updated and revised, was published under the title Racial Domination, Racial Progress: The Sociology of Race in America.)

Race in America breaks with current textbooks in several ways. We rely on in- novative advances in modern social thought, advances taking place not only in so- ciology but also in philosophy, anthropology, political science, economics, history, and literary and art criticism—not to mention exciting developments in such liter- atures as whiteness studies, critical race theory, and cultural studies. We fuse this social thought with music, literature, poetry, and popular culture. In this book you can find the sociology of Pierre Bourdieu alongside spoken-word poetry; American pragmatist philosophy followed by country music lyrics; ideas from the likes of W. E. B. Du Bois, Toni Morrison, Alejandro Portes, Ella Baker, Edward Said, and Ruth Frankenberg (to list but a few)—applied to modern society. Race in America is steeped in up-to-date social-scientific research on race and ethnicity, as well as in examples from contemporary life, including youth culture. We have taken seriously American sociologist C. Wright Mills’s famous dictum that “data is everywhere” and have drawn on social science to illuminate racial dynamics in all areas of social life.

Race in America confronts some of today’s most controversial and misunderstood issues, including immigration, affirmative action, racial segregation, interracial relationships, political representation, racialized poverty and affluence, educational inequality, incarceration, terrorism, cultural appropriation, civil society, religion, marriage and divorce, and racial identity formation. Throughout, it treats racial in- equality not as some “hot topic” issue to be debated in loose, unsystematic fashion but as a complex sociological phenomenon properly understood only through crit- ical socioanalysis that arrives at conclusions after sifting carefully through the best available evidence.

xvi Preface

Race in America is uncompromisingly intersectional. It refuses artificially to sep- arate the sociology of race and ethnicity from those of class and gender. It highlights how racial division overlaps other forms of division based on economic standing and gender (as well as religion, nationality, and sexuality), and it does so because these bases of inequality are inextricably bound together.

This book’s organization is nothing like that of previous-generation textbooks on race and ethnicity. Instead of proceeding, chapter by chapter, from one racial group to the next—which only naturalizes racial divisions and renders the sociology of race and ethnicity nothing more than a collection of isolated snapshots of dif- ferent groups—it pursues the analysis of racial dynamics into many of the different areas or fields of life of our society. Examining how race is a matter not of separate entities but of systems of social relations, it unpacks how race works in the politi- cal, economic, residential, legal, educational, aesthetic, associational, and intimate fields of social life. In each of these fields, it analyzes how white privilege is institu- tionalized and naturalized, such that it becomes invisible even to itself.

At bottom, this book is about the workings of race and ethnicity in contempo- rary America. It offers you a comprehensive overview of the causal mechanisms or processes whereby racial divisions are established, reproduced, and in some cases transformed. In doing so, it necessarily engages in a serious and sustained way with history. Here, historical processes are not relegated to a single introductory chapter but inform the entire work.

Race in America does not reduce one of today’s most sociologically complicated, emotionally charged, and politically frustrating topics to a collection of bold-faced terms and facts you memorize for the midterm. Rather, this non-textbook textbook seeks to connect with you, its readers, in a way that combines disciplined reasoning with a sense of engagement and passion, conveying sophisticated ideas in a clear and compelling fashion. Accordingly, the book works just as well in lower-division courses as it does in more advanced settings. Conventional textbooks on race and ethnicity stimulate a type of reading that can only be called contemplative, a reading that devotes academic interest to social problems without ever being touched by them or resonating deeply with them. By contrast, we seek to stimulate generative readings, which simultaneously engage the world you find intimately familiar and yet also effect a sharp rupture with that world, defamiliarizing the familiar and helping you to arrive at a deeper sociological understanding of your world, offering solutions and strategies so that we all can work toward racial justice.

We seek to offer you, in short, a way of thinking about race that you can apply to your everyday lives. More, we hope to cultivate in you a sociological imagination, one that rejects easy explanations and that takes into account social and historical forces that operate on an expansive scale. We are living in an age in which racial inequality and discrimination persists. But we also are living in an age when racism has come under serious and sustained attack. We are living in an age when multi- cultural coalitions have formed and all people, regardless of race, have taken stands


against racial intolerance. And many of the most powerful and important antiracist movements have been led by young people. Considerable progress has been made, but considerable work also remains unfinished.

It is commonplace for students in a course on the sociology of race and ethnicity to think the course really is for someone else. A course such as this one, however, is meant for everyone.

We all have something to learn in this class—and we all have something to teach. This book is not just about “them” but about you. It seeks to educate—and unsettle—the righteous along with the disengaged, those who have long discussed matters of racism as well as those who are just now joining the conversation.

Let us begin a conversation, then. This conversation might make you feel uncomfortable, since topics as important and as personal as race are difficult to discuss. You might feel a bit unsteady and awkward, clumsy even. You might feel exposed and vulnerable. Your words might trip and stumble at times, and you might say things you later regret. Take courage in the fact that many of your classmates (and perhaps even your professors) feel the same way. And know, too, that we have to have this conversation, lest we allow racial inequality and injustice to poison the promising vitality of American society.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS We relied on a number of scholars who read chapters of the manuscript and offered helpful suggestions: Clifford Brown, University of New Hampshire; Sarah Bruch, University of Iowa; Mindelyn Buford, Northeastern University; David Embrick, Loyola University Chicago; Meredith Greif, Johns Hopkins University; Aaron Gullickson, University of Oregon; Jennifer Jones, University of Notre Dame; Tiffany Joseph, Stony Brook University; David Leonard, Washington State University; Ana Liberato, University of Kentucky; Nancy Lopez, University of New Mexico; Jillian Powers, Brandeis University; Jacob Rugh, Brigham Young University; Kathryn Tillman, Florida State University; Milton Vickerman, University of Virginia.

We’d like to thank everyone at Norton involved in publishing Race in America. In particular, we owe a large debt of gratitude to our editor, Karl Bakeman, for his vision and superb guidance. We’d also like to thank editorial assistant Mary Williams, project editor Diane Cipollone, and production manager Vanessa Nuttry, who handled every stage of the manuscript and worked together to produce this book. We would also like to thank Norton’s sales and marketing team, especially Julia Hall, the sociology marketing manager, and the social science sales specialists Jonathan Mason, Roy McClymont, and Julie Sindel. They have been enthusiastic advocates for the book throughout its development. Finally, we must thank our photo editors, Trish Marx and Julie Tesser, for providing such powerful visual images as well as Eileen Connell and the rest of the digital media team responsible for all the innovative video and electronic resources that accompany Race in America.

xviii Preface

RESOURCES FOR STUDENTS AND INSTRUCTORS InQuizitive inquizitive.wwnorton.com Paul Dean, Ohio Wesleyan

Norton’s formative, adaptive learning platform personalizes quiz questions and facilitates students’ understanding of important learning goals from the text in an engaging, game-like environment. The software is easy to use and can be accessed on a wide range of mobile devices, including tablets and smartphones.

Sociology in Practice: Thinking About Race and Ethnicity DVD Offering more than four hours of video clips from documentaries by independent filmmakers that explore the topic of race and ethnicity from various perspectives, this two-disc DVD is ideal for initiating classroom discussion and encouraging stu- dents to apply sociological concepts to real world issues.

Norton Coursepack wwnorton.com/coursepacks The free Norton Coursepack offers a variety of activities for self-assessment and review, including an optional ebook, 34 independent documentary film clips, inte- grated InQuizitive activities, chapter outlines and learning goals, key term flash- cards and matching quizzes, “Theory to Practice” activities found at the end of each chapter of the book, and gradable quizzes on select clips from the Sociology in Practice: Race and Ethnicity DVD.


Norton Ebook The ebook for Race in America provides students and instructors an enhanced read- ing experience at a fraction of the cost of a print textbook.

Test Bank The Test Bank conforms to Bloom’s taxonomy and includes 40 to 50 multi- ple-choice and 5 to 10 essay questions per chapter. Every question is tagged with difficulty level and metadata that places it in the context of the chapter, making it easy for instructors to construct meaningful and diagnostic tests.

Lecture and Art Slides All of the art from the book is available for classroom use. These visually engaging PowerPoint slides feature concept check questions and discussion questions as well as lecture outlines.


Matthew Desmond is an associate professor of sociology and social science at Harvard University and co-director of the Justice and Poverty Project. A former member of the Harvard Society of Fellows, Desmond is the author of the award- winning book, On the Fireline, and editor of a collection of studies on severe deprivation in America. His work has been supported by the MacArthur, Ford, Russell Sage, and National Science Foundations, and his writing has appeared in the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune.