Research Brief: New Titles

Here is our latest update on some of the new titles from the research on race and racism. As always, I note which pieces are freely available on the web, or“open access” with (OA), and those behind a paywall with (locked).

Research in the Dictionary

  • Gulati-Partee, Gita and Potapchuk, Maggie (2014) “Paying Attention to White Culture and Privilege: A Missing Link to Advancing Racial Equity,” The Foundation Review: Vol. 6: Iss. 1, Article 4. Key Points:· Racial disparities are driven and maintained by public- and private-sector policies that not only disadvantage communities of color but also over-advantage whites. Foundation processes aimed at racial equity change often overlook the privileged side of inequity. · Through our experience as racial equity practitioners, we have encountered at least three challenges to engaging foundations in exploring white privilege and white culture in their internal and external racial equity work.· For foundations to work toward racial equity through their philanthropic investments and leadership, they must shine a light on white privilege and white culture both internally and externally. · This article discusses tools for tackling those challenges: creating a container with intentional group norms, exploring accumulated racial advantages and disadvantages, reflecting on white culture, and caucusing by racial identity.(locked)
  • Jablonski, Nina G. Living Color: The Biological and Social Meaning of Skin Color (University of California Press, 2014). Abstract: Living Color is the first book to investigate the social history of skin color from prehistory to the present, showing how our body’s most visible feature influences our social interactions in profound and complex ways. Nina Jablonski begins this fascinating and wide-ranging work with an explanation of the biology and evolution of skin pigmentation, tracing how skin color changed as humans moved around the globe, exploring the relationship between melanin and sunlight, and examining the consequences of mismatches between our skin color and our environment due to rapid migrations, vacations, and other life-style choices. Chapter 1 of the book is (OA).
  • Mayorga-Gallo, Sarah. Behind the White Picket Fence: Power and Privilege in a Multiethnic Neighborhood (University of North Carolina Press, 2014). Abstract: The link between residential segregation and racial inequality is well established, so it would seem that greater equality would prevail in integrated neighborhoods. But as Sarah Mayorga-Gallo argues, multiethnic and mixed-income neighborhoods still harbor the signs of continued, systemic racial inequalities. Drawing on deep ethnographic and other innovative research from “Creekridge Park,” a pseudonymous urban community in Durham, North Carolina, Mayorga-Gallo demonstrates that the proximity of white, African American, and Latino neighbors does not ensure equity; rather, proximity and equity are in fact subject to structural-level processes of stratification. Behind the White Picket Fence shows how contemporary understandings of diversity are not necessarily rooted in equity or justice but instead can reinforce white homeowners’ race and class privilege; ultimately, good intentions and a desire for diversity alone do not challenge structural racial, social, and economic disparities. This book makes a compelling case for how power and privilege are reproduced in daily interactions and calls on readers to question commonsense understandings of space and inequality in order to better understand how race functions in multiethnic America. An (OA) excerpt of the book is available here.
  • Whitfield, Darren L., N. Eugene Walls, Lisa Langenderfer-Magruder, and Brad Clark. “Queer Is the New Black? Not So Much: Racial Disparities in Anti-LGBTQ Discrimination.” Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services 26, no. 4 (2014): 426-440. Abstract: The present study examines the intersection of race and sexual orientation in the experience of discrimination among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people. The results of the study suggest that while a majority of LGBTQ individuals report being victims of anti-LGBTQ discrimination, racial minorities experience even greater levels of anti-LGBTQ discrimination than do White LGBTQ people. The findings suggest that the intersection of race and sexual orientation creates elevated levels of discrimination risk beyond the already elevated rates of discrimination experienced by members of the LGBTQ community for LGBTQ racial minorities. (locked)

Happy reading! Want to see your research appear in an upcoming brief? Don’t be shy, drop your shameless self-promotion in the contact form.

Latinos’ Skin Tone & Republican Partisanship

In a recent article Professor Spencer Piston analyzed the association between Latinos’ skin tone and four forms of Republican partisanship: degree of identification as a Republican (ranging from “Strong Republican” to “Strong Democrat,” that is, “Weak Republican”) as well as voting Republican in the 2012 Presidential, House and Senate elections.

Professor Piston presents evidence that the lighter their skin tone, the more likely is their support of the four forms of Republican partisanship.

The prizing of light skin is an old component of the US White Racial Frame. It was also present in the old Spanish racial frame in the Southwest, where Spanish light skin was valued over “Indian” dark complexion. Thus Latinos have been exposed to two different white racial frames.

Immigration has been a vibrant issue in the last few years. Some light-skinned Latinos, possibly affected by both racial frames as well as cognizant of the white elite’s deprecatory views of “dark illegals,” might want to distance themselves from the latter. But their reaction is not just bigotry: light skinned Latinos enjoy a higher socioeconomic position than their dark counterparts.

And it is to their advantage to support Republicans, who invariably look after the better off.

It would be incorrect to attribute support for the Republican Party among Latinos just to skin color. Latinos who oppose left-leaning politicians in the US and Latin America tend to favor Republican administrations’ hard line against such politicians. Whatever the reason, these Latinos should not forget that they favor a Republican party that would not hesitate to end its support if it benefited white elites.

Anti-Racist Protest in Minneapolis against NFL Team Name

Earlier this week (Nov.3), approximately 5,000 anti-racist activists marched from the University of Minnesota campus to the nearby NFL stadium to demand change of the name of the ‘Redskins’ franchise.

According to one report, a Native American (name not given) speaker said, “They don’t know how to honor us. We honor ourselves today.” People marching held up signs, some of which read: “Racial slurs are not an honor” and “There is no honor in a name that represents racism.” The comments contrasted those made previously by team owner Dan Snyder, who has insisted that the dictionary-defined offensive term actually means “honor” and “respect” toward Native Americans.

This short news video (3:02) reports on the march:

What action will you take to counter systemic racism?

Call for Papers: Ferguson, Social Media, and Activism

Hashtag Feminism started by Tara L. Conley (Teachers College, Columbia University) invites contributions that provide insightful perspectives on the recent events transpiring in Ferguson, Missouri. Specifically, we are looking for perspectives that account for the ways social media, namely Twitter has played a role in igniting activism in Ferguson and across the country.

Topics may include (but are not limited to):

  • The disconnect between Facebook and Twitter and how people talking about Michael Brown and Ferguson. This may also highlight a discussion on the different ways Facebook’s and Twitter’s algorithms are capturing conversations across social media. See this Medium piece as a useful example or starting point.
  • Criticism of ‘Twitter Activism’ and response from Black feminists.
    Resource roundup of follow-worthy hashtags, livestreams, and Twitter users covering and editorializing the events happening in Ferguson.
  • Activists story telling about their experiences organizing around Ferguson online and offline.
  • Youth organizers using Twitter to organize, raise awareness, and resist during the aftermath of the fatal shooting of Michael Brown.

Refer to #F Submission Guidelines for further information about style, content, and pitch guidelines.

 

~ This is re-blogged from here.

#Hashtag Activism, Viral Videos and the Trouble with White Feminism

After a brief haitus to deal with some institutional shenanigans and the personal fall out from those, I’m back to writing about the trouble with white women and white feminism series. If you’re new to this series, you can read from the beginning, or just dive in here. The concept is that I’ll do a series of blog posts and compile them into a free reader. I started, ambitiously, thinking I would do this in a 15-week semester and be done with it, but life (and committee work) intervened. Meanwhile, white women and white feminism keep on doing what they do and in this call out culture, there’s not enough calling that out in my view. If you’re new to thinking about these ideas, Quinn Norton has given the world an excellent two-part series on whiteness. Do go read it.  Onward…. to Part IV. White Women’s Feminist/Digital Activism.

Hollaback is often pointed to as a success of online feminism. If you’ve ever ridden the subways in NYC and you have heard the announcement about “a crowded subway is never an excuse for unwelcome touching” you have witnessed some of the fruits of their activist labor. On October 28, 2014 they published this video called “10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman” that immediately went viral and now has over 32 million views (screenshot below). Screenshot of the viral video about street harassmentThis video was crafted by a PR firm to “go viral” – and to raise money for the Hollaback organization. Unfortunately, the video over-sampled in Harlem neighborhoods, and edited out white men who harassed the woman. As the ever insightful Zeynep Tufecki points out, there are some profound methodological problems with the video that result in a racially skewed result. Of course, the director of the video denies any racist intent, move along, nothing to see here.

This is not new, nor is it a mistake, rather it is a key element of the white feminism which is at the center of the Hollaback enterprise. As I noted in a 2009 WSQ piece, there is a preponderance of men of color represented on the Hollaback blog in photos taken by white women. This angle of vision is one that is consistent with carceral feminism, an approach that sees increased policing, prosecution, and imprisonment as the primary solution to street harassment and violence against women. (See Elizabeth Bernstein’s work on this.)

Carceral feminism is integral to white feminism and to this wildly popular, viral video campaign. The activism of Hollaback in this instance also raises questions about the potential for digital feminist praxis. As Susana Loza asks in the Queer/Feminist Praxis issue of Ada:

Is mainstream feminism destined to remain the terrain of white women? Or can the digital media praxis of women of color, their hashtag feminism and tumblr activism, their blogging and livejournaling, broaden and radically redefine the very field of feminism?” 

One of the insights I have gleaned from black feminist thought is that standpoint and positionality matter, in other words, who you are in relation to the research matters. I’ve done this here and here, and continue to do so in various ways. This seems to be one place that white feminism keeps messing up, thinking that the experience of “A Woman” who also happens to be white can stand in for the experiences of *ALL* women.

My own personal experience, my research on white supremacy, and the work of scholars such as Vron Ware, whose Beyond the Pale offers a discursive production of whiteness through a gendered reading of colonial history and Ruth Frankenberg, whose White Women, Race Matter, makes a compelling argument for the importance of examining the social position of white women, specifically, occupy in our society, lead me to the conclusion that it is crucial to critically analyze the position of white women in our society.

But – bracketing white women for now – to focus on the trouble with white feminism, and here, it is the critiques by scholars and feminists of color such as Jessica Johnson, Patricia Hill Collins, Chela Sandoval, Toni Morrison, bell hooks and many, many others I follow on Twitter whom Gramsci would consider “organic intellectuals” make the need for a critical examination of the trouble with white feminism a pressing one.

To return to Loza question about the digital media praxis, it seems clear now that that as Demetria Irwin has observed: “the feminist revolution will be tweeted, hashtagged, Vined and Instagrammed.”

When Mikki Kendall started the hashtag #SolidarityisforWhiteWomen in August, 2013 as a form of digital media activism directed at the predominantly white feminist bloggers, it was the hashtag heard around the feminist world. Kendall was calling out prominent white feminists who either rallied around or simply didn’t rebuke a rather unpleasant man claiming to be a feminist.  In her piece about the hashtag at The Guardian, Kendall noted that women of color were being “in favor of a brand of solidarity that centers on the safety and comfort of white women.” 

I would argue that a similar thing is happening with the Hollaback video, only this time, it’s white men as street harassers who are being edited out in favor of the brand solidarity that centers on the safety and comfort of white women.

You see this lots of places in white feminism, like in the Sandberg Lean In brand, which is a white, corporate brand of feminism, in which race, and more importantly white supremacy, is a taboo subject, as bell hooks notes. More recently, Susan Cox has observed the ways that Facebook – the company which Sandberg leads with Zuckerberg – is re-shaping our identities in ways that are antithetical to feminist notions of multiple, intersectional selves through their oppressive “real names” policies.

Kendall endured a vicious backlash after starting the hashtag heard ’round the world, and as far as (white feminist) Michelle Goldberg is concerned, it’s Kendall’s own fault.

For Goldberg, Twitter was “insouciant” women of color feminists like Kendall ruined it for white feminists with their “toxic tweets.”  Goldberg is critical of Kendall who seems to embody the archetypical angry black woman in the hatchet piece Goldberg wrote for The Nation.

The real “offense,” if you will, of Kendall and other women of color on Twitter is that white women are made uncomfortable when called out for bad behavior. And, on Twitter, it just feels a little closer, more intimate somehow.

In Sara Ahmed’s terms, this is a violation of the “politics of feeling good” which seems to be at the heart of white feminism. Ahmed’s contribution here is considering how certain bodies are seen as the origin of bad feeling, as getting in the way of public happiness, exploring the negative affective (feelings) value of the figures of the feminist kill-joy, unhappy queer and melancholic migrant. In other words, how women of color, immigrants, queers all disrupt the happy, unified, narrative of “women” feeling good about (white) womanhood by pointing out difference. This gives white women the sads. Then they seem to get very, very angry. This is why we can’t have nice things, like feminism.

Mandy Van Deven points out that there is discomfort for (some) white women in the #solidarityisforwhitewomen conversation. That may be so, but this discomfort is not going away because women of color speaking up and speaking out are not going away.

Hashtag activism amplifies the challenge to white feminism. The hashtag that Kendall created sparked lots of others, such as #NotYourAsianSideKick. These are going to continue and proliferate and those holding onto the mythologies of white feminism are going to be mighty uncomfortable. Personally, I think that’s a very good thing because, as Chela Sandoval has observed, the “structural deficiency within feminist praxis” is its inability to deal with the challenges of feminists of color (Sandoval 2000, 49). To be able to move beyond an entrenched, defensive, and “toxic” white feminism, we need to follow these words of Loza and Nguyen:

“Feminists of the digital age must refuse the nostalgic discourse of authentic selves, of natural bodies, of fixed communities and instead attend to the “structures and relations that produce different kinds of subjects in position with different kinds of technologies” (Nguyen 2003, 302).

The work is not easy but if we want a digital feminism that has a praxis informed by critical race theory, then those who have only known white feminism will have to decide to be brave enough to get past hurt feelings, to learn how to parse hatred from anger, and begin doing the work of anti-racist, anti-colonial feminism. Are any of us brave?

<<<Previous post in series                                                             >>>>Read the next post in series

Research Brief: New Publications on Race and Racism

Here is a recap of some of the latest research on race and racism. As always, I note which pieces are freely available on the web, or “open access” with (OA), and those behind a paywall with (locked).

Research in the Dictionary

 

  • Cunningham, Jennifer M. “Features of Digital African American Language in a Social Network Site.” Written Communication, October 2014, (Vol. 31 No. 4): 404-433. Abstract: This study examines a social network site (SNS) where specific interlocutors communicate by combining aspects of academic American English (AE), digital language (DL), and African American Language (AAL)—creating a digital form of AAL or digital AAL (DAAL). This article describes the features of DAAL in the discursive, online context of MySpace, by analyzing a corpus of DAAL comments (1,494 instances). The use of SNSs affords a space where AAL exists in written form, serving the function of approximating spoken AAL. More interesting, however, is the function that DAAL serves as a text that is visually distinct from AE, emphasizing the orthographic freedom of DAAL on SNSs. By examining how DL and AAL exist and combine in an SNS environment, this research found DAAL to be a robust form of written communication. (locked)
  • Holling, Michelle A., Dreama G. Moon, and Alexandra Jackson Nevis. “Racist Violations and Racializing Apologia in a Post-Racism Era.” Journal of International and Intercultural Communication ahead-of-print (2014): 1-27. Abstract: In theorizing the dialectic of public acts of white racial offenses and the in/sufficiency of apologia associated with white racial discourse, we examine racist violations and racializing apologia from 24 white public figures in the United States between 1996 and 2012. Analysis of racist violations reveals that each offense undermines race as a social and political marker, whereas racializing apologia makes explicit the constant force of racialization and latent nature of whiteness in apologia strategies. We view racializing apologia as potentially liberatory, capable of allowing for a defense of oneself and challenging reproduction of racial formations. (locked)
  • Reger, Jo. “The Story of a Slut Walk Sexuality, Race, and Generational Divisions in Contemporary Feminist Activism.” Journal of Contemporary Ethnography (2014): 0891241614526434. Drawing on a participant observation at a 2011 slut walk, I use elements of autoethnography to investigate issues and divisions in contemporary feminism. Slut walks emerged as a form of feminist protest early in 2011 when a police officer remarked that women should stop dressing like sluts if they did not want to be victimized, spurring a global mobilization promoting ideas such as “sexual profiling” and “slut shaming.” As quickly as the slut walks spread, critiques also emerged. In this essay, I explore the critiques of claiming slut as an empowering identity through my own experiences. I present five scenarios from the protest as a way of examining ideas such as “inverted” generational disidentification, the legitimization of patriarchal and feminist gazes, the articulation and silencing of women’s and girls’ sexual desire, social movement spillover, and the continuation of racial divides in North American feminism. (locked)
  • Titley, Gavin. “No apologies for cross-posting: European trans-media space and the digital circuitries of racism.” Crossings: Journal of Migration & Culture, March, 2014 Vol. 5, Issue 1, . doi:10.1386/cjmc.5.1.41_1. Abstract: This article proposes points of departure for researching the circulation and assemblage of racist ideas and racializing discourses in the trans-media space of interactive, hybrid digital media. It contends that racist mobilizations are increasingly invested in organized and opportunistic communicative actions that depend on the integration of interactive digital media to a wider media ecology and European political environment. Further, if social media can be understood as a constant ‘invitation to discourse’, then they also provide an invitation to discourse on the nature and scope of racism in a putatively ‘post-racial’ era. In contending that the affordances and dynamics of social media networks are politically generative in relation to the politics of racism, it proposes working with malleable resources in the sociology of racism to develop approaches that are not limited to the established focus on extremist sites, but that can account both for the circuitries of digital media exchange and the particularities of regional racial formations. (locked)
  • Von Robertson, Ray, Alma Bravo, and Cassandra Chaney. “Racism and the Experiences of Latina/o College Students at a PWI (Predominantly White Institution).”  Critical Sociology (2014): 0896920514532664. Abstract: This study explored Latina/o American college students at a predominantly white university in the South. The authors assessed how 12 Latina/o American college students understood racism and racial microaggressions, and developed counter-spaces to navigate the white college milieu. Qualitative analysis revealed instances of racism were dealt with through assimilation and working hard to excel. Additional responses involved aligning themselves with same-race groups and maintaining a high grade point average. Our findings demonstrated that Latina/o students often utilized counter-spaces and determination to excel in college. Finally, a major contribution of our research was that it provided an example of a small case study of Latinas/os, primarily consisting of males, a group that has traditionally been underrepresented in higher education, who performed very well academically at a PWI. (locked)
  • Weiner, Melissa F. “The Ideologically Colonized Metropole: Dutch Racism and Racist Denial.” Sociology Compass 8, no. 6 (2014): 731-744. Abstract: Many in The Netherlands deny the existence of race and racism even as significant research strongly suggests otherwise. This paper synthesized existing literature to illuminate The Netherlands’ unique form of racism, which is rooted in racial neoliberalism, anti-racialism (i.e. the denial of race), racial Europeanization, and the particular Dutch history of colonial exploitation. This article summarizes existing scholarship addressing racism in wide array of social institutions in The Netherlands before addressing the historical roots of Dutch racism and how Dutch aphasia and racial Europeanization deny the links between contemporary and historical oppression before, finally, offering an explanation for this disconnect. (OA)

Happy reading! Do you have some research you’d like to see in one of our upcoming Research Briefs? Let us hear from you in via the contact form. As always, bonus points for sharing open access readings.