"I was out-niggered by John Patterson. And I'll tell you here and now, I will never be out-niggered again."
"I tried to talk about good roads and good schools and all these things that have been part of my career, and nobody listened. And then I began talking about niggers, and they stomped the floor."
Attributed to George Wallace, Seymore Trammell (1958), quoted in George Wallace: Settin' the Woods on Fire
"You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger” — that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”"
Lee Atwater, 1981
At Roy Moore's Florence AL campaign rally on 21 September 2017, the former judge running for the US Senate outlined soem of the wrongs he sees in Washington and "spiritual wickedness in high places." He warned of "the awful calamity of abortion and sodomy and perverse behavior and murders and shootings and road rage" as "a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins." In response to a question from one of the only African Americans in the audience — who asked when Moore thought America was last "great" -- Moore acknowledged the nation's history of racial divisions, but said: "I think it was great at the time when families were united — even though we had slavery — they cared for one another.... Our families were strong, our country had a direction." At the same event, Moore referred to Native Americans and Asian Americans as "reds and yellows," and earlier in 2017 he suggested the September 11 terrorist attacks were divine punishment.
The categories of race and ethnicity are socially constructed and thus historically situated. In the United States, these categories were based on what could be assigned as the “white race.” The process of racialization was wound around the stratification of society, its segmentation and social inequality.
During the first two centuries of American history, White hegemony was as much a product of numerical dominance as the various state instruments by which that hegemony was re-enforced. By the mid-20th Century, the civil rights struggle had weakened many of those state instruments of racial dominance, though White hegemony remained a fact of numerical dominance. In the 21st century, white numerical dominance is waning, and the re-emergence of the many forms of overt racism is a product of efforts to suppress an emerging non-White majority.
The makeup of the American people is in flux. New immigrants from Asia and Latin America have added a large measure of cultural diversity to the American population in recent decades, just as waves of immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe did a century ago. Moreover, the boundaries between racial and ethnic groups are becoming blurred by high rates of intermarriage and the growing number of persons with mixed ancestry. Descriptions and projections of the racial and ethnic composition of the American people appear kaleidoscopic, with varied accounts and interpretations. Some commentators anticipate a new melting pot, often labeled as the “browning of America,” characterized by continued blurring of once-distinct racial and ethnic divisions.
Population projections by race are heavily dependent on the identity choices of persons of multiple racial and ethnic origins. Many population projections show that non-Hispanic whites will no longer be the majority of the population by the middle of the 21st Century. If race and ethnicity were purely cultural phenomena, with little attachment to stratification and political processes, the long-term outcome would be increasing racial and ethnic entropy — the gradual weakening and eventual disappearance of race and ethnicity as distinct groups with clear boundaries.
Race is the most significant socio-demographic distinction in the United States. American race relations continue to pivot on the historical divide between white and black America. It was not just the twentieth century for which W.E.B. Du Bois famously noted that the color line would play a defining role. The conflicts between blacks and whites have been a central issue throughout American history.
By 1890, the US Census racial classification scheme reflected a growing preoccupation with identifying persons with even the slightest hint of African ancestry, adding categories for “quadroon” (persons with one-fourth black ancestry) and “octoroon” (persons with one-eighth or less black ancestry). In 1930, the Census Bureau dropped the mulatto category altogether. These patterns are consistent with the ideological triumph of the one-drop rule among most Americans—white and black.
The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) was founded in 1895 to advocate for "free enterprise", supported by a few thousand very rich white men. In the late 1930s, provoked by Democratic President Franklin D Roosevelt's New Deal and its welfare programmes, which he framed in and justified with scripture, NAM launched a massive public relations effort to promote the "benefits of capitalism". For years, the powerful group financed and nurtured a new white evangelical movement that championed the "freedom Gospel" over Roosevelt's "social Gospel", demonising "big government" as the antithesis of the "government of God".
The movement gained momentum during the Cold War, demonising the atheist, communist Soviet Union and highlighting America's "God-ordained" free capitalist system. Indeed, modern evangelism and the gospel of free enterprise have since been instrumental in keeping the white working class in line with their bosses' priorities, rejecting social and health programmes, labour unions, and of course, higher taxes on the rich, as un-godly.
Coupled with cultural conservatism and old-fashioned racism, this has led many white Republicans, especially working-class men, to blame minorities, immigrants, Muslims, foreigners and even women and homosexuals for their misfortunes, rather than, say, automation, globalisation or structural exploitation and systematic inequality. This is especially the case among those with no higher education, who are easier to manipulate with populist slogans and empty promises. This was best expressed in one of Trump's off the cuff remarks: "I love the poorly educated."
Researchers found that when white American subjects were shown photos of black faces, their amygdalas were activated, a presumed indicator of fear or other negative emotional arousal. [Anthony G. Greenwald & Linda Hamilton Krieger, Implicit Bias: Scientific Foundations, 94 Cal. L. Rev. 945, 949 (2006)] Despite an individual’s outward avowals of lack of prejudice, and even despite their belief that they hold no prejudice, not only do the majority of people hold prejudices but also their behavior is determined by them. African Americans are consistently implicitly associated with criminality, violence, and dangerousness.
David Amodio (2013) at the New York University Social Neuroscience Lab has researched bigoted brains. His experiments find that many whites (around 75 percent) have split-second negative responses to blacks, and these are subconscious and unavailable to conscious introspection. Human brains evolved to do fast pattern recognition and make unreflective judgments, often equating “difference” with negative affect. The amygdala is highly activated when assessing strangers. The brain is making predictions about what and who will be threatening, and the whole body is tilted toward an appropriate action. If the cultural milieu is filled with negative racial stereotypes, then there are unconsciously generated many negative affect somatic markers for those people who are different. Whites who have never encountered a black person when they are young may have categorial mismatch issues (and negative affect) later when they do. The solution to xenophobia and the demonization of the Other is affect replacement, not information enrichment. Human tribalism (underwritten by amygdala-based fears about out-groups) might be inevitable, but also highly susceptible to revision.
In recent years, law enforcement agencies have unreasonably used deadly force on Black males allegedly considered to be “suspects” or “persons of interest.” The exploitation of these often-targeted victims' criminal records, physical appearances, or misperceived attributes has been used to justify their unlawful deaths.
Researchers have identified multiple ways implicit biases affect policing. The most stark are the “shooter bias studies,” which reveal that even trained police officers make the decision to shoot more rapidly when a black suspect is holding a gun. Similarly, research demonstrates that African Americans and Latinos are subjected to traffic stops more frequently than whites, and once stopped,searched at higher rates. These disparities are most severe “when the level of officer discretion is highest—seat belts, vehicle equipment, and vehicle regulatory issues.” For example, following a seat-belt violation, African Americans are 223 percent more likely to be searched than whites; Latinos are 106 percent more likely to be searched.
Misconceptions and prejudices manufactured and disseminated through various channels such as the media included references to a “brute” image of Black males. In the 21st century, this negative imagery of Black males has frequently utilized the negative connotation of the terminology “thug.”
During an April 2015 interview with CNN, Baltimore councilman Carl Stokes, a Black male, rejected the notion of calling citizens “thugs” by the news anchor that pushed him to agree with the term to describe the occurrences of looting. Stokes responded by stating, “C'mon, so calling them thugs, just call them niggers, just call them niggers”. Councilman Stokes was calling attention to the use of coded language that is in some ways explicitly and other ways implicitly used as a substitute for personally mediated racism, specifically the term “nigger.”
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|