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SOC321 Study Guide #1

Terms in this set (49)

ZINN: My viewpoint, in telling the history of the United States, is different: that we must not accept the memory of states as our own. Nations are not communities and never have been, The history of any country, presented as the history of a family, conceals fierce conflicts of interest (sometimes exploding, most often repressed) between conquerors and conquered, masters and slaves, capitalists and workers, dominators and dominated in race and sex. And in such a world of conflict, a world of victims and executioners, it is the job of thinking people, as Albert Camus suggested, not to be on the side of the executioners.

MORISON: He had his faults and his defects, but they were largely the defects of the qualities that made him great-his indomitable will, his superb faith in God and in his own mission as the Christ-bearer to lands beyond the seas, his stubborn persistence despite neglect, poverty and discouragement. But there was no flaw, no dark side to the most outstanding and essential of all his qualities-his seamanship.

KISSINGER: "History is the memory of states," wrote Henry Kissinger in his first book, A World Restored, in which he proceeded to tell the history of nineteenth-century Europe from the viewpoint of the leaders of Austria and England, ignoring the millions who suffered from those statesmen's policies. From his standpoint, the "peace" that Europe had before the French Revolution was "restored" by the diplomacy of a few national leaders. But for factory workers in England, farmers in France, colored people in Asia and Africa, women and children everywhere except in the upper classes, it was a world of conquest, violence, hunger, exploitation-a world not restored but disintegrated.
- In my class and place, I did not see myself as a racist because I was taught to recognize racism only in individual acts of meanness by members of my group, never in invisible systems conferring unsought racial dominance on my group from birth.

Disapproving of the system won't be enough to change them. I was taught to think that racism could end if white individuals changed their attitude. But a "white" skin in the United States opens many doors for whites whether or not we approve of the way dominance has been conferred on us. Individual acts can palliate but cannot end, these problems.

To redesign social systems we need first to acknowledge their colossal unseen dimensions. The silences and denials surrounding privilege are the key political surrounding privilege are the key political tool here. They keep the thinking about equality or equity incomplete, protecting unearned advantage and conferred dominance by making these subject taboo. Most talk by whites about equal opportunity seems to me now to be about equal opportunity to try to get into a position of dominance while denying that systems of dominance exist.

It seems to me that obliviousness about white advantage, like obliviousness about male advantage, is kept strongly inculturated in the United States so as to maintain the myth of meritocracy, the myth that democratic choice is equally available to all. Keeping most people unaware that freedom of confident action is there for just a small number of people props up those in power and serves to keep power in the hands of the same groups that have most of it already
"White-Washing Race: The Myth of a Color-Blind Society," written by seven scholars including Duster, begins the story in the 1930s with Roosevelt's New Deal, aimed to protect the working class but revised by Congress to safeguard racial segregation as well.

The Social Security Act excluded domestic and agricultural workers from old-age pension and unemployment compensation. Three-quarters of the black population, from domestics to self-employed sharecroppers, fell through the net. Similarly, the Wagner Act, which empowered unions, also allowed labor to shut black workers out from closed shops. Loans under the Federal Housing Act differentially provided whites the wherewithal to move into new suburbs, while federal subsidies built public housing to contain black migrants from the South in urban areas.

The GI bill, enacted in 1944, radically expanded the already racially biased economic provisions of the time. While millions of returning veterans and war industry workers became eligible for low-interest mortgages and free access to higher education, whites benefited most. Federal lending rules favored segregated suburbs and they had the educational credentials to go to college. These policies formed a foundation that has supported white economic advantage generation-to-generation to this day, the book's authors write.

The racial hierarchy established over the middle of the 20th century has largely held fast because one generation builds on the accomplishments of the last, Duster explains. Like interest on a bank deposit, children collect economic potential for themselves from the property and social status of their parents. Just as directly, he argues, disadvantages such as barriers to well-paying jobs, segregation in housing and discrimination in lending reverberate from parent to child. "The past becomes relevant to the present as personal wealth and assets are reproduced from generation to generation," agrees Barlow. His new book on globalization makes a similar argument about the historical underpinnings of U.S. racial stratification. Furthermore, privileges in housing, jobs, education and other arenas reinforce and augment one another, he says.