Inclusivity, Democracy, and Heterogeneous Voices
Sandra L. Barnes, Vanderbilt University
The Truly Disadvantaged and Racial Inequality
Mary Pattillo, Northwestern University
The year 2012 marked the 25th anniversary of the publication of The Truly Disadvantaged by William Julius Wilson. This article offers an assessment of the book in the spirit of productive scholarly criticism. Although Wilson does not overlook the significance of race, I argue that anti-Black racism must be a more explicit part of the explanation for disproportionate Black poverty and its residential concentration. Utilizing the work of legal scholar Derrick Bell, and presenting vignettes from my own empirical research, I connect Wilson’s book to the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision to argue that to truly challenge the racial privileges and disadvantages accrued as a result of separate and unequal, we need to recognize the Blackness of the truly disadvantaged and attack racial inequality first.
Transformations of Race in Bioscience: Scientific Racism and the Logic of Colorblindness
Anthony Ryan Hatch, Georgia State University
Scientists in fields such as medicine, molecular biology, genomics, and bioinformatics are increasingly using biological concepts like genes and biochemicals—bodily features not directly linked to skin color—to transform the meaning of race. By decentering the imprimatur of science to define race via physical features like skin color, critical race theorists have unveiled the political interests that shaped the meaning of race in science. Since the 1990s, critical race theory has also recognized the emergence of “color-blind” racism in scientific spaces that is informed by former theories of biological race and used to justify racial subordination. Applying and synthesizing critiques of racial science in critical race theory and science and technology studies, I postulate that a new form of “colorblind scientific racism” is emerging to accompany the seemingly discredited color-conscious racism that historically defined the political relationship between race, science, and the body. I interpret how the logic of colorblindness is transforming meanings of race in bioscience and evaluate the significance of recent research on race in the biosciences in the context of critical race theory’s analysis of colorblind racism.
To Whom Does the Mainstream Belong?: Minorities or the Majority? Women or Men?
Charles V. Willie, Harvard University
The U.S. Constitutional Convention in 1787 was organized to chart the course of our country. Yet the fifty-five person collective charged with this great task was exclusively White and male. The author positions this seminal event as a precursor to the historical exclusionary tactics common in a society that has historically and systematically excluded minority groups such as Blacks, women, and poor people. The author suggests that the absence of a heterogeneous delegation meant that the Convention was unable to effectively address pressing mainstream issues and social problems that still have implications today. This essay is the second of a series that will be provided by founding members of the Black Caucus/Association of Black Sociologists.
“Gotta Sing on the Beats They Bring Us”: Towards a Twenty-first Century Blues Women’s Epistemology
Zandria F. Robinson, Rhodes College
A great deal of black feminist intellectual work is performed by intellectuals outside of the academy—singers, artists, rappers, grassroots activists, and black women in the working classes. Yet, the structure of academic black feminist historiography usually obscures this work on the margins. This article examines the intellectual work of singer Erykah Badu, whose corpus examines undertheorized aspects of the lived experience of black womanhood in twenty-first century America. It builds a concept of blues women’s epistemology, a distinct worldview of black women at the margins, to contextualize the work of Badu and other black women intellectuals who challenge the intersections of race, class, gender, and sexuality oppression. It concludes with a brief outline of the contours of a possible fourth wave of black feminism, defined by new sites of black feminist engagement and a more inclusive definition of black womanhood, and discusses the implications of a/the fourth wave for black feminist praxis in the twenty-first century.
Multi-Consciousness, Ethnic Identity, and Institutional Transformation at a Multi-cultural Charter School
Oluchi Nwosu-Randolph, Vanderbilt University
Sub-Saharan African refugees often experience challenges transitioning to life in the United States based on racial discrimination; language constraints; religious discrimination; poverty; lower educational levels; and, traumas based on prior relocation episodes. Youth from such families are at particular risk for continued trauma based on multiple levels of vulnerability. Schools can be a space to educate, equip, and empower such youth. Theoretically informed by a synthesis of DuBois’ concept, “double consciousness” and Black Feminism, this ethnography examines the cultural, social, pedagogic, and programmatic environment of the Cultural Diversity School as an educational site that fosters positive ethnic identity socialization, multi-consciousness, and inclusivity.
Bengali Harlem and the Lost Histories of South Asian America by Vivek Bald
SaunJuhi Verma, Rutgers University
The Challenge of Blackness: The Institute of the Black World and Political Activism in the 1970s by Derrick E. White
Amaka Okechukwu, New York University