Duke Professor Discusses New Racism In America
According to Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, white folks are more racist than ever….
Though racism is more covert today, blacks are subject to the same prejudice as they were in the 1960s, Duke University sociology professor Eduardo Bonilla-Silva argued in a lecture on Thursday. Bonilla-Silva said a new form of racism has emerged, replacing Jim Crow racism.
“We are not post-racial,” he said. “This ideology is suave but deadly.” Focusing on relations between whites and blacks, Bonilla-Silva said the latter’s current economic status has remained the same in recent decades, even as the forms of subordination and racism have since evolved.
After describing various ways in which this ideology is prevalent in today’s society, Bonilla-Silva presented three main points about color-blind racism: the forms of interpreting racism, rhetorical strategies for articulating racism and stories contextualizing racism.
Bonilla-Silva said whites believe that they are not racist and often use the election of President Barack Obama to support the claim that America has moved beyond its racially tense past. He said these beliefs are “sincere fictions” and countered that blacks and other racial minorities are still behind whites in society, receiving inferior education in “so-called integrated” schools and colleges.
Despite evidence of inequality, Bonilla-Silva said racism is largely overlooked because discrimination presents itself in abstract ways. The societal tendency to “naturalize” racism by calling social constructs natural occurrences is used to justify prejudice against minorities, he said.
Bonilla-Silva defined cultural racism as placing the blame on minorities for their social position. He said white citizens use rhetoric to express this covert racism: semantic moves, such as saying “some of my best friends are black,” projection, which blames discrimination on the victim and the incomprehensible response to the topic of race. People often argue that they did not personally own slaves or were present at Martin Luther King, Jr.’s march on Washington to deny their personal prejudice.
Bonilla-Silva presented interviews he had collected as part of his ongoing research to give examples of how racism is expressed. He said that because the interviews were racially tense and sensitive, the interviewer was consistently the same race as the interviewee. In response to an audience member’s question, Bonilla-Silva said an increasing number of blacks believed that racism has been eliminated. He ended the lecture by proposing five ways in which the public can take action against this hidden prejudice. Whites need play a prominent role in eliminating this “new racism,” and he called for the creation of a “large cohort of anti-racist whites.” To do this, whites must admit their denial of color-blind racism.
“We must fight white supremacy,” Bonilla-Silva said. “The only way to remove racism in America is to remove systemic racism.” Bonilla-Silva also cited terminology as a contributing factor to the perpetuation of our racially divided society, and that race should not be used as a description. “You have a ‘black politician,’ you have a ‘politician,’ he said. “You have a ‘black movie,’ you have a ‘movie.’”
Throughout the lecture, Bonilla-Silva said Dartmouth is a place where the new racism he discussed could occur, as the College is among the “historically white colleges and universities.” Melissa Padilla ’16 said she agreed with Bonilla-Silva’s assessment of current societal prejudices.
Bonilla-Silva’s lecture, titled “The Color of Color-Blindness: Whites’ Race Talk in ‘Post-Racial’ America,” was sponsored by research events and the sociology department, and was the African and African-American studies program and the Latin American, Latino and Caribbean studies program.
He makes some good points here, do you agree with his theory??