Racetalk / Edition 1

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Studying racism is challenging. Most people avoid publicly expressing racialized comments for fear of being labeled racist. Much public talk is sugarcoated and coded to distance the speaker from the racist message. This study captures behind-the-scenes commentary-racetalk-that degrades people due to race and ethnicity.

Despite racial inroads made over the past several decades, the racetalk in this study evinces old-fashioned racist ideas persisting in modern imaginations. These scripts say that African Americans are dangerous. Whites are superior. Latinos are dirty and disposable. Indians are sinister. Slavery is a trivial-if not nostalgic and amusing-historical anomaly that is better forgotten. Private racetalk keeps these old scripts hidden yet alive. Through racetalk, people imbue different racial and ethnic groups with oppositional statuses and delineate boundaries between whiteness, blackness, and brownness. Racetalk is a tool used in policing these boundaries.

Most people who cross racial/ethnic boundaries through alliances, friendships, and courtships are sanctioned. Nevertheless, some people are able to cross more successfully than others. An analysis of the content of racetalk reveals the processes through which people negotiate racial/ethnic meanings and boundaries on a daily basis and, in so doing, how they often perpetuate the old racial regime and occasionally challenge it.

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Editorial Reviews

By focusing on how people invoke race and racism in their mundane conversations, Myers demonstrates how discrimination is still an integral aspect of U.S. society. Recommended.
By focusing on how people invoke race and racism in their mundane conversations, Myers demonstrates how discrimination is still an integral aspect of U.S. society. Recommended.
Benjamin Baez
This exciting new work focuses on individual—not institutional—forms of racism, requiring us to rethink the idea that prejudice is no longer fundamental to an understanding of racial dynamics in this country. Myers has obtained amazing data through discussions with college students, making Racetalk a significant contribution to the current literature on racism.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742535343
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/1/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 310
  • Product dimensions: 0.70 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 6.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Kristen A. Myers is associate professor of sociology at Northern Illinois University.

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Table of Contents

1 Hiding in plain sight : racetalk, the language of racism 1
2 Revealing racetalk 13
3 Racetalk as reproducing racism : a theoretical toolbox 39
4 The structure of signification : whiteness 61
5 The structure of signification : blackness 91
6 The structure of signification : brownness 129
7 The structure of domination : surveillance and the policing of boundaries 153
8 The structure of legitimation : accounting for racetalk 185
9 Bridging boundaries : counterhegemonic practices 211
10 The accidental antiracist : research as a tool for raising consciousness 231
11 Dialectics revisited : racetalk and the racial regime 251
12 Praxis : in search of a balm 264
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