Table of Contents
TAKING SIDES: Clashing Views in Race and Ethnicity
Unit 1 Race, Ethnicity, and American Identity in a Nation of Immigrants
- Issue 1. Do We Need a Common Identity?
YES: Patrick J. Buchanan, from “Nation or Notion?” The American Conservative (October 4, 2006)
NO: Michael Walzer, from “What Does It Mean to Be an ‘American’?” Social Research (Fall 1990)
Patrick J. Buchanan, a syndicated conservative columnist and author of The Death of the West: How Dying Populations and Immigrant Invasions Imperil Our Country and Civilizations (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2002), argues that America needs one common identity. He views attempts to change America’s historic identity as fraudulent. Michael Walzer, professor at the Institute for Advanced Study, makes the pluralist argument that America cannot avoid its multicultural identity. He explores the ways in which citizenship and nationality are compatible with the preservation of one’s ethnic identity, culture, and community.
- Issue 2. Is Diversity an Inevitable Part of a New American Identity?
YES: Henry A. Giroux, from “Insurgent Multiculturalism and the Promise of Pedagogy,” in David Theo Goldberg, ed., Multiculturalism: A Critical Reader (Blackwell, 1994)
NO: Lawrence Auster, abridged from “How the Multicultural Ideology Captured America,” The Social Contract, vol. 14, no. 3 (Spring 2004)
Henry A. Giroux is a writer on multiculturalism and related topics and current Chair of Communication Studies at McMaster University, Ontario, Canada. He emphasizes the need to focus on the cultural categories (black versus white) that are promoted within multiculturalism and diversity in order to understand power relations and other issues that are reflective of racialized identities in society. For Giroux, one significant way to address the problem of inequality is through identity politics. Lawrence Auster is a conservative writer and blogger. He has written extensively on issues pertaining to national identity and ethnic diversity, including The Path to National Suicide: An Essay on Immigration and Multiculturalism (American Immigration Control Foundation, 1990). He sees that multiculturalism and diversity have gained popularity as an ideology based on a set of false propositions. For Auster, diversity and multiculturalism are real attacks on European culture.
- Issue 3. Do Recent Immigration Trends Challenge Existing Ideas of America’s White Identity?
YES: Charles A. Gallagher, from “Racial Redistricting: Expanding the Boundaries of Whiteness,” in Heather M. Dalmage, ed., The Politics of Multiracialism: Challenging Racial Thinking (State University of New York Press, 2004, pp. 5976)
NO: Ellis Cose, from “What’s White, Anyway?” Newsweek (September 18, 2000)
Charles A. Gallagher, author and sociology professor at Georgia State University, argues that America is currently undergoing a “racial redistricting” in which the boundaries of whiteness are expanding to include lighter-skinned people of color (i.e., Asians and some Latinos). Ellis Cose, an African American journalist, argues that the traditional boundaries that determine race and skin color are not what they once were. Although he does not specifically cite ethnicity, Cose furthers the claim that American identity today is an expanding category. The boundaries of whiteness have expanded and are no longer hard and fast.
- Issue 4. Is the Obama Presidency Moving Toward a Post-Racial Society?
YES: Alvin Poussaint, from “Obama, Cosby, King and the Mountaintop,” CNN.com (November 13, 2008)
NO: Melissa V. Harris-Perry, from “Black by Choice,” The Nation (May 3, 2010)
Alvin Poussaint, a professor of psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School, has authored many books on child psychiatry with emphasis on African American children. Poussaint uses the election of Barack Obama as the president of the United States as a historical moment that may be the beginning of a post-racial era. Melissa V. Harris-Lacewell is a professor of politics at Tulane University. She is the author of Barbershops, Bibles, and BET: Everyday Talk and Black Political Thought (Princeton University Press, 2004). Harris-Lacewell uses President Barack Obama’s selection of black as his race in filling out the census to argue that we are not ready for a post-racial society.
Unit 2 Rethinking the Color Line
- Issue 5. Is Racism a Permanent Feature of American Society?
YES: Derrick Bell, from Faces at the Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism (Basic Books, 1992)
NO: Russell Niele, from “‘Postracialism’: Do We Want It?” Princeton Alumni Weekly (vol. 110, no. 7, January 13, 2010)
Derrick Bell, a prominent African American scholar and authority on civil rights and constitutional law, argues that the prospects for achieving racial equality in the United States are “illusory” for blacks. Russell Niele, a lecturer in politics at Princeton, works for the Executive Precept Program sponsored by Princeton’s James Madison Program. He has written on affirmative action and the origins of an urban black underclass. Niele argues that American society is moving toward a meritocracy, which is post-racist (not post-racial). For him, race, ethnicity, and religious identity are less determinant than they were in earlier American history.
- Issue 6. Is the Emphasis on a Color-Blind Society an Answer to Racism?
YES: Ward Connerly, from “Don’t Box Me In,” National Review (April 16, 2001)
NO: Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, from Racism without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in the United States (Rowman & Littlefield, 2003)
Ward Connerly is a strong critic of all attempts at racial classification and believes that in order to achieve a racially egalitarian, unified American society, the government and private citizens must stop assigning people to categories delineated by race. To achieve this goal, Mr. Connerly is supporting the enactment of a “Racial Privacy Initiative.” Eduardo Bonilla-Silva argues that “regardless of whites’ sincere fictions, racial considerations shade almost everything in America” and, therefore, color-blind ideology is a cover for the racism and inequality that persist within contemporary American society.
- Issue 7. Do Whites Associate Privilege with Their Skin Color?
YES: Paul Kivel, from Uprooting Racism: How White People Can Work for Racial Justice (New Society, 1996)
NO: Tim Wise, from “The Absurdity (and Consistency) of White Denial: What Kind of Card Is Race?” www.counterpunch.org/wise04242006.html (April 24, 2006)
Paul Kivel, a teacher, writer, and antiviolence/antiracist activist, asserts that many benefits accrue to whites solely on the basis of skin color. These benefits range from economic to political advantages and so often include better residential choice, police protection, and education opportunities. Tim Wise, an author of two books on race, argues that whites do not acknowledge privilege. Instead, whites are often convinced that the race card is “played” by blacks to gain their own privilege, something that whites cannot do. Hence, whites simply do not see discrimination and do not attach privilege to their skin color.
- Issue 8. Are Native American Mascots Racist Symbols?
YES: Sonia K. Katyal, from “The Fight over the Redskins Trademark and Other Racialized Symbols,” http://writ.news.findlaw.com/commentary/20091207_katyal.html (December 7, 2009)
NO: Arthur J. Remillard, from “Holy War on the Football Field: Religion and the Florida State University Indian Mascot Controversy,” in James A. Vlasich, ed., Essays in Sports and American Culture (McFarland, 2005, pp. 104118 (Edited), chapter 8)
Sonia K. Katyal, professor of law and author of Property Outlaws,discusses the use of Native American mascots in professional sports, with an emphasis on the Washington Redskins and the negative impact of the use of such symbols on Native American peoples and culture. Arthur Remillard, professor of religious studies, recognizes the concern that the use of Native American mascots within non-Native institutions generates. However, he argues that the use of such symbols can be viewed as contributing to respect for Native American culture and its inherent strengths among the American population.
Unit 3 Race Still Matters
- Issue 9. Is Race Prejudice a Product of Group Position?
YES: Herbert Blumer, from “Race Prejudice as a Sense of Group Position,” The Pacific Sociological Review (Spring 1958)
NO: Gordon W. Allport, from “The Young Child,” The Nature of Prejudice (Perseus Books, 1979)
Herbert Blumer, a sociologist, asserts that prejudice exists in a sense of group position rather than as an attitude based on individual feelings. The collective process by which a group comes to define other racial groups is the focus of Blumer’s position. Gordon W. Allport, a psychologist, makes the case that prejudice is the result of a three-stage learning process.
- Issue 10. Does the Digital Divide Reflect American Racism?
YES: Susan P. Crawford, from “The New Digital Divide,” The New York Times (December 3, 2011)
NO: Larry Schweikart, from “Race, Culture, and the ‘Digital Divide,’” Freeman (vol. 52, no. 5, pp. 4447, May 2002)
Susan P. Crawford, professor of law at the Benjamin N. Cordozo School of Law and former special assistant to President Obama for science, technology, and innovation policy, argues that there is a new digital divide that places African Americans and Latinos at the risk of being left behind the Internet revolution. Larry Schweikart, professor of history at the University of Dayton and conservative writer, asserts that “the racial digital divide is largely a myth.” He points out that African Americans, when including the workplace, have as equal access as whites to computers. However, where a divide occurs is in home computer ownership.
- Issue 11. Is Racial Profiling Defensible Public Policy?
YES: Scott Johnson, from “Better Unsafe than (Occasionally) Sorry?” The American Enterprise (January/February 2003)
NO: David A. Harris, from “Profiles in Injustice: American Life under the Regime of Racial Profiling,” in Profiles in Injustice: Why Police Profiling Cannot Work (The New Press, 2002)
Scott Johnson, conservative journalist and an attorney and fellow at the Clermont Institute, argues in favor of racial profiling. He claims that racial profiling does not exist “on the nation’s highways and streets.” Johnson accuses David Harris of distorting the data on crimes committed and victimization according to race. For him, law enforcement needs to engage in profiling under certain circumstances in order to be effective. David A. Harris, law professor and leading authority on racial profiling, argues that racial profiling is ineffective and damaging to America’s diverse nation. He believes it hinders effective law enforcement.
- Issue 12. Is Affirmative Action Necessary to Achieve Racial Equality?
YES: Robert Staples, from “Black Deprivation-White Privilege: The Assault on Affirmative Action,” The Black Scholar (Summer 1995)
NO: Roger Clegg, from “Faculty Hiring Preferences and the Law,” The Chronicle of Higher Education (May 19, 2006)
Robert Staples, an African American sociologist, views affirmative action as a positive policy designed to provide equal economic opportunities for women and other minorities. Roger Clegg, general counsel of the Center for Equal Opportunity in Sterling, Virginia, and contributor to The Chronicle of Higher Education, argues against affirmative action, citing Grutter v. Bollinger. He makes the case for universities to hire the best qualified faculty.
Unit 4 Immigration: New Faces, Old Questions
- Issue 13. Does Immigration Contribute to a Better America?
YES: Philippe Legrain, from “The Case for Immigration: The Secret to Economic Vibrancy,” The International Economy (Summer 2007, vol. 21, issue 3)
NO: Peter Brimelow, from “Immigration: Dissolving the People,” Alien Nation: Common Sense About America’s Immigration Disaster (Random House, 1995)
Philippe Legrain is a journalist, economist, and author of Immigrants: Your Country Needs Them and Open World: The Truth About Globalization. He makes the case that immigration contributes to a better America as well as a better world. His economic argument primarily emphasizes that the flow of immigrants within the global system brings both talent and labor to areas of need. Peter Brimelow, senior editor of Forbes and National Review magazines, argues that the United States is being overrun by a growing tide of aliens who are changing the character and composition of the nation in manners that are threatening and destructive to its well-being and prospects for future advancement.
- Issue 14. Is Today’s Immigration Debate Racist?
YES: Carlos Fuentes, from “Huntington and the Mask of Racism,” New Perspectives Quarterly (Spring 2004), pp. 7781
NO: Samuel P. Huntington, from The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (Simon & Schuster, 1996)
Carlos Fuentes, prominent Mexican writer and social commentator, argues that much of the current immigration debate is racist. For example, he criticizes Samuel Huntington’s assessment that Mexican immigrants exploit the United States and represent an unjust burden to the nation. This “mask” of racism appears under the guise of a concern with American national unity. Samuel Huntington, political scientist and Albert J. Weatherhead III, university professor at Harvard University, expresses the concern that Mexican immigrants and, by implication, other Latinos are creating significant problems for America, specifically with reference to assimilation, as their numbers continue to increase within the population. In general, he believes that Latino immigration is a threat to America’s national unity.
- Issue 15. Is There Room for Bilingual Education in American Schools?
YES: Kendra Hamilton, from “Bilingual or Immersion? A New Group of Studies Is Providing Fresh Evidence That It’s Not the Language of Instruction That Counts, but the Quality of Education,” Diverse Issues in Higher Education (April 20, 2006)
NO: Rosalie Pedalino Porter, from “The Case Against Bilingual Education,” The Atlantic Monthly (May 1998)
Kendra Hamilton, editor of Black Issues in Higher Education,argues that the studies available for assessing the quality of such programs are inconclusive. She makes the argument that the outcomes of bilingual education programs are often jeopardized by the quality of the instruction provided. Thus, the significant question of the quality of the programs is being ignored. Rosalie Pedalino Porter, author of Forked Tongue: The Politics of Bilingual Education and affiliate of The Institute for Research in English Acquisition and Development (READ), makes the case against bilingual education. She presents a negative view of the contributions of such programs to the academic achievement of nonEnglish-speaking students. Also, she is greatly concerned that such programs retard the integration of such students within the larger, English-speaking society.
- Issue 16. Should Children of Undocumented Immigrants Have a Birthright to U.S. Citizenship?
YES: Eric Foner, from “Birthright Citizenship Sets America Apart,” http://host.madison.com, August 20, 2010
NO: George F. Will, from “An Argument to be Made about Immigrant Babies and Citizenship,” The Washington Post, March 28, 2010
Distinguished professor of history at Columbia University, Eric Foner examines the legal and constitutional basis for granting birthright citizenship and argues that this right illuminates the strength of American society. Conservative newspaper columnist and commentator, George F. Will is troubled by the facile tendency to grant birthright citizenship to the children of undocumented immigrants. He views this practice as reflecting a misinterpretation of the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment. He vigorously opposes this policy.
Unit 5 The Geography of Race and Ethnicity
- Issue 17. Are America’s Public Schools Resegregating?
YES: Tim Lockette, from “Unmaking Brown,” Teaching Tolerance (Spring 2010)
NO: Ingrid Gould Ellen, from “Welcome Neighbors?” Brookings Review (Winter 1997)
Tim Lockette, a freelance writer in Montgomery, Alabama, and former editor of Teaching Tolerance, demonstrates that through certain Supreme Court decisions, the elimination of bus programs, and flawed school choice programs, America’s public schools are resegregating. The desegregation effects of the historic 1954 Brown decision have been reversed. Ingrid Gould Ellen, writer for Brookings Review, argues that neighborhood racial integration is increasing. She thinks researchers must balance their pessimistic findings of resegregation with increased integration.
- Issue 18. Is There a Need for a Permanent Voting Rights Act?
YES: Richard M. Valelly, from “Ballots in the Balance: Does the 1965 Voting Rights Act Still Matter?” The Two Reconstructions: The Struggle for Black Enfranchisement (University of Chicago Press, 2004)
NO: Abigail Thernstrom, from “Redistricting, Race, and the Voting Rights Act,” National Affairs (Spring 2010)
Richard M. Valelly, the author of The Two Reconstructions: The Struggle for Black Enfranchisement (University of Chicago Press, 2004), is a professor of political science at Swarthmore College. Pointing to U.S. history, he fears that without key sections, especially Section 5, of the Voting Rights Act, the black vote will be suppressed. What happened in the 1890s to black disfranchisement can happen again. Abigail Thernstrom, a political scientist, is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute in New York. She has written extensively on race and voting rights. She argues that it is time to end race-driven districting and that certain sections, especially Section 5, of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 are no longer needed.
- Issue 19. Do Minorities and Whites Engage in Self-Segregation?
YES: Beverly D. Tatum, from “Identity Development in Adolescence,” in Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? (Basic Books, 1997), pp. 5274
NO: Debra Humphreys, from Campus Diversity and Student Self-Segregation: Separating Myths from Facts (Diversity Web Association of American Colleges and Universities, 1999)
Beverly D. Tatum, an African American clinical psychologist and president of Spelman College, examines identity development among adolescents, especially black youths, and the behavioral outcomes of this phenomenon. She argues that black adolescents’ tendency to view themselves in racial terms is due to the totality of personal and environmental responses that they receive from the larger society. Debra Humphreys is the director of Programs, Office of Education and Diversity Initiatives, at the Association of American Colleges and Universities in Washington, DC. She notes that today’s university students are matriculating on very diverse campuses that are “leading to significant educational and social benefits for all college students. In such an environment, students have many opportunities to interact and associate with students of different backgrounds than themselves.” She cites research that tends to show that rather than self-segregating, students are interacting across racial and ethnic lines in significant numbers.
- Issue 20. Is the Mass Incarceration of Blacks the New Jim Crow?
YES: Michelle Alexander, from The New Jim Crow (The New Press, 2011)
NO: James Forman, Jr., from “Racial Critiques of Mass Incarceration: Beyond the New Jim Crow,” Racial Critiques (vol. 87, February 26, 2012)
Michelle Alexander is an associate professor of law at Ohio State University with a joint appointment at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity. She draws attention to the racial imbalance in America’s prison population and presents a compelling analysis of the wide-ranging social costs and divisive racial impact of mass incarceration. James Forman, Jr., a clinical professor of law at Yale Law School and a noted constitutional law scholar, affirms the utility of the new Jim Crow paradigm but argues that it has significant limitations. It obscures significant facts regarding the history of mass incarceration as well as black support for punitive criminal justice policy among other deficiencies.