E-Response: Engaging Race, Racism, Racial Domination, And Anti-Racism – Write My Paper Today

E-Response: Engaging Race, Racism, Racial Domination, And Anti-Racism – Write My Paper Today
STATE OF THE ARTWHAT IS RACIAL DOMINATION?Matthew DesmondDepartment of Sociology, University of Wisconsin—MadisonMustafa EmirbayerDepartment of Sociology, University of Wisconsin—MadisonAbstractWhen students of race and racism seek direction, they can find no single comprehensivesource that provides them with basic analytical guidance or that offers insights into theelementary forms of racial classification and domination. We believe the field wouldbenefit greatly from such a source, and we attempt to offer one here. Synchronizing andbuilding upon recent theoretical innovations in the area of race, we lend some conceptualclarification to the nature and dynamics of race and racial domination so that students ofthe subjects—especially those seeking a general (if economical) introduction to the vastfield of race studies—can gain basic insight into how race works as well as effective (andfallacious) ways to think about racial domination. Focusing primarily on the Americancontext, we begin by defining race and unpacking our definition. We then describe howour conception of race must be informed by those of ethnicity and nationhood. Next, weidentify five fallacies to avoid when thinking about racism. Finally, we discuss the resilienceof racial domination, concentrating on how all actors in a society gripped by racismreproduce the conditions of racial domination, as well as on the benefits and drawbacksof approaches that emphasize intersectionality.Keywords: Race, Race Theory, Racial Domination, Inequality, IntersectionalityINTRODUCTIONSynchronizing and building upon recent theoretical innovations in the area of race,we lend some conceptual clarification to the nature and dynamics of race and racialdomination, providing in a single essay a source through which thinkers—especiallythose seeking a general ~if economical! introduction to the vast field of race studies—can gain basic insight into how race works as well as effective ways to think aboutracial domination. Unable to locate a single and concise essay that, standing alone,summarizes the foundational ideas of a critical sociology of race and racism, we wrotethis article to provide scholars and students with a general orientation or introduction to the study of racial domination. In doing so, we have attempted to lendDu Bois Review, 6:2 (2009) 335–355.© 2009 W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research 1742-058X009 $15.00doi:10.10170S1742058X09990166335analytical clarity to the concept of race, as well as to its relationship with ethnicityand nationality. Perhaps more important, along with advancing a clear definition ofracial domination, we have identified five fallacies—recurrent in many public debates—that one should avoid when thinking about racism. Although we believe this paperwill provide guidance for advanced scholars conducting empirical and theoreticalwork on race, we have composed it primarily with a broader audience in mind.WHAT IS RACE?You do not come into this world African or European or Asian; rather, this worldcomes into you. As literally hundreds of scientists have argued, you are not born witha race in the same way you are born with fingers, eyes, and hair. Fingers, eyes, andhair are natural creations, whereas race is a social fabrication ~Duster 2003; Graves2001!. We define race as a symbolic category, based on phenotype or ancestry and constructed according to specific social and historical contexts, that is misrecognized as a naturalcategory.1 This definition deserves to be unpacked.Symbolic CategoryA symbolic category belongs to the realm of ideas, meaning-making, and language. Itis something actively created and recreated by human beings rather than pregiven,needing only to be labeled. Symbolic categories mark differences between groupedpeople or things. In doing so, they actually bring those people or things into existence ~Bourdieu 2003!. For example, the term “Native American” is a symboliccategory that encompasses all peoples indigenous to the land that is known, today, asthe United States. But the term “Native American” did not exist before non-NativeAmericans came to the Americas. Choctaws, Crows, Iroquois, Hopis, Dakotas, Yakimas, Utes, and dozens of other people belonging to indigenous tribes existed. Theterm “Native American” flattens under one homogenizing heading the immenselydifferent histories, languages, traditional beliefs, and rich cultural practices of thesevarious tribes. In naming different races, racial categories create different races.2Such insights into the importance of the symbolic have not always been appreciated. Consider, for example, Oliver Cromwell Cox’s hypothesis “that racial exploitation and race prejudice developed among Europeans with the rise of capitalism andnationalism, and that because of the worldwide ramifications of capitalism, all racialantagonisms can be traced to the policies and attitudes of the leading capitalistpeople, the @W#hite people of Europe and North America” ~1948, p. 322!. Thoughfew scholars today would agree fully with Cox’s reduction, many continue to advancestructuralist claims, filtering racial conflict through the logic of class conflict ~e.g.,Reich 1981!, regarding racial formation as a political strategy ~e.g., Marx 1998!, orconcentrating on the legal construction of racial categories ~e.g., Haney-López1996!.3 Helpful as they are, structuralist accounts often treat race as something givenand accepted—that is, as a “real” label that attaches itself to people ~Bonilla-Silva1997! or as an imposed category that forms racial identity ~Marx 1998!—and therebyoverlook how actors create, reproduce, and resist systems of racial classification,dynamics documented in works such as Kimberly DaCosta’s Making Multiracials~2007!, Thomas Guglielmo’s White on Arrival ~2004!, John Jackson, Jr.’s Harlemworld~2001!, Robin Sheriff’s Dreaming Equality ~2001!, or John Hartigan, Jr.’s Racial Situations ~1999!. Political and legal racial taxonomies do not necessarily align withquotidian processes of recognition and identification practiced by classified subjectsMatthew Desmond and Mustafa Emirbayer336 DU BOIS REVIEW: SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH ON RACE 6:2, 2009~Loveman 1999!. Since no institution, regardless of its power, monopolizes thedefinition of race ~Brubaker and Cooper, 2000!, we must resist assuming an easycorrespondence between “official” categorizations and the practical accomplishments of racial identification.Phenotype or AncestryRace also is based on phenotype or ancestry. A person’s phenotype is her or hisphysical appearance and constitution, including skeletal structure, height, hair texture, eye color, and skin tone. A person’s ancestry is her or his family lineage, whichoften includes tribal, regional, or national affiliations. The symbolic category of raceorganizes people into bounded groupings based on their phenotype, ancestry, orboth. It is difficult to say which matters more, phenotype or ancestry, in determiningracial membership in the United States. In some settings, ancestry trumps phenotype; in others, the opposite is true.Recent immigrants often are pigeonholed in one of the dominant racial categories because of their phenotype; however, many resist this classification because oftheir ancestry. For instance, upon arriving in the United States, many first generation West Indian immigrants, quite familiar with racism against African Americans,actively resist the label “Black.” Despite their efforts, many are considered AfricanAmerican because of their dark skin ~that is, they “look” Black to the American eye!.The children of West African immigrants, many of whom are disconnected fromtheir parents’ ancestries, more readily accept the label “Black” ~Waters 1999!. Andmany individuals with mixed heritage often are treated as though they belonged onlyto one “race.”Some people, by contrast, rely on their phenotype to form a racial identity,though they are often grouped in another racial category based on their ancestry.Susie Guillory Phipps, a blond-haired blue-eyed woman who always consideredherself “White,” discovered, upon glancing at her birth certificate while applying fora passport, that her native state, Louisiana, considered her “Black.” The reason wasthat Louisiana grouped people into racial categories according to the “one thirtysecond rule,” a rule that stated that anyone who was one thirty-second Black—regardless of what they looked like—was legally “Black.” In 1982, Susie Guillory Phippssued Louisiana for the right to be White. She lost. The state genealogist discoveredthat Phipps was the great-great-great-great-grandchild of a White Alabama plantation owner and his Black mistress and, therefore—although all of Phipps’s other ancestors were White—she was to be considered “Black.” ~This outlandish law was finallyerased from the books in 1983.! In this case, Phipps’s ancestry ~as identified by thestate! was more important in determining her race than her phenotype ~Davis 1991!.Social and Historical ContextsRacial taxonomies are bound to their specific social and historical contexts. Theracial categories that exist in America may not exist in other parts of the globe. InSouth Africa, racial groups are organized around three dominant categories: White,Black, and “Coloured.” During apartheid, the Coloured category was designed toinclude all “mixed-race” people ~Sparks 2006!. More recently, the Black category hasbeen expanded to include all groups oppressed under apartheid, not only those ofAfrican heritage but also those of Indian descent and ~as of 2008! Chinese SouthAfricans. In Brazil, five racial categories are employed in the official census: Branco~White!, Pardo ~Brown!, Preto ~Black!, Amarelo ~Asian!, and Indígena ~Indigenous!.What is Racial Domination?DU BOIS REVIEW: SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH ON RACE 6:2, 2009 337However, in everyday usage, many Brazilians identify themselves and one anotherthrough several other racial terms—including moreno ~other type of brown!, morenoclaro ~light brown!, negro ~another type of black!, and claro ~light!—which have muchmore to do with the tint of one’s skin than with one’s ancestry ~Stephens 1999; Telles2004!. Before racial language was outlawed by the Communist regime, Chineseracial taxonomies were based first and foremost on blood purity, then on hair, thenodor, then brain mass, then finally—and of least importance—skin color, which,according to the taxonomy, was divided into no less than ten shades ~Dikötter 1992!.And in Japan, a group called the Burakamin is considered to be unclean and isthought to constitute a separate race, although it is impossible to distinguish someone with Burakamin ancestry from the rest of the Japanese population ~Eisenstadt1998; Searle-Chatterjee and Sharma, 1994!.Cross-national comparisons, then, reveal that systems of racial classification varygreatly from one country to the next. Racial categories, therefore, are place-specific,bound to certain geographic and social contexts. They also are time-specific, changingbetween different historical eras. As a historical product, race is quite new. Before thesixteenth century, race, as we know it today, did not exist. During the Middle Ages,prejudices were formed and wars waged against “other” people, but those “other”people were not categorized or understood as people of other races. Instead of thecolor line, the primary social division in those times was that between “civilized” and“uncivilized.” The racial categories so familiar to us only began to calcify around thebeginning of the nineteenth century, a mere two hundred years ago ~Gossett 1965;Smedley 1999!. In fact, the word, “race,” has a very recent origin; it only obtained itsmodern meaning in the late eighteenth century ~Hannaford 1996!.But racial domination survives by covering its tracks, by erasing its own history.It encourages us to think of the mystic boundaries separating, say, West from East,White from Black, Black from Asian, or Asian from Hispanic, as timeless separations, as divisions that have always been and will always be. We would be wellserved to remember, with Stuart Hall, that we must grapple with “the historicalspecificity of race in the modern world” ~1980, p. 308! to gain an accurate understanding of racial phenomena. In the American context, the “Indian” was inventedwithin the context of European colonization, as indigenous peoples of the Americaswere lumped together under one rubric to be killed, uprooted, and exploited.Whiteness and Blackness were invented as antipodes within the context of English,and later American, slavery. More than any other institution, slavery would dictatethe career of American racism: Blackness became associated with bondage, inferiority, and social death; Whiteness with freedom, superiority, and life. The MexicanAmerican was invented within the context of the colonization of Mexico. At the endof the nineteenth century, the Asian American was invented as a response to immigration from the Far East. Whiteness expanded during the early years of the twentieth century as new immigrants from Southern, Central, and Eastern Europetransformed themselves from “lesser Whites” to, simply, “Whites.”4 All the while,White supremacy was legitimated by racial discourses in philosophy, literature, andscience. By the middle of the twentieth century, the racial categories so familiar tous today were firmly established. Although the second half of the twentieth centurybrought great changes in the realm of race—including the rise of the Civil RightsMovement and the fall of Jim Crow—the racial categories that emerged in Americaover the previous 300 years remained, for the most part, unchallenged. Americans,White and non-White alike, understood themselves as raced, and, by and large,accepted the dominant racial classification even if they refused to accept the termsof racial inequality.Matthew Desmond and Mustafa Emirbayer338 DU BOIS REVIEW: SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH ON RACE 6:2, 2009Misrecognized as NaturalThe last part of the definition we have been unpacking has to do with a process ofnaturalization. This word signifies a metamorphosis of sorts, where something created by humans is mistaken as something dictated by nature. Racial categories arenaturalized when these symbolic groupings—the products of specific historicalcontexts—are wrongly conceived as natural and unchangeable. We misrecognizerace as natural when we begin to think that racial cleavages and inequalities can beexplained by pointing to attributes somehow inherent in the race itself ~as if theywere biological! instead of understanding how social powers, economic forces, political institutions, and cultural practices have brought about these divisions.Naturalized categories are powerful; they are the categories through which weunderstand the world around us. Such categories divide the world along otherwisearbitrary lines and make us believe that there is nothing at all arbitrary about such adivision. What is more, when categories become naturalized, alternative ways ofviewing the world begin to appear more and more impossible. Why, we might ask,should we only have five main racial groups? Why not ninety-five? Why should wedivide people according to their skin color? Why not base racial divisions accordingto foot size, ear shape, teeth color, arm length, or height? Why is ancestry soimportant? Why not base our racial categories on regions—North, South, East, andWest? One might find these suggestive questions silly, and, indeed, they are. But theyare no sillier than the idea that people should be sorted into different racial groupsaccording skin color or blood composition. To twist Bourdieu’s phrase, we might say,when it comes to race, one never doubts enough ~1998 @1994#, p. 36!.The system of racial classification at work in America today is not the onlysystem imaginable, nor is it the only one that has existed in the young life of theUnited States. Race is far from fixed; rather, its forms, depending on the social,economic, political, and cultural pressures of the day, have shifted and fluctuated inwhimsical and drastic ways over time ~Duster 2001!. Indeed, today’s multiracialmovement is challenging America’s dominant racial categories ~which remainedrelatively stable during the latter half of the twentieth century! as people of mixedheritage are refusing to accept as given the state’s racial classification system ~DaCosta2007!. Race is social through and through. Thus, we can regard race as a well-foundedfiction. It is a fiction because it has no natural bearing, but it is nonetheless wellfounded since most people in society provide race with a real existence and divide theworld through this lens.ETHNICITY AND NATIONALITYThe categories of ethnicity and nationality are intrinsically bound up with race.Ethnicity refers to a shared lifestyle informed by cultural, historical, religious, and0ornational affiliations. Nationality is equated with citizenship, membership in a specificpolitically delineated territory controlled by a government ~cf. Weber 1946!. Race,ethnicity, and nationality are overlapping symbolic categories that influence how wesee the world around us, how we view ourselves, and how we divide “us” from“them.” The categories are mutually reinforcing insofar as each category educates,upholds, and is informed by the others. This is why these three categories cannot beunderstood in isolation from one another ~Loveman 1999!. For example, if someoneidentifies as ethnically Norwegian, which, for them, might include a shared lifestylecomposed of Norwegian history and folklore, language, cultural rituals and festivals,and food, they may also reference a nationality, based in the state of Norway, as wellWhat is Racial Domination?DU BOIS REVIEW: SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH ON RACE 6:2, 2009 339as a racial group, White, since nearly all people of Norwegian descent would beclassified as White by American standards. Here, ethnicity is informed by nationality~past or present! and signifies race.Ethnicity often carves out distinctions and identities within racial groups. Tenpeople can be considered Asian American according to our modern racial taxonomy;however, those ten people might have parents or grandparents that immigrated tothe United States from ten different countries, including Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Singapore, China, South Korea, North Korea, Japan, Indonesia, and Laos.They might speak different languages, uphold different traditions, worship differentdeities, enjoy different kinds of food, and go through different experiences. What ismore, many Asian countries have histories of conflict ~such as China and Japan, Northand South Korea!. Accordingly, we cannot assume that a Chinese American and aJapanese American have similar lifestyles or see the world through a shared vision simply because they are both classified as “Asian” under American racial rubrics.5 Therefore, just as race, ethnicity, and nationality cannot be separated from one another, neithercan all three categories be collapsed into one ~cf. Brubaker et al., 2004!.6Race and ethnicity ~as well as nationality! are both marked and made.7 They aremarked through America’s racial taxonomy, as well as a global ethnic taxonomy,which seeks to divide the world into distinct categories. In this case, race andethnicity impose themselves on you. They are made through a multiplicity of different practices—gestures, sayings, tastes, ways of walking, religious convictions, opinions, and so forth. In this case, you perform race or ethnicity. Ethnicity is a very fluid,layered, and situational construct. One might feel very American when voting, veryIrish when celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, very Catholic when attending Easter mass,very “New Yorker” when riding the subway, and very Northern when visiting arelative in South Carolina ~Waters 1990!. Race, too, can be performed to varyingdegrees. One might act “very Black” when celebrating Kwanza with relatives butmay repress one’s Blackness while in a business meeting with White colleagues. Raceas performance is “predicated on actions, on the things one does in the world, onhow one behaves.” As anthropologist John Jackson, Jr. notes, “You are not Blackbecause you are ~in essence! Black; you are Black . . . because of how you act—andnot just in terms of one field of behavior ~say, intellectual achievement in school! butbecause of how you juggle and combine many differently racialized and class~ed! actions~walking, talking, laughing, watching a movie, standing, emoting, partying!in an everyday matrix of performative possibilities” ~2001, pp. 171, 188!. Because racial domination attaches to skin color, a dark-skinned person can never completely escape its clutchessimply by acting “not Black.” But that person may choose one saying over another, onekind of clothing over another, one mode of interaction over another, because she believessuch an action makes her more or less Black ~cf. Johnson 2003!. This is why we claimthat race and ethnicity are ascribed and achieved, both marked and made.One may create, reproduce, accept, or actively resist imposed systems of racialclassification; one may choose to accentuate one’s ethnicity or racial identity. But inmany cases, one’s choices, one’s racial or ethnic performances, will have little impacton how one is labeled by others. A person born to Chinese parents but adopted, atinfancy, by a Jamaican American couple might identify as ethnically Jamaican. Shemight enjoy Jamaican cuisine, read Jamaican literature, listen to Jamaican music, andstudy Jamaican history. However, although her adopted parents may be classified asracially Black, she would be classified as Asian, her race decided for her ~Conley2001!. The crucial point is that the degree to which an individual can slip and slidethrough multiple ethnic identities depends on the degree to which those identitiesare stigmatized. White Americans typically enjoy a high degree of fluidity andMatthew Desmond and Mustafa Emirbayer340 DU BOIS REVIEW: SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH ON RACE 6:2, 2009freedom when self-identifying ethnically. They can choose to give equal weight to allaspects of their ethnicity or to highlight certain parts while de-emphasizing others.For instance, the same person could identify as either “half-Italian, quarter-Polish,quarter-Swiss,” “Polish and Italian,” or just “Italian.” Many people of color do notenjoy the same degree of choice. Someone whose father is Arab American and whosemother is Dutch American could not so easily get away with ethnically identifyingonly as “Dutch.”In some instances, non-Whites may perform ethnicity in order to resist certainracial classifications ~as when African migrants teach their children to speak with anaccent so they might avoid being identified as African Americans!; in other instances,they might, in an opposite way, attempt to cleanse themselves of all ethnic markers~be they linguistic, religious, or cultural in nature! to avoid becoming victims ofdiscrimination or stigmatization. Either way, their efforts may prove futile sincethose belonging to dominated racial groups have considerably less ethnic agencythan those belonging to the dominant—and hence normalized—group.8One reason why race and ethnicity are relatively decoupled for White Americansbut bound tightly together for non-White Americans is found in the history of thenation’s immigration policies and practices. Until the late nineteenth century, immigration to America was deregulated and encouraged ~with the exception of Chineseexclusion laws!; however, at the turn of the century, native-born White Americans,who blamed immigrants for the rise of urban slums, crime, and class conflict, begancalling for immigration restrictions. Popular and political support for restrictionsswelled and resulted in the development of a strict immigration policy, culminatingin the Johnson-Reed Act of 1924. America’s new immigration law, complete withnational quotas and racial restrictions on citizenship, would fundamentally realignthe country’s racial taxonomy. “The national origins system classified Europeans asnationalities and assigned quotas in a hierarchy of desirability,” writes historian MaeNgai in Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America. “@B#ut atthe same time the law deemed all Europeans to be part of a White race, distinct fromthose considered to be not @W#hite. Euro-American identities turned both onethnicity—that is, a nationality-based cultural identity that is defined as capable oftransformation and assimilation—and on a racial identity defined by @W#hiteness”~2004, p. 7!. Non-Whites, on the other hand, were either denied entry into theUnited States ~as was the case for Asian migrants! or were associated with illegalimmigration through harsh border control policies ~as was the case for Mexicans!.Indeed, the immigration laws of the 1920s applied the newly formed concept of“national origin” only to European nations; those classified as members of the“colored races” were conceived as bereft of a country of origin. The result, Ngaiobserves, was that “unlike Euro-Americans, whose ethnic and racial identities becameuncoupled during the 1920s, Asians’ and Mexicans’ ethnic and racial identities remainedconjoined” ~2004, pp. 7–8!.The history of America’s immigration policy underscores the intimate conception between race, ethnicity, citizenship, and national origin. Racial categories oftenare defined and changed by national lawmakers, as citizenship has been extended orretracted depending on one’s racial ascription. The U.S. justice system has decideddozens of cases in ways that have solidified certain racial classifications in the law.During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, legal cases handed down rulings thatofficially recognized Japanese, Chinese, Burmese, Filipinos, Koreans, Native Americans, and mixed-race individuals as “not White.” In 1897, a Texas federal court ruledthat Mexicans were legally “White.” And Indian Americans, Syrians, and Arabianshave been capriciously classified as both “White” and “not White” ~Haney-LópezWhat is Racial Domination?DU BOIS REVIEW: SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH ON RACE 6:2, 2009 3411996!. Briefly examining how the legal definitions of White and non-White havechanged over the years demonstrates the incredibly unstable and fluid nature ofracial categories. It also shows how our legal system helps to construct race. Forinstance, the “prerequisite cases” that determined peoples’ race in order to determine their eligibility for U.S. citizenship resulted in poisonous symbolic consequences. Deemed worthy of citizenship, White people were understood to beupstanding, law-abiding, moral, and intelligent. Conversely, non-White people, fromwhom citizenship was withheld, were thought to be base, criminal, untrustworthy,and of lesser intelligence. For most of America’s history, courts determined race, andrace determined nationality; thus, nationality can only be understood within thecontext of U.S. racial and ethnic conflict ~Loury 2001; Shklar 1991!.9FIVE FALLACIES ABOUT RACISMAccording to the Southern Poverty Law Center ~2005!, there are hundreds of activehate groups across the country. These groups are mostly found in the Southernstates—Texas, Georgia, and South Carolina have over forty active groups per state—but California ranks highest in the nation, housing within its borders fifty-threegroups. For some people, hate groups epitomize what the essence of racism amountsto: intentional acts of humiliation and hatred. While such acts undoubtedly are racistin nature, they are but the tip of the iceberg. To define racism only through extremegroups and their extreme acts is akin to defining weather only through hurricanes.Hurricanes are certainly a type of weather pattern—a harsh and brutal type—but sotoo are mild rainfalls, light breezes, and sunny days. Likewise, racism is muchbroader than violence and epithets. It also comes in much quieter, everyday-ordinaryforms ~cf. Essed 1991 @1984# !.Americans are deeply divided over the legacies and inner workings of racism, anda large part of this division is due to the fact that many Americans understand racismin limited or misguided ways ~Alba et al., 2005; Nadeau et al., 1993!. We haveidentified five fallacies, recurrent in many public debates ~see, e.g., Harper andReskin, 2005; Reskin 1998; Sears et al., 2000!, fallacies one should avoid whenthinking about racism.~1! Individualistic Fallacy.—Here, racism is assumed to belong to the realm ofideas and prejudices. Racism is only the collection of nasty thoughts that a “racistindividual” has about another group. Someone operating with this fallacy thinks ofracism as one thinks of a crime and, therefore, divides the world into two types ofpeople: those guilty of the crime of racism ~“racists”! and those innocent of the crime~“non-racists”! ~Wacquant 1997!. Crucial to this misconceived notion of racism isintentionality. “Did I intentionally act racist? Did I cross the street because I wasscared of the Hispanic man walking toward me, or did I cross for no apparentreason?” Upon answering “no” to the question of intentionality, one assumes one canclassify one’s own actions as “nonracist,” despite the character of those actions, andgo about his or her business as innocent.This conception of racism simply will not do, for it fails to account for the racismthat is woven into the very fabric of our schools, political institutions, labor markets,and neighborhoods. Conflating racism with prejudice, as Herbert Blumer ~1958!pointed out fifty years ago, ignores the more systematic and structural forms ofracism; it looks for racism within individuals and not institutions. Labeling someonea “racist” shifts our attention from the social surroundings that enforce racial inequalities and miseries to the individual with biases. It also lets the accuser off theMatthew Desmond and Mustafa Emirbayer342 DU BOIS REVIEW: SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH ON RACE 6:2, 2009hook—“He is a racist; I am not”—and treats racism as aberrant and strange, whereasAmerican racism is rather normal. Furthermore, intentionality is in no way a prerequisite for racism. Racism is often habitual, unintentional, commonplace, polite,implicit, and well meaning ~Brown et al., 2003!. Thus, racism is located not only inour intentional thoughts and actions; it also thrives in our unintentional thoughtsand habits, as well as in the social institutions in which we all are embedded ~BonillaSilva 1997; Feagin et al., 2001!.~2! Legalistic Fallacy.—This fallacy conflates de jure legal progress with de factoracial progress. One who operates under the legalistic fallacy assumes that abolishingracist laws ~racism in principle! automatically leads to the abolition of racism writlarge ~racism in practice!. This fallacy will begin to crumble after a few moments ofcritical reflection. After all, we would not make the same mistake when it comesto other criminalized acts: Laws against theft do not mean that one’s car will neverbe stolen. By way of tangible illustration, consider Brown v. Board of Education,the landmark case that abolished de jure segregation in schools. The ruling didnot lead to the abolition of de facto segregation: fifty years later, schools are stilldrastically segregated and drastically unequal ~Neckerman 2007; Oaks 2005!. Infact, some social scientists have documented a nationwide movement of educational resegregation, which has left today’s schools even more segregated than those of 1954~see Eaton 1994; Harris 2006; Orfield 1993!.~3! Tokenistic Fallacy.—One guilty of the tokenistic fallacy assumes that thepresence of people of color in influential positions is evidence of the eradication ofracial obstacles. Although it is true that non-Whites have made significant inroads toseats of political and economic power over the course of the last fifty years, adisproportionate number remain disadvantaged in these arenas ~Alexander 2006;Patterson 1997!. Exceptions do not prove the rule. We cannot, in good conscience,ignore the millions of African Americans living in poverty and, instead, point toOprah Winfrey’s millions as evidence for economic equality. Rather, we must explorehow Winfrey’s financial success can coexist with the economic deprivation of millions of Black women. We need to explore, in historian Thomas Holt’s words, howthe “simultaneous idealization of Colin Powell,” or, for that matter, Barack Obama,“and demonization of blacks as a whole . . . is replicated in much of our everydayworld” ~2000, p. 6!.Besides, throughout the history of America, one has been able to find at least ahandful of non-White individuals who excelled financially and politically in the teethof rampant racial domination. The first Black congressman was not elected after theCivil Rights Movement but in 1870. Joseph Rainey, a former slave, served four termsin the House of Representatives. Madame C. J. Walker is accredited as being the firstBlack millionaire. Born in 1867, Walker made her fortune inventing hair and beautyproducts. Few people would feel comfortable pointing to Rainey’s and Walker’s success as evidence that late nineteenth-century America was a time of racial harmonyand equity. Such tokenistic logic would not be accurate then, and it is not accurate now.~4! Ahistorical Fallacy.—This fallacy renders history impotent. Thinking hindered by the ahistorical fallacy makes a bold claim: Most U.S. history—namely, theperiod of time when this country did not extend basic rights to people of color ~letalone classify them as fully human!—is inconsequential today. Legacies of slaveryand colonialism, the eradication of millions of Native Americans, forced segregation,clandestine sterilizations and harmful science experiments, mass disenfranchisement,race-based exploitation, racist propaganda distributed by the state caricaturing Asians,Blacks, and Hispanics, racially motivated abuses of all kinds ~sexual, murderous, anddehumanizing!—all of this, purport those operating under the ahistorical fallacy, areWhat is Racial Domination?DU BOIS REVIEW: SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH ON RACE 6:2, 2009 343too far removed to matter to those living in the here-and-now. This idea is soerroneous it is difficult to take seriously. Today’s society is directed, constructed, andmolded by—indeed grafted onto—the past ~Ngai 2004; Patterson 1998; Winant2001!. And race, as we have already seen, is a historical invention.A “soft version” of the ahistorical fallacy might admit that events in the “recentpast”—such as the time since the Civil Rights Movement or the attacks on September 11—matter while things in the “distant past”—such as slavery or the colonizationof Mexico—have little consequence. But this idea is no less fallacious than the “hardversion,” since many events in America’s “distant past”—especially the enslavementand murder of millions of Africans—are the most consequential in shaping presentday society. In this vein, consider the question French historian Marc Bloch poses tous: “But who would dare to say that the understanding of the Protestant or CatholicReformation, several centuries removed, is not far more important for a proper graspof the world today than a great many other movements of thought or feeling, whichare certainly more recent, yet more ephemeral” ~1953, p. 41!?~5! Fixed Fallacy.—Those who assume that racism is fixed—that it is immutable,constant across time and space—partake in the fixed fallacy. Since they take racism tobe something that does not develop at all, those who understand racism through thefixed fallacy are often led to ask questions such as: “Has racism increased or decreasedin the past decade?” And because practitioners of the fixed fallacy usually take as theirstandard definition of racism only the most heinous forms—racial violence, forexample—they confidently conclude that, indeed, things have gotten better.It is important and useful to trace the career of American racism, analyzing, forexample, how racial attitudes or measures of racial inclusion and exclusion havechanged over time, and many social scientists have developed sophisticated techniques for doing so ~e.g., Almaguer 1994; Bobo 2001; Patterson 1998; Schumanet al., 1997!. But the question, “Have things gotten better or worse?,” is legitimateonly after we account for the morphing attributes of racism. We cannot quantifyracism like we can quantify, say, birthrates. The nature of “birthrate” does notfluctuate over time; thus, it makes sense to ask, “Are there more or less births nowthan there were fifty years ago?” without bothering to analyze if and how a birthrateis different today than it was in previous historical moments. American racism, onthe other hand, assumes different forms in different historical moments. Althoughrace relations today are informed by those of the past, we cannot hold to the beliefthat twenty-first-century racism takes on the exact same form as twentieth-centuryracism. And we certainly cannot conclude that there is “little or no racism” todaybecause it does not resemble the racism of the 1950s. ~Modern-day Christianitylooks very different, in nearly every conceivable way, than the Christianity of theearly church. But this does not mean that there is “little or no Christianity” today.!So, before we ask, “Have things gotten better or worse?,” we should ponder theessence of racism today, noting how it differs from racism experienced by those livingin our parents’ or grandparents’ generation. And we should ask, further, to quoteHolt again, “What enables racism to reproduce itself after the historical conditionsthat initially gave it life have disappeared” ~2000, p. 20!?RACIAL DOMINATIONWe have spent a significant amount of time talking about what racial domination isnot but have yet to spell out what it is. We can delineate two specific manifestationsof racial domination: institutional racism and interpersonal racism.10 InstitutionalMatthew Desmond and Mustafa Emirbayer344 DU BOIS REVIEW: SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH ON RACE 6:2, 2009racism is systemic White domination of people of color, embedded and operating incorporations, universities, legal systems, political bodies, cultural life, and othersocial collectives. The word “domination” reminds us that institutional racism is atype of power that encompasses the symbolic power to classify one group of people as“normal” and other groups of people as “abnormal”; the political power to withholdbasic rights from people of color and marshal the full power of the state to enforcesegregation and inequality; the social power to deny people of color full inclusion ormembership in associational life; and the economic power that privileges Whites interms of job placement, advancement, wealth, and property accumulation.Informed by centuries of racial domination, institutional racism withholds frompeople of color opportunities, privileges, and rights that many Whites enjoy. Socialscientists have amassed a significant amount of evidence documenting institutionalracism, evidence that demonstrates how White people—strictly because of theirWhiteness—reap considerable advantages when buying and selling a house, choosing a neighborhood in which to live, getting a job and moving up the corporateladder, securing a first-class education, and seeking medical care ~Massey 2007;Quillian 2006!. That Whites accumulate more property and earn more income thanmembers of minority populations, possess immeasurably more political power, andenjoy greater access to the country’s cultural, social, medical, legal, and economicresources are well documented facts ~e.g., Oliver and Shapiro, 1997; Pager 2003;Western 2006!. While Whites have accumulated many opportunities due to racialdomination, people of color have suffered from disaccumulation ~Brown et al.,2003!. Thus, if we talk about “Hispanic poverty,” then we must also talk about Whiteaffluence; if we speak of “Black unemployment,” then we must also keep in mindWhite employment; and if we ponder public policies for people of color, then wemust also critically examine the public policies that directly benefit White people.11Below the level of institutions—yet directly informed by their workings—wefind interpersonal racism. This is racial domination manifest in everyday interactionsand practices. Interpersonal racism can be overt; however, most of the time, interpersonal racism is quite covert: it is found in the habitual, commonsensical, andordinary practices of our lives. Our racist attitudes, as Lillian Smith remarked inKillers of the Dream, easily “slip from the conscious mind deep into the muscles”~1994 @1949#, p. 96!. Since we are disposed to a world structured by racial domination, we develop racialized dispositions—some conscious, many more unconsciousand somatic—that guide our thoughts and behaviors. We may talk slowly to an Asianwoman at the farmer’s market, unconsciously assuming that she speaks poor English;we may inform a Hispanic man at a corporate party that someone has spilled theirpunch, unconsciously assuming that he is a janitor; we may ask to change seats if anArab American man sits next to us on an airplane. Miniature actions such as thesehave little to do with one’s intentional thoughts; they are orchestrated by one’spractical sense, one’s habitual knowhow, and informed by institutional racism.Conflict between Racially Dominated Groups“Can people of color be racist?” This question is a popular one in the publicimagination, and the answer depends on what we mean by racism. Institutionalracism is the product of years of White supremacy, and it is designed to producefar-reaching benefits for White people. Institutional racism carries on despite ourpersonal attitudes. Thus, there is no such thing as “Black institutional racism” or“reverse institutional racism” since there exists no centuries-old socially ingrainedand normalized system of domination designed by people of color that denies WhitesWhat is Racial Domination?DU BOIS REVIEW: SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH ON RACE 6:2, 2009 345full participation in the rights, privileges, and seats of power of our society ~Brownet al., 2003!. Interpersonal racism, on the other hand, takes place on the ground leveland has to do with attitudes and habitual actions. It is certainly true that members ofall racial groups can harbor negative attitudes toward members of other groups.Indeed, some non-White groups have a deep, conflict-ridden history with othernon-White groups. Consider the tense relationship, found in many urban areas,between Korean immigrants and African Americans. Immigrant groups have alwaysfound a way to establish a business in the inner city. Throughout the twentiethcentury, Jewish shopkeepers were a regular fixture in the center of town; but as theirchildren inherited, not just the opportunities their parents had worked so hard toprovide, but also the opportunities involved in being welcomed deeper into the ranksof Whiteness, they took leave of their shops and opened up in turn new opportunitiesfor streams of other ethnic immigrants. Koreans have filled the business niche left byJewish shopkeepers, and many have opened up shops in the Black ghetto becausethey can afford to live there and because they do not have to compete with largecorporations, which are much more interested in the deeper pockets of suburbanresidents ~Lee 2002; Waldinger 1996!.Some Black ghetto residents, however, view Korean shopkeepers with a fairdegree of animus and resentment. Although Blacks and immigrants usually competefor different jobs ~Baker 1999; McCall 2001!, many poor Blacks feel that Koreanentrepreneurs have stymied the growth of black business. Conflicts between Blackpatrons and Korean storeowners regularly are colored by racist language, with eachparty exchanging epithets ~Kim 2000; Lee 2002!. Black-Korean conflict boiled overin the early nineteen-nineties. In 1991, a Korean merchant shot and killed a Blackteenager in South Central Los Angeles. A year later, Los Angeles went up in flamesas insurgents of all racial identities took to the streets after four White police officers,who had been caught on videotape beating Rodney King, a twenty-five-year-oldmotorist, were acquitted. As the smoke settled from the country’s first multiethnicuprising, fifty-two had been killed and millions of dollars worth of property had beendestroyed. Korean storeowners were hit the hardest, suffering almost half the totalproperty damage—roughly $400 million ~Lee 2002!.Black-Korean conflict, as well as other antagonistic relations between raciallydominated groups—including the so-called Black-Brown divide, bitter relations amongHispanic subgroups, and animus between various American Indian Nations—remindus how racial domination can occlude and distort, how it can hide the real causes ofhuman misery under false arguments that attribute those causes to certain dominatedracial groups. Instead of examining processes of disinvestment and deindustrialization that hollowed out the city’s core, ongoing modes of capitalist exploitation thatkeep plump the unemployment rolls, or America’s skimpy welfare state and theretreat of state involvement in poor urban areas, the mind clouded by racial domination prefers to blame immigrants or Blacks. The distrust and fear that differentracial and ethnic groups living in poor urban neighborhoods harbor towards oneanother is matched only by the interests and struggles shared by these groups.People of color, then, can help to reinforce the White power structure by lashingout against other non-White groups. That said, we must realize that interpersonalracism targeting dominated groups and interpersonal racism targeting the dominantgroup do not pack the same punch. Take, for example, the following scenario: Twoyoung men, one Black, the other White, bump into each other on the street. TheBlack man calls the White man a “honky.” In response, the White man calls the Blackman a “boy.” Both racial slurs are racial slurs and should be labeled as such, and bothreinforce racial divisions. However, unlike “honky,” “boy” connects to the largerMatthew Desmond and Mustafa Emirbayer346 DU BOIS REVIEW: SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH ON RACE 6:2, 2009system of institutional racial domination. The word derives its meaning ~and power!from slavery, when enslaved African men were stripped of their masculine honor andtreated like children. “Boy” ~and many other epithets aimed at Blacks! invokes suchtimes—times when murdering, torturing, whipping, and raping enslaved Blacks werenot illegal acts. Epithets towards White people, including “honky,” have no suchequivalent. “Boy” also reminds the Black man how things stand today. If the confrontation escalates and the police are called, the Black man knows that the policeofficers will probably be White and that he might be harassed or looked upon as athreat; if the two men meet in court, the Black man knows that the lawyers, judge,and jurors will possibly be mostly ~if not all! White; and if the two men are sentenced, the African American man knows—as do many criminologists ~e.g., Tonry1995!—that he will get the harsher sentence. “Boy” brings the full weight of institutional racism—systematic, historical, mighty—down upon the Black man. “Honky,”even if delivered with venomous spite, is powerless by comparison.Moreover, sociologists have shown that, unlike White people, people of colorare confronted with interpersonal racism on a regular basis, sometimes daily. Forpeople of color, there is a cumulative character to an individual’s racial experiences.Humiliating or degrading acts always are informed by similar acts that individualshave experienced in the past. To paraphrase Joe Feagin ~1991!, the interpersonalevents that take place on the street and in other public settings are not simply rareand isolated events; rather, they are recurring events shaped by historical and socialforces of racial domination.Symbolic ViolenceBecause racism infuses all of social life, people of color and Whites alike developthoughts and practices molded by racism; people of color and Whites alike developstereotypes about other racial groups. People of color often internalize prejudiceaimed at their own racial group, unintentionally contributing to the reproduction ofracial domination.12 Psychologists have labeled this phenomenon “internalized oppression” or “internalized racism” ~Fanon 1967!. Following the work of Pierre Bourdieu,we label it “symbolic violence”: “violence which is exercised upon a social agent with his orher complicity” ~Bourdieu and Wacquant, 1992, p. 167!. In the case of racial domination, symbolic violence refers to the process of people of color unknowingly accepting and supporting the terms of their own domination, thereby acting as agents whocollude in the conditions from which they suffer. “So we learned the dance thatcripples the human spirit,” laments Smith, “step by step by step, we who were@W#hite and we who were colored, day by day, hour by hour, year by year until themovements were reflexes and made for the rest of our life without thinking” ~1994@1949#, p. 96!.A good example of symbolic violence is the nearly worldwide acceptance ofEuropean standards of beauty. The false aesthetic separation between “Whitebeauty”—epitomized by long, straight, blonde hair, blue eyes, and pale skin—and“Black ugliness”—epitomized by short, curly, black hair, brown eyes, and dark brownskin—grew out of slavery. Features associated with the African American phenotypewere demonized. Since the “Black is Beautiful” movement of the 1960s, manyAfrican American women have resisted such standards, taking pride in their curlyhair and their ebony-colored skin. Nevertheless, many others have internalizedWhite standards of beauty. As such, they use costly and painful methods to straightenand dye their hair and, less frequently, to lighten their skin. In fact, Madame C. J.Walker, the first Black millionaire mentioned above, made her fortune developing aWhat is Racial Domination?DU BOIS REVIEW: SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH ON RACE 6:2, 2009 347product to straighten Black women’s hair! Today, many Black women and othermembers of dominated races, to borrow Sartre’s line, have been “poisoned by thestereotype others have of them” ~1960 @1946#, p. 95!.Symbolic violence operates by virtue of the fact that the dominated perceive andrespond to the structures and processes that dominate them through modes ofthought—and, indeed, also of feeling—which are themselves the product of domination. The “order of things” comes to seem to them natural, self-evident, andlegitimate. Such an insight neither grants everything to structural causation norblames the hapless victim. “@T#he only way to understand this particular form ofdomination is to move beyond the forced choice between constraint ~by forces! andconsent ~to reasons!, between mechanical coercion and voluntary, free, deliberate,even calculated submission. The effect of symbolic domination . . . is exerted not inthe pure logic of knowing consciousnesses but through the schemes of perception,appreciation, and action that are constitutive of habitus and which, below the level ofthe decisions of consciousness and the controls of the will, set up a cognitive relationship that is profoundly obscure to itself ” ~Bourdieu 2001 @1998#, p. 37!. This inturn has an important practical implication. What is required is a radical transformation of the social conditions that produce embodied habits, dispositions, tastes,and lifestyles that lead people to become actively complicit in their own domination.The only way to bring about change that does not entail merely replacing onemodality of racial domination with another is to undo the mechanisms of dehistoricization and universalization—“always and everywhere it has been this way”—through which arbitrary workings of power are enabled to continue.Intersecting Modes of DominationRacial domination does not operate inside a vacuum, cordoned off from other modesof domination. On the contrary, it intersects with other forms of domination—thosebased on gender, class, sexuality, religion, nationhood, ability, and so forth. Thenotion that there is a monolithic “Arab American experience,” “Asian Americanexperience,” or “White experience”—experiences somehow detached from otherpieces of one’s identity—is nothing but a chimera. Researchers have labeled such anotion “racial essentialism,” for such a way of thinking boils down vastly differenthuman experiences into a single “master category”: race ~Harris 2000!. When we failto account for these different experiences, we create silences in our narratives of thesocial world and fail to explain how overlapping systems of advantage and disadvantage affect individuals’ opportunity structures, lifestyles, and social hardships. Theidea of intersectionality implies that we cannot understand the lives of poor Whitesingle mothers or gay Black men by examining only one dimension of their lives—class, gender, race, or sexuality. Indeed, we must explore their lives in their fullcomplexity, examining how these various dimensions come together and structuretheir existence. When we speak of racial domination, then, we must always bear inmind the ways in which it interacts with masculine domination ~or sexism!, heterosexual domination ~or homophobia!, class domination ~poverty!, religious persecution, disadvantages brought on by disabilities, and so forth ~Collins 2000; Crenshaw1990; Mohanty 2003!.In addition, we should not assume that one kind of oppression is more importantthan another or that being advantaged in one dimension of life somehow cancels outother dimensions that often result in disadvantage. While it is true that poor Whitesexperience many of the same hardships as poor Blacks, it is not true that povertysomehow de-Whitens poor Whites. In other words, though they are in a similarlyMatthew Desmond and Mustafa Emirbayer348 DU BOIS REVIEW: SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH ON RACE 6:2, 2009precarious economic position as poor Blacks, poor Whites still experience race-basedprivileges, while poor Blacks are oppressed not only by poverty but also by racism. Ina similar vein, well-off people of color cannot “buy” their way out of racism. Despitetheir economic privilege, middle- and upper-class non-Whites experience institutional and interpersonal racism on a regular basis ~Feagin 1991!. But how, exactly,should we conceptualize these intersecting modes of domination? Many scholarshave grappled with this question ~e.g., McCall 2005; Walby 2007; Yuval-Davis 2006!,and we do so here, if only in the most provisional way.The notion of intersectionality is perhaps as old as the social problems of racial,masculine, and class domination, but in recent memory it was popularized by activists who criticized the feminist and civil rights movements for ignoring the uniquestruggles of women of color. The term itself is credited to critical race scholarKimberlé Crenshaw ~1989!, who imagined society as divided every which way bymultiple forms of inequality. For Crenshaw, society resembled an intricate system ofcrisscrossing roads—each one representing a different social identity ~e.g., race,gender, class, religion, age!; one’s unique social position ~or structural location! couldbe identified by listing all the attributes of one’s social identity and pinpointing thenexus ~or intersection! at which all those attributes coalesced. This conception ofintersectionality has been the dominant one for many years, leading scholars tounderstand overlapping modes of oppression as a kind of “matrix of domination”~Collins 2000!.Recently, however, scholars have criticized this way of thinking about intersectionality, claiming that it reproduces, in minimized form, the very essentialist reasoning it sought to dismantle ~see Ferree 2009; McCall 2005!. For example, thosewho have concentrated on the ways that “class intersects with race” largely havebifurcated racial groups ~especially African Americans! into two classes—the middleclass and the poor ~or “the underclass”!—attributing to each certain social characteristics, principles, and practices ~e.g., Jencks 1992; Massey and Denton, 1993;Wilson 1978!. Thus, instead of Black culture, we now have two distinct Blackcultures; instead of the Black community, we think in terms of subcommunities.When scholars divide racial groups into a set number of classes, genders, sexualities,and so forth, the end result is not a critique of essentialism but a new, softer kind ofessentialism, resulting in “a multichrome mosaic of monochrome racial, ethnic, orcultural blocs” ~Brubaker et al., 2004, p. 45!. At best, a model that represents societyas a hierarchy of culturally discrete boxes—divided by vectors of social identity—encourages us to conceptualize oppression through a simple additive model ~oneoften hears of a “double jeopardy” or “triple oppression”!; at worst, it replaces largerhomogenizing rubrics ~“Hispanics”! with smaller ones ~“Hispanic women”! andoffers little conceptual refuge from reductionist and reifying tendencies.We believe a more analytically sophisticated and politically useful rendering ofintertwined oppressions is Myra Marx Ferree’s model of “interactive intersectionality” ~cf. Prins 2006; Walby 2007!. In this version, overlapping social identities arebest understood, not as a collection of “points of intersection,” but as a “figuration”~as Elias would have it! or “field” ~as Bourdieu would! of shifting, deeplydimensioned, and “mutually constituted relationships.” This means “the ‘intersectionof gender and race’ is not any number of specific locations occupied by individuals orgroups ~such as Black women! but a process through which ‘race’ takes on multiple‘gendered’ meanings for particular women and men. . . . In such a complex system,gender is not a dimension limited to the organization of reproduction or family, classis not a dimension equated with the economy, and race is not a category reduced tothe primacy of ethnicities, nations and borders, but all of the processes that systemWhat is Racial Domination?DU BOIS REVIEW: SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH ON RACE 6:2, 2009 349atically organize families, economies, and nations are co-constructed along with themeanings of gender, race, and class that are presented in and reinforced by theseinstitutions separately and together” ~Ferree 2009, p. 85!.The best metaphor for intersecting modes of oppression, therefore, may not bethat of crisscrossing roads but of a web or field of relations within which strugglesover opportunities, power, and privileges take place ~cf. Bourdieu 1996 @1992#;Emirbayer 1997!. The implication of this new theoretical development is that if wefocus strictly on race and ignore other sources of social inequality ~such as class andgender!, not only will we be deaf to the unique experiences of certain members ofsociety—their voices drowned out by our violent and homogenizing categorization—but we will also ~and always! fundamentally misunderstand our object of analysis:race itself. Intersectional analysis of the type that breaks with old modes of thinking~e.g., society as a “matrix of domination”! and adopts a thoroughly relational perspective on multiple modes of oppression ~e.g., “interactive intersectionality”! is notan option but a prerequisite for fully understanding the nature of racial identity andracial domination.CONCLUSIONThe aim of this paper was to advance a socioanalysis of racial domination in embryonicform, introducing students to the analytical building blocks of a sociology of race andethnicity. We strove to consolidate—in a single essay—insights from diverse bodies ofscholarship, critically interrogating several ideas along the way. In so doing, we underscored a shared set of definitions and concepts and emphasized effective ~and dissectedfallacious! ways of thinking about racial domination. Racism can be slippery, elusive toobservation and analysis. Twenty-first century patterns of racial stigmatization, exclusion, and repression—as well as promises of racial reconciliation and multiculturalcoalitions—do not immediately resemble those of the twentieth century. Like a recessive tumor, twenty-first-century racism has disguised itself, calling itself by other namesand cloaking itself behind seemingly “race-neutral” laws, policies, practices, and language. As students of society—and as citizens of a world that grows more racially diverseevery year—we must work to render apparent this pervasive, corrosive, and dehumanizing form of domination that infects the health of our society. We must understandhow race works, developing tools to analyze this well-founded fiction responsible forso many cleavages and inequalities in our world today. This article has attempted to laythe groundwork necessary to do just that.Corresponding author: Matthew Desmond, Department of Sociology, University of Wisconsin—Madison, 8128 William H. Sewell Social Sciences Building, 1180 Observatory Drive, Madison, WI53706-1393. Email: [email protected]NOTES1. Race scholars must strive to construct their own object of inquiry rather than allowingthat object to be pre-constructed for them, as it were, by taken-for-granted and commonsense understandings or folk knowledge ~Banton 1979!. As Durkheim ~e.g., 1982@1895# ! often stressed, crafting a scientific definition is among the most effective ways toexercise epistemological vigilance. We present our own provisional definition of racehere to break with commonsense impressions of the term and, by unpacking it oneelement at a time, to arrive at a “social-scientifically” sound understanding of race. Byemphasizing the process of misrecognition ~or naturalization!, our definition differsfrom others, which tend to accept as given the existence of natural physical differencesMatthew Desmond and Mustafa Emirbayer350 DU BOIS REVIEW: SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH ON RACE 6:2, 2009that are, through the process of racialization, ascribed social importance or meaning.Since Weber, sociologists have defined race as a form of social classification based on“obvious physical differences” ~1978 @1922#, p. 385; e.g., Schaefer 2006, p. 7! or “different types of human bodies” ~Omi and Winant, 1994, p. 55!. In many ~one might saymost! cases, these conditions hold—what becomes known as a “race” is a group set apartthrough social classification, practice, and custom by skin tone, hair type, smell, or someother physical difference—but they prove insufficient in a non-insignificant number ofother contexts, where the process of racialization relies on a set of non-obvious, or evennon-existent, physical attributes ~as in the case of Japan’s Burakamin or even lightskinned African Americans or Native Americans!. Banton was correct when he said thatpeople “do not perceive racial differences . . . @but# phenotypical differences of colour,hair form, underlying bone structure and so on” ~1979, p. 130!. But we can go furtherstill, acknowledging that processes of racialization actually can demarcate differencewhere previously no phenotypic difference ~even at the level of melanin count! existed.In all cases, the process of racialization relies on the process of misrecognition, wherebya social creation is mistaken for a natural phenomenon, either in hard form ~as withscientific racism or the early human taxonomies! or in softer manifestations ~as withstereotypical comments attributing to certain racial groups a collection of attributes,positive or negative, as if those attributes were genetically inherited!.2. Emphatically, this does not mean that refusing to recognize racial groups that werecreated through centuries of oppression, colonialism, political discourse, and scientificmanipulation will somehow lead those races ~and racial inequality! to magically disappear. The process of racial misrecognition is found both at the structural and individuallevels and, most important, is a historical process. It follows, then, that the practice ofrefusing to recognize the misrecognition, as with France’s aversion to acknowledgingracial categories or the prematurely celebratory declaration of a “color-blind” or “racefree” America usually associated with neoconservative politics, is an ineffective andwrongheaded response to a world itself not color-blind. In many cases, the refusal torecognize race—a well-founded fiction—only exacerbates racial inequalities by rendering antiracist programs impossible.3. For critiques of ethnicity-, nation-, and class-oriented theories of race, see Omi andWinant ~1994!.4. Recently, an energetic and constructive debate has emerged over the historical construction of Whiteness in America, its genesis, development, and boundaries. While somehistorians have argued that certain European immigrants initially were not consideredWhite but eventually came to be included under this privileged rubric, others havesuggested that these immigrants were “@W#hite on arrival” ~see Arnesen 2001; Guglielmo2004; Roediger 1991!.5. Americans tend to focus on ethnic differences within the White race, while treatingBlacks, Latinos, and Asian Americans as if they had no ethnicity and as if there were nocultural or historical differences between ~for African Americans! Haitians, Jamaicans,Ethiopians, Trinidadians, Angolans, or Nigerians, or between ~for Latinos! Puerto Ricans,Cubans, Mexicans, Peruvians, or Dominicans, or between ~for Asian Americans! Laotians,Indonesians, Cambodians, Vietnamese, Chinese, and Japanese people ~Waters 1999!.6. Although ethnic affiliations are often informed by national affiliations, ethnicity also cantranscend national borders. Jewish ethnic affiliation encompasses a wide variety of people who vary in terms of nationality, political commitments, languages, and religiousbeliefs and practices. Despite these differences—which cut across national and religiousboundaries—many Jews see themselves as bound together in a group, sharing a commonhistory, culture, and ethnic identity.7. For an extended discussion, see Desmond and Emirbayer ~2009!.8. This is why some scholars have observed that, in its popular usage, the term “Hispanic”is deployed much more often as a racial, not ethnic, classification, while Hispanic“sub-categories,” such as “Mexican” or “Cuban,” are treated like ethnic markers ~seeHirschman et al., 2000!.9. Today, many foreign-born residents still face great barriers when applying for U.S.citizenship. When we compare U.S. naturalization rates with those of Canada, wenotice that the latter are higher than the former: over the past three decades, Canadahas awarded most of its foreign-born population citizenship, while the U.S. has notnaturalized the majority of its foreign-born population ~Bloemraad 2006; see also Joppke1999!.What is Racial Domination?DU BOIS REVIEW: SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH ON RACE 6:2, 2009 35110. We eschew the misleading antinomy of “racism” and “prejudice”—or, in the words ofBonilla-Silva ~1997!, “structure” and “ideology”—since the latter term is only an extension and manifestation of the former; prejudice is in no way qualitatively distinct fromracism and should not be portrayed as such.11. At the same time, however, we should not assume that non-White gain automaticallynecessitates White loss, or vice versa, for racial domination does not function under suchzero-sum conditions. 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