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Movie Made Stereotypes

Did you go see Red Tails this weekend? The film is a depiction of the Tuskegee Airmen an African American unit of fighter pilots that served during WWII. The film is both a testament to “how far we’ve come” and how far we’ve yet to go in bringing racial equality to the movies. In this piece Nathan Palmer asks us to examine how racial ethnic groups are portrayed in action films and think about the consequences these stereotypical portrayals may have on society.

Have you ever noticed that the villains in almost every action movie are either Russians, Middle Eastern terrorists, or gang members? Over and over again the villains in Hollywood action movies are either foreigners or people of color or both.

On the other side, the heroes are most often white men. Over the last few years we’ve seen actors like Denzil Washington, Zoe Saldana, Jet Li, and Kate Beckinsale take the lead in action movies, so it’s unfair to say there are no non-white non-male action heroes, but there aren’t many.

Hollywood action movies, more than other genres, are a loaded with stereotypes and they can teach us a lot about who holds social power. I bring this up today because over the weekend Hollywood released Red Tails a big budget action flick about the brave African American men who served as fighter pilots in WWII. The film is both an affirmation of “how far we’ve come” and how far we’ve yet to go.

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Got Whiteness? Scholars say You’re Racist

Are you racist? Do you have white privilege? Are you a beneficiary of systemic racism? If you are white, some sociologists argue you should answer yes to all of these questions. In this post, Sarah Nell asks you to reimagine racism as a system of advantages and disadvantages that benefits Whites whether they like it or not.

If you’re white, chances are you don’t think you’re racist. Perhaps you found this title unsettling. I’m not here to tell that you are a bad person, but I am here to show you how to think differently about what racism really is. Racism – from the point of view of many sociologists– is not a set of attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors held or committed by individuals. Racism is a system of advantage based on race. And if you’re white, you are racist because you benefit from that system. Even if you don’t want to.

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Same as it Ever Was: Institutional Discrimination in Housing

As a result of our current economic downturn, the wealth gap between Whites and African Americans is larger today then any time in the past 25 years. In this post, Bridget Welch explores how historical housing practices and current predatory lending practices combine to reinforce institutional discrimination.

Unless you have been living under a rock, or work on Wall Street, you may have noticed that the economy is not doing so well. Just in case you are unaware of how that statement should win “The Most Understated Statement of the Year” award, please watch this short video that shows the spread of unemployment across the United States. Yet, as hideous as the current unemployment rate is, there is a group of people who live on this razors edge constantly.

You see, African Americans’ unemployment rate is always at the recession rate. In other words, what makes this current economic downturn so notable is that Whites are now at the unemployment rate that African Americans normally are at. And, of course, African Americans are disproportionately hurt by the current downturn – meaning their unemployment rates (particularly men’s)[1] have soared. Don’t believe me? Go play with this fun NYT infographic. The truth is that minorities in our country act as the canary in the coal mine – falling to the poisonous atmosphere before it reaches the rest of us….

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Ron Paul Can’t Be Racist?

Ron Paul, a Republican presidential candidate has been drawing a lot of fire recently over newsletters published in the 1980s that make racist statements. Paul defends himself by saying he simply can’t be a racist because he is a Libertarian and Libertarianism doesn’t acknowledge social aspects of life such as race/racism. In this piece Nathan Palmer probes the logic behind Paul’s argument and draws comparisons to colorblind racism

“I don’t see gender. I am gender-blind. I only see the content of a person’s character.” Would you believe me if I told you that? That would sure make for some awkward dating moments, amirite? Of course I see gender, because I have eyes. And yet a common response to racism is, “I don’t see race. I am colorblind. I only see the content of a person’s character.”…

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Life at The Intersectionality of Race, Class, & Gender

Sociology often talks about race, class, gender, and many other social attributes as though they are a single stand alone issue. However, our day-to-day lives are much more complex than that. In this post Nathan Palmer thinks back on an incident that happened in his undergraduate history course that taught him a valuable lesson about intersectionality

“Michael, you have a unique perspective on this issue, I’m guessing. Would you care to give us another point-of-view?” my history [1] professor said. My mouth dropped open in shock as I watched Michel, the only African American student in the class, shake his head side to side, eyes looking down, “No. I, uh… No.” My professor looked surprised, or perplexed might be a better word. After a long silent pause he said, “Okay,” and then proceeded to talk about the civil rights movement. Many of my classmates looked around the room at each other in confusion at what just happened.

So what happened here? Before we get to that, let’s talk a little about intersectionality. In sociology we often talk about race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and many other social aspects of the individual. However, when we talk about them we tend to focus on them one at a time as if they were separate from each other….

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Our Town Lacks Racial Diversity “Because there are No Jobs”

Have you ever heard of a sundown town? Have you ever wondered about the racial diversity in your hometown? In this post, Stephanie Medley-Rath explains how her hometown lacked racial diversity by design, not chance.

When I was growing up, I had been told that there used to be sign on the edge of town that essentially told African Americans they were unwelcome after sundown. It made sense to me because there were no Black people living in my town of 6,000. There was very little racial diversity. But I still didn’t have any confirmation that my home town really had such a sign or was what is called a sundown town.

Then I found the book, Sundown Towns. I was browsing the book store at the American Sociological Association’s Annual Meetings in Montreal and saw the cover. I picked it up and reviewed the table of contents. And then I opened the index. There was not one but several pages where my hometown was mentioned. Here was confirmation that the the sign more than likely existed. I bought the book and came back during the scheduled time the author, James Loewen was to be at the booth. He signed my book and I told him where I was from. We talked for a few minutes and then I moved on and read the book in my spare time over the next year….

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