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Racism without Racists


The Modern American society claims to be free from any form of racial prejudice or inequity. Moreover, the whites even blame minority groups for being too sensitive to the objective conditions of life in the 21st century. For example, representatives of the minority groups are often likely to mention the fact of racial discrimination, especially during job interviews. Such propensity to exaggerate is considered to be a product of one’s imagination and inferiority complex developed among minority races as a consequence of historical events.

As freedom and equity of opportunities for everyone is the value of not only several countries but the world as a whole, there is no way for the white residents of the USA to admit that racial segregation is still the unfortunate reality of the American society. Therefore, the Americans have created a strong theoretical base that aims to turn all issues, which may be somehow be evaluated as “racial,” into objective and independent difficulties of the modern life.

However, it is better to rely on statistics rather than merely words. Currently, there is a situation when the whites quote higher rents for colored people, neighborhoods are mostly divided according to the skin color, vacancies published in newspapers or on the websites are mostly offered to the whites, etc. (Bonilla-Silva 3). These facts lead society to the curious situation of the so-called color-blind racism: there is blatant racism without any racists. Therefore, the central aim of this paper is to investigate the interrelation and historical grounds of factual racial inequity and the proclaimed color-blindness in the USA. In addition, it is important to reveal what ways the whites use to hide racial inequity. According to the theory of Bonilla-Silva, there are four basic frames of color-blind racism: naturalization of racism, abstract liberalism, minimization, and cultural racism. Another aim of the paper is to find reflection of these frames in the historical events of racialization.

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Racialization of American Latinas and American Indians

Racialization of American Latinas and American Indians takes its roots from the process that started in 1845, when the annexation of Northern Mexico occurred. The territories, newly occupied by Anglos, became especially popular after the discovery of gold in 1848. Under these circumstances, the number of native Mexicans in this territory decreased, while the number of Anglos was rapidly increasing. It led to the numeral disproportion in the population of New Mexico and created favorable conditions for the start of racialization.

The development of racial segregation between the native citizens of the USA and Mexicans occurred in accordance with the theory of “blind racism.” In particular, there was no official acknowledgement of people’s racial classification. Moreover, the signed Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo guaranteed those Mexicans who do not leave their territory full and exhaustive range of rights, which each citizen of the USA had (Glenn 146). However, the factual situation differed significantly from the written promises. In particular, this discrepancy can be demonstrated on the example of working conditions.

Different wage scales were determined for Anglo males and females as well as Mexican males and females. Moreover, coercive labor practice became an obligation for Mexicans in the Southwest. The situation with workplaces and work conditions continued getting worse. The whites artificially created a situation of despair and hopelessness for the Mexicans. On the one hand, there was no officially admitted polic of discrimination. On the other hand, there are some historical documents that clearly indicate the real attitude to the Mexicans. Farmers paid them much less than to any other workers. In such a way, the farmers wanted to give the Mexicans the only possibility to earn a minimum for physical survival and stimulate them to work much harder and cheaper. In farmers’ point of view, there was no need of money for people of this race as they could only waste it (Glenn 154). It is an example of abstract liberalism and minimization frames of racism. In fact, such treatment shows that the Mexicans were regarded as a race that does not have any other needs except for the basic ones, such as food, water, and sleep. However, those who did it would say differently. According to the theory of abstract liberalism, this would be a common situation of competition among workers for the right to have a better workplace. It would be called freedom of competition and equity of possibilities. The frame of minimization perfectly supplements the previous frame, demonstrating that there is no discrimination at all and the approach to the situation should not be so critical. This is how the theory of blind racism works: there is no official discrimination, but the behavior of the whites creates the most favorable conditions for it.

Expansion of Whiteness and the Racialization of Asian Americans

There existed a prevalent stereotype that Hawaii is absolutely free of any racial discrimination. One of the distinctive features of the island was the absence of any laws against miscegenation. However, the reason for such a situation was not in the maintenance of racial tolerance but in definite political benefits for the government (Glenn 191).

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In fact, the process of racialization in Hawaii begins with its incorporation in the economic system of the USA and the global trading system. As Hawaii became one of the active participants of the American trade, sugar plantations there began to develop rapidly. Subsequently, there was a need for labor force. The citizens of Hawaii were mostly not hard-working enough. Besides, it was not profitable for farmers to pay Hawaiians wages that they wanted. Under these circumstances, the farmers began to incorporate labor force from the outside. The Japanese began very actively migrating to the island, and thus their population there kept growing. There were about 40% of the Japanese in Hawaii at the beginning of the 1900s. Such a demographic situation became an object of governmental concern as the authority suspected the Japanese of being not devoted to the USA and not capable of becoming decent citizens of the country. As a result, the government implemented measures to deprive Japanese of the right to get citizenship in Hawaii. Such a situation created favorable circumstances for the exacerbation of discrimination. On the one hand, it helped the USA to preserve its dominance in the politics despite the advantage of the Japanese in number, whereas, on the other hand, it ensured the abundant supply of labor (Glenn 203).

In fact, there was no evident racial segregation in Hawaii. However, the government developed strong arguments to hide racial discrimination of the Japanese under the persuasive reason for their “lack of allegiance” and other factors that proved that the Japanese’s integration to the American culture was evaluated as a failure in advance. This fact is an example of what the author of the blind racism theory calls “cultural frame” of racism, which means that representatives of a minority group are treated as those who are not able to become a part of the American society. Such prejudices of Hawaiian authorities as “Japanese inherited reverence to authority,” “they have the lack oof independence,” and “their adoption of Western cultural ideas betokened only surface change” (Glenn 205) prove this fact.

Racialization of Muslims in the U.S. and the Terror Wars

The USA is known as a country of immigrants. The reverse side of this coin is racism as an actual problem of the American society. Anti-Arab racism is one of its forms. Though Arabs began to migrate to the USA from the second part of the 19th century, trying to avoid poverty, political pressure, and seeking for the fortune in the New World, the process of their assimilation to the American culture and society cannot be regarded successful. The reason is that the Americans are not ready to accept the Arabs as a part of their country. Religious factor also plays a major role as the difference between the Christian and Muslim outlook makes the Arabs even stranger for Americans (Salaita 8). In addition, Islamophobia is a reality of the modern world, and it plays significant role in the development of racial prejudices against the Arabs. As it is clear from the term itself, Islamophobia means the irrational fear of representatives of this religion (Salaita 11). Subsequently, it creates many false stereotypes about Muslims, which deepen the cultural distance between Arabs and Americans. Moreover, these stereotypes are mostly illogical and even offensive for the representatives of Islam.

The situation became worse after the events of September 11, 2001. This tragic event led to the aggressive politics of the USA towards Islamic countries. Racial profiling, deportations, detentions, and torture of Arabs and Arab Americans without the evidence of criminal activity is not a full list of American measures against Muslims (Jamal 38). Undoubtedly, such a plan of action along with the intensive propaganda work of the mass media did its part. Interrelations between Arabs and Americans in the USA escalated and reached the new higher level of discrimination problem. This aspect of racism may be referred to the frame of naturalization. It means that the members of the American society would most likely use this kind of racial frame relying on terroristic acts that previously occurred. Therefore, they would say that the process of this kind of segregation is caused by objective historical events and is “natural” and logic.

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Racial discrimination is acknowledged as one of the central problems of the modern society. Due to the objective reasons, such as multiculturalism and the presence of many nations and races in the USA, this issue is especially topical for this country. Each racial minority group faces a number of obstacles and difficulties in getting equal rights for living in the USA.

Though any attempt of racial discrimination is strictly forbidden and punished by law, these ways of regulation are not effective enough and fail to protect minorities from injustice. Meanwhile the officials state that the American society is free from any racial prejudice, situations of racial discrimination happen more and more often.

Therefore, Bonilla-Silva’s approach to the current racial conditions as “racism without racists” and “color-blinded racism” perfectly describes the situation. The importance of the proposed theory is in its emphasis on the existing difference between “proclaimed high values” in racial issues and “real life” of minority groups. This is an obvious and important signal for the society: it is not enough to proclaim equity of possibilities for everyone but it is also significant to accept it as the right of each person and treat this right with appropriate respect.

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