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Systemic Racism: A Theory of Oppression

24 Jan 2006-
TL;DR: This article explored the distinctive social worlds that have been created by racial oppression over nearly four centuries and what this has meant for the people of the United States, focusing his analysis on white-on-black oppression.
Abstract: In this book, Feagin develops a theory of systemic racism to interpret the highly racialized character and development of this society. Exploring the distinctive social worlds that have been created by racial oppression over nearly four centuries and what this has meant for the people of the United States, focusing his analysis on white-on-black oppression. Drawing on the commentaries of black and white Americans in three historical eras; the slavery era, the legal segregation era, and then those of white Americans. Feagin examines how major institutions have been thoroughly pervaded by racial stereotypes, ideas, images, emotions, and practices. He theorizes that this system of racial oppression was not an accident of history, but was created intentionally by white Americans. While significant changes have occurred in this racist system over the centuries, key and fundamentally elements have been reproduced over nearly four centuries, and US institutions today imbed the racialized hierarchy created in the 17th century. Today, as in the past, racial oppression is not just a surface-level feature of society, but rather it pervades, permeates, and interconnects all major social groups, networks, and institutions across society.
Citations
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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: This discussion seeks to orient readers to some of the key debates in the study of discrimination and to provide a roadmap for those interested in building upon this long and important line of research.
Abstract: Persistent racial inequality in employment, housing, and a wide range of other social domains has renewed interest in the possible role of discrimination. And yet, unlike in the pre–civil rights era, when racial prejudice and discrimination were overt and widespread, today discrimination is less readily identifiable, posing problems for social scientific conceptualization and measurement. This article reviews the relevant literature on discrimination, with an emphasis on racial discrimination in employment, housing, credit markets, and consumer interactions. We begin by defining discrimination and discussing relevant methods of measurement. We then provide an overview of major findings from studies of discrimination in each of the four domains; and, finally, we turn to a discussion of the individual, organizational, and structural mechanisms that may underlie contemporary forms of discrimination. This discussion seeks to orient readers to some of the key debates in the study of discrimination and to provide a roadmap for those interested in building upon this long and important line of research.

1,409 citations


Cites background from "Systemic Racism: A Theory of Oppres..."

  • ...Although the vestiges of Jim Crow have long since disappeared in the contemporary United States, there remain features of American society that may contribute to persistent forms of structural discrimination (see Massey 2007, Feagin 2006)....

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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: This paper examined the experiences of 36 Black male students, in focus group interviews, enrolled at Harvard University, Michigan State University, University of California, Berkeley; University of Illinois; and the University of Michigan.
Abstract: The present study examines the experiences of 36 Black male students, in focus group interviews, enrolled at Harvard University; Michigan State University; University of California, Berkeley; University of Illinois; and the University of Michigan. Two themes emerged: (a) anti-Black male stereotyping and marginality (or Black misandry), which caused (b) extreme hypersurveillance and control. Respondents experienced racial microaggressions in three domains: (a) campus—academic, (b) campus—social, and (c) campus—public spaces. Black males are stereotyped and placed under increased surveillance by community and local policing tactics on and off campus. Across these domains, Black males were defined as being “out of place” and “fitting the description” of illegitimate nonmembers of the campus community. Students reported psychological stress responses symptomatic of racial battle fatigue (e.g., frustration, shock, anger, disappointment, resentment, anxiety, helplessness, hopelessness, and fear). There was unan...

707 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: A model for explaining how racial inequality becomes embodied-literally-in the biological well-being of racialized groups and individuals is presented, which requires a shift in the way the critique of race as bad biology is articulate.
Abstract: The current debate over racial inequal- ities in health is arguably the most important venue for advancing both scientific and public understanding of race, racism, and human biological variation. In the United States and elsewhere, there are well-defined inequalities between racially defined groups for a range of biological outcomes—cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, certain cancers, low birth weight, preterm deliv- ery, and others. Among biomedical researchers, these patterns are often taken as evidence of fundamental genetic differences between alleged races. However, a growing body of evidence establishes the primacy of social inequalities in the origin and persistence of racial health disparities. Here, I summarize this evidence and argue that the debate over racial inequalities in health presents an opportunity to refine the critique of race in three ways: 1) to reiterate why the race concept is incon- sistent with patterns of global human genetic diversity; 2) to refocus attention on the complex, environmental influences on human biology at multiple levels of analy- sis and across the lifecourse; and 3) to revise the claim that race is a cultural construct and expand research on the sociocultural reality of race and racism. Drawing on recent developments in neighboring disciplines, I present a model for explaining how racial inequality becomes embodied—literally—in the biological well-being of racialized groups and individuals. This model requires a shift in the way we articulate the critique of race as bad biology. Am J Phys Anthropol 139:47-57, 2009. V C 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

580 citations


Cites background from "Systemic Racism: A Theory of Oppres..."

  • ...Neighborhood deprivation and preterm birth among non-Hispanic Black and White women in eight geographic areas in the United States....

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  • ...In the United States, where debate over race is most intense, the risk of morbidity and mortality from every leading cause is patterned along racial lines (Keppel et al., 2002)....

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  • ...From 1990 to 2004, infant mortality declined by 26% (9.2 to 6.8 per 1,000 live births) for the United States as a whole, but the gap between black and white Americans remained approximately the same (see Fig....

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  • ...The defense of race relies on two related lines of evidence: 1) studies of worldwide genetic variation show that individuals from the same continent reliably cluster together (Rosenberg et al., 2002; Bamshad et al., 2003; Shriver et al., 2004; Rosenberg et al., 2005), and 2) in the United States, ‘‘self-identified race/ethnicity’’ is a useful proxy for genetic differentiation between groups that vary in continental ancestry (Tang et al., 2005)....

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  • ...Fourth, in racially stratified societies like the United States, continental ancestry is likely to be confounded with many environmental factors; consequently, reported associations between genetic ancestry and disease may be mediated through unmeasured environmental mechanisms (Kaufman and Cooper, 2008)....

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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: This article draws upon a major social science theoretical approach-systemic racism theory-to assess decades of empirical research on racial dimensions of U.S. health care and public health institutions and concludes that institutionalized white socioeconomic resources, discrimination, and racialized framing from centuries of slavery, segregation, and contemporary white oppression severely limit and restrict access of many Americans of color.

523 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
Elijah Anderson1
TL;DR: Since the end of the Civil Rights Movement, large numbers of black people have made their way into settings previously occupied only by whites, though their reception has been mixed as mentioned in this paper, and the majority of the responses have been positive.
Abstract: Since the end of the Civil Rights Movement, large numbers of black people have made their way into settings previously occupied only by whites, though their reception has been mixed. Overwhelmingly...

387 citations