Saturday, December 8, 2012

The evolution of old racism into new racism…

The evolution of old racism into new racism…

In the chapter The Past is Ever Present: Recognizing the New Racism Collins discusses the evolution of old racism into new racism.  Rooted in slavery old racism in America represents the objectification and exploitation of black men and women through racial and gender oppressions.  The gender and racial identities imposed onto enslaved black men and women during slavery were put into place by white elites through controlling images.  These roles such as the mammy, jezebel, and breeder and the violent brute were used as a way to justify and conceal the true intentions of white elites.  The development and belief of these images created a structure based on race, gender and class that controlled “the opportunities, resources, and power of some, even while other groups struggle” (Andersen and Collins 2007).  In turn, white elites created a “foundation for systems of power and inequality that  . . . continues to be a significant social [influence in] people’s lives” (Andersen and Collins 2007).

Mass Media controls our lives...

Prior to the Civil Rights Movement, African-American’s experienced systemic economic, educational, political, and social obstacles like the Jim Crow Laws.
  Enforced segregation was supported by the legal system, due to those in power.  In the 1950’s to 1970’s organizations like National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee fought for the civil liberties of African-Americans in America.  The social movements and activism that occurred during the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s were fought in order stop “intersecting oppressions” (Collins year) like racial, gender and class and for there to no longer be an issue for” the new generation” (Collins year).  Their strides and successes meant, “blackness would no longer serve as a badge of inferiority” (Collins year).  Unfortunately, the reality of the post-social movement era brought positive and negative social conditions for the black youth of the 80’s, 90’s and 00’s.  Due to several political successes black men and women attained upward social mobility through education.  A college degree prompted their economic and social improvement into the black middle class.  Being in the black middle class meant “better housing, schools and facilities for African Americans” (Collins year).   Although there was significant progression there remained institutionalized oppression that experienced “poor housing conditions, precarious health status, and dwindling job prospects” (Collins year).  For example, in the 1980’s most of the landlords in South Bronx, NY were burning the buildings to collect insurance money.  Most of these people who lost their homes were poor African Americans and Latinos.
The characteristics of new racism are based on symptoms of old racism and its adaptation to contemporary ideals.  New Racism is rooted on images institutions produce in order to maintain old racist notions, even though the biological ideals of old racism are invalid.  Collins defines three major points of new racism: corporate involvement, continued legal racial inequalities, and lastly manipulation of the mass media. “The involvement of corporate organizations in the global economy has led to the application of wealth and investments to be centralized within a few corporations . . .[enabling] these corporations to shape the social, political, and economic aspects of the global economy” (Collins year).  For instance, the people who work in these global corporations usually live in immense poverty and receive meager wages.  Depending on the country, for instance countries across Latin America and the Caribbean, those that live in poverty conditions tend to be “people of African descent” (Collins year). 
The second notion of new racism is “local, regional, and national governmental bodies no longer yield the degree of power that they once did in shaping racial policies” (Collins year).  Personally, I believe the government does have the power to continue shaping racial policies, like they once did, but we’ve entered an era where corporations and lobbyists buy out politicians.  As a result, bought politicians curb social, political and economic progression for people of color and poor white people.  For instance, Arizona’s recent Immigration laws “require officers to check the immigration status of anyone they suspect is in the country illegally. Wearing the wrong clothes, speaking with the wrong accent or having the wrong skin color could land you in hot water in Arizona” (article).  The law enforcement officers have generated an “environment of racial profiling that has encouraged private citizens to discriminate and abuse people they regard as foreign” (article).  This law is targeting not just those who are illegal immigrants in this country but also those who are citizens and legal residents of the United States.  The government can change this law that clearly is racist, but because their goal is deport as many “illegal immigrants” as possible this law will continue to be enforce.
The third notion of new racism is a policy that has existed since the inception of slavery: the heavy manipulation of mass media.  According to Collins, “hegemonic ideologies claim racism is over . . .globalization, transnationalism and the growth of hegemonic ideologies within mass media provide the context for a new racism that has catalyzed changes with African, black Americans, and African diasporic societies” (Collins year).  As discussed before white elites distributed false ideals about black women and men to hide and support their actions.  These stereotypes are further propagated in the media and give people misconceptions, not solely about black people but other groups who experience oppression.  For instance in the movie Why Did I Get Married 2 the lead character played by Janet Jackson and Malik Yoba are arguing in Yoba’s workplace.  Janet’s character is questioning Yoba’s manhood based on marital issues, she decides to bring a life size cake and have a flamboyant black man pop out of the cake wearing a pink wig, and a (might add myself a fabulous) sparkly dress.  At that moment she tells him, “If you wanna be a bitch, then he’s your man.”  This is condescending to gay men, in particular to black gay men because of their ignored social location within the black community.  This particular scene are informing viewers that all gay black men aren’t the “idea” of black masculinity and it’s okay to call them bitches. 

Collins, P. H. (2004). Black Sexual Politics: African Americans, gender, and the new racism. New York, NY: Routledge.
Andersen, M. L., & Collins, P. H. (2007). Why race, class, and gender still matter.
M. L. Andersen & P. H. Collins (Eds.), Race, Class, and Gender An Anthology (6 ed., pp. 1-16). Belmont, CA: Thomson Higher Education.
The Editorial Board. 2012. “Arizona’s Bad Immigration Laws Takes Effect.” The Washington Post, September 21 (

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