Access: The Daily Show
Summary: Since outright hatred and discrimination of people because of their race is no longer socially acceptable in our post Civil-Rights era, many argue racism no longer exists. But sociologists suggest that racism simply changed, becoming more implicit and indirect. Eduardo Bonilla-Silva argues that the new racism entails individuals saying and doing things that perpetuate racial stereotypes and inequalities, but they do so in such a way that the offender is able to deny being explicitly racist. One of the many types of new racist strategies Bonilla-Silva highlights is the use of racially charged code speak, or using indirect racial rhetoric and semantic moves to express an ideology that serves to reinforce white dominance over minorities. In this clip, The Daily Show’s Larry Wilmore illustrates the code speak implicit in presidential candidate Newt Gingrich’s suggestion that we combat poverty by hiring poor children to clean the restrooms at their schools. Wilmore notes that “it’s 2011, and you can’t just call Black people lazy,” and then points out Gingrich’s racial code speak. He notes Gingrich’s statement about “neighborhoods where they may not have that experience [of working]” is “code for inner-city, which is code for urban, which is code for Black.” Gingrich’s statement about poor children having “no habit of showing up [to work] on Monday” is “code for shiftless, which is code for lazy, which is code for black.” Wilmore then plays more of Gingrich’s speech where the presidential candidate cites statistics about Black unemployment, thereby making his implicit racial assumptions explicit. When John Stewart asks why this is important, Wilmore points out how the causes of poverty “matter to the solutions.” Viewers can be encouraged to consider how framing these issues as individual problems (e.g. a person being lazy) differs from framing them as social issues (e.g. lack of available jobs), and how that might "matter to the solutions" that society seeks as a result? How is this related to race and do we see code speak in reference to other groups as well?
Note: This summary is an edited excerpt from Jason's original post at Sociological Images.
Submitted By: Jason Eastman