Tags: children/youth, crime/law/deviance, discourse/language, gender, immigration/citizenship, inequality, intersectionality, media, prejudice/discrimination, race/ethnicity, sex/sexuality, stereotypes, 06 to 10 mins
Summary: Star Jones briefly hosted a live talk show from August 2007 until February 2008, and in one of the show's segments she covered the story of Kelsey Peterson, a 25-year-old teacher who sexually assaulted her 13-year-old student, who happened to be an undocumented immigrant from Mexico. The above video features a telephone interview, where Jones asks Peterson's attorney, James Martin Davis, whether he believes it is possible for a 13-year-old child to give consent. Martin responds, "I resent the word 'child.' You're baby-fying this kid. This kid is a Latino machismo teenager...Is there anyone in the world who has a higher sex drive than a teenage boy." Jones admonishes Martin for his casual racism and ends the interview. In a follow-up segment, she invites the attorney for the victim, Amy Peck, and scholar Marc Lamont Hill to discuss the racist exchange, as well as the impact of racial thinking on the case. Although Star Jones and her guests largely frame the interview in terms of race, this video offers a nice foray into a larger discussion about how multiple dimensions of inequality intersect to shape the way people experience the criminal justice system and whether victims of crime become the recipients of public sympathy. Jones suggests a useful thought experiment by asking people to imagine that the race and gender of the participants are reversed. The question can be usefully posed: How would the story be discussed and reported by the media and interested parties if the victim was a young white girl and the perpetrator an older Latino man? Also, what difference does it make that the teenager was an undocumented Mexican immigrant, and how might the current discourse surrounding Mexican immigrants shape sympathy for the victim?
Submitted By: Lester Andrist
Tags: biology, bodies, class, crime/law/deviance, demography/population, disability, discourse/language, gender, health/medicine, immigration/citizenship, intersectionality, lgbtq, nationalism, prejudice/discrimination, race/ethnicity, science/technology, sex/sexuality, institutionalized discrimination, eugenics, subtitles/CC, 11 to 20 mins, 21 to 60 mins
Year: 2012; 2013
Length: 15:05; 17:25
Access: YouTube (clip 1; clip 2)
Summary: The eugenics movement has a long history in the United States. A popular misconception is that eugenic thinking and the associated practices were uniformly abandoned after the Third Reich's genocidal intentions were laid bare at the end of the Second World War. In point of fact, eugenic ideologies and practices have been recalcitrant features of American social institutions right up until the present day. In her book American Eugenics: Race, Queer Anatomy, and the Science of Nationalism, Nancy Ordover remarks on the resiliency of the ideology, "Eugenics..is a scavenger ideology, exploiting and reinforcing anxieties over race, gender, sexuality, and class and bringing them into the service of nationalism, white supremacy, and heterosexism." In earlier decades eugenicists could openly discuss stemming the "overflow" of immigration, as an effort to "dry up...the streams that feed the torrent of defective and degenerate protoplasm." The language of eugenics would eventually change, but the core ideas have remained; socially deviant groups and socially undesirable conditions are seen by eugenicists as biologically determined. The above clips are news stories, which draw attention to two recent manifestations of eugenics policy. The first clip chronicles the experience of an African American woman who was legally sterilized in the late 1960s in North Carolina after giving birth to her first son. The clip reports that between 1929 and 1974 approximately 7,600 North Carolinians were sterilized for a host of dubious reasons, from "feeble-mindedness" to "promiscuity." But while North Carolina's victims included men, women, and children, Ordover's research points out that the victims were overwhelmingly women and African American (by 1964 African Americans composed 65% of all women sterilized in the state). The first clip, then, is an example of how eugenics became institutionalized with the force of law, but the second news clip examines a case of institutionalized eugenics in California, which existed without the explicit consent of law. In 1909 California became the third state to pass a compulsory sterilization law, allowing prisons and other institutions to sterilize "moral degenerates" and "sexual perverts showing hereditary degeneracy." By 1979, when the law was finally repealed, the state had already sterilized as many as 20,000 people, or about one-third of the total number of such victims throughout the United States. One learns from the news clip that between 2006 and 2010, 148 women were sterilized by doctors who continued to be guided by the precepts of their eugenic ideology.
Submitted By: Lester Andrist
Tags: crime/law/deviance, inequality, intersectionality, race/ethnicity, racial profiling, stereotypes, white privilege, 00 to 05 mins
Access: The Onion
Summary: From the War on Drugs, which disproportionately targets African-American communities, to racial profiling by police, race continues to play a powerful role in our criminal justice system. In her book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, Michelle Alexander describes how "the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control" and has disastrous effects on the African-American community. This satirical news clip from The Onion plays on this unfortunate reality. It begins with reporting of a 16-year-old girl who supposedly stabbed a girl to death. At her arraignment, the judge in her case states "due to the extreme and violent nature of this crime, this court finds it fitting to try the defendant as an African-America. Henceforth, you will be referred to for the jury by the name Mendel Brown." The news commentator continues: "Now that Hannah has been ruled black, the court has instructed local media to assume she is guilty and the police have retroactively charged her with assaulting her arresting officer." The clip concludes by the commentator noting that the girls parents argued that, "their daughter should at most be tried as a Black celebrity, or at least a stunningly beautiful Filipino lady." Viewers might consider what makes this satire so funny? What does it say about racial stereotypes? Furthermore, how might we interpret this from an intersectional perspective? For example, would the joke work the same way if commentator reported that she would be tried as a black female or a white male? One could argue that there is something distinct about how black masculinity, as a unique intersection of race and gender, is constructed in our culture. Taken from the opposite point of view, what does this say about white privilege? If Black males are disadvantaged, white privilege may work by giving whites the benefit of the doubt in criminal activity. They need not worry about the immediate perception of guilt. For similar videos, see Dave Chappelle's satirical look at criminal justice system, an experiment on racial profiling in crime, and this analysis of racial profiling with the NYPD's stop-and-frisk policy.
Submitted By: Paul Dean
Youth poets critique the "Oppression Olympics"
Tags: art/music, intersectionality, lgbtq, prejudice/discrimination, race/ethnicity, sex/sexuality, 00 to 05 mins
Summary: This poem, performed by two young women in the youth poetry competition Brave New Voices, is an excellent way to introduce students to the concepts of intersectionality and Oppression Olympics. "Oppression Olympics is a term used when two or more groups compete to prove themselves more oppressed than each other." Intersectionality is the theory of thought that draws attention to the ways in which inequalities are intersecting and interlocking, and thus proves the difficulties associated with comparing one group's experience with oppression to another's. The poem specifically chronicles what happens when members of the African American community and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community engage in comparisons of who has had it worse. While the practice of comparing the harms of racism to homophobia isn't new, as sociologist Eric Anthony Grollman points out in this blog post, "the supposed black-versus-gay divide is old, and frankly a little tired." Indeed, as Grollman and the youth poets show, the experiences and activist histories of these two marginalized groups have much in common. Such insight supports what the bisexual Caribbean-American activist poet June Jordan wrote in her book, Some of Us Did Not Die: "Freedom is indivisible, and either we are working for freedom or you are working for the sake of your self-interests and I am working for mine." In addition to pairing this video with Jordan's work, the clip would work well with scholarship by other intersectional thinkers such as Audre Lorde, Allan Johnson, and Patricia Hill Collins.
Submitted By: Kendra Barber
Missy Elliott's "Work It" celebrates black women’s sexuality.
Tags: art/music, bodies, gender, intersectionality, race/ethnicity, sex/sexuality, feminism, rap music, 00 to 05 mins
Summary: In this music video, rap artist Missy Elliott fills the void in the discussion of pro-sex black feminism. Historically, black voices have been excluded from the sex-positive feminist revolution. In part, the marginalization of black voices is a product of a colonial past that has stereotyped the black body as always already hypersexual (see Saarjite Baartman). As a result, black academics have taken up a “politics of silence” to resist these stereotypes. A potential site to begin the discussion of a pro-sex black feminist discourse is rap music (Skeggs 1993). The female rappers “talk back, talk black” (hooks 1989) to the colonialist system that attempts to contain the expression of women’s sexuality. In Missy Elliott’s hit song “Work It” (lyrics here), she expresses her own kind of sexuality, effectively creating a dialogue for us to rethink our analyses of black women’s sexuality. How does Missy (re)claim her body as a site of desire and empowerment? How does Missy establish herself as an active sexual subject in the song? Does this challenge patriarchal notions of female sexuality? How does she subvert traditional understandings of the black body? Does Missy challenge conventional (white) beauty standards (i.e. celebration of hips, large butt etc)? How, if at all, does Missy’s music differ from other female artists and, specifically, other popular women rappers? Does Missy create a language for other black women to start understanding and theorizing about their sexual experiences? Can we understand the black female body as separate from representations of Saartje Baartman? How does this enhance our understanding of active black female desire? Do you think that rap music is a legitimate medium to begin theorizing about black sexual scripts?
Submitted By: Pat Louie
Jessie J in the music video "Do it Like a Dude"
Tags: art/music, gender, intersectionality, race/ethnicity, sex/sexuality, androcentrism, female masculinity, gender performance, masculinity, schemas, 00 to 05 mins
Summary: [Trigger warning: there is explicit language used in this clip.] This is the official music video for English pop singer and songwriter Jessie J's debut single "Do it Like a Dude" (2010). I use this video to discuss gender schemas, or cognitive processes by which individuals become gendered in society. I begin by asking students to identify, according to the video and society at large, the different characteristics that compose "doing it like a dude." Students might mention such things as wearing certain attire, making certain movements or gestures, drinking beer, smoking cigars, having money, being aggressive, or having heterosexual penetrative sex. Students can be encouraged to think how our ideas about these behaviors serve to gender individuals. The video is also a useful catalyst for a discussion about intersectionality and the multiplicities of masculinities (and femininities). For example, instructors might ask students to identify characteristic associated with racialized constructions of gender (e.g., Black masculinity, Latino masculinity, white masculinity, etc...), and how different constructions of masculinity are similar and/or different from one another. Further, the juxtaposition between the lyrics and the styling of Jessie J is also a useful illustration of capitalism and marketing. While singing about performing masculinity, Jessie J performs a sexualized femininity, and students are often quick to connect this with the drive to sell albums. Finally, the video can be used to discuss issues related to androcentrism—can we imagine a male artist trying to "do it like a woman?"
Submitted By: Michelle Sandhoff
Tags: class, economic sociology, inequality, intersectionality, race/ethnicity, great recession, wealth, 00 to 05 mins
Summary: This CBS news report shows dramatic wealth inequalities across race, and how the inequalities have increased dramatically during the Great Recession. Like Oliver and Shapiro's classic book, Black Wealth/White Wealth, the report documents that in 1995, the median white household had a net worth 7 times larger than black and Hispanic households. Citing Census data analyzed by the Pew Center, the video shows that in 2010 white households ($113,000) now have 18 times the net worth of Hispanics ($6,325) and 20 times the net worth of African-Americans ($5,677). It notes that part of this growing difference is that the net worth of most racial minorities is found in their homes, while whites are more likely to also own financial assets. The news team argues that this asset allocation explains why white wealth has rebounded significantly from its recent losses and increased the wealth divide. While this is true, they largely miss other important factors. For example, Melvin Oliver's 2008 report found that African-Americans were the subject of systematic predatory lending during the housing bubble that led to the Great Recession. He noted that "minorities were steered away from safe, conventional loans by brokers who received incentives for jacking up the interest rate" and that their mortgages had "high hidden costs, exploding adjustable rates, and prepayment penalties to preclude refinancing." This not only lead to a drop in the value of minority wealth, but actually stripped much of their assets as borrowers who defaulted on their loans. The video closes by saying "experts say it could be a decade before the wealth gap closes," although they do not cite any experts that say this. Viewers may question the optimism of this prediction and reflect on why it is likely to take much more than a decade for something like wealth (which is passed down from one generation to another) to be more equitably distributed across race. The video is a great accompaniment to the readings linked to above, and perhaps even this comedic video from Chris Rock on race and the differences between being rich and wealthy.
Submitted By: Paul Dean
Reverend Dr. William J. Barber
Tags: crime/law/deviance, discourse/language, inequality, intersectionality, knowledge, lgbtq, marriage/family, prejudice/discrimination, race/ethnicity, sex/sexuality, social mvmts/social change/resistance, theory, civil unions, collective action frames, marriage equality, same-sex marriage, 00 to 05 mins
Summary: In Part I we explored the concept of a collective action frame in the context of the vote on North Carolina's Amendment One, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman. Reverend Dr. William J. Barber argues in this clip that the amendment passed because the wrong frame dominated the public understanding of the issue. In Part II we want to further interrogate Barber's own frame, which posits that the amendment writes discrimination into the state constitution. We think Barber’s argument draws on key insights from intersectionality theory in sociology. In short, this theory draws attention to the relationships among multiple dimensions of social inequality (e.g., race, sexuality, gender, etc.) and insists that the formation of any subject happens at the intersections of these dimensions. Similarly, systems of domination, such as racism and heterosexism, work through this invisible, intersectional scaffolding. Echoing an insight from Kimberlé Crenshaw's path breaking article on the theory, the failure of antiracism to interrogate heterosexism means that antiracist activists are doomed to reproduce the subordination of racial minorities in the LGBTQ community. Indeed, this is what might very well have happened in North Carolina. In the lead up to the vote on Amendment One, it is now clear that there was a coordinated strategy from a political group calling itself the National Organization for Marriage. The group aimed to drive a wedge between members of LGBTQ and Black communities (here and here). Recently unsealed memos from the group state clearly that “The strategic goal of the project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks” and another memo noted the group's aspirations to make the exclusion of gay people from marriage “a key badge of Latino identity.” Barber's frame, then, grasps the way racial and sexual identities were strategically pitted against each other in the vote on Amendment One, but his frame also grasps that violations of equal protection under the law for members of the LGBTQ community in this instance, leaves the door open for violations against racial minorities in the next. As illustrated in this moving speech, intersectionality theory, not only describes how political power relies on manipulating social constructed racial and sexual identities, but also how political resistance must take these constructs into account when formulating effective collective action frames.
Submitted By: Lester Andrist
Duneier's research on NYC book vendors is presented in film.
Tags: class, community, crime/law/deviance, inequality, intersectionality, methodology/statistics, organizations/occupations/work, prejudice/discrimination, race/ethnicity, rural/urban, ethnography, homelessness, urban poverty, visual sociology, 21 to 60 mins
Length: 60:00 (film)
Access: Film (part 1; part 2; part 3)
Discussion (part 4; part 5; part 6; part 7; part 8)
Summary: This documentary, directed by Barry Alexander Brown, is based on the ethnographic fieldwork that sociologist Mitchell Duneier conducted for his seminal book, Sidewalk (1999). Framed in the film's introduction as an "epilogue" to the book, Brown offers a plot summary: "SIDEWALK chronicles the lives of primarily black homeless book vendors and magazine scavengers who ply their trade along 6th Avenue between 8th Street and Washington Place in New York City. By briefly comparing those book vendors with the history of book vending along the Seine in Paris, the film speaks to the efforts of North American and European societies to rid public space of the outcasts they have had a hand in producing. The film takes us into the social world of the people subsisting on the streets of New York by focusing on their work as street side booksellers, magazine vendors, junk dealers, panhandlers, and table watchers. The sidewalk becomes a site for the unfolding of these people living on the edge of society in order to give us a deeper understanding of how these individual's are able to survive. It also becomes a site for conflicts and solidarities that encompass the vendors and local residents. We followed half dozen vendors for most of this past decade. By the end of shooting the film, their lives had taken a myriad of routes..." Like other urban ethnographic films (e.g., here), Sidewalk would be excellent to show in an urban sociology course, as well as an introductory sociology class, as it engages core sociological concerns around race, poverty, homelessness, underground economies, interactions with police, and community support networks, among others. Ethnography professors might also find the film useful—the film opens with several screens of written text, describing the film as a "set of fieldnotes." There is also discussion of the film available online. One of these discussions entails Duneier's introductory lecture on ethnographic methods, in which two sidewalk vendors visit his class. Here Duneier presents his approach to doing ethnography, particularly within the context and medium of film. The other is a panel discussion about the film with Cornel West and Kim Hopper at the American Sociological Association's annual meeting.
Submitted By: Valerie Chepp
_Tags: class, discourse/language, inequality, intersectionality, prejudice/discrimination, race/ethnicity, code speak, 00 to 05 mins
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
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