Readings on Post Civil Rights March 8/9

Carefully reread everything on desegregation!

Predictors of Positive Civil Rights attitudes (2006)

The progress of black americans in civil rights (1978)

US. Census Bureau, (2011) Income, Income Inequality, “US Neighborhood Income Inequality in the 2005-2009 period.

browse the following.


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17 Responses to Readings on Post Civil Rights March 8/9

  1. Britney Sink says:

    Although Elliot Zashin’s article, “The Progress of Black Americans in Civil Rights: The Past Two Decades Assessed” was written in 1978, I found many parallels to contemporary society’s dilemma with continued racial imbalance in schools, white flight to suburbs, and affirmative action lawsuits across the country. Racial imbalance and white flight are intricately tied together, as the author regards black migration to the North and cities as an impetus for white families to retreat to suburbs where blacks are fewer in number. Busing and metropolitan desegregation were only so effective in trying to balance school numbers. Inherent discrimination in that system (such as the black students always being bused, not whites), however, also led to frustrations. Today we can see the strong racial imbalance hanging on in large metropolitan areas, despite initiatives to do otherwise. Those same schools tend to be weak performing, limited in resources, and continually struggling. What does this say about our system? That white people simply thought racism and discrimination had their day and were suddenly eradicated; that there must be other factors in play? The author points out that in many cases, races become segregated on their own, which begs the question of how far the government should step in to this “natural” situation. Or do we realize the situation is caused out of generations of continued racism, stereotyping, and ignorance? Zashin puts it eloquently when he states “isolation transmits existing racial stereotypes and fears to the next generation.” In my experience, I have found this to ring true, as those most close-minded tend to also have had the least exposure to any type of diversity.
    Affirmative action continues to be a sticky topic in both workforces and across the country in schools of higher learning. The author cites criticism that under affirmative action, unqualified people are hired instead of those capable to do the job, especially in “quota” situations. There is also debate over what causes an unfair burden to those not helped by any affirmative action initiatives. I believe we still have yet to strike a “fair” balance, 30 years after the publishing of this article. However, with multiple viewpoints, many perspectives, and a history of discrimination, the complexity of the situation is immense.
    I am interested to see what happens with all types of civil rights in the next 20-30 years, after the current older white generation steps out of the spotlight. That generation experienced (and caused) first-hand the events of the 50s and 60s, and in some ways continues to perpetuate racist theory and is typically anti-gay and lesbian rights as well. This is NOT to say that I am forcing everyone from that generation into a generalized box of characteristics, but that younger generations tend to overall be much more open to all types of civil rights.

    • Hi Britney, I like your post. (More details in your box later) The only thing I would like to say is that the older white generation did a lot to dismantle the system, and many of them are quite progressive. Look at Bill Clinton. I also think the younger generations do not remember how bad things were sometimes, and that can cause its own set of problems. ~WMB

  2. Predictors of Positive Civil Rights Attitudes: The impact of civil right movement on race relations and the social fabric influenced the women’s liberation movement and Latino’s civil rights path. How these trajectories drive social change, involve both demographic and psychological research variables.
    The author’s hypothesis is that there is a direct positive relationship between acculturation and social movements, particularly, in this case, between African American idiosyncrasy and the civil rights movement.
    Lurking variables include livelihood, race solidarity and age.
    The author bases the findings on a 2002 survey that has been distributed since 1972 to a cross sectional, “attitudinal” method (“missingness” mechanism, to divide known variables by missing values seems manipulative).
    Respondents represented a highly educated and median average income, being that 70% of the sample lived in the South, which is not representative of the bigger reality and one finding is that non-southern areas delivered greater civil rights “attitudinal” scores.
    Generally it feels that the study is not ground breaking and it is surprising the researcher thinking that neighborhood and political livelihoods would have been important variables.

    The Progress of Black Americans in Civil Rights. “Civil Rights s not considered an urgent national issue anymore”. The author launches the idea that the civil rights movement was a southern model and its challenge consisted on how to eliminate public racism.
    The debate is placed between the public domain and the private interest, in that the State and the Federal Government had a democratic duty, the struggle however was fed by College students in the South, who organized the constituencies to demand for the federal action. That practice however lost momentum and in the North: the same strategies were not so effective with a more pragmatic and long-term sustainable approach of “equal opportunities”. The burden of integration fell on the judges and black plaintiffs in the 60’s in the North, while in the South “re-segregation “ restarted this time with changes in residential patterns, civil council zoning and public district schools.
    Intentionality and remedial action are still the main causes of de facto segregation: without linking school segregation to residential segregation, the pattern will not be traced back to government.
    Metropolitan integration and voluntary integration face opposition from the administration in the 70s.
    Meanwhile another milestone with newly attained political representation, black voting unveils its inhibiting factor: economic vulnerability.
    In the 1970 s however, black occupational changes with college education reached the 80 percentile of their white counterparts, which raises the issue of affirmative action as an attempt to undermine anti discrimination by imposing statistical parity (but then remedial action and intentionality claimed in the sixties seems to be no longer welcome..?).
    The author concludes that black inequality lies in discriminatory “neutral” attitudes and actions that are not apparent still today (“indeterminacy”)- the new surrogate of discrimination. However, differential treatment only whites out the legacy of racism.

  3. Trish says:

    March 7, 2012
    Race and the “ I have a Dream” Legacy: Exploring Predictors of Positive Civil Rights Activities – Antwan Jones

    Jones gathers evidence that proves the various connections associated with attitudes towards civil rights, such as those between education level, gender, age and economic status. In particular, he identifies that education is a powerful factor in liberating mindsets that develop within individuals who embody a diverse set of characteristics such as gender and age that would influence personal opinions. He explains that through education, individuals who may be influenced at a young age or through the lens of gender, can transform their attitudes by gaining a multifaceted perspective through education. This supports the idea that we aren’t born racist, we learn it (or unlearn it).

    It was interesting to consider Jones’ connection with men as more supportive of the notion of individual self-reliance and their subsequently less supportive attitudes towards civil rights when compared to women. However, while I appreciate Jones’ research and findings, as I read this article I struggled with an overall lack of depth to his analysis. I agree with Nuno that this article strikes me as far from ground breaking. I hope that our discussions in class will help to pull out the possible deeper implications of this study. For example, he hypothesizes and proves that Whites harbor more negative towards civil rights and Blacks are more inclined to feel positively about such activities. Perhaps this study was purposed to reiterate information that at this point in our country’s history might even seem like common sense?

    I found it curious that Jones isolates modern African American history, in terms of looking at the current status, as starting after Jim Crow. I wonder where he makes this distinction, is he looking at modern attitudes as isolated from the roots of discrimination, human slavery? It seems that in order to fully analyze the origin and to predict the future of attitudes about the civil rights movement, considerable attention should be given to what attitudes and mindsets are inherently residual from the era of legalized slavery until emancipation and Jim Crow. Possibly, by connecting the attitudes of racial discrimination as found in legislation and practice starting in the era of slavery, with the current trends in attitudes and legislation about the civil rights movement which aimed to fight such discrimination would result in a more profound understanding?

  4. Dylan P. says:

    At the Gandhi/King Conference on Peacemaking a few years ago, I had the pleasure of attending a presentation on race relations. The facilitator had everyone put a percentage value on how much progress we had made since the emancipation proclamation in the area of civil rights and race relations. This was the spring before President Obama was elected so the numbers were not skewed by that excitement. The non-black members of the groups—at an admittedly liberal conference—generally put their numbers at a seemingly conservative 25-50% range. However, the majority of the black participants place their percentages much lower, and the facilitator said 1%.
    This seems to me to be indicative of what Zashin writes about in his peace. He says, “by the 1970’s the Civil Rights movement had passed into American History.” At each point that any small amount of progress is made toward the equality of black folks, the rest of the country seems to throw their hands up and say, “This time surely racism is over.” It is as if long standing structures, which reverberate through time with psychic pain could be wiped out with act of congress or marches in Washington. Zashin explores the complexity and entrenchment of structures in several modes of public life and across regional borders which create systemic and lasting—albeit invisible—racism.
    More recently were have heard claims of a post-racial society—a magical fairyland in which racism has disappeared simply because the son of an African man has ascended to the highest political office. We see in the information from the U.S. Census that racism is not an issue of individual achievement or personal vendettas; it is clearly a social, societal, and demographic issue.

  5. Katie Milligan says:

    Predictors of Positive Civil Rights Attitudes

    I had a lot of issues with this article; maybe it is my own unwillingness to admit that because of some demographic characteristics, that I cannot control, I would generalized as less likely to support civil rights. I think that this article makes some good generalizations about social trends that we see in support of civil rights, but I think it fails to scientifically prove that this is a fact. The statistical significance of the study is lacking and with an explained variance of 19%, and in my own opinion cross sectional study results can often times be over emphasized.
    The author explains that the reasoning for equating civil rights attitudes and attitudes towards African Americans is because “the struggle for civil rights was primarily led by African Americans”. I think that many people do associate civil rights with the movement of African Americans in the 1960’s, but I think the author does an injustice to those that associate civil rights with other social movements globally and the movement towards marriage equality in our own country.
    I was very challenged by the statement that, “the more ideologically close a person is to the African American community, the more the person will hold positive civil rights attitudes.” While we have discussed that people with personal relationships with African Americans are less likely to have negative racial attitudes, this statement seemed to imply that African Americans have ideological beliefs that are on par with civil rights. I think this assumption does a great injustice to the plight of homosexual African American males. Homosexual African American men are many times victims of terrible prejudices in the African American community (as well as outside). A friend of mine once explained his own experience with being homosexual in the African American community, he said that many times black men are expected to be “tough” or “hard” and homosexual men could not fulfill that role. His own experience would greatly contradict what the author has said about the alignment of ideology with the African American community. While this is just one example, I think that for such a recent study (2006), it should have had less variance and less generalizing statements. If we have learned anything throughout our analysis of Jim Crow era and racism, it is that racism is complex and varied, not something you can put into a chart or categorize so easily.

  6. Leslie H. says:

    In “The Progress of Black Americans in Civil Rights,” I was struck by how the author pointed out that the fight for Civil Rights in the South was against more overt forms of racism that were easily seen though simple observation—segregated schools, buses, water fountains, etc. However, actions taken to eliminate such over acts of racism did not necessarily change inner attitudes toward African Americans (or other minorities for that matter). This presents a unique challenge—what can be done to eliminate racism that we cannot see? How do we change people’s attitudes and beliefs that are ingrained within them, and which they often do a good job of hiding in public? The racism described by the author in the North was less overt. It had to do with established systems that prevented African Americans from advancing past their current situations. The author states that “[m]any people felt that the reasons blacks were not currently achieving equality were the ‘economic, educational, and political handicaps which were the legacy of black history,’” not that the structure or system was keeping them from achieving equality. I wonder if some of this stems from the American idea of “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps.” We are often taught that if you just work hard enough, you can change your circumstances. But to me that suggests that we are all starting from level playing field, which is obviously not the case. When someone starts the race a full mile behind everyone else, it seems almost impossible for them to “win” if winning means passing everyone who had a head start. I think this is the current focus of civil rights—what can we do to give everyone equal opportunity to pursue their dreams and change their circumstances?

  7. Nathan says:

    In the article explaining predictors of positive civil rights attitudes, there are many correlations between positive attitudes toward them that one would expect. I didn’t find it particularly surprising that non-whites were less likely to be racist, or that those with a positive view on civil rights are less likely to be racist. These correlations are mostly intuitive. One correlation that I’d considered intuitive as well was that the more highly educated the person the less likely they were to be racist or hold a negative viewpoint on civil rights. However, this has not always been the case. According to the article this correlation was not prevalent in the 1950s. Of all the signs that this paper presented, this was the most encouraging. It shows that the quality of the education system has improved in that regard over the last sixty years, as well as presenting a balanced, more in depth picture of the civil rights struggle. Going forward, this is a huge step for us. Though no two educations are alike, on the whole the more educated tend to have a more progressive view on race. This is actually a fairly natural progression that makes sense, if you give it some thought. In the 1950s those teaching at higher education institutions were raised during the Jim Crow era, when the two races were kept separate and did not interact as much as they do today. Those that teach at higher education institutions today grew up during the civil rights era, when these issues were at the forefront of American society. What will be interesting to see is how the current generation fares when they teach the history of civil rights, having grown up after the era of Martin Luther King and Malcom X. Will they place less importance on these issues, and view them as mostly settled? If they do there could be repercussions down the line.

  8. Andrea says:

    The Progress of Black Americans in Civil Rights: The Past Two Decades Assessed by Elliot Zashin

    The author ends the first paragraph with the phrase, “The issues of black inequality still divide us, and their current complexities have created confusion, compounding the disagreements.” In our current context, there is still relevancy in this statement. Issues of inequality, not just for blacks, but also other marginalized groups, in public education, voting/political power, employment/income, and housing are still points of contention.
    The inequalities in public education for minoritized and marginalized individuals are still problems throughout the United States. It has been argued that these inequalities are widening and resegregation of students and resources are some causes of this gap. According to the civil rights project, schools are more segregated now than they were in the 1950’s. Organizations such as Schott Foundation for Public Education are working to address these inequalities and ensure that the educational system lessens the burden of inequality.
    Inequalities in voting/political power are also points of debate in our current discourse. Changes in voting laws have prompted many civil rights groups to take a stand against these changes and national campaigns and movements have formed to inform voters of these changes. We haven’t seen such changes on a large scale since 1965. The process of making voting more difficult by limiting the early voting and the rejection of student id’s as a form of acceptable identification are a few of the changes that could potentially widen inequalities in voting.
    The inequalities in employment/income are also at the forefront of public debate. Movements such as the Occupy Movement are a result of these inequalities. The gap between the rich and the poor shows that class inequality has “created confusion” and compounded disagreements.
    Finally, inequalities in housing are also relevant issues in the current context. Targeted subprime mortgage lending and gentrification are just two example of how inequalities in housing are still issues.
    Since the aforementioned issues are still relevant, what social change efforts will begin to demolish these systemic problems? In what other ways will the people in power keep these systems in place? When tackling such broad issues, where do “social changers” begin? So much work has been done to lessen the inequality gap, but it is apparent that the gap continues to widen☹.

  9. Mitchell Adams says:

    Race and the “I Have A Dream” Legacy:

    In this article, the author explores different areas where people hold their personal opinions and tries to explain how certain mindsets can be liberated. The areas where people may hold their opinion include examples such as race, gender, age, and economic status. Opinions that are largely formed through perceiving the world through these lenses may be able to be changed, at a young age, by the use of education. Education is a powerful tool in allowing people to see the world through a more nuanced and complex perspective than that of their individual situation in terms of the factors that usually come to define a person.

    However, the research shows that, though opinions can be changed through education, there are still certain factors that help predict how a person may stand on civil rights issues. For example, men are more likely than women to hold negative feelings towards civil rights; people in the American South are also more likely than those in other areas to harbor such feelings towards civil rights. Furthermore, political affiliation has also been shown to influence a person’s attitude towards civil rights. These types real world indicators don’t serve to define a person in their entirety, but they do show important variations among people representing different groups with different ways of thinking and different histories.

    Much of the article is concerned with African American history. This is extremely important to any discussion of civil rights as African Americans in the United States serve as an especially good case of a minority group that has historically had its civil rights denied, and then even after granting, still face certain institutional challenges in many areas. Though much of our class discussion has focused around the Jim Crow era, it should be equally important to truly understand the residual tensions of slavery. Some power structures are extremely hard to overcome, and the effects of slavery can still be felt in contemporary United States national, regional, state, local, and personal relations.

  10. Stan says:

    The Progress of Black Americans in Civil Rights

    This reading did a good job to me of demonstrating how the American Civil Rights movement’s focus on defeating public or overt racism in society has not necessarily translated into the satisfactory resolution of the great inequalities African Americans continue to face in the United States. The author reviews the systems of public education, voting and political power, occupational status and income, and housing conditions and residential segregation to display specific examples of racial inequality in today’s society.

    I enjoyed this reading because it helped demonstrate concretely something I personally already held to be true: that although great strides have been made as a result of the Civil Rights movement, there is still much to be done if we hope to achieve a society of equal opportunity. It also demonstrates to me how morality can’t be legislated, and that greater focus on efforts to changing hearts and minds should produce greater results than efforts to force compliance with legal mandates.

  11. Veena says:

    Reading the article on exploring predictors of positive civil rights attitudes, I was overtaken by a sense of the obvious. I don’t know if it is because the article was published in 2006, but I felt as though many of the hypotheses Jones supposed were obvious. It is a widely understood assumption that the more educated a person is, the more likely they are to have a positive attitude toward civil rights. On the flip side, it is also widely known that older people tend to have more negative views toward civil rights. Additionally, the idea that gender might be correlated with attitudes toward civil rights is another obvious idea. Jones’ statement that the strongest predictors were political party identification, age, education, gender, race, and region of residence are all things that I already knew to be true.

    One of the things I did find interesting was Jones’ take on the attitude poor white people had toward civil rights. I found the statement “by uplifting African-Americans to a higher state, this act will disrupt the racial-social order in society, placing poor whites at the bottom of the hierarchy” [198]. I found this to directly relate to our discussion last week and thought it was a concise way of summing up what we were talking about.

  12. Mark Eastham says:

    “Race and the “I have a Dream” Legacy Exploring Predicators of Positive Civil Rights Attitudes” – Antwan Jones

    In this article, the author Antwan Jones aimed to test the relationship between racial attitudes towards Blacks and civil rights. In addition, the author hoped to find predicators of positive civil rights attitudes. I was skeptical at first as to how Jones would measure the, “relationship between attitudes towards blacks and attitudes towards civil rights.” Although he does later mention that data was collected through general survey methods and analysis of socioeconomic factors. Jones states numerous hypothesis in the onset of the article writing that Civil Rights would more likely be supported by women and self-identified liberals. The author believes that women will support civil rights because they were formerly oppressed and can relate, whilst liberals favor government intervention and are more commonly the political orientation of Blacks. I was not that surprised at the findings. People at later years will hold more negative views of Civil Rights, more education leads to more understanding of racial issues, and whites will hold more negative attitudes towards civil rights compared to other minority groups. To me, nothing in the “discussion” section really stood out as that outlandish or really surprising. Even so, the article brings to light the fact that underlying emotions and feelings to do with civil rights and racial relations still exist. Jones does lay some groundwork for future research on this complex and difficult topic, which is both hard to understand and quantify.

  13. Sydney Shearer says:

    In light of last week’s conversation and this week’s readings, I am very interested in the legacy of desegregation in the U.S. today. The last study questions ask if and how things have changed since this historical period. While the Zashin article discusses the progress of black Americans and the Jones article provides evidence that might help improve upon this progress, I looked deeply at the Census reports for any evidence that I could find to help answer this question. In “The Changing Shape of the Nation’s Income Distribution,” income inequality is measured using what is called the Gini coefficient. Using this measure, census researchers have found that between 1973 and 1992, income inequality grew, with the greatest rising occurring during the 1980s. This increase in income inequality occurred in large part because of a growing gap between skilled and unskilled workers. The unskilled factory jobs have become increasingly technical in the last several decades, meaning that many former employees cannot keep up. This is just one example of this wage distribution gap, which has essentially made the rich richer and the poor poorer. Since 1992, income inequality has reached something of a plateau.

    The other Census article (“US Neighborhood Income Inequality in the 2005-2009 period) discusses the idea of spatial income inequality, or the idea that income sorts people into neighborhoods that are not equal in terms of socioeconomic situation. The article does point out that it makes sense to move into a neighborhood where the residents are in the same general income bracket as you. It finds that it is because of this income sorting that neighborhood income inequality exists. While I agree that income sorting is certainly the base-level reason why such inequalities exist, I would argue that the root of this issue can be found in the historical setting of the desegregation period (and perhaps even further back). As we often discuss, issues of social change are very complex and deeply rooted in history. To this end, I do believe that neighborhood inequality is a phenomena created because of racial prejudice. Though most people today would not say that they live in a particular neighborhood because of race, historically, housing and loan policies (the GI Bill and redlining), as well as the acquisition of wealth that white citizens had access to because of these policies and the institution of slavery, have created the segregated, unequal neighborhoods that we see today. Though we have come a long way in term of racial integration, we must begin to unravel these complex roots of issues that still exist today in order to achieve true and lasting equality.

  14. Matt Lyon says:

    The Progress of Black Americans in Civil Rights

    Reading the article by Zashin helped me to manifest the seemingly obvious findings of Jones’ study. I found the metropolitan integration aspect of Zashin’s article particularly interesting. “A recent study, using data from 86 northern school districts concluded: ‘White flight, if it occurs at all, occurs not from the problems experienced during the first year of desegregation bur from the fear of problems'”[246]. This brings up to observations. 1) Is there a difference between northern schools integration practices and perceptions and the South’s? In other words, why did this study only look at northern schools? 2) If the study is correct, that fear is the main motivation for white flight, it may be a manifestation of Jones’ findings that perception creates the reality, and not the other way around. Zashin speaks of the suburbs as a refuse for whites ‘leery of integration’, and that racial suspicion may be reinforced in the vacuum of a homogenous community.

    The article also suggests that the most successful form of metropolitan integration is when black students learn with middle class whites, those that have ‘taken up the mantle’ of the cause, instead of fleeing to the suburbs. What this really boils down to is the notion that success is relative. If one is in an environment where s/he is challenged, and expectations are high, then one is more likely to do better. Contrastingly, if one is in an environment where expectation are low (Zashin may insert ‘low class whites’ here), then there is less impetus for doing challenging work.

    In my personal experience attending a very diverse parochial K-8 school, and a Catholic high school with about a 10% black population, I’ve found this to be true. My black classmates (essentially whose families recognized the a white middle-class advantage) seem to be markedly ‘more successful’ than the statistical median success of all black students. In Mobile, we have magnet liberal arts schools, which are akin to the busing programs of the 60s and 70s, where music, theater, art, are emphasized so that black and white students are more inter-related. In Mobile, those schools tend to do better than others. I look forward to discussing these topics further and hear others’ experiences.

  15. Jake says:

    In “The Progress of Black Americans in Civil Rights” Zashin concludes: “Apparently, most whites are not inclined to think that black Americans are victims of discrimination any longer; this climate of opinion bodes ill for the educational and remedial tasks that remain.” Apparently white folks have never really been inclined to think that black Americans are victims of discrimination or institutional racism. We heard this pre-emancipation and through Jim Crow. In the early 1960s, before the passage of civil rights legislation, at a time when the US was a still a formal apartheid state, polls found that a vast majority percent of whites already believed that blacks had just as good a chance to obtain a good job, housing or a good education as they or their children had.

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