Two Faced Racism: Whites in the Frontstage and Backstage

Racial events that reveal the larger forces of racism in society are common and obvious in the sociospatial realm we term the backstage, especially in situations where whites interact with white friends and relatives. Backstage settings, where interactions typically take place among whites only, involve an array of complex interactions and performances. There we observe all dimensions of racial events– indications of who is allowed and not allowed in the backstage, what racialized performances are tolerated or expected there, the sociospatial character of contexts, the impact of conventional racial framing, and the pervasive influence of the larger society. Here we go beyond the content of “what” happened to numerous other dimensions. Although we deem it important to provide descriptions of events, our goal is also to access how and where these interactions transpire, as well as various underlying features.

The Social Construction of Whiteness: Racism by Intent, Racism by Consequence

The discipline of Sociology has generated great contributions to scholarship and research about American race relations. Much of the theorizing on American race relations in America is expressed in binary terms of black and white. Historically, the study of American race relations typically problematizes the “othered” status, that is, the non-white status in America’s racial hierarchy. However, the sociology of race relations has historically failed to take into account both sides of the black/white binary paradigm when addressing racial inequality.

In other words, in the case of race, it becomes difficult to see the forest for the trees. Thus, in Sociology, we find less scholarship about the role “whiteness as the norm” plays in sustaining social privilege beyond that which is accorded marginalize others. In order to examine the historical black/white binary
paradigm of race in America, it is important to understand its structuration. This article extends the applicability of sociologies of knowledge (Thomas Theorem, social constructionism) and Gidden’s structuration theory to inform a postmodern analysis of America’s binary racial paradigm.

Discourse and the denial of racism

Within the broader framework of a research programme on the
reproduction of racism in discourse and communication, the present
article examines the prominent role of the denial of racism, especially
among the elites, in much contemporary text and talk about ethnic rela-
tions. After a conceptual analysis of denial strategies in interpersonal
impression formation on the one hand, and within the social-political
context of minority and immigration management on the other, various
types of denial are examined in everyday conversations, press reports and
parliamentary debates. Among these forms of denial are disclaimers,
mitigation, euphemism, excuses, blaming the victim, reversal and other
moves of defence, face-keeping and positive self-presentation in negative
discourse about minorities, immigrants and (other) anti-racists

Blackness and Blood: Interpreting African American Identity

In his Tanner Lectures, “The State and the Shaping of Identity,” Kwame
Anthony Appiah defends a version of liberalism that would give the state a substantial role in deliberately sustaining, reshaping, and even creating the social identities of its citizens-our identities as African American, women, Hispanic, gay, Jewish, and the like.’ He calls this role “soul-making,” which is “the political project of intervening in the process of interpretation through which each citizen develops an identity with the aim of increasing her chances of living an ethically successful life.”

Appiah believes that an ethically successful life is integral to an objectively good life. “A life has gone well,” he tells us, “if a person has mostly done for others what she owed them (and thus is morally successful) and has succeeded in creating things of significance and in fulfilling her ambitions (and is thus ethically successful).”3 He supports a liberal democratic, soul-making state that not only would seek to protect persons from harming themselves but also would seek to promote for citizens the kinds of lives that are good or valuable, perhaps even if these citizens failed to recognize how such governmental interventions would contribute to their objective well-being.

Food Swamps Predict Obesity Rates Better Than Food Deserts in the United States

This paper investigates the effect of food environments, characterized as food swamps, on adult obesity rates. Food swamps have been described as areas with a high-density of establishments selling high-calorie fast food and junk food, relative to healthier food options. This study examines multiple ways of categorizing food environments as food swamps and food deserts, including alternate versions of the Retail Food Environment Index. We merged food outlet, sociodemographic and obesity data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Environment Atlas, the American Community Survey, and a commercial street reference dataset. We employed an instrumental variables (IV) strategy to correct for the endogeneity of food
environments (i.e., that individuals self-select into neighborhoods and may consider food availability in their decision). Our results suggest that the presence of a food swamp is a stronger predictor of obesity rates than the absence of full-service grocery stores. We found, even after controlling
for food desert effects, food swamps have a positive, statistically significant effect on adult obesity rates. All three food swamp measures indicated the same positive association, but reflected different magnitudes of the food swamp effect on rates of adult obesity (p values ranged from 0.00 to 0.16).
Our adjustment for reverse causality, using an IV approach, revealed a stronger effect of food swamps than would have been obtained by naïve ordinary least squares (OLS) estimates. The food swamp effect was stronger in counties with greater income inequality ( p< 0.05) and where residents are
less mobile (p< 0.01). Based on these findings, local government policies such as zoning laws simultaneously restricting access to unhealthy food outlets and incentivizing healthy food retailers to locate in underserved neighborhoods warrant consideration as strategies to increase health equity.

Racial disparities in health among nonpoor African Americans and Hispanics: The role of acute and chronic discrimination

Racial disparities in health tend to be more pronounced at the upper ends of the socioeconomic (SES) spectrum. Despite having access to above average social and economic resources, nonpoor African Americans and Latinos report significantly worse health compared to nonpoor Whites. We combine data from the parents and children of the 1979 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY79) to address two specific research aims. First, we generate longitudinal SES trajectories over a 33-year period to estimate the extent to which socioeconomic mobility is associated with exposure to discrimination (acute and chronic) across different racial/ethnic groups (nonHispanic Whites, nonHispanic Blacks, and Hispanics). Then we determine if the disparate relationship between SES and self-rated health across these groups can be accounted for by more frequent exposure to unfair treatment. For Whites, moderate income gains over time result in significantly less exposure to both acute and chronic discrimination.

Upwardly mobile African Americans and Hispanics, however, were significantly more likely to experience acute and chronic discrimination, respectively, than their socioeconomically stable counterparts. We also
find that differential exposure to unfair treatment explains a substantial proportion of the Black/White, but not the Hispanic/White, gap in self-rated health among this nationally representative sample of upwardly mobile young adults. The current study adds to the debate that the shape of the SES/health
gradient differs, in important ways, across race and provides empirical support for the diminishing health returns hypothesis for racial/ethnic minorities.


This reader is intended to be an introduction to the theory called Afro-pessimism. Collected in this volume are articles spanning three decades of thought, with topics ranging from police violence, the labor of Black women, and the slave’s transformation following emancipation, to the struggles of
the Black Liberation Army and elements of anti-Blackness in Indigenous struggles for sovereignty. Although the authors use differing methods of analysis, they all approach them with a shared theoretical understanding of slavery, race, and the totality of anti-Blackness; it is this shared understanding that has been called Afro-pessimism. Importantly though, rather than a fixed
ideology, Afro-pessimism is better thought of as a theoretical lens for situating relations of power, at the level of the political and the libidinal.

Afro-pessimism, in many ways, picks up the critiques started by Black revolutionaries in the 1960s and 70s, elaborating their short-comings and addressing their failures. While we don’t intend to explicate at great length the theory of Afro-pessimism here—this will be done by the articles—it may be helpful to start with a brief overview to give those readers without a context
some footing with which to go forward.

10 Principles for Building Healthy Places

This is a publication about healthy places. Physical design affects human behavior at all scales—buildings, neighborhoods, communities, and regions. The places in which we live, work, and play can affect both our mental and physical well-being. Today, communities across the United States are facing obesity and chronic disease rates of epic proportions. Our built environment offers both opportunities for and barriers to improving public health and
increasing active living. Communities designed in a way that supports physical activity -wide sidewalks, safe bike lanes, attractive stairways, accessible
recreation areas—encourage residents to make healthy choices and live healthy lives. Healthy places in turn create economic value by attracting both younger
and older workers and appeal to a skilled workforce and innovative companies.

One challenge to building healthy places is the lack of a common language between the medical and land use community. To that end, the Urban Land Institute
convened a group of interdisciplinary experts at an August 5–6, 2013, workshop
as part of its Building Healthy Places Initiative. The team—purposely drawn from a variety of fields and perspectives, including health care, architecture, plan-
ning, development, finance, academia, and research—was asked to develop ten principles for building healthy communities around the globe. Team members
devoted two days of intensive study and collaboration, ultimately consolidating and refining their conclusions as the ten principles presented in this booklet.

In spring 2013, the Colorado Health Foundation commissioned three ULI Advisory Services panels with a specific focus on evaluating three communities with very different land use typologies. The three panels were held in Arvada (suburban),
Lamar (rural), and Westwood in Denver (urban), thereby allowing ULI to compare and contrast local actions based on these different land use forms. The Colorado
Health Foundation has been an excellent partner in exploring this important subject and was instrumental in ULI’s decision to conduct this Ten Principles workshop.

The Racial Wealth Gap: Origins and Implications for Philanthropy in the African American Community

In this article, the author argues that any consideration of race and formal philanthropic activity must consider the issue of wealth differences; it is in the area of wealth that the greatest degree of racial inequality exists, with Black families owning about one eighth the assets of White families. In addition to this empirical rationale for investigating the role of net worth in accounting for Black-White differences in philanthropic activity, the author provides a theoretical argument, distinguishing between the role of income and that of
wealth in giving. The author concludes by arguing for a new research agenda that links the burgeoning literature on race and wealth to that on race and philanthropy.

The Ugly Side of America Institutional Oppression and Race

This manuscript examines structural racism through a socio-historical context of institutional oppression and its effects on modern society. The epistemological framework
of intersectionality is used to focus on the overlap of oppression, structural racism, and
implicit bias evident in the stereotypes and perceptions of the African American male
population in the United States. Four eras of socio-historical significance are addressed:
1. Foundations of Racial Oppression; 2. Racism: Reconstruction and Jim Crow; 3.
Renewal: Civil Rights and Civil Disobedience; 3. Reckoning: Embedded Racism and the
Criminal Justice System


Despite sociology’s longstanding interest in inequality, the
internalization of racial oppression among the racially subordinated and its contribution to the reproduction of racial inequality has been largely ignored, reflecting a taboo on the subject. Consequently, internalized racism remains one of the most neglected and misunderstood components of racism. In this article, the author argues that only by defying the taboo can sociology expose the hidden injuries of racism and the subtle mechanisms that sustain
White privilege. After reviewing the concept and providing examples of the phenomenon, the author draws on critical social theory to examine reasons for the taboo, such as a theoretical fixation on resistance, a penchant for racial essentialism, and the limitations of an identity politics. The author concludes by offering a method for studying internalized racism and resistance concurrently within the matrix of intersecting forms of oppression.

The Effects of Internalized Oppression on the Black Community

Intra-racial color discrimination is a controversial subject within the black community. Some people prefer not to discuss it while others contend skin color bias
no longer exists since it is an ugly truth no one wants to readily admit occurs in our culture. Still the truth remains that black people discriminate against each other based on skin color, hair texture, and facial features. This prejudice based on one’s skin and features is what’s known as a color complex. Traditionally, the complex involved light-skinned blacks’ rejection of dark-skinned blacks. However, this complex is not one-sided. The color complex occurs in the form of the dark-skinned spurning the light-skinned for not being “black enough.” This internalized oppression is a barrier to progression in the black community and the human race as a whole. This research aims to raise awareness among all races about this internalized oppression
and what it has done to the black community.