The Urban Plantation: Racism & Colonialism in the Post Civil Rights Era

By Robert Staples | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FOUR
Racial Ideology and Intellectual Racism

America is a country of immense attraction to millions of people throughout the world. It is known as a land of unfettered opportunity, where fame and wealth awaits any person willing to work hard. This country represents a source of wealth and personal and political freedoms not available in more autocratic and traditional societies. However, the ideology of equal opportunity masks the reality of a country stratified along racial, gender and class lines. Because the decade of the 1970's opened up heretofore unavailable opportunities to formerly excluded groups, such as women and racial minorities, the competition for the values of this society intensified as classes, sexes and races all struggled for a piece of a rapidly dwindling pie. Hence, the decade of the 1980's has been witness to the fragmentation of American society into special interest groups, each one trying to penetrate the white male monopoly of educational and occupational resources.

In the area of education, the battle has been joined. Prior to the 1950's, higher education was a preserve of the upper classes in society. Its standards and values sought engender and perpetuate an elite class whose role would be carved out for the leadership positions of government and industry. For white males, the elitist universities provided the context and means to acquire the personalities, values and social contacts necessary to attain a position among the corporate aristocracy. To white women, matriculation at higher status colleges represented the only opportunity to marry a man of a higher status or one to which they were accustomed. Racial minorities were largely excluded from the elitist, predominantly white male institutions altogether.

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