Race and Ethnic Conflict: Contending Views on Prejudice, Discrimination, and Ethnoviolence

By Fred L. Pincus; Howard J. Ehrlich | Go to book overview
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tion and prejudice against their racial or national group in the United States. Informants who have been in the United States five years or less are much more likely to explain their experiences with discrimination as being based in their ignorance as, or others' ignorance of, foreigners rather than as race related. This is true for close to 70 percent of the Asian immigrants interviewed but for only 30 percent of the Mexican immigrants. Mexican immigrants are more likely to have heard explicit accounts of racism in the United States before immigrating, from friends and relatives who migrated back and forth between the two countries. A recently arrived, undocumented Mexican worker commented: "I already knew that 'gringos' don't like Mexicans before we came here, because my cousin lived in the States. But I also knew they would hire us for certain jobs, so we came anyway." Her observation is typical of those made by her compatriots. Latinos in general, as well as the few Black immigrants among the informants, are more likely than Asians to expect racism to deter their access to equitable jobs and incomes.

Most of the Asian immigrants were not very knowledgeable about U.S. racism when they immigrated, or at least did not realize it extends to Asians. A woman from India commented: "I knew that Americans [sic] did not like the Blacks, but I was surprised they don't like Indians too much, either." Remarks from a recently immigrated Chinese worker suggest that she is shocked by derogatory racial slurs when they are directed at her own national/racial group, but not when they are directed at certain others: "Why do they say these things to us?" she asked. "People treat us bad, like they do the Blacks or Mexicans. I don't understand. I thought Chinese culture is very respected here."


CONCLUSION

The main source of legitimation of both gender and racial hierarchy within the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley lies, obviously, in the existence of occupational and social stratification. Every day workers and managers view the gender-, class-, and race-tiered structure of the industry, and although some may consider it unfair, most believe that it is inevitable. As a Chicana who worked as a bonder in a large firm said of the company's racial and gender hierarchy: "Of course I don't like it, but there's nothing I can do about it--it's like that everywhere." An African American woman coworker agreed: "It's a White man's world--just look around the plant. I take the job I can get and I do it." The few who did challenge the hierarchy, during conversation, were mainly not immigrants: some of the White women workers questioned sexual hierarchies, and some nonimmigrant women of color questioned both sexual and racial boundaries. In general, though, as with sexism, employers can use "immigrant-specific" logic because it corresponds to workers' own consciousness of their limited options. 10

In conclusion, the racial division of labor in the Silicon Valley high-tech manufacturing work force originates in the racially structured labor market of the larger economy, and in the "racial logic" that employers use in hiring. This "racial logic" is based on stereotypes--both observed and imagined--that employers have about different racial groups. One of the effects of this racial logic, vis-­vis

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Race and Ethnic Conflict: Contending Views on Prejudice, Discrimination, and Ethnoviolence
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