Theorizing Discrimination in an Era of Contested Prejudice: Discrimination in the United States

Theorizing Discrimination in an Era of Contested Prejudice: Discrimination in the United States

Theorizing Discrimination in an Era of Contested Prejudice: Discrimination in the United States

Theorizing Discrimination in an Era of Contested Prejudice: Discrimination in the United States

Excerpt

The vast majority of evidence used to ascertain the effect of race discrimination on the success of blacks and the effect of sex discrimination on the success of women is, in a word, irrelevant. Not only is the evidence irrelevant to whether discrimination matters for blacks and women, but also the evidence is necessarily silent on the important question of whether whites and males gain or lose through the operation of antiblack and antiwoman discrimination.

Because blacks and women are disadvantaged in many areas, any suggestion that whites and men might lose through antiblack and antifemale discrimination may appear ludicrous to many. And to suggest that silence characterizes any part of public attention to these issues may seem equally absurd given that scholars, politicians, and citizens across the political spectrum engage in raucous debates about the merits of policies purported to address prior and present discrimination. In these debates, the well-known facts of inequality often form the empirical basis for theoretical assertions of the essential or trivial nature of racial and sexual status, for substantive claims concerning the significance or nonexistence of discrimination, and for political demands to end or extend allegedly aggressive ameliorative strategies.

Yet, despite their constant invocation, the oft-cited facts of race and gender inequality are irrelevant to whether discrimination matters; their invocation signals not clarity but, instead, the conflation of racial and . . .

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