Racing for Innocence: Whiteness, Gender, and the Backlash against Affirmative Action

Racing for Innocence: Whiteness, Gender, and the Backlash against Affirmative Action

Racing for Innocence: Whiteness, Gender, and the Backlash against Affirmative Action

Racing for Innocence: Whiteness, Gender, and the Backlash against Affirmative Action

Synopsis

How is it that recipients of white privilege deny the role they play in reproducing racial inequality? Racing for Innocence addresses this question by examining the backlash against affirmative action in the late 1980s and early 1990s-just as courts, universities, and other institutions began to end affirmative action programs.

This book recounts the stories of elite legal professionals at a large corporation with a federally mandated affirmative action program, as well as the cultural narratives about race, gender, and power in the news media and Hollywood films. Though most white men denied accountability for any racism in the workplace, they recounted ways in which they resisted-whether wittingly or not- incorporating people of color or white women into their workplace lives. Drawing on three different approaches-ethnography, narrative analysis, and fiction-to conceptualize the complexities and ambiguities of race and gender in contemporary America, this book makes an innovative pedagogical tool.

Excerpt

In 1989 on my first day as an ethnographer and a paralegal in BC’s Legal Department, I spent two-and-a-half hours in Human Resources filling out the required paperwork, getting my picture taken for my photo identification badge, and reading the company’s literature on affirmative action. As part of my induction, the personnel director ushered me into an empty office and turned on a VCR for my “required” viewing of a twenty-minute video on the company’s affirmative action program. After she left the room, I sat in the semidarkened room watching the opening scene: a factory floor filled with the smiling faces of African American men and women operating heavy machinery as a white man in a wheelchair answered phones. In the background, a soft, cheerful female voice said, “At BC, we value diversity and excellence.” The upbeat video continued by promoting the “great success” of the company’s affirmative action program, showing more footage of more smiling faces of white women, Latinos, Asian Americans, and African Americans in what looked to be a variety of clerical and factory jobs.

The narrator proceeded to describe the beginning of the company’s affirmative action program fifteen years earlier. In her description of BC’s program, she failed to mention what I would soon learn from others—a federal court had ordered the corporation to create an affirmative action program in response to a lawsuit filed against the company in the early 1970s for race and sex discrimination. The court’s ruling was based on a finding of a documented . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.