Racial Attitudes in the 1990s: Continuity and Change

Racial Attitudes in the 1990s: Continuity and Change

Racial Attitudes in the 1990s: Continuity and Change

Racial Attitudes in the 1990s: Continuity and Change

Synopsis

More than half a century has passed since the publication of An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy, Gunnar Myrdal's agonizing portrait of the pervasiveness of racially prejudiced attitudes and discriminatory practices in American life. Central to Myrdal's work was the paradox posed by the coexistence of race-based social, economic, and political inequality on the one hand, and the cherished American cultural values of freedom and equality on the other. In the five decades since the publication of this work, there has been a dramatic decline in white Americans' overt expressions of anti-black and anti-integrationist sentiments and in many of the inequalities Myrdal highlighted in his monumental work. Yet the persistence of racial antipathy is evidence of the continuing dilemma of race in American society. This collection of original essays by leading race relations experts focuses on the recent history and current state of racial attitudes in the United States. It addresses key issues and debates in the literature, and it includes chapters on the racial attitudes of African-Americans as well as whites. The volume will be of great importance to students and scholars concerned with the sociology and politics of contemporary American race relations.

Excerpt

Jack K. Martin,E. M. Beck, and Steven A. Tuch

This volume had its beginning in a two-day conference on "Racial Attitudes in the 1990s" held at the University of Georgia in the winter of 1993. Sponsored by the University's Survey Research Center and the Institute for Behavioral Research, the conference brought together several leading researchers in the study of race and racial attitudes in the United States. Featured speakers at this conference were A. Wade Smith (late) of Arizona State University and Lawrence Bobo of Harvard University. Additional commentary was provided by E. M. Beck of the University of Georgia, Steven A. Tuch of The George Washington University, and Jack K. Martin of the University of Georgia.

The featured papers at the conference form the core of this original collection of chapters on racial attitudes. The only exception is the final chapter by Tuch, Sigelman, and Martin, which is reprinted from Challenge. The timeliness of such a collection finds emphasis in the fact that the January 1993 conference roughly corresponded with the fiftieth anniversary of Gunnar Myrdal's (1944) disturbing portrait of black-white relationships in post-World War II U.S. society, An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy, and by the fact that the conference followed closely on the heels of the civil unrest and racial tension generated by the Rodney King verdict in Los Angeles. Thus 1993 was a particularly opportune time to turn our attention to the issue of racial attitudes, and events since that time have done little to change this. Commentary and debate surrounding the state of race relations in the wake of the O. J. Simpson trial and the recent wave of racially motivated arson aimed at . . .

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