Much has happened in the area of race and ethnic relations since the first edition of our book was published in 1994. The changes in this edition reflect the changes in society and the writing about it.
We begin this book by summarizing our own observations. The first is that prejudice and discrimination against racial/ethnic groups in American society is still a serious problem. In spite of considerable civil rights legislation and government programs intended to minimize inequality, white Americans still have greater op- portunities than all others. Discrimination persists; group tensions are on the rise.
The second observation is that there has been a change in the dominant mode of expression of prejudice. The ethnic group stereotypes of an earlier day were rooted in beliefs about the biological differences among people. Today, there is no longer a widespread or strongly held sense of biological inferiority. There is, rather, a sense of "cultural" difference. So, for example, minority groups are not rejected because they are seen as innately inferior but because their "lifestyle" is unacceptable. Further, the stereotypes of an earlier day were far more hateful and far more cruel than those of today. Today one seldom encounters people who regard the Japanese as cruel, sly, and treacherous or who fear Jews because they kidnap young children for ritual blood sacrifices. Fewer people today accept the gross, negative ethnic group stereotypes than at the time of the civil rights movement.
Third, there has been a reduction in the amount of discrimination. Changes have occurred in the motivation of people to discriminate against others in everyday settings. In public accommodations, in schools and in workplaces, in voting and political officeholding, major improvements have occurred in this society. To be sure, neighborhood segregation persists in almost all cities and has gotten worse in many. School segregation continues, although it is based more on residential patterns than on legal mandates. Intergroup friendships that cross ethnic and racial lines are still not as frequent as intragroup friendships. Although the prevailing social norms still prescribe considerable social distance between many ethnically different people in intimate settings, much less distance is prescribed in public and casual settings. This, too, is a major change in norms from the period of the civil rights movement. Remember that the civil rights struggles of the 1950s began over issues of where to sit in a bus or at a lunch counter. Public transportation and restaurants are now open to all. Barriers to participation in electoral politics have mainly been removed.
The fourth observation is that the level of violence motivated by prejudice is high and has been increasing through the 1980s and 1990s. This form of violence, which