black vs african american

This may be the wrong network for this question, but here’s a try. In general, the terms “Black” and “African American” are considered non-derogatory among people in that group, with some preferring one and others the other and many people using them interchangeably. By contrast, many White young people are being taught that “African American” is the only acceptable term, and that “Black” is insulting. I am getting feedback from my students — few of whom are Black, some of whom have gone to integrated schools — that there are places where young AfAm/Black people take offense at the term Black, and other places where young AfAm/Black people laugh off or dislike African American and strongly prefer Black. So I’m pretty sure this is varying. My question is, does anybody know the parameters of how it is varying? What geographic areas or types of places go one way or the other? My hypothesis is that the only places where African American is preferred and Black is seen as derogatory is in White-dominated schools where the Black/AfAm kids are picking up what White kids are taught. But that could be wrong. Continue reading “black vs african american”

memory lane: shirley chisholm

I’d forgotten until I saw a mention of her on another blog.  My first big foray into politics was in 1972, when I worked on the Shirley Chisholm campaign in North Carolina.  “Unbought and Unbossed.”   My memories of this are hazy.   My biggest excitement was meeting her and getting her autograph.  I think most of the people in the campaign were White feminists.  I remember accosting some Black guys selling the Black Panther newspaper, urging them to vote for her.*  I remember going to a precinct meeting where it turned out the McGovern forces had organized a railroad.  She wouldn’t have done any worse in the general election than he did.  Some links: one and another.

*My racial politics were what could be called well-meaning, egalitarian and naive in those days.

symbolic dominance, culture and religion

When the war of the yard signs was at its peak several years ago, I wanted to put three popular signs in my yard, all together:
Let Your Light Shine: Fight Racism
We Support Gays and Lesbians
Keep Christ in Christmas
My state celebrates the winter season with the war of the symbols.  Nativity scenes on public property justly spark lawsuits by those who are not Christian.  Menorahs and “separate church and state” banners flank the decorated evergreen tree whose very name is subject of debate in the legislature.  Proposals to include Wiccan pentacles and Festivus poles add to the fun.  Some Christians have decided that “their” holiday has been ruined by any acknowledgment of others, Continue reading “symbolic dominance, culture and religion”

disadvantage

I’ve been working with an undergraduate, a senior.  She is African American, from a poor family.  None of her elders went to college, although a few cousins are doing it.  She graduated at the top of her class in an inner-city high school, where she says she never had to do any work to make As.  Her writing is markedly deficient compared to the predominantly-affluent predominantly-privileged students here, and she struggles academically.  Continue reading “disadvantage”

public sociology

Hello everyone. I’m new at this. My first thoughts are about how “out” to be. Now that I do a lot of public sociology, I have a public personna to consider. How much can I say to the web about the interesting things I’ve observed without delegitmating myself and my work? Much of what I spend a lot of time thinking about is race relations in the US, due to my teaching and public work, and I hope to write about this as I think I have had thoughts and experiences different from a lot of White people’s. But I worry about saying something in public that will seem condescending or insulting to the people I am writing about. I have to think about just how public this forum us. I was up most of the night preparing much-overdue reports for the commission I’m on. Somehow a couple of dozen of us have to agree on a report, and we have not had much time to work on it. Many of us said, “why don’t we just send email drafts around?” Turns out some people are very worried about drafts circulating. Partly we are subject to open records laws. Partly there are concerns that anything that is emailed can get forwarded to who knows who and that people would start criticizing the report before we even get it written. There are people who have already written editorials against what they expect us to say. So getting the work done is that much harder. This relates to a second point. While the political culture in my home town (which for now I’ll call Universityville) Continue reading “public sociology”