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Article

Peter A. Kuryla

An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy, the Swedish social scientist Gunnar Myrdal's study of race relations in the United States, had remarkable influence after it appeared in 1944. The Supreme Court, for example, cited Myrdal's work with approval in the 1954Brown v. Board of Education decision. Within the national government, social engineers crafted ameliorative, race-based policy from Dilemma's prescriptions. For decades American liberals found its optimism congenial to much of their thinking. The word “dilemma” became linguistic coin of the realm, a liberal shorthand for America whenever cast in racial relief. The study helped create what many scholars came to call a “liberal orthodoxy” on race among social scientists, a perspective that dominated American social thought from the end of World War II until the mid-1960s.

The Carnegie Foundation sponsored and funded the study The original proposal for a comprehensive study of the ...

Article

Patricia E. Bonner

Formerly, the term “elderly” conventionally distinguished the subgroups of the older population as the “young old” (ages sixty-five to seventy-four); the “old old” (ages seventy-five to eighty-four); and the “oldest of the old” (ages eighty-five and above). However, by the early twenty-first century the older population had clearly changed in character, and the newer terms used to distinguish the elderly reflected that. In the early twenty-first century there were many people in their sixties and seventies who were healthy and active, and they were sometimes known as the “well-derly” group. On the other hand, because people were living longer, they often lived into their eighties and beyond, and many in this group were known as the “ill-derly.” The growth of this older population in America was projected to accelerate after about 2015 Even with the disparities in life expectancy among ethnic groups the numbers of old people in each ...

Article

Daniel J. Kevles

Francis Galton, a British scientist and a cousin of Charles Darwin, coined the word “eugenics” in 1883, drawing on the Greek root meaning good in birth or noble in heredity. The term expressed his idea of improving the human race biologically by manipulating its hereditary essence—by, as he put it, getting rid of the “undesirables,” multiplying the “desirables.” Eugenics became popular after the rediscovery in 1900 of Mendel s theory that the biological makeup of organisms is determined by certain factors later identified with genes Eugenics movements blossomed in the United States Canada Britain Germany Scandinavia and elsewhere in Continental Europe and parts of Latin America and Asia Eugenicists insisted that genes made people prone to poverty criminality alcoholism and prostitution and that people carrying socially deleterious genes were proliferating at a threatening rate Eugenicists on both sides of the Atlantic argued for a two pronged ...

Article

James Bartholomew

Minority religious or racial groups in a country or region have often experienced greater difficulty than the majority in cultivating natural knowledge and receiving recognition for their work. Sometimes, as with Huguenots in seventeenth-century France, Quakers in eighteenth-century England, Jews in nineteenth-century Germany, and Asians in twentieth-century America, minorities have done well despite, and in different measures because of, prejudice that allowed them to develop strengths favorable for scientific work. Though not a minority in the general population, women have been severely underrepresented in the sciences owing to a spectrum of beliefs now unsustainable in the Western world: that women have no capacity for abstract thought, cannot raise children while performing other exacting jobs, cannot work outside the home without damaging it, and so on (See Women in Science).

The history of the position and opportunities of minorities in Europe and the United States has not tended uniformly toward improvement ...

Article

mulatto  

Peter Martin

The word ‘mulatto’ is derived from the Arabic muwallad, which originally referred to persons who were not ‘genuine’ Arabs, especially individuals born of black–white ‘misalliances’. With the beginning of the transatlantic African slave trade in the fifteenth century, the word mulatto first found its way into Portuguese, and then into almost all European languages, as the term for offspring of mixed European (Caucasian) and African (Negroid) parentage. (Only Afrikaans used the word ‘Bastard’ for such persons.)

The social position of these half breeds varied from place to place and over time On the sugar plantations of Latin America in several Caribbean colonies and in southern and western Africa where white masters faced an overwhelming number of black workers in bondage to them the mulatto and his or her descendants formed a buffer zone between blacks and whites that was indispensable for maintaining the authority and prosperity of the Europeans ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

a Congolese pygmy infamously exhibited at New Yorks’ Bronx Zoo, was born into a Twa (pygmy) community living in what is now the Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. He grew up in the domain of Ndombe, a small monarchy ruled by a Luba-speaking clan on the outskirts of the Kuba kingdom. Almost nothing is known of his early life or his family, although he is reputed to have been—like many of his people—an elephant hunter. Samuel Verner, a Presbyterian missionary from North Carolina stationed at the Fwela mission in Ndombe in the late 1890s, agreed to find pygmies to be exhibited at the 1904 Saint Louis World's Fair. Verner visited a town of Baschilele people near Ndombe in March 1904 At a slave market there he found Ota Benga who had been captured by African soldiers in the Force Publique colonial army of Leopold II s ...

Article

The phrase “environmental justice” began to appear in the US media around 1990. This new environmental justice awareness was triggered by grassroots protest in places burdened with human-caused environmental hazards such as hazardous waste and pollution from factories, power plants, and incinerators. A study commissioned by the United Church of Christ (1987) had already shown that such hazards tended to be located disproportionately close to the homes of racial/ethnic minority people. In the years since a large, interdisciplinary body of research on environmental inequalities has accumulated. Most of this research demonstrates that African Americans, Hispanics, and low-income people live closer than the affluent and whites to hazardous waste, industrial, energy, and garbage disposal sites (Mohai, Roberts, and Pellow 2009).

The unequal distribution of hazards or environmental inequality is one of an array of environmental justice concerns which center around environmental inequality in the cleanliness safety ...

Article

race  

Robert J. Richards

The term “race” and its equivalent in several languages gained currency in the seventeenth century to describe descendents of the same family or house. The word was also used to refer to a tribe or nation, as in the Germanic races. Only in the nineteenth century did the term take on the taxonomic meaning of a distinctive group or variety within a human or animal species.

During the eighteenth century, naturalists developed comprehensive categories to classify human beings among other animal groups. In the tenth edition (1758) of his Systema naturae, Carl Linnaeus placed the genus Homo within the order Primates (which included monkeys, bats, and sloths) and distinguished two species: Homo sapiens and Homo troglodytes (anthropoid apes). He divided Homo sapiens wise man into four varieties American copper colored choleric regulated by custom Asiatic sooty melancholic and governed by opinions African black phlegmatic and governed ...

Article

racism  

H. Augstein

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term describes ‘the theory that distinctive human characteristics and abilities are determined by race’. The word itself is rather recent, probably going back only to the 1930s. There are two attitudes towards the concept of racism: one says that ‘racism’ is usefully applied only where it is derived from a perception of race and the ensuing fixation on ‘typical’ racial traits. In this sense ‘racism’ describes the racialist attitudes of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, deriving from the merger of physical anthropology und ethnography on the background of the idea of evolution. Another school has argued that racism consists in intentional practices and unintended processes or consequences of attitudes towards the ethnic ‘other’. According to this line of thought, it is not necessary to possess a concept of ‘race’ to entertain prejudices towards other peoples.

As the term was coined in reaction ...

Article

Darshell Silva

(also known as Cromwell Ashbie Hawkins West, Carlos Ashbie Hawk Westez, Ashbie Hawkins West, and Namo S. Hatirire) activist, linguist, storyteller, performer, and shaman, was born in Newport, Rhode Island. There are varying accounts of Red Thunder Cloud's parentage and upbringing. According to his own account, he was born Carlos Ashibie Hawk Westez. As a young boy, he was brought up among the Narragansett Indians of Rhode Island by his Catawba mother, Roberta Hawk Westez, and his Honduran father, Carlos Panchito Westez. He is believed to have lived among the Shinnecock Indians of Long Island in the late 1930s. His actual home during much of this time was said to be on the Catawba Reservation in South Carolina, but he traveled extensively, visiting many Indian groups. This account of his early life has been challenged by Smithsonian anthropologist and ethnologist Ives Goddard who claimed ...

Article

Michael Phillips

The belief in white racial superiority and the innate inferiority of all other racial categories remained a central feature of the dominant American culture for nearly a century after the Civil War. White supremacy rested on the following assumptions: that racial categories like “white” and “black” represented distinct biological subdivisions of humanity; that races possess intrinsic qualities of intellect, character, inventiveness, and inclination toward democracy or authoritarianism; that racial mixing produces degeneracy, with the children of mixed-race unions inferior to either parent; and that the relationship between races represents a zero-sum game in which any advantage gained by one group represents a loss for other groups.

This ideology allowed even the poorest and most politically disfranchised white people to imagine that they belonged to a racial aristocracy with higher social status However the Northern victory in the Civil War and the passage of the Thirteenth Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to ...