Micropaper Paraphrasing as an Act of Analysis

Micropaper 5 Paraphrasing as an Act of Analysis
Micropaper 5Paraphrasing as an Act of AnalysisOver the last several weeks, the 70B teaching team has encouraged you to analyze the quotations that you integrate into your writing. Often times, quotations do not have self-evident meaning. They require you – the author – to restate and interpret their meaning. We call this paraphrasing. Paraphrasing is to take a quotation and put it in your own words. In this act of translation, historians are simultaneously interpreting their evidence – they are explaining why their evidence is significant. Paraphrasing is one of the most vital skills of academic writing – it communicates mastery over the material and helps the reader to understand your analysis of evidence.Assignment: In this micro-paper assignment, you will practice the art of paraphrasing as a form of critical analysis. Paraphrase both quotations provided below from Philomena Essed’s Understanding Everyday Racism (1984). Write 3-5 sentences that paraphrase each quotation (6-10 sentences total). Explain what the chosen quotation means and what it reveals about the author’s broader argument. This requires you to draw connections between the quotation and the rest of the text. Do not use any direct quotations in your responses.Quote 1: “The old colonial model of ‘race’ exploitation and cultural oppression rationalized with pseudoscientific ‘race’ theories is loosing ground. In this process the cultural elements of racism become more prominent. At the same time ‘ethnic’ forms of oppression have emerged that are fed by strong (nationalistic) identification with the cultural heritage of the group.” (p. 13)Quote 2: “Everyday racism can be defined as a process in which (a) socialized racist notions are integrated into meanings that make practices immediately definable and manageable, (b) practices with racist implications become in themselves familiar and repetitive, and (c) underlying racial and ethnic relations are actualized and reinforced through these routine or familiar practices in everyday situations.” (p. 52)Learning goals: to paraphrase evidence and explain significance. To understand the theory of everyday racism.Example: let’s take a quotation – again! – from an imaginary book about Chihuahuas“Demure but also aggressive, the chihuahua is a beguiling breed.”In this passage, the author identifies the contradictory behavior of Chihuahuas, defining typical Chihuahua attitudes as simultaneously shy and mean. As the author explains throughout the text, it is this dual nature of the Chihuahua that leads to the breed’s universal adoration and ineffable charisma.Notice that the above example translates the meaning of the quote, including words that may not be very easy to understand and connects it to a broader, running theme throughout the text. Bravo!Now, a less great example would be:This passage says that Chihuahuas are demure and aggressive and also beguiling, which means charming or enchanting.This example is less strong because it has not 1) done the work of translating the original text into one’s own words and 2) because it does not explain how the chosen quotation is relevant to understanding the broader text.Rubric:4 points – translated the text into own words4 points – explains how the passage is representative of the author’s argument2 points – clarity and organization of writing

Toward an Integration of Macro
and Micro Dimensions of Racism
R A C I S M T O D A Y :
T H E S O C I A L – P O L I T I C A L C O N T E X T
Contemporary racism is rooted in centuries of oppression and struggle that formed the bedrock of relations between Blacks and
Whites, Third World and First World. These historical realities have
been documented extensively (e.g.. Aptheker, 1964; Berry &
Blassingname, 1982; Franklin, 1952; Genovese, 1984; Gutman, 1976;
Litwack, 1979; Rose, 1976; Stampp, 1956). Some authors have
pointed out that prejudice against Blacks was already present in the
sixteenth century, when Europeans began to remove millions of youth
and young adults from the African work force (Dabydeen, 1987; Jordan, 1968). Others maintain that race ideology and White domination
could only blossom through the European expansion, the development
of capitalism, the colonization of the New World, and the race consciousness that emerged from biological and anthropological theories
(Chase, 1980; Du Bois, 1964; Gossett, 1963; Horsman, 1981; Reynolds,
1985). Rather than race exploitation causing race prejudice or the
other way round, they seem to have continually appeared together and
reinforced each other over time (Lauren, 1988). Indeed racism extends beyond the mere facts of imperialism. It forms part of a much
more profound problem, namely, the tendency of European civilization not to homogenize but to exaggerate and to exploit regional,
subcultural, and dialectical differences as “ethnic” and “racial”
ones (Nederveen Pieterse, 1989; Robinson, 1983). Racism is always
11
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12 UNDERSTANDING EVERYDAY RACISM
historically specific (Hall, 1978, 1980). This is not to say that racism
is a “natural” and permanent feature of European history; it is created
and reproduced out of a complex set of conditions. Even when it
draws on cultural and ideological remnants of previous historical processes, the specific forms racism takes are determined by the economic, political, social, and organizational conditions of society.
Further, one must also take into account the impact of oppositional
groups. In Europe as well as in the United States, there have always been
groups fighting for their oppositional views and for racial justice.
Blacks in the United States tried virtually everything in their struggle for liberation-revolt, petitions, armed attacks, economic boycott,
demonstrations, riots, court action, the vote, alliances, Black nationalism (Aptheker, 1966; Bennett, 1965; Bontemps, 1961; Commager,
1967; Eissien-Udom, 1962; Franklin, 1984; Grant, 1968; Hercules,
1972; Killian & Grigg, 1964; Lomax, 1962; Marable, 1980, 1984;
Marx, 1967; Morris, 1984; Page, 1987; Reid, 1972; Skolnick, 1969;
Stuckey, 1987; Tuttle, 1984). Due to, among other things, continuous
protest and the demands of market economy, social and political conditions have changed, but the legacy of discrimination and legal segregation (Williamson, 1984; Woodward, 1957) has continued to affect
race relations in the United States (Newman et al., 1978). As we
move into the 1990s, segregation is still widespread, in particular in
housing, and there is a tendency for desegregated schools to resegregate in the classroom (Epstein, 1985; Harris & Wilkins, 1988; J a p e s
& Williams, 1989; Tobin, 1987). Indeed desegregation in schools did
not sufficiently improve the quality of race relations (Adair, 1984;
Hanna, 1988; Patchen, 1982). More generally economic and ideological forces operate to impede progress and to keep the majority of
Blacks in exploited conditions (Glasgow, 1980; Pinkney, 1984). It has
been argued that the condition of Blacks cannot be explained by the
factor of race alone (Wilson, 1978, 1987). One cannot deny that class
position is of crucial importance (Auletta, 1982; Polenberg, 1980;
Sennett & Cobb, 1972). There is, however, abundant evidence to show
that racism continues to be a major determining factor in the lives of
Blacks (Bell, Parker, & Guy-Sheftall, 1979; Blauner, 1989; Boston,
1988; Duster, 1981; Hill et al., 1989; James. Mccummings, & Tynan,
1984; Katz & Taylor, 1988; Ladner & Stafford, 1981; Omi & Winant,
1986; Wellman, 1977). Its forms and manifestations, however, seem to
be in a phase of transition during the postwar period. This holds true for
U.S. as well as for European race and ethnic relations.
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Macro and Micro Dimensions of Racism 13
Various developments since World War I1 have contributed to
changes in the ideological basis of racism and its manifestations.
Changes in the capitalist mode of production led to large-scale labor migration from Third World to First World and from southern to northern
Europe. The postwar period witnessed decolonization processes and the
rise of nationalism throughout the world. The old colonial model of “race”
exploitation and cultural oppression rationalized with pseudoscientific
“race” theories is loosing ground. In this process the cultural elements of
racism become more prominent. At the same time “ethnic” forms of oppression have emerged that are fed by strong (nationalistic) identification with the cultural heritage of the group. These “ethnic”-directed
forms of oppression are an inherent part of the cultural pluralism model.
The concept of pluralism was introduced by Furnivall (1948) as a description of the colonial society in which different peoples seek their
own ends without developing feelings of loyalty to the whole society.
Today the notion of cultural pluralism is also frequently used to describe
European and U.S. society as consisting of different groups that are culturally distinctive and separate. Cultural pluralists believe in the primacy
of culture and traditions as determinants of group membership, and they
are positively committed to the preservation of these distinctive elements. I am not concerned here with models of pluralism in themselves
(Bullivant, 1983; Mullard, et al., 1988) but with implications of the application of cultural pluralism as everyday practice and social discourse
in relations of racial and ethnic dominance. Cultural pluralism interferes
with and changes, to a certain extent, traditional rationalizations of racism. These processes of change occur in the United States as well as in
the Netherlands but at a different pace and under different social, economic, and political conditions.
In the United States blatant notions of “racial” inferiority have become less acceptable among the dominant group and are being replaced by a much more subtle ideology, built on the bedrock of
cultural inferiority (Cruse, 1987; Steinberg, 1981). Notions of cultural
determinism, though not necessarily formulated in value-laden terms
such as superiority and inferiority, are thoroughly integrated into
White perceptions of Blacks, as may be inferred from empirical data
(Wellman, 1977). Cultural determinism was not a new phenomenon
in the 1970s. Earlier, authors such as Glazer and Moynihan
(1963/1968, p. 310) argued that “ethnicity is . . . the source of
events.” Cultural arguments are used more and more to blame Blacks
themselves for the situation of poverty and their slow rise in the
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14 UNDERSTANDING EVERYDAY RACISM
system compared with White immigrants and Asians. Feelings of cultural superiority are not expressed alone in the blaming of Blacks for failing to develop White middle-class values and aspirations (Sowell, 1981).
Underlying this discourse is the implication that Euro-American cultural
standards are uncritically accepted as the norm and positive standard.
The traditional idea of genetic inferiority is still important in the fabric
of racism (Duster, 1990), but the discourse of Black inferiority is increasingly reformulated as cultural deficiency, social inadequacy, and
technological underdevelopment (Rodney, 1982). The increasing influence of cultural determinism, or the culturulizariori of racism, is inherent
in the ideological climate of pluralistic views of society, which have
gained increasing importance in the United States since the 1960s
(Steinberg, 1981). In conclusion these arguments suggest that the Black
Diaspora in United States, from slavery onward, has begun to witness
declining racism but also increasingly cultural and covert racism.
The Black Diaspora in Europe is a different story, one of colonialism rather than slavery, even as European colonialists had their
own slavery systems and kept Blacks in bondage as long as the Europeans in the United States did. Unlike that of the United States,
however, the racism in Europe is “new” in the sense that it is racism
“in the mother country” as opposed to the traditional racism in the
colonies in the “high” colonial period (Solomos, Findlay, Jones, &
Gilroy, 1982). For over two decades after World War 11, antiracism
was quite popular and crude race theories were discredited (e.g.,
Montagu, 1972, 1974). With the economic crisis of the 1970s, however, the Black Diaspora in Europe began to witness a resurgence of
racism and they are increasingly brutalized by racism-in countries
such as France, Belgium, and the United Kingdom more violently
than in the Netherlands (European Parliament, 1985, 1986, 1990;
SIM, 1988). The situation may deteriorate even faster with the unification of Europe, and pogroms and violence against Jews, the Sinti,
and Roma, Vietnamese workers, and African students recently having
intensified in various Eastern European countries. European politicians act ambivalently. To use the words of Rhikhu Parekh, previous
deputy chairman of the U.K. Commission of Racial Equality: “No European government has hitherto dared to follow wholly racist policies;
none has dared to tackle racism head on either” (Parekh, 1988,p. 10).
Like various other European peoples, the Dutch have a history of
exploitation of Africans in the Caribbean and in South Africa. Contemporary Dutch racism against Blacks is a complex combination of
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Macro and Micro Dimensions of Racism 15
remnants of colonial paternalism, structural marginalization, and cultural
assimilation under conditions of advancing pluralism. The Dutch ideology of pluralism is rooted in the previous century and has accompanied
the institutionalization of religious diversity in society (Chembi, Fuhr, &
Niedekker, 1989, pp. 13-19). Because ethnic pluralism is almost invariably associated only with differences in life-style, it has the function of
obscuring socioeconomic and political power conflicts (Bullivant, 1983;
Mullard, 1986a). Indeed the key notions in Dutch discourse about race
and ethnic relations are “culture” (Penninx, 1988, p. 32), “ethnicity”
(Hoppe, 1987; Vermeulen, 1984), and “multiethnic” (WRR, 1989, p. 24)
rather than “race,” “power,” and “cultural oppression.” Arguably “ethnic
group” is a problematic concept (Miles, 1982), which has been defined
on the basis of diverse criteria such as interest (Glazer & Moynihan,
1963/1968, p. 17), identification with a specific culture (Smith, 1981,
p. 13), or a mixture of race, religion, and national background (Gordon,
1978, pp. 106-113). Here the notion of “ethnic” or, more specifically,
“ethnic diversity” is relevant not so much for its intrinsic meaning but
for the political meaning it acquires in a conceptual framework of pluralism. In that context “ethnic groups” are usually seen as “culturally distinct groups within a state, that retain their cultural identity while
accepting and operating within the political, institutional framework of
the state. . . . The future of such groups is in constant negotiation with
other groups within the overall political arena of the state” (Clay, 1989,
p. 224). In this construction power differences between different groups
are ignored, and it is assumed that societal stability results from acceptance of the supposedly neutral authority of the state on political issues
(Mullard, 1982, p. 129).
The ideological form of racism that is used to rationalize pluralization, called “ethnicism,” proclaims the end of class and race groups,
thereby delegitimizing resistance against racism and denying fundamental group conflict (Mullard, 1985a, 1986a). I do not intend to
elaborate upon the race-class discussion, as I shall explain in more
detail later. Nevertheless it is relevant to point out that ethnicism,
which is inherently part of the processes of cultural or ethnic differentiation within a pluralistic model, represents a shift from “race” hierarchies to “ethnic” hierarchies and from race and class exploitation to
ethnic marginalization through social, economic, and political disempowerment. We shall see that Black women are confronted both
with racism based in the colonial model and with ethnicism based in
the cultural pluralism model. Because “racial” and “ethnic” criteria
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16 UNDERSTANDING EVERYDAY RACISM
overlap, in particular in the social representations of Blacks, and because racism as well as ethnicism involve cultural inferiorization, we
get a picture of mixed coherence. This hybrid coherence makes it difficult to distinguish in detail racism from ethnicism in the experiences
of Black women. Therefore, this study maintains the concept of racism for descriptive, explanatory, and analytical purposes, and I shall
return to the concept later.
In this chapter the experiences of Black women are placed in a theoretical framework. For that purpose, four areas of social scientific debate are important. First a macrosociological outline of racism is
given. Second the impact of racism on the lives of Black women is
discussed. The third part presents a working definition of racism. In
this way macrosociological conceptions of racism are reformulated as
microsociological concepts. The fourth part makes operational the notion of everyday racism as a concept that integrates, by definition,
macro- and microsociological dimensions of racism.
Before proceeding it is, however, relevant to make clear the different contexts of racism toward Black women in the Netherlands and in
the United States. Therefore, a brief discussion is needed concerning
race and ethnic relations in both countries. We have already seen that
racism is getting more covert in the United States but more brutal in
Europe. Indeed U.S. and European racism are trends toward the universalization of the Black experience (Mazrui, 1986). Because there
are many studies of racism in the United States and very few (in English) of racism in the Netherlands, relatively more attention is paid
to developments in the latter country.
T H E N E T H E R L A N D S
Dutch racism is similar to and different than racism in the United
States. The differences have to do not only with Dutch history and
with economic and political conditions of the migration of Blacks to
the Netherlands but also with the ideological climate. With respect to
the ideologies in which Dutch racism is embedded, it is relevant to
distinguish between two systems of ideas. The first is a paternalistic
remnant of colonialism and may be characterized as the ideology of
the “Dutch burden.” This paternalism is motivated by “good intentions” to “help” Blacks cope with “modern” Dutch society. By the
end of the 1980s the ideology of the “Dutch burden” decreased in
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Macro and Micro Dimensions of Racism 17
influence. During the 1980s unemployment among Blacks increased dramatically, despite the efforts the Dutch felt they had made to encourage
integration. To mitigate evidence of large-scale discrimination in the
Dutch labor market, government advisers claimed that the government
had “pampered” the minorities, who, according to this view, had become
unwilling to take a job or to adapt to Dutch society at all. This sentiment
is voiced in working-class neighborhoods (Bovenkerk, Bruin, Brunt, &
Wouters, 1985, pp. 317-318) as well as in policymaking circles and by
representatives of the intellectual “elite” (Brunt, Gfijpma, & Harten,
1989). This introduces another, related ideological strand.
The second ideology is of increasing significance and concerns cultural pluralism. It has its basis in the rejection of biological determinism, the explicit norm of equality within cultural diversity, and the
norm of tolerance. The idea of “egalitarianism” has, in common
usage, become associated with “democracy.” Implicitly, however, the
ideology of pluralism assumes a hierarchical order of cultures. This
can be inferred from the very notion of tolerance. “Tolerance for” is
fundamentally different than “having respect for.” The idea of tolerance only makes sense when it becomes clear that the current discourse of cultural pluralism is founded in the presupposition that
pluralism is only possible if Blacks and other immigrants accept and
internalize the fundamental norms and values of the dominant group.
This is clearly implied in the government view that “cultural pluralism” should be possible and immigrants must be allowed to “keep
their own cultural identity” as long as they obey the Dutch “legal
order” (WRR, 1989, p. 24). Furthermore, those who pursue tolerance
assume, by definition, that it is legitimate to limit the extent to which
difference can be tolerated (Tennekes, 1985). The compatibility of
cultural assimilationist practices and cultural pluralistic discourse is
not surprising when one considers that those who desire to achieve in
society usually have to pay the price of first adapting to and accepting
the dominant culture. In the course of this book I portray and analyze
the complex combinations of paternalistic, assimilationalist, and pluralistic forces structuring the experience of Blacks in the Netherlands.
Historical Overview
Because the race and ethnic relations of the Netherlands are largely
unknown in other countries, a brief introduction is in order. The Netherlands has a population of 14 million, about 5% of whom are Blacks
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18 UNDERSTANDING EVERYDAY RACISM
from the (ex)colonies and Mediterranean immigrant workers. Contemporary race and ethnic relations in the Netherlands must be placed
in the context of colonization and decolonization of the Dutch overseas territories and the European south-north labor migration in the
period after World War 11. After the independence of Indonesia in
1949, about 280,000 Dutch passport-holders of European-Indonesian
background were forced to immigrate to the Netherlands (Ellemers &
Vaillant, 1985, pp. 34-42). A second group, about 12,500 Moluccans,
most of them soldiers who had fought in the Dutch army against the
Indonesian nationalists, were also forced to leave, with their families,
after the independence of Indonesia (Schumacher, 1987, p. 17). The
current number of Moluccans in the Netherlands is about 40,000
(WRR, 1989, p. 67). In many Dutch as well as English-language publications, the integration of Euro-Indonesians is usually praised as a
perfect model of “tolerance” and harmonious acceptance of a group
that was largely racially mixed (Bagley, 1973; Bovenkerk, 1978; Entzinger, 1984, p. 75; Simpson & Yinger, 1972, p. 6). Recent reinterpretations of the immigration of Euro-Indonesians, however, reveal that
they were no less exposed to daily racism than later immigrants
(Cottaar & Willems, 1984). Their integration into Holland was structured by factors of class, gender, and race. Euro-Indonesians with
high-status backgrounds did not experience many problems entering
the Netherlands, but they had to accept lower positions (Ellemers &
Vaillant, 1985, p. 99). The Dutch government made attempts, though
without success, to stop the large group of low-status Euro-Indonesians from immigrating to Holland, using among other things the
argument that the “inherent nature” of these people would make them
unsuited to living in the Netherlands (Mullard et al., 1988, pp. 15-16).
The Euro-Indonesians arrived in a social context in which racism
against East Asians was not a new phenomenon. Studies about Chinese immigrant workers in the cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam in
the beginning of this century make mention of police and state racism
and xenophobia, culminating in racist razzias and forced deportation
of Chinese workers in the years of the Great Depression (Wubben,
1986; Zeven, 1987). The Dutch government reacted to the immigration of Euro-Indonesians with forceful assimilation policies (Mullard
et al., 1988, pp. 14-20). Perceived as culturally primitive, they were
pressured to accept paternalistic guidance to imitate the Dutch way of
life (Cottaar & Willems, 1984). This included the acceptance of specific Dutch gender role differentiations. Thus the women had to take
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Macro and Micro Dimensions of Racism 19
courses in hygiene, housecleaning, and Dutch cooking, while the men
had to participate in retraining courses.
As in other “highly developed” capitalistic nations in Europe, the
migration to the Netherlands of workers from the Mediterranean
countries took place in the context of the economic boom of the
1960s. Initially the Dutch recruited cheap labor from Italy, Spain, and
Greece, but, with the rise of living standards in those countries, they
recruited new labor in Turkey and Morocco. Together with their families, these laborers number about 320,000 (WRR, 1989, p. 66). Their
structural position in the Netherlands is different than that of the immigrants from the colonies (Be1 Ghazi, 1982). The large majority are
workers who need a work permit to stay in the Netherlands. This
makes their legal position fundamentally different than most immigrants from the colonies. The economic exploitation of immigrant
workers is rationalized with a specific ideological form of racism
based upon language, religion, nationality, and cultural divisions.
Among the immigrants from the Caribbean (ex-)colonies, the Surinamese, about 210,000, are the largest group (WRR,1989, p. 68).
They immigrated to the Netherlands because the Dutch colonizers had
been in Suriname for four centuries, exploited its population, depleted
its resources, and made its people structurally dependent on developments in the Netherlands. Small-scale migration from the Surinamese
middle class and temporary migration of students had already started
in the 1920s, followed by labor recruitment in the 1960s (Budike,
1982). The fast decline of the Surinamese economy, after a few years
of growth around 1960, prompted many Surinamese to move to the
Netherlands. In the 1970s, when large-scale migration from Suriname
took place, the Dutch economy was declining and immigrants from
Suriname, representing a large labor class and a small middle class,
were, fri.rm the very beginning, excluded and marginalized in the
Dutch labor market.
Like the Euro-Indonesians in the 1950s, the Surinamese were confronted with tabor market discrimination combined with assimiIation
policies, in particular in housing and education (Ferrier, 1985; Mullard et al., 1988, p. 27). Note that, compared with race relations in the
United States, there has been little social segregation of the Surinamese in the Netherlands because they have not been exclusively treated
and defined in Dutch society as “workers” of another “race.” However, increasing marginalization and developing Black consciousness
among the youth may cause changes in this respect (Sanzone, 1990).
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Summary of Research on Racism in the Netherlands
A more detailed conceptual discussion of the notion of racism will
come later. Here a brief summary of research on racism in the Netherlands is provided. Racism as an ideology was probably latent in the
Netherlands and only activated among the public when, with the immigration of “non-Whites,” “race” became a topic of social discourse
(Harmsen, van Leeuwen, & van Rijen, 1988; Kagie, 1989; Anne Frank
Stichting, 1987). In the Netherlands early ideological traces of racism circulated predominantly among the elite, for instance, among clergymen,
scholars, lawyers, doctors, traders, and representatives of Dutch parliament, who, in the mid-nineteenth century, discussed African slavery and
the politics of abolition in the Dutch West Indian colonies (Reinsma,
1963). With the development of the school system for mass education in
the late nineteenth century, notions of Black inferiority were also expressed in literature such as children’s books (Redmond, 1980).
When large groups from Suriname migrated to the Netherlands,
previously existing anti-Black notions were tested against new experiences and adapted to the new situation, in which Black groups were
now within the Netherlands instead of only in the overseas colonies.
In that process highly stereotypical, biologically defined prejudices
against Blacks were activated and reformulated as culturally defined
prejudices (Essed, 1986). Thus racial stereotypes of Blacks as inherently uncivilized, ugly, barbarian, dirty, aggressive, and stupid (Redmond, 1980, pp. 32-57) are partly replaced by cultural beliefs
portraying Blacks as aggressive, lazy, and loud and as people who refuse to adapt to Dutch culture while abusing the benefits of the Dutch
welfare system (van Dijk, 1984, p. 101, 1987a, p. 59). Some publications overemphasize the situation of Black “single” mothers, which
may pathologize the Black family (e.g., Lenders & Rhoer, 1983). Others
criminalize Black males with stereotypical studies of the so-called “hustler” culture (e.g., Buiks, 1983). The most persistent racist stereotype is
that Blacks are less intelligent and less competent than Whites. We
shall see this expressed in continuous underestimation of Black students in
Dutch schools and in discrimination in the labor market.
The reproduction of Dutch racism in ideology and social discourse
has been studied systematically in research involving newspapers
(van Dijk, 1983, 1988, 1991), ordinary conversations (van Dijk, 1984,
1987a), and textbooks (Berg & Reinsch, 1983; Mok & Reinsch, 1988;
van Dijk, 1987b). The general conclusions of the studies on textbooks
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Macro and Micro Dimensions of Racism 21
are that examples of blatant racism are uncommon. More subtle forms
prevail in which Black cultures are portrayed as deviant and backward. More specifically van Dijk’s findings, in his study of social science textbooks for high school students, show that the issue of racism
in the Netherlands is almost completely ignored (van Dijk, 1987b,
pp. 89-90). When authors introduce the problem of racism at all, it is
often explained as a race problem of “Negroes” in South Africa or in
the United States (van Dijk, 1987b, p. 90). It is also relevant that, in
the Dutch language, the common term for Blacks of African descent
is still neger (Negro) and that, in contemporary comic strips and
children’s books, the “broad-lipped-wild-Negro-cannibal”image of
the early nineteenth century has remained popular even into the 1980s
(Brok, 1987; Redmond, 1980; Anne Frank Stichting, 1987).
The racist representations of Blacks in textbooks are similar to
those communicated by the Dutch press. Blacks are predominantly
represented in the context of problems they are assumed to create for
Dutch people. They are portrayed as criminals, as people who complain too much, as violent, as a nuisance for Dutch society; in addition, it is assumed that the Dutch government pays too much attention
to them (van Dijk, 1983, p. 58). This picture is supported by the fact
that, if the press reports cases of racism at all, the newspapers routinely write the word racism between quotation marks. This is one of
the strategic ways to question the experiences of Blacks, who encounter racism every day, and to mitigate the accounts and findings of
Blacks and Whites involved in antiracist struggle.
These arguments indicate that since World War 11, it has become
taboo in the Netherlands to describe persons in terms of their “race” and
to point out problems of racism. Whereas in publications just after the
war, authors openly discussed problems of racial miscegenation, in particular in relation to Indonesians (Cottaar & Willems, 1984; Haas, 1987),
which would be almost unthinkable today. This rejection of the term
race does not mean that racial categorization is absent in Dutch thinking.
However, it is as yet hard to assess precisely which elements of the “old”
ideology have lost meaning, how surviving elements are represented in
the new ideology, and which constellations of traditional and contemporary conceptions of race are used as organizing principles in commonsense notions. This taboo on explicit racial differentiations has often
been mistaken for an absence of discrimination based on skin color, but
recent research shows that “race” is still a determining factor in Dutch
cognition and social action (see below).
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22 UNDERSTANDING EVERYDAY RACISM
Racist ideology is a social product, which has real effects only
through regular patterns of action generating and articulating the ideology in, for instance, governmental policy, hiring patterns, education, service organizations, or the formulation of academic theories.
This is indeed the case in the Netherlands. Despite the objections of
the representatives of dominant social science in the Netherlands
against the qualification of Dutch society as racist (Essed, 1987), one
cannot disconnect racist ideas from the structural exclusion and
marginalization of Blacks (and other immigrants) in the various sectors of society. Here I can touch only briefly on research findings
about racial and ethnic discrimination.
The conditions of Blacks in housing, education, and the labor market are important indications of the degree of racial and ethnic injustice in society. In the area of housing the idea that Blacks and other
immigrants do not belong in the Netherlands and that they may become a threat to Dutch national culture permeates dominant thinking
from policymakers down to neighborhood dwellers. This is expressed
through mechanisms of exclusion and through the requirement that
Blacks adopt the Dutch way of living. A good example is the municipal assimilation policy of dispersing Blacks throughout the country.
These policies were ‘‘successful,’’ from the point of view of the government, in the case of the immigration of Euro-Indonesians in the
1950s, but they caused protest when applied to the Surinamese two
decades later (Mullard et al., 1988, p. 27). Most Blacks and other immigrants live in the large cities, where some neighborhoods have become so-calied concentration areas (Shadid & Kornalijnslijper, 1985,
p. 11; Shadid, Kornalijnslijper, & Maan, 1985, pp. 97-100; Smit,
1985, p. 33). Despite objections against dispersion, these practices
have not been abandoned (WRR, 1989, p. 188). The issue is still present, as demonstrated by protests frequently heard from the Dutch
against Blacks in their neighborhoods (Shadid et al., 1985, p. 82).
Dispersion may be rationalized with the argument that it prevents
ghetto formation, but the real political implications are different.
While there are good reasons to avoid overrepresentation of Blacks in
areas with the worst housing conditions, the prevention of “concentration” also has other implications. Dispersion is a way to undermine
resistance to racial oppression.
There is also direct discrimination against Blacks in housing. To
obtain housing Blacks are predominantly dependent on municipalities
and housing corporations, but they are frequently refused as tenants
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Macro and Micro Dimensions of Racism 23
(Komaiijnslijper, 1988, pp. 72-77). Research shows that some housing
corporations favor Blacks who have acculturated in terms of language
and life-style (Smit, 1985, p. 32). But even Blacks who, knowing about
discrimination by private corporations, apply for municipal services are
not protected against discrimination. Although the municipality intermediates between house owners and tenants, they do not take action against
house owners who refuse to accept tenants on racial or ethnic grounds
(Catau, 1988, p. 8). Finally, within the neighborhoods Blacks are often
met with hostility and criticized for their different life-styles. From time
to time they are confronted with anonymous racist slurs and threats, and
some neighborhoods have even organized to keep the area “Dutch”
(Affra-Meldkamer, 1986; Buis, 1988).
In education the same mechanisms of racism operate: exclusion and
problematization of ethnic difference. In the cities school segregation
caused by “White flight” has become a serious problem (Willemsen
& van Oudenhoven, 1989, p. 14). Dutch parents complain that the
school is not “Dutch” anymore (Dors, 1988, p. 47). Nevertheless the
number of Black teachers in regular education is disproportionately
low. This is even the case in schools with many Black pupils (Dors,
1988, p. 45). Black teachers are often only contracted for ethnically
specific tasks. We shall see later in more detail that this “ethnization”
of functions is an inherent product of the ideology of ethnic pluralism. It is also indicative of the structural marginalization of Blacks
and of the institutionalization of the ethnic hierarchy in education.
Compared with 44% of Dutch children, 62% of Surinamese children
and 70% of Turkish and Moroccan children are tracked into the lowest levels of the education system (WRR,1989, p. 142). Policymakers
and teachers alike tend to see this situation as resulting from sociocultural deficiency (Dors, 1988, p. 43). Despite evidence that racism
rather than cultural difference forms the major obstacle, little attention is paid to the Whitecentric nature of education, the racist views
implied in many school textbooks, and the fact that White teachers
continuously undervalue Black and other immigrant students (Dors,
1988; Essed, 1984; van Dijk, 1987b; Zee, 1988).
With 40%-45% unemployment, compared with the average unemployment rate of 14%, the situation of Blacks in the labor market is
extremely problematic (Willemsen, 1988, p. 51). The factor of education can only partly account for high unemployment. Surveys show
that even among Antillians, a group with a proportionally higher representation of college-educated members than the Dutch, there is over
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24 UNDERSTANDING EVERYDAY RACISM
40% unemployment (Emancipatieraad, 1988, p. 23). This suggests
that unemployment among Blacks is largely due to racism (Choenni
& Zwan, 1987a, p. 6, 1989, pp. 5-7; Willemsen, 1988, p. 59). The
same mechanisms of racism discussed in the context of education
occur with labor. Blacks are excluded and underestimated at all levels: from employers and employment agencies to managers and colleagues. Thus studies of labor market politics revealed an explicit
preference among Dutch managers for employees with White skin
color (Reubsaet & Kropman, 1985). Employment agencies routinely
accept and process employers’ requests to seek only White Dutch applicants (Uyl, Choenni, & Bovenkerk, 1986, see below). Recent surveys have shown that 53% of Dutch personnel managers, questioned
about what decision they would make if they had to choose between
equally qualified White and Black or migrant applicants, stated a
preference for employees with White skin color (Willemsen, 1988,
pp. 61-62). In addition the use of culturally biased psychology tests
adds further to the exclusion and marginalization of Blacks in the
labor market (Choenni & Zwan, 1987b).
Blacks and other immigrants who manage to get jobs are systematically excluded from representative functions. Many experience discrimination from colleagues as well as from supervisors (Bouw &
Nelissen, 1986; KMAN, 1985; Sikking & BrassC, 1987). In interaction with colleagues Blacks are often harassed with racist jokes and
other irritations. They are patronized and bullied by supervisors. This
is particularly problematic considering that the role of supervisors is a
crucial determinant of the racial climate. It is much more difficult to
deal with racism from supervisors, because they are in a position of
authority. However, their attitude can reinforce racism among others.
Conversely racism on the job decreases when supervisors are motivated to prevent prejudice and discrimination in the department
(Brass6 & Sikking, 1988, p. 22). Racial discrimination on the job is
reinforced at the level of labor organizations. An inquiry into one of the
Dutch unions showed that White union members reject union support for
racial and ethnic equality claims, for instance, in the form of specific
measures. In general they feel that the “foreigners” should adapt to the
Dutch standard (Jongh, Laan, & Rath, 1984, pp. 231-232).
Racism in housing, education, and the labor market is reinforced at
other levels of society, such as discrimination by the police and in the
courtroom. At the police station complaints about racism are not
taken seriously. Police officers may refuse to take down the complaint
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Macro and Micro Dimensions of Racism 25
altogether and accuse Blacks of exaggerating (Biegel, Bocker, &
Tjoen-Tak-Sen, 1988). Other research also points to racial prejudice
among the police (Aalberts & Kamminga, 1983; Luning, 1976). In the
street Blacks are frequently subjected to police harassment, such as
unwarranted searches (Affra-Meldkamer, 1986, pp. 14-17). In addition they serve longer sentences than Dutch convicted for similar
crimes (Beer, 1988, p. 20).
The criminalization of Blacks also characterizes their experiences
in other spheres of everyday life. In shops, citizens who look “unDutch” are more likely to be accused of theft, followed by the security officer, or treated rudely (Essed, 1984, pp. 136-146). Security
officers for public transportation repeatedly harass Black passengers
(Affra-Meldkamer, 1986, pp. 10-13). Insurance companies feel
Blacks and other immigrants are more likely to commit fraud. Some
refuse to accept people on racial or ethnic grounds; others charge too
much money or give insufficient information (Pattipawae, 1986,
pp. 10-11; Pattipawae & Burght, 1988).
These examples and much other evidence of discrimination, as regularly reported in the Bulletin of the National Bureau to Combat Racism
(LBR), indicate that racism is a structural problem in the Netherlands.
Nevertheless representatives of dominant social science consistently object to the interpretation of discrimination against Blacks as indications
of racism (Essed, 1987). This attitude obstructs the need to take structural action against processes of racial and ethnic marginalization.
To summarize: Racism is part of social practice at many levels of
Dutch society. It is a complex phenomenon because it involves ideological notions rooted in different historical processes, such as colonialism, European labor migration, and the management of economic
crisis. The ideological form of racism that justified slavery and colonization attributes to Blacks biological and cultural characteristics
perceived as inferior. The ideological form of racism that justifies immigrant labor exploitation and is used to regulate the position of immigrant workers asserts the idea of “natural hostility” against
“foreigners” and the incompatibility of different cultures (Barker,
1981). These different ideological and structural processes combine
in the current pluralization process that regulates the position of the
Dutch dominant group vis-2-vis ethnic groups.
The situation of Surinamese Blacks, the group to which the women
I interviewed in the Netherlands belong, is characterized by structural
disempowerment and pressures to assimilate culturally under the
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26 UNDERSTANDING EVERYDAY RACISM
veneer of “integration with the retention of cultural identity” (Entzinger, 1984, p. 88). These forces of oppression can best be qualified as
a situation of “pluralistic assimilation” (Mullard et al., 1988, pp. 46,
51), which means the use of pluralistic strategies with the aim of assimilation. This view needs some moderation. The denial of the Surinamese cultures-a heritage of Dutch colonialism-conflicts, to a
certain degree, with cultural pluralism. We shall see that the tension
between the denial of culture, on the one hand, and the tendency to
overemphasize cultural difference to control the process of “integration,” on the other hand, has a great impact on the experiences of
Black women in the Netherlands.
S O M E N O T E S O N C O N T E M P O R A R Y
R A C I S M I N T H E U N I T E D S T A T E S
The period after World War I1 has been characterized by economic
fluctuation. When industrial production was gradually replaced by
technological production, many working-class Blacks lost their jobs.
The economic position of Blacks has deteriorated during the structural
crisis of U.S. and world capitalism in the past two decades (Marable,
1985). This holds even for the Black middle class, part of which has
origins in the period before the war (Frazier, 1957/1962; Marable,
1983; Muraskin, 1975) and part of which emerged in the context of an
expanding economy in the 1960s and early 1970s (Landry, 1987).
Affirmative action programs contributed to the growth of Black professionals (Marable, 1984; Pinkney, 1984). In statistical terms there
has been substantial progress in Black educational attainment. The
proportion of Blacks completing high school increased from 33% in
1960 to 79% in 1982. However, the proportion of Blacks with a college degree is still 13%, compared with 25% for White college graduates (Blackwell, 1988, p. 7). Except for a short period of progress at
the heyday of affirmative action, the recruitment of Black faculty
members has decreased in the 1980s. In other words, there has been
some progress but at the same time the basic power relations remained the same. Employment processes continue to result in racial
inequality (Braddock & McPartland, 1987; Katz & Prohansky, 1987).
Racism is often even more subtle and difficult to combat. On the one
hand, the discourse of racism changed to meet the new norms that reject overt expressions of bigotry. At the same time, as various critics
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Macro and Micro Dimensions of Racism 27
point out, the Reagan administration made forms of bigotry look “respectable” (Blackwell, 1988, p. 11). Desegregation has remained a
problematic process (Pettigrew, 1971, 1986). Consequently contact
theory continues to be the object of numerous studies and experiments (Miller & Brewer, 1984; Miller, Brewer, & Edwards, 1985;
Slavin, 1985). It has been argued that desegregation in schools has
positive long-term effects, such as better access of Black students to
social networks relevant for their careers (Braddock & McPartland,
1987), but these gains must be weighed against the many ceilings still
prevalent in Black career mobility (Fullbright, 1986). In the absence
of comprehensive programs against racism at all levels of society, the
outcomes of school desegregation also have had controversial sides.
Black cultural values are repressed in White institutions. This problem is addressed later in the stories of Black women. Black professionals lost the (managing and directing) jobs they used to have in
Black institutions, and in White institutions they constantly have to
fight the everyday inequities impeding their careers (Pettigrew &
Martin, 1987). There has also been little progress in terms of residential segregation (Bobo, 1988). Whites keep avoiding voluntary contact with Blacks. During the past 15 years overall segregation has
even increased. As Smith (1988, p. 9) put it, “Racial insularity [is]
still at the core” of contemporary racism.
Various social scientists, in particular social psychologists, have
studied the specific nature of racism in the 1970s and 1980s. As a result new concepts were introduced, compared, and criticized
(Pettigrew, 1985; Sniderman & Tetlock, 1986; Weigel & Howes,
1985). Interesting in various of these studies is their concern with the
way new norms about racism pertain to the persistence of prejudice
and discrimination. Gaertner and Dovidio (1 986) studied the conflict
between egalitarian beliefs of liberal Whites and unacknowledged
negative feelings and beliefs about Blacks. In maintaining nondiscriminating self-concepts, these negative feelings lead to avoidance of Blacks. Gaertner and Dovidio called this particular kind of
ambivalence “aversive racism,” a concept originally introduced by
Kovel (1970/1984). Sears and Kinder (1971) introduced the term symbolic racism to explain how individuals might hold relatively progressive racial attitudes as a matter of principle yet disapprove of the
policy implications to bring about racial equality (Kinder, 1986;
Sears, 1988). The idea of “modern racism” (McConahay, 1986) summarizes the main tenets of prevalent neoconservative attitudes about
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28 UNDERSTANDING EVERYDAY RACISM
racial issues as follows: (a) The gains of the civil rights movement
have made discrimination a thing of the past, (b) therefore, Blacks
should not push so hard, (c) their tactics and demands are undemocratic and unfair, (d) therefore, Blacks are getting more attention from the institutions of society than they deserve. Today more
and more liberals appear to be joining with the conservatives in
adopting these tenets of “modern racism.” This retreat from the pursuit of equality between Blacks and Whites began with a sophisticated attack on affirmative action in higher education, because in this
sector Blacks gained most from equal opportunity policies. These different approaches to the changing nature of racism have in common a
focus on contradictory attitudes: the real or token acknowledgment of
the norm of equality in a “democratic” society and (un)acknowledged
reluctance in accepting the policy and personal consequences of the
idea of racial equality (Schuman, Steeh, & Bobo, 1985). This suggests that the norm of equality is a key concept in the dominant ideology and that this interferes with existing racist beliefs and practices.
To understand the specific nature of contemporary racism, it is necessary to proceed from the level of individual attitudes to the larger economic, political, and ideological processes in society. The terms
aversive, symbolic, and modern racism do not completely explain
what must, in fact, be seen as the culturalization of racism. This process
is inherent in the redefinition of society as ethnically pluralist. Ideals
of the “melting pot” and “integration” are being replaced by the ideology of cultural pluralism. Glazer and Moynihan (1963/1968, p. 17)
presented the idea of ethnic groups as interest groups in their attempt
to reach beyond the melting pot. Since then the concept of ethnic diversity or, more specifically, ethnic pluralism has been adopted by
various others (Glazer & Young, 1983; Light, 1972; Sowell, 1981).
The political practice of pluralism holds that all groups are defined as
“equal” within ethnic diversity. This view can be used by individual
members of the dominant group to claim reverse discrimination when
programs are launched to compensate for past discrimination against
those who were unjustly denied positions they deserved (Goldman,
1979). Indeed the substitution of “ethnicity” for “race” as a basis of
categorization is accompanied by increasing unwillingness among the
dominant group to accept responsibility for problems of racism. Furthermore, the redefinition of Blacks as an “ethnic minority” group
provides a basis for the state to use the emphasis on ethnic identity as
an instrument of control (Mullard, 1986b). They may shift support
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Macro and Micro Dimensions of Racism 29
from one “minority” group to another, favoring above Blacks other
“minority” groups who are perceived as less threatening or as “model
minorities.” These “divide and rule” practices are further supported
by the increasing resistance among White Americans to affirmative
action (Glazer, 1975).
Another problem with the concept of pluralism and the idea that all
groups are or have been immigrants and “minorities” is that it denies
the unique position of Blacks in American history:
In a significant way, European immigrants over the past century and
Blacks face opposite cultural problems. The new Europeanswere seen as
not “American” enough; the dominant pressure on them was to give up
their strange and threatening ways and to assimilate. Blacks were Americans of a lower caste; the pressure on them was to “stay in their place”
and not attempt assimilation into the mainstream culture of the privileged. (Pettigrew,1988,p. 24)
In other words the concepts of assimilation and pluralism that were introduced for other ethnic groups were not meant for Blacks. From the
beginning it was never imagined that America would mean opportunity
and dreams coming true for Africans (Huggins, 1977, p. 84). The
(sub)cultures of all immigrant ethnic groups were recognized. They were
criticized for being “different” because it was expected that they would
assimilate. The Black experience has been completely different. They
were never meant to assimilate. Their history is characterized by segregation. Their cultural heritage has never positively been recognized as
distinct, original, and valuable in the struggle for survival (Marable,
1980). Social scientists even denigrated the survival strategies and values Blacks developed under conditions of oppression. This and other critiques have been leveled by various critical scholars who point out that,
since Moynihan (1965) popularized ethnicity as an explanatory concept
in the sociology of U.S. race relations, Black cultural “deficiency” has
been used widely as an argument to blame Blacks themselves for impeding their own progress (Cheder, 1976; Rainwater & Yancey, 1967). As
Lawrence (1982a) argues, in many of these studies, Black culture is not
treated as an original and historical experience inherently related to specific material and political conditions but is reduced to one construct: the
“pathological” Black household.
To summarize: Anti-Black racism in the United States is still characterized by overall segregation, in particular in residential areas. On
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30 UNDERSTANDING EVERYDAY RACISM
an ideological level, however, there is a shift from biological to social
and cultural rationalizations for discrimination. Normative changes
(rejection of blatant racism) combine with an increasing reluctance to
see race as a fundamental determinant of White privilege and Black
poverty. What others have called “new” forms of racism are, in fact,
indicative of the “culturalization” of racism, accompanying the reformulation of society as “multiethnic.”
W O M E N A N D R A C I S M
Twice in U.S. history the Black liberation struggle gave birth to a
feminist movement. In the abolition movement of the nineteenth century and the civil rights movement of the 1960s, Black women gained
strength and power in their struggle for rights for women and rights
for Blacks (Braden, 1977; Davis, 1981; Evans, 1977, 1979;
Loewenberg & Bogin, 1976; Sterling, 1984). In both centuries, however, Black women have been confronted with racism in the feminist
movement (Essed, 1982, 1989; Hooks, 1981; Rich, 1979; TerborgPenn, 1978) and sexism in their relation to Black men (Hernton,
1990; Wallace, 1978). Their critiques about these problems have had
a certain impact. Many now recognize that the simultaneous impact
of race, gender, and class oppression leads to forms of racism that are
unique to the experiences of Black women, but, in their manifestations, overlap some forms of sexism against White women and racism
experienced by Black men (Ramazanoglu, 1989; Smith & Stewart,
1983). Black women claim their own place in theory and history (Aldridge, 1989; Braxton & McLaughlin, 1990; Collins, 1990; Dill,
1987; Hull, Scott, & Smith, 1982; Smith, 1977). Over the past two decades there has been an explosion of literature exposing us to the
struggle of Black women through Black women as writers as well as
through writings about Black women (Baraka & Baraka, 1983; Bell
et al., 1979; Brittan & Maynard, 1984; Cade, 1970; Evans, 1983;
Hemmons, 1973; Hull, 1984; Lorde, 1984, 1988; Shockley, 1989;
Simms & Malveaux, 1986; Smith, 1983; Sterling, 1979).
Many of these publications testify that racism not only operates as
a distinct ideology and structure, it also interacts with other ideologies and structures of domination (Brandt, 1986; Hooks, 1984, 1989).
Some authors have explicitly criticized rigid economic reductionism
and argued that Black women in White-dominated societies often
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Macro and Micro Dimensions of Racism 31
experience economic exploitation through race (Bourne, 1983; Bryan,
Dazie, & Scafe, 1985; Davis, 1989; Joseph, 1981). The same may be
said of gender oppression. In a summary article on Black feminism,
Stasiulis (1987, p. 5 ) stresses that, in relation to White society, Black
feminists “have reached near unanimity in agreeing that race, rather
than gender, has been the primary source of oppression.” Indeed various authors contend that Black women experience sexism in society
at large through racist and ethnicist constructions of gender (Jones,
1985; Ladner, 1972; Parmar, 1982; Spelman, 1988; Steady, 1985;
Wallace, 1978). Are we stuck with a dilemma here? In discussing the
experiences of Black women, is it sexism or is it racism? These two
concepts narrowly intertwine and combine under certain conditions
into one, hybrid phenomenon. Therefore, it is useful to speak of gendered racism to refer to the racial oppression of Black women as
structured by racist and ethnicist perceptions of gender roles (Carby,
1982, p. 214; Parmar, 1982, p. 237). Note that not only Black women
but also Black men are confronted with racism structured by racist
constructions of gender role, notable examples being the absent father
stereotype or the myth of the Black rapist (Duster, 1970; Hernton,
1965). Further elaboration upon this issue, however, goes beyond the
immediate goals of this study (see, for further discussion Wilkinson
& Taylor, 1977). The applicability of the notion of gendered racism may
be demonstrated with illustrations of White perceptions of Black women.
There are virtually no studies about Dutch perceptions of Black
women. White images of Black women in the Netherlands probably
include general notions of cultural inferiority because it is usually believed that people from the colonies are backward and that the
“mother country” is better than anything they have known before
(Memmi, 1965). There are some indications that Black women are
perceived as sexually exotic and permissive (Essed, 1984; Lima,
1988; Pheterson, 1986). Also there are problems of paternalism rationalized by the assumption that Black women are lagging behind in
their emancipation, as women, compared with White women (Essed,
1982, 1989; Loewenthal, 1984). It is likely that Dutch images of
Black women are also strongly influenced by U.S. culture, in particular through literature, television series, and movies. It is, therefore,
relevant to elaborate more specifically the dominant representations
of Black women in the United States.
There is increasing documentation on the image of Black women in
U.S. literature and culture (Gilman, 1985; Robinson, 1978). These
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32 UNDERSTANDlNG EVERYDAY RACISM
images are rooted in the exploitation of Blacks as slaves, workers,
and, with respect to Black women, in particular as domestic workers
(Dill, 1980; Rollins, 1985). Note that the sexual and economic exploitation of female slaves in the Dutch colonies was essentially the same
as i n the United States. This may be inferred from various publications (e.g., H. Essed, 1984; Hoogbergen & de Theye, 1987; Oomens,
1987). Racially specific gender ideologies rationalized the suitability
of Black women for jobs in the lowest stratum of the labor market already segmented along gender lines. Black women’s work was restricted almost exclusively to manual labor. The nature of their work
crossed gender lines. During slavery Black women were exploited
sexually as women and had to do work defined as typically female
work, but at the same time they were also forced to do the same arduous work as men (Aptheker, 1982; Davis, 1971; Fox-Genovese, 1988;
Lerner, 1972; White, 1985). After the abolition of slavery, Black
women had to take the worst-paying jobs in both “male” and “female” sectors of work. Black women have had to wash trains, have
been employed as lumberyard workers, as brickyard workers, and
have done other heavy work White women did not do (Jones, 1985).
At the same time the majority of Black women could only find work
as domestics in White households, due to blatant discrimination that
limited the number of Blacks in semiskilled and skilled jobs (Hine,
1989). Only in the mid-l960s, when federal legislation forced by the
civil rights movement launched an attack on racial discrimination,
could Black women gain entrance to the traditional (White) female
occupations, especially clerical work that had so long been denied to
them (Jones, 1985). Black women were tracked into the worst paying
semiskilled and skilled jobs defined as (White) woman’s work. These
gendered and classed forms of racism were rationalized by ideological constructions of racially specific femininity and sexuality, representing the opposite models of White (middle-class) womanhood.
Also the standard of female beauty represents a White standard
(Lakoff & Scherr, 1984; Reid, 1988). Contrary to the patriarchal
image of White, middle-class women as weak, dependent, passive,
and monogamous, Black women were thought of as hardworking,
strong, dominant, and sexually promiscuous (Davis, 1981; Hooks,
198 1). The “Aunt Jemima” image epitomized the sexist/racist/classist
stereotype of Black women. Black women were supposed to be subservient and willing to nurture White children at the cost of their own
children. These images of Black women rationalized the violation of
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Macro and Micro Dimensions of Racism 33
the role of Black women as mothers and the control of Black women
through rape and sexual exploitation (Davis, 1978, 1981; Hooks, 1981).
The economic recession after World War I1 and the change from industrial to technological production made many unskilled Black
workers redundant. The deteriorated economic conditions of the majority of the Black population and mass unemployment led to an increase of families headed by Black women (McAdoo, 1986; Simms,
1986). Within this context the image of the Black matriarch was revived (Moynihan, 1965). This stereotype combines sexist, racist, and
classist images of Black women, thereby reinforcing gender polarization in the Black community. After ignoring the economic necessity
for Black women to work outside the home, many have accused them
of taking jobs away from Black men and alienating Black men from
their role as head of the family. These blaming the victim arguments
have been criticized many times (Rainwater & Yancey, 1967; Rodgers-Rose, 1980; Ryan, 1971; Staples, 1970, 1973). Recently, however, conservative views are again being used to reinforce cultural
determinist explanations of Black poverty.
Black women have a stronger tradition of autonomy and independence. It has been claimed that Black women are more assertive and
nonconforming than White women in sex role ideology because of
their longer experience as paid workers and their continuous
challenge of racism and sexism (Adams, 1983; Malson, 1983). Although some find that the self-sufficiency-independence thesis has
been overstated (Ransford & Miller, 1983), the stereotype of the
Black matriarch remains operative and must, therefore, also be understood in terms of its sexist implications. Morrison (1989, p. 48) put it
nicely when she stated: “I don’t think a female running a house is a
problem. … It’s perceived as one because of the notion that a head is
a man.” Whereas aggressiveness and dominance are considered positive (White male) characteristics in a highly competitive capitalistic
society, the same characteristics become negative when attributed to
Black women. These negative images of Black women are currently
reinforced through literature and the media (Joseph & Lewis, 1981)
and affect all Black women, regardless of their class background.
They rationalize forces in society to keep Black women in the lower
strata. Thus they can be used flexibly, to rationalize the exploitation
of Black women as workers as well as the range of discriminatory
practices that impede Black women with higher education in their efforts to achieve their goals.
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34 UNDERSTANDING EVERYDAY RACISM
B L A C K W O M E N W I T H H I G H E R E D U C A T I O N
If we want to gain more insight into the racial aspects of the oppression of Black women, the factor of race has to be isolated from the oppressive social and economic conditions associated with low education
and economic exploitation. To avoid problems related to the assessment
of the class position of Black women, I have used an indirect indicator of
class, namely, level of education. Thus I focus on Black women with a
higher education. For the study of racism this is a particularly interesting
group because, traditionally, Black women consider personal achievement through education a key element, if not the most important opportunity, in advancing in society (Giddings, 1988; Perkins, 1983; Smith,
1982; Wilkerson, 1986). While class oppression limits the economic resources and educational opportunities of the majority of Black women,
race-gender discrimination on the labor market undercuts the middleclass benefits of education (Burlew, 1982; Jones, 1986; Malveaux, 1986,
1987; Wallace, 1980). Black women consistently have a higher rate of
unemployment and lower incomes than Black men (Femandez, 1981,
p. 73). These and other forms of (gendered) racism that impede Black
women with higher education in their careers are briefly summarized.
Due to the virtual absence of information about Black women in higher
education in the Netherlands, the following is based predominantly on
data from the United States.
There are a number of structural problems Black women face in
higher education and in obtaining and keeping jobs. First, the lack of
role models puts them. in a disadvantaged position compared with
White women. Black women attending predominantly White universities also feel isolated from other Black women because there are few
Black women in positions to support them in academic institutions
(Carroll, 1982). Second, they are routinely underestimated. This is
particularly problematic when it comes from individuals in position
of authority, as was found by Fullbright (1986), who studied the career development of Black female managers. Those who had used
guidance counseling services in high school reported that counselors
had low expectations of them. They were always guided to traditionally female occupations and low-status schooIs. The tendency to underestimate Black women stands in sharp contrast to their usually
high ambitions. The same forces operating against equal participation
of Black women in education continue to be present on the labor
market. Comparing the job opportunities for highly educated Black
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Macro and Micro Dimensions of Racism 35
women with those of Black men, it appears that Black women usually
get the worst paying jobs. Black women have always been a minority
among Black physicians, principals, architects, attorneys, and other
professionals (Carroll, 1982;Epstein, 1973; Giddings, 1986).
Third, Fullbright found that Black women do not get the same promotions as White women. They are confronted with artificial ceilings
created by individuals in corporations who have control over the distribution of work and promotions and who regularly review the performance of the women (Fullbright, 1986). Black women have to
meet higher demands than any other group. Compared with Black and
White men, they have to be better qualified, more articulate, and
more aggressive, and they need more stamina to face inevitable setbacks and fewer opportunities for promotion. Yet they have to conform to the ideal of White femininity, which means that they cannot
afford to appear threatening. In addition, Black women must also be
better than White women (Carroll, 1982).
Fourth, Black women in the higher skilled jobs are often pushed
into “ethnic” work. In one of the few studies of this problem conducted in the Netherlands, indications were found of a decline of job
opportunities for Black women (with higher education) in “general”
sectors and a move toward work in the “ethnic sector” (Kempadoo,
1988). For some women who had been working in jobs that were not
previously ethnically earmarked, this could imply a gradual “ethnization” of their tasks. Although Kempadoo’s sample was too small to
draw general conclusions, her findings are consistent with developments in the United Kingdom. Mullard (1986b) pointed out that state
control operates through the appointment of accommodating “ethnic”
agents for work in the “ethnic” sectors. Kempadoo’s findings are
highly significant in the Dutch context, because she tentatively
sketched the contours of structural marginalization of Black women
through policies based on ethnic diversity. They are appointed, usually on contract basis, to work with “ethnic groups.” At the same time
it is expected that they will conform, in their interactions with colleagues and supervisors, to Dutch norms and rules of behavior. Thus
it was found that employers often use acculturation as a criterion for
hiring Black women (Kempadoo, 1988).
From this discussion it may be concluded that on a macro-societal
level, (gendered) racism operates through various mechanisms. Black
women are (a) marginalized, (b) culturally problematized, and (c)
impeded in social mobility. They encounter paternalism, they are
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36 UNDERSTANDING EVERY DAY RACISM
underestimated, their work is ethnicized, and they generally have
fewer career opportunities than men and White women, respectively.
These mechanisms operate simultaneously and probably stimulate
eachother.
Given the fact that race is an actively structuring principle, it is relevant to identify in detail how racism is projected in the experiences
of Black women. To understand the impact of racism in the everyday
lives of Black women, one needs to go beyond issues of career problems to include racial experiences in all other spheres of life, which
comprise personal experiences with racism in shops, in the street, at
the university or in the workplace as well as racism experienced
through friends and family, racist practices in children’s schools, and
other confrontations with racism such as in literature or the media. At
the same time we should analyze how processes of racism that occur
in different social contexts relate to each other, To study everyday
racism it is, therefore, necessary to analyze it as a process manifesting itself in multiple relations and situations in everyday life.
C O N C E P T U A L I Z I N G R A C I S M A S A P R O C E S S
The Fallacies of “Institutional” and “Individual” Racism
My approach to racism draws on structural theories of racism. I
have, however, tried to overcome some of the shortcomings of earlier
studies. One major problem was the distinction between institutional
and individual racism. It places the individual outside the institutional, thereby severing rules, regulations, and procedures from the
people who make and enact them, as if it concerned qualitatively different racism rather than different positions and relations through
which racism operates.
The notion of “institutional racism” is a central concept in many
structural approaches. Whereas Carmichael and Hamilton (1967),
Knowles and Prewitt (1969). and others rightly went beyond Myrdal’s
definition of racism as a moral dilemma (Myrdal, 1944/1972),and beyond the Kerner Report’s list of conditions of Black riots (Kerner
Commission, 1968/1988),the distinction between so-called individual
racism and institutional racism is not unproblematic. The notion of
the “institutional” is notoriously difficult in sociology because it has
been given various meanings. Some researchers use the terms insfituCopyright © 1991. SAGE Publications, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under
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Macro and Micro Dimensions of Racism 37
tion and institutional to identify structuring relations of the ruling apparatus organized around different functions. This definition of institutional has been used in various European studies to narrow the
problem of racism down to “institutional discrimination.” Usually
these approaches have a pragmatic orientation that underrates the
power of ideology in the structuring of racism in society (e.g.. Daniel,
1968/1971; Smith, 1977).
The term individual racism is a contradiction in itself because racism is by definition the expression or activation of group power.
Some authors tried to find alternative solutions to set apart “institutional racism” against “other racism.” Brandt (1986, p. 101) distinguishes between interactional racism and institutional racism, but he
does not make clear why this is an improvement over the usual distinction between “individual” and “institutional” racism. However, he
introduces another interesting concept, namely, “systemic racism.”
The systemic realization of institutional racism he refers to in terms
of “day-to-day interactions” within institutions (Brandt, 1986,
p. 102). In an excellent article Rowe (1977, p. 1) speaks in this context of “micro-inequities,” which she defines as “destructive, but
practicably-speaking non-actionable, aspects of the environment.”
Systemic racism “marks the meeting point between structural and interactional forms of racism and exists within the specificity of the
‘ethos’ or sociocultural environment of the organization” (p. 102).
Brandt (1986, p. 102) contends that the systemic is also structural.
However, he does not further work out his idea of systemic racism,
which, therefore, remains rather vague. He also insists on defining
systemic racism in terms of “institutional racism.” Compared with
many other studies, this notion probably comes closest to the meaning
of everyday racism, which is the interweaving of racism in the fabric
of the social system. Still the notion of everyday racism transcends
the traditional distinctions between ins’itutional and individual racism.
Everyday racism has two obvious constituent elements. One part
pertains to the notion of racism and the other to the notion of “everyday.” To understand Black women’s experiences of everyday racism,
the following concepts must be implemented: (a) the notion of racism, (b) the notion of everyday, (c) the notion of everyday racism, (d)
the idea of experience, and (e) the notion of accounts of racism. The
notions of racism, everyday, and everyday racism are discussed first.
The meaning and methodological implications of the use of experiences and accounts are discussed later (see Chapter 2).
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38 UNDERSTANDING EVERYDAY RACISM
R A C I S M : A W O R K I N G D E F I N I T I O N
My critique of structural studies of racism has already suggested
that a working definition of racism must acknowledge the macro
(structural-cultural) properties of racism as well as the micro inequities perpetuating the system. It must take into account the constraining impact of entrenched ideas and practices on human agency, but it
must also acknowledge that the system is continually construed in everyday life and that, under certain conditions, individuals resist pressures
to conform to the needs of the system. Traditional sociological approaches have defined macro structures as more or less independent of
the practices in daily life. Moreover macrosociologists usually consider
institutions and structures as somehow above the mundane level of
practice and experience. My intention to go beyond macro social facts
in addressing practice and the social reality of racism has been inspired, initially, by phenomenology, symbolic interactionism,
ethnomethodology, and cognitive sociology. These interpretative and
micro orientations emphasize from various points of view the active
nature of human conduct and try to understand its meaning, reasons,
and experience (Berger & Luckmann, 1966; Blumer, 1969; Brittan,
1973; Cicourel, 1973; Douglas, 1970/1974; Garfinkel, 1967; Goffman, 1959, 1961, 1967, 1969, 1974; Helle & Eisenstadt, 1985; Leiter,
1980; Luckmann, 1978; Mehan & Wood, 1975; Rogers, 1983; Schutz,
1970). More significant to my approach have become, however, recent developments in social theory that try to overcome the rigorous
distinction between micro and macro approaches (Alexander et al.,
1987; Collins, 1981a, 1983; Fielding, 1988; Giddens, 1984; KnorrCetina & Cicourel, 1981). This is not, of course, to imply any necessary agreement among these authors. A problem with most of the work
mentioned is, however, that it is useful in theorization but lacks adequate implementation, especially when applied to the area of racism.
Despite these limitations two major attempts to integrate macro and
micro dimensions of the system are particularly important for my purposes. The aggregation hypothesis advanced by Collins (1981b) contends that macrosociological reality is composed of aggregates of
micro situations. The representation hypothesis (Cicourel, 198l),
which comes close to the aggregation hypothesis, argues that macro
social facts, or structures, are produced in interactions. These theoretical frameworks emphasize the role of routine and repetitive practices in the making of social structures. We shall see that routine and
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Macro and Micro Dimensions of Racism 39
repetition play an important role in my theory of everyday racism.
However, I depart to a certain degree from these approaches by giving
greater weight to the mutual interdependence of macro and micro dimensions of racism. From a macro point of view, racism is a system
of structural inequalities and a historical process, both created and recreated through routine practices. System means reproduced social relations between individuals and groups organized as regular social
practices (Giddens, 1981). From a micro point of view, specific practices, whether their consequences are intentional or unintentional, can
be evaluated in terms of racism only when they are consistent with
(our knowledge of) existing macro structures of racial inequality in the
system. In other words, structures of racism do not exist external to
agents-they are made by agents-but specific practices are by definition racist only when they activate existing structural racial inequality in the system.
Racism as Power
Racism then is defined in terms of cognitions, actions, and procedures that contribute to the development and perpetuation of a system
in which Whites dominate Blacks. Note that racial domination, as I
pointed out earlier, interacts with dynamic forces of gender and class
domination. The general issue of gender and class (Barrett, 1980) is
not my major concern here. Neither is of concern the general issue of
race and class. While many writers have shown particular interest in
race-class debates (see Harris, 1987; Solomos, 1986, for an overview), a pure class perspective of racism is adequate to account neither for the distinctly racial experiences of Black women (Omi &
Winant, 1986; Solomos, 1989; West, 1987) nor for the experience of
gender oppression through race (Carby, 1982; Parmar, 1982). The
need for an alternative approach is also supported by the experienced
reality. We shall see later that Black women with higher education
present their stories about everyday racism predominantly in terms of
race or in terms of race-gender but not frequently in terms of class.
When I state that it is relevant in this study to isolate conceptually
(gendered) racism from class oppression, this does not mean that the
conceptualization of everyday racism cannot benefit from major insights developed in a class perspective of domination.
Domination constitutes a special case of power. To conceptualize
how racism, as a complex system of power, shapes the ways in which
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40 UNDERSTANDING EVERYDAY RACISM
social relations and practices are actually experienced by Black
women, I draw on major insights of some people who have worked on
the notion of power. However, I do not necessarily adopt the whole
conceptual framework of these works. The concept of power I use is
based on two different meanings derived from Arendt (1970) and
Lukes (1974). The combination of their perceptions of power is useful to integrate macro and micro dimensions of racism. Arendt (1970)
argues that power is never the property of an individual. It belongs to
a group as long as the group stays together. Therefore, power pertains
to the human ability not only to act but to act in concert. This view of
power is relevant to the study of racism for the following reasons:
It enables us to conceptualize relations between White and Black
individuals in terms of power relations, for they are representatives of
groups with relatively more and relatively less power. This implies
that the consciously or unconsciously felt security of belonging to the
group in power, plus the expectation that other group members will
give (passive) consent, empowers individual members of the dominant group in their acts or beliefs against the dominated group.
The extent to which the expectation of group consensus is a relevant source of empowerment is understood better when we take the
following concrete example. The current norm that racism is “wrong”
has a certain disempowering impact on individual members of the
dominant group. Today the almost universal rejection of racism is
often experienced by Whites as a restriction. They feel that they can
no longer express what they feel about Blacks because others will accuse them of racism. This is experienced as an unfair situation. Various representatives of the Dutch intellectual establishment complain
about what they call the “taboo” against expressing negative opinions
about Blacks and other immigrants (Kobben, 1985, p. 55; Vuijsje,
1986, p. 21). They feel that the norm against racism has made them
prisoners of their own “tolerance.” At the same time anti-antiracist
sentiments among other scholars, journalists, or policymakers have an
empowering effect. These opinions are expressed in the media and are
part of the intellectual attack on antiracism. Various intellectuals are
overcoming the taboo against expressing racist views. Opponents of
racism are accused of exaggerating and of denying “benevolent”
Whites the “right” to give a “healthy” critique on Blacks who they
feel are unwilling to progress and to integrate themselves into the system (e-g., Brunt et al., 1989). The attack on antiracism is also a prominent topic in the conservative British press (Murray, 1986; van Dijk.
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Macro and Micro Dimensions of Racism 41
1991). As Solomos (1989, p. 137) puts it, “Today, the most strident
voices in the mass media and in academic discourse are raised not
against racism but against . . . antiracism.” The experiences of Black
women wiII testify to the implied indifference among Whites to racism.
Group power exists as long as the group stays together against the
“others.” This introduces the second characteristic of power as a quality
of the group. Arendt’s view of power provides a basis for understanding the crucial role of racist ideologies, not only as rationalization of
existing inequalities but also as determinants of future uniformity of
action. This means that ideology is the binding element between practices involving different actors and situations. To keep the group intact it is necessary to cultivate ideologies supporting the idea of
innate group differences based on “race” or ethnicity. Group power
can only empower individuals when they have a sense of group membership. Therefore, it is necessary to keep alive a permanent sense of
“us” (dominant group) as opposed to “them” (dominated groups).
This point is elaborated at length in Memmi (1983) and Barker
(1981). Here Lukes would speak of exercising influence to achieve
and to maintain consensus (Lukes, 1974, p. 3). When dominant group
members implicitly or explicitly rely on group consensus in support
of anti-Black actions, they make use of an important power resource.
It is difficult to define where the determinism of group power ends
and the exercise of power by individuals begins. From a macro point
of view racism only exists as a specific variant of group power. From
a micro point of view racism as group power only exists because it
was created and is maintained through individuals. Because racism is
a form of power, it must be assumed that it involves conflict of interests between two parties. At this point Lukes’s notion of power is important (Lukes, 1974).
Lukes’s notion of power is particularly useful in understanding situations where conflict between groups is not openly acknowledged as
such. He sees as the central quality of power the attempt to successfully secure people’s compliance by overcoming or averting their opposition. Exercising power over other people affects them, through
action or inaction, in a manner contrary to their interests, whether or
not those who exercise power are aware of the success or consequences of their practices and whether or not the other party is aware
of the power being exercised over him or her. We will see later that
dominant group members often control without there being any overt,
actual disagreement. In turn Black women develop their own strategies
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42 UNDERSTANDING EVERYDAY RACISM
for exposing, understanding, and opposing the fact that their interests
are systematically undermined.
The domination of Blacks may be described as “systemic domination” (Fay, 1987, p. 123), which means that it is through the pattern
of organization of the system as a whole that dominance is reproduced. Thus Whites can dominate Blacks without the former necessarily being aware of the ways in which the system is so structured
that it is their interests rather than those of Blacks that are met. Lukes
relates the exercise of power to responsibility when (a) such an exercise involves the assumption that the exerciser(s) could have acted
differently (b) whers, if unaware of the consequences of their action
or inaction, they could have found out about them (Lukes, 1974,
pp. 55-56). This point, the attribution of responsibility not only for
action but also for inaction, is very important in the analysis of contemporary racism. A main problem today is inaction among the dominant group (detachment from racial issues and from Blacks) and,
more specifically, passive tolerance of racism.
Although a working definition of racism must include the structuring role of ideology in coordinating uniformity of action, individual
or group differences may also be important. It may be assumed that
individuals are involved differently in the (re)production of everyday
racism through their gender- and class-determined functions and positions in society. These differences are largely determined by the location of power in structural relations and in specific situations. The
degree of power is determined by, among other things, the number of
people affected by its exercise (Goldman, 1972, pp. 191-192). The
racist practices of those who have power of position (authority) and
power of property, as compared with those who do not have such
power, are similar in nature but different in impact. Conversely research suggests that alternative arrangements, or antiracist strategies,
are more successful when sanctioned by relevant authorities in the situation (Jones, 1988, p. 127). This does not mean that people with
power that “rightfully belongs to the incumbent of any social role or
organizational office possessing authority” (Lenski, 1966, p. 250)
practice racism independently of those who do not have such power.
Racism practiced by authorities is substantially supported by the fact
that other members of the dominant racial group are more likely to
tolerate than to challenge negative beliefs and practices against dominated groups. Alternatively authorities who choose to take responsibility for racism can use the power of their position to influence the
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Macro and Micro Dimensions of Racism 43
views of others and to resist protest from subordinates in the implementation of alternative arrangements. Furthermore others can choose
to challenge authorities who use power of position to practice racism.
Hence a working definition of racism must be able to account for the
dynamics of tolerance of racism and challenge to racism. In view of
these arguments it can be concluded that, the more access to power in
the system, the more consequences racist practices of agents have. The
more access agents have to knowledge about the nature of domination,
the more responsible they are for the outcome of their practices,
Apart from factors structuring the impact of racism and the question of responsibility, it is also necessary to make a clear distinction
between the structural beneficiaries of racism and the actual agents of
racism in everyday situations. That is, the dominant group structurally benefits from racism. This holds true for all its members, whether
or not they willingly accept this. Of course there may be different interests at stake along class and gender lines. Nevertheless it must not
be assumed that all Whites are agents of racism and all Blacks only
the victims. Such a rigid definition of the problem ignores the psychology of being oppressed (Fanon, 1967; Meulenbelt, 1985) as well
as the role of Blacks who work for what Mullard ( 1 986b) calls the institution of ethnic exchange and those who may be involved in the
formulation and enactment of racist policies. Conversely it is also relevant to take into account the many dominant group members who incidentally or frequently oppose racism, whether in small or in
significant ways (Mullard, 1984; Terry, 1975). Dominant group members who take a clear stand against racism, or who otherwise identify
with the Black cause, may under certain circumstances become substitute targets of racism. This problem obviously deserves more attention, but that is beyond the purpose of this study.
Given these arguments, and keeping in mind that “race” is an ideological construction with structural expressions (racialized or
“ethnicized” structures of power), racism must be understood as ideology, structure, and process in which inequalities inherent in the
wider social structure are related, in a deterministic way, to biological
and cultural factors attributed to those who are seen as a different
“race” or “ethnic” group. “Race” is called an ideological construction,and nor just a social construction, because the idea of “race” has
never existed outside of a framework of group interest. As a nineteenth-century pseudoscientific theory, as well as in contemporary
“popular” thinking, the notion of “race” is inherently part of a
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44 UNDERSTANDING EVERYDAY RACXSM
“model” of asymmetrically organized “races” in which Whites rank
higher than “non-Whites.” Furthermore racism is a structure because
racial and ethnic dominance exists in and is reproduced by the system
through the formulation and application of rules, laws, and regulations and through access to and the allocation of resources. Finally
racism is a process because structures and ideologies do not exist outside the everyday practices through which they are created and confirmed. These practices both adapt to and themselves contribute to
changing social, economic, and political conditions in society. Because the role of ideology in the structuring of racism in society is
powerful, it is useful to expand briefly on the meaning of racism as
ideology and to relate ideology to prejudice and discourse.
Ideologically Saturated Prejudice
The concept of ideology is used here in a Gramscian sense to include philosophically elaborated thought as well as its reformulation
in social representations, a substratum of ideologies (Gramsci, 1971;
Hall, Lumlay, & McLennan, 1977). Substratum means the sedimentation of notions in belief systems and attitudes of the dominant group that
serve their interests vis-a-vis other racial and ethnic groups. Racism is a
conception of the world that is implicit in the manifestations of life that
touch upon racial issues either directly, through inclusion, or indirectly,
through exclusion, of the issue of “race.” In that sense, there are two
levels at which racism as ideology operates: at the level of daily actions and their interpretation and at another level in the refusal to acknowledge racism or to take responsibility for it (Ben-Tovim,
Grabriel, Law, & Stredder, 1986). Racism as ideology is present in
everyday activities and serves to cement and to unify, to preserve the
ideological unity of the White group. It includes the whole range of
concepts, ideas, images, and intuitions that provide the framework of
interpretation and meaning for racial thought in society, whether systematically organized in academic discourse or in casual, everyday,
contradictory, ambivalent, commonsense thinking (Hall, 1986).
Racism is a social process. This implies that structures and ideologies
of racism are recurrently reinforced and reproduced through a complex
of attitudes (prejudice) and actions (discrimination). Prejudice has been
defined as “an antipathy based on faulty and inflexible generalizations. It
may be felt or expressed. It may be directed toward a group as a whole,
or toward an individual because he is a member of that group” (Allport,
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Macro and Micro Dimensions of Racism 45
1954/1958, p. 9). However, prejudice as the cognitive component of racism is not just an antipathy. It is a social representation compounded of
in- and out-group differentiations. The basic tenets of prejudice are (a) a
feeling of superiority, (b) perception of the subordinate race as intrinsically different and alien, (c) a feeling of propriety claim to certain areas
of privilege and advantage, and (d) fear and suspicion that the subordinate race wants the prerogatives of the dominant race (Blumer, 1958).
Social representation is a general term for a socially shared structure of
cognitions, such as beliefs, knowledge, opinions, attitudes, purposes, and
emotions. Therefore, racial or ethnic beliefs or opinions expressed by individual dominant group members are not relevant as personal opinions
but as reflections of socially shared representations of racial and ethnic
groups. Thus van Dijk (1987a) represents racial or ethnic prejudice as a
schema of negative evaluations and characteristics attributed to groups
perceived as racially or culturally different. Targets of prejudice are one
or more groups assumed to be different. The assumed differences are
evaluated as negative in relation to in-group norms, values, traditions, or
goals and subsequently attributed to racial or ethnic characteristics of the
out-group. These negative evaluations are generalizations based on insufficient or biased representations that are constituent elements of an
ideology rationalizing and reinforcing existing systems of racial and ethnic inequality. Finally, the acquisition, use, and transformation of ethnic
prejudice is a social process in which in-group preference is confirmed
discursively. However, because racial or ethnic prejudice is morally rejected by the dominant group, the reproduction of prejudice requires flexible use of rational arguments in defense of particular attitudes about an
out-group, such as “I am not prejudiced, but …”(van Dijk, 1987a,p. 388).
Because prejudice is embedded in an ideological structure, it relates to a structure of social practices. Because racism is by definition
a social problem, the idea of discrimination is only meaningful when
it is defined as actions that tacitly or explicitly confirm or create racial or ethnic inequality in the existing framework of racial and ethnic
domination. Racial discrimination includes all acts-verbal, nonverbal, and paraverbal-with intended or unintended negative or unfavorable consequences for racially or ethnically dominated groups. It
is important to see that intentionaiity is not a necessary component of
racism (Essed, 1986; Jenkins, 1986). It is not the nature of specific
acts or beliefs that determines whether these are mechanisms of racism
but the context in which these beliefs and acts operate. Actors do not
always have knowledge about, much less do they intend all of, the
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46 UNDERSTANDING EVERYDAY RACISM
consequences of their actions. Further, racism often operates through
seemingly nonracial practices. Various authors make a distinction between direct and indirect discrimination (Malone, 1980). Because direct discrimination is usually associated with interaction, and indirect
discrimination with institutional arrangements, this distinction is,
however, not useful for the purpose of this study, for the reasons I
have mentioned earlier. Rather it is useful to make a distinction between overt and covert racism (Brandt, 1986; Essed, 1984). Discrimination as a form of overt racism refers to acts that openly express
negative intentions toward Blacks. In covert expressions of racism,
negative intentions cannot be inferred from the acts themselves. In these
cases the definition of the situation seems negotiable and is integrated
into the conflict situation. Elsewhere (Essed, 1987) I took the issue even
further and demonstrated that, to understand contemporary racism, the
definition of the situation must be recognized as a major source of conflict. This shall be addressed in more detail in the course of this study.
In conclusion I emphasize that one cannot grasp the true nature of
discrimination without situating it within its larger sociopolitical context. That is, the relation between racist ideology and racist practices
is determined by the historical, material, and political context and by
the degree to which ideologies are saturated in the cognitions of
agents. When agents are socialized with and systematically exposed
to representations that justify White dominance, and when these notions are (unwittingly) accepted as “normal,” agents will act in concert,
thereby creating and reproducing similar forms of racism adapted to the
specific needs or interests and situations. This view of the relation between ideology and cognitions and between structures and agents acknowledges, on the one hand, structural constraints on human agency
and, on the other hand, that within specific boundaries individuals
can make their own choices. They choose how they act. They either
uncritically accept a dominant representation of reality or seek alternative views. Even when racism operates in such a way that the dominant group is often not prepared to believe the experiences of Black
people and to take responsibility for the problem of racism (Bhavnani
& Bhavnani, 1985), individuals can choose to take responsibility and
to initiate change once they understand the processes of domination.
This approach departs from the quasi-determinism of critical theory
by emphasizing that there are “resisters” who produce alternative
perspectives of society and that there are alternative, nonracist ways
to use power with the purpose of change.
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Macro and Micro Dimensions of Racism 47
T H E N O T I O N O F E V E R Y D A Y R A C I S M
Theories about the meaning of “the everyday” have been developed
in the fields of philosophy, phenomenology, social psychology,
symbolic interactionism, and ethnomethodoIogy. where it has often
been referred to intuitively as a “known in common world” (Zimmerman & Pollner, 1970, p. 85), a “familiar world, a world taken for
granted” (Luckmann, 1970/1978, p. 275). The tendency to use metaphors and other associations instead of more precise descriptions or
definitions when talking about the everyday is amazing considering,
for instance, that everyday explanations have been quite a popular
topic of recent publications in the area of social cognition theory
(e.g., Antaki, 1981, 1988a; Semin & Gergen, 1990). In the social psychology of everyday explanations, the idea of “everyday” is often associated with vague notions such as the “ordinary” (Antaki, 2988b.
p. 1) or “common sense” (Furnham, 1990). Others write about everyday cognitions without giving any further explanation or just broadly
characterize the concept as the opposite of the “scientific” (Carugati,
1990; Groeben, 1990; Semin, 1990) or as the opposite of the philosophical world, in which philosophy belongs to the “highest spheres
of culture,” and everyday life stands for the “most trivial and commonplace sphere” (Lefebvre, 1971, p. 116). Intuitive associations like
these represent specific characteristics of “the everyday,” but they
cannot be used as a basis for a theory of everyday racism.
I do not intend to conceptualizethe notion of “the everyday” in terms
of a philosophy of everyday life (Heller, 1984)-a study in itself-but in
terms of the categories and social relations operative in everyday life
(Smith, 1987)and in terms of the characteristicsof everyday life (Heller,
1984). Such a qualification of the everyday is sufficient for the purposes
ofthis study, ~ m e l y , to distinguish between “everyday racism” and “experiences of everyday racism.” With these arguments in mind the following tentative proposals for the analysis of “everyday life” are
relevant in understandingracism as a process operative in everyday life.
Meaning and Characteristics of Everyday Life
Everyday life always takes place in and relates to the immediate
environment of a person. It is a world in which we are located physically and socially. The content and structure of everyday life are not
necessarily the same for all individuals in society. It can also be different
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48 UNDERSTANDING EVERYDAY RACISM
in different periods of a person’s life. Obviously everyday life for a university professor who is also the mother of three children has similarities,but
also differences, when compared with the life of a university professor
without children or that of a mother who has a job as a bank teller. Everyday life is the direct reproduction of the person embedded in social relations. This assumption is included in Heller’s (1984, p- 3) definition of
“everyday life” as “the aggregate of those individual reproduction factors
which .. .make social reproduction possible.” Everyday life is not only reproductive of persons but also of the positions of persons in social relations
and of social relations themselves.
The everyday world is a world in which one must learn to maneuver and a world that one must learn to handle. Without a minimum
knowledge of how to cope in everyday life, one cannot handle living
in society. This at least includes knowledge of language, norms, customs and rules, and knowledge to use the means and resources that
make living possible (or successful) in a given environment, determined by factors of class, gender, profession, and so on (Heller,
1984). This knowledge includes expectations and “scripts” (Schank &
Abelson, 1977) of everyday situations.
The fundamental stock of knowledge needed to cope in everyday
life is transmitted by each generation to its successors. Knowledge
used in everyday life is not restricted to knowledge that can be derived directly from the everyday environment. Knowledge used in everyday life can also include scientific knowledge communicated by
the mass media or through education. In other words, the system is internalized in everyday life through socialization processes. The everyday is based on expectations and conditions that are taken for
granted. Without these expectations the everyday cannot be managed.
Garfinkel’s experiments showed that the undermining, by others, of
taken-for-granted conditions in everyday life is upsetting and unbearable for individuals subjected to these experiments (Garfinkel, 1967).
Conversely individuals who are seen as unable to cope with “the everyday” are stigmatized as “mentally ill.” These arguments do not
mean to suggest that the everyday is static. It remains possible for individuals to transcend the limits of the everyday. People who reject
what is seen as “normal” often become agents of change. Given these
considerations the notion of “the everyday” can be tentatively defined
as socialized meanings making practices immediatefy definable and
uncontested so that, in principle, these practices can be managed
according to (sub)cultural norms and expectations. These practices and
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Macro and Micro Dimensions of Racism 49
meanings belong to our familiar world and usually involve routine or
repetitive practices. Therefore, they can be expected and generalized
for specific relations and situations. This addition is important in distinguishing the everyday from the noneveryday-that is, the incidental, unfamiliar, that is neither generalizable nor taken for granted.
The Structure of Everyday Life
The structure of everyday life is determined by the fact that everyday life is heterogeneous (Heller, 1984). In everyday life heterogeneous forms of activity have to be coordinated and performed, but the
content of these forms of activity varies according to different classes
and positions in society. At the same time structures and social relations cannot be reproduced without uniformity of practice within the
heterogeneity of relations and situations (see the aggregation hypothesis). Smith (1987) has implemented the idea of the “everyday world”
as located in social relations in a way that is relevant to this study.
She contends that the everyday world must be seen as being organized by multiple social relations not observable within it. Development of systematic knowledge about the social relations of society is
a means to disclose the social relations determining one’s everyday
life. Social relations in this sense are not static but form actual processes. Smith (1987, p. 134) puts it this way:
It takes only a little imagination to see that all such relations are present
in and reproduced in the organization of activities at the everyday level,
as well as entering the everyday into relations that pass beyond the control of individual subjects.
If the everyday is located in multiple relations, the structure of the everyday world can be represented as a matrix of social relations present in
and reproduced by everyday practices. Everyday practices are present in
and reproduced by everyday situations. The situations of the everyday
world are substructured by relations of race, ethnicity, class, and gender.
This introduces, finally, the notion of everyday racism.
Characteristics and Structure of Everyday Racism
Given these arguments the structure of everyday racism must be seen
as a complex of practices made operative in race and ethnic relations.
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50 UNDERSTANDING EVERYDAY RACISM
Race relations in this sense are a process present in and activated at the
everyday level as well as prestructured in a way that transcends the control of individual subjects. Everyday racism is the integration of racism
into everyday situations through practices (cognitive and behavioral, see
below) that activate underlying power relations. This process must be
seen as a continuum through which the integration of racism into everyday practices becomes part of the expected, of the unquestionable, and of
what is seen as normal by the dominant group. When racist notions and
actions infiltrate everyday life and become part of the reproduction of
the system, the system reproduces everyday racism.
Earlier I made an analytical distinction between cognitive (prejudice) and behavioral (discrimination) components of racism. In everyday life, however, the cognitive and behavioral aspects of racism
are mixed and operate synchronically as part of the same process.
This is consistent with the view, also expressed by others, that everyday thinking is inseparable from everyday behavior (e.g., Heller,
1984, p. 200). Given these arguments it is useful not to make an ontological distinction between cognitive and behavioral components of
racist practices. This can also be explained as follows: The structural
exclusion, marginalization, and repression of Blacks is consistent
with and rationalized by existing ideologies problematizing and inferiorizing Blacks. If the macro is created and reproduced on a micro
level, this can only mean that discrimination and prejudice are inherently related, even when it may not be necessarily so that one specific
act is causally related to one specific cognition or motivation coming
from the same actor. Because discrimination and prejudice are fused
in the notion of racist practices, there are no grounds, as I mentioned
earlier, to identify intentionality as a necessary component of the definition of racism.
Analogous to everyday life, everyday racism is heterogeneous in its
manifestatiorls but at the same time structured by forces toward uniformity. Everyday racism is a complex of practices operative through
heterogeneous (class and gender) relations, present in and producing
race and ethnic relations. Such relations are activated and reproduced
as practices. Everyday racism is locked into the underlying dynamics
of relations and forces of racial and ethnic domination and governed
by the powers to which they give rise. For the purpose of this study,
racial and ethnic domination can be implemented as interlocking
forces of oppression and repression coordinated and unified by ideological constructions. These interlocking forces represent at the same
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Macro and Micro Dimensions of Racism 51
time micro and macro dimensions of racism. From a micro point of
view oppression can be implemented as creating structures of racial
and ethnic inequality through situated practices (oppression). Racial
inequality can only be maintained when other forces operate to secure
compliance and to prevent, manage, or break opposition (repression).
Seen from this point of view the macro structures of domination are
already contextualized in racial ideologies implicitly or explicitly familiar to the subjects who reinforce racial inequality through repression. Uniformity of oppressive and repressive practices is coordinated
ideologically through socialization and the constant actualization,
through the media and other channels of communication, of images,
opinions, and versions of reality legitimizing the status quo.
The firm interlocking of forces of domination operates in a way
that makes it hard to escape its impact on everyday life. Although individual Black women may work out strategies to break away from
particular oppressive relations or situations, and frequently oppose
racism, as members of an oppressed group, they remain locked into
the forces of the system, unless enough counterpressure develops to
unlock these forces and to transform the machinery of the system that
produces racial and ethnic inequality. This explains, as will be shown
later in more detail, why everyday racism cannot be reduced to incidents or to specific events. Everyday racism is the process of the system working through multiple relations and situations. Once we
understand that in a racist society, race and ethnicity can operate
through any social relation, when we recognize the racial or ethnic dimensions in particular relationships, it becomes possible to speak of
everyday racism as the situational activation of racial or ethnic dimensions in particular relations in a way that reinforces racial or ethnic inequality and contributes to new forms of racial and ethnic
inequality. This view is parallel to Omi and Winant’s (1986, pp. 61-
62) theory of racial formation-the process
by which social, economic, and political forces determine the content
and importanceof racial categories,and by which they are in turn shaped
by racial meanings. Crucial to this formulation i s the treatment of race as
a central axis of social relations which cannot be subsumed or reduced to
some broader category of conception.
They argue, however, that racial dimensions of a particular relationship or social practice are never given automatically, whereas in
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52 UNDERSTANDING EVERYDAY RACISM
my view this dimension is always present when racial meaning can be
given to previously nonracial relationships. Of course the particular
content of systems of racial meanings can change historically, but the
presence of a system of racial meanings is a permanent feature of European culture that has been consistently activated throughout the
United States in the past few centuries and in the Netherlands in more
recent times. Social relations are racialized (or ethnicized) when they
represent racially or ethnically identified differences in position and
power. Because “race” is an organizing principle of many social relations, the fundamental social relations of society are racialized relations. However, it is only when these racial or ethnic dimensions of
social relations are called upon or activated through practice that racial and ethnic relations are created, reinforced, or reproduced. In
other words, even when specific relations are racialized and when
these relations underlie and structure social situations, racism does
not necessarily have to occur in a specific time or place.
Everyday racism does not exist in the singular but only as a complex-as interrelated instantiations of racism. Each instantiation of
everyday racism has meaning only in relation to the whole complex
of relations and practices. Thus expressions of racism in one particular social relation are related to all other racist practices and can be
reduced to the fundamental structuring forces of everyday racism: oppression, repression, and legitimation.
Given these arguments, everyday racism can be defined as a process in which ( a ) socialized racist notions are integrated into meanings that make practices immediately definable and manageable, ( b )
practices with racist implications become in themselves familiar and
repetitive, and ( c ) underlying racial and ethnic relations are actualized and reinforced through these routine or familiar practices in everyday situations.
This discussion implies that people are involved differently in the
process of everyday racism according to gender, class, status, and
other factors determining the content and structure of their everyday
lives. It also must be emphasized that the process of everyday racism
operates not only through direct interaction with Blacks but also
through indirect contact. This becomes clear when we consider the
role of, for instance, policymakers or journalists in the process of everyday racism. In the immediate practice of their everyday lives, policymakers formulate and enact rules and conditions that reinforce
existing racial injustice, even when they do not directly interact with
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Macro and Micro Dimensions of Racism 53
Blacks in making these policies. Similarly racist newspaper articles
are part of the process of everyday racism, whether or not based on
direct interaction with Blacks. Finally it should be stressed that not
all racism is everyday racism. The concept of everyday racism distinguishes the reproduction of racism through routine and familiar
practices from incidental and uncommon expressions of racism. Of
course the content of everyday racism is not static. It changes with
the changing relations and practices through which the system is reproduced as a racist system. This will be illustrated later in the discussion of differences in the experience of everyday racism in the
United States and in the Netherlands.
Specific agents can be involved in different ways, through different
situations, in the reproduction of racism in everyday life. Given the
ubiquity of sites and relations through which racism operates, it
would hardly be possible to monitor the process of racism in a systematic way with traditional methods involving surveys or observation. In the experiences of Black women, everyday racism does not
exist in the singular but only in the plural form. It is a coherent complex of oppression continuously present and systematically activated
personally through encounters, vicariously through the experiences of
other Blacks, through the media, and through the daily awareness of
racial injustice in society. An experiential point of view, therefore,
enables us to examine the simultaneous manifestations of racism reproduced in multiple situations. This introduces the methodology of
this study that will be addressed in the following chapter.
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