Both race and ethnicity seem to go hand in hand, but in reality, it is these two that qualities that tear people apart and put up walls between nations. In Massey and Denton’s “American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass”, the impact of the social injustice against Africans-Americans, Latinos and Puerto Ricans hits afresh.
This book focused on segregation in the light of how this driving force separated the weak from the strong, the poor from the rich, and the wills from the ills of people living in America. It especially highlights the differences between the Caucasians and the African-Americans, “European…enclaves were places of absorption, adaptation and adjustment…they served as springboards for broader mobility in society, whereas blacks were trapped behind an increasingly impenetrable colour line” (Massey and Denton, 33). Although this mentality has somewhat changes, the differences can still be seen clearly in the different lifestyles led by each group.
Something as simple as the neighbourhood in which one lives can have such an impact on a person’s upbringing. A ripple effect can be seen in the families of both those of European descent, and those of African-American descent, although the differences are quite vast. The ‘communities’, as they were known, became separated between ‘black’ and ‘white’, and soon neither one was willing to associate with the other.
As Massey and Denton point out, “the spatial and political isolation of blacks in tracts with declining public resources…create a powerful dynamic for disinvestment in the black community” (Massey and Denton, 152). It is particularly important to note that the authors noticed a decrease, not an increase, in public interests toward these racial groups, and even tensions amongst the racial groups themselves, as each group wanted to do better.
In addition, it can be seen that separating class and race is a false motive; since both are not mutually exclusive. Even after integration, the Caucasians found ways to subtly allow segregation to remain by bending the law, and got away with it unscathed. The racial groups, including as African-Americans, Latinos and Puerto Ricans, were powerless to stop this, and could only find ways to promote their own individualistic well-being.
However, one of the ways that far removes the importance of such arguments and the impact on the audience is the book written by Bonilla-Silva: “Racism without Racists, Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality”. By not focusing on the type of segregation that was enforced by Caucasians, the author discusses in great detail the arguments, sayings, and stories used by them to account for and justify racial inequality.
Although Bonilla-Silva ultimately points out the prejudice and false argumentation provided by the Caucasians, he dwells on the facts for a majority of the book instead of pointing out what needs to be done at the beginning of the book; he leaves it for the end of the book as a post-script, an afterthought, an almost insignificant reminder.
The book is quite technical and rigid in its dealing with the plight of both African-Americans and Latinos, as the author calls the tension between Caucasians and African-Americans as a “dichotomy”. Unfortunately, if a reader is lost in the reading, the main purpose of the book is often lost, as it is in this case.
For segregation also to be mentioned as “racial stratification” is also unnecessary; as the author seems to parallel the lives and tensions of the Caucasians and the African-Americans, and the Latinos amongst themselves, as if they were exactly the same. The situations could not be more different, as racial prejudice and racism is not apparent amongst the Latinos; but is clearly evident between the Caucasians and the Latinos.
Although many Caucasians would not like to see themselves as “racists” in the true sense of the word, the book seems to portray that all such Americans are racists. In the book, it is seen that racism is ‘systematic and institutionalised’, rather than as an individualistic view held by the proponents of segregation. This view of all Caucasians as racists is simply not true, although many in that time were to be considered racists.
The fact that the Bonilla-Silva would state that African-Americans and Latinos were the primary reason for social inequality and were to be charged with “playing the race card”, is simply false. All the Latinos and African-Americans were doing was simply looking out for their own families, livelihoods and legacies in a world filled with prejudice and bias, and were not the perpetrators, unlike the Caucasians. The book is filled with such thinking and has not adequately encompassed the view from the Latinos and African-American side, who are to be the most discussed in such a book.
Much rhetoric is used in the book to compare, but not contrast, the racial groups and their apparent profiling. For the author to repeat his main points constantly does not seem to instil any sense of disdain at the situation, but rather a repelling of his ideology. For this book to be more impactful, as contrasted by Massey and Denton’s book, the author needs to come from the perspective of the marginalised and move onto the prejudice of the majority, rather than work the other way around.