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Increasingly during the modern era, the removal of miscegenation laws and a trend toward equal rights and legal protection against racism have steadily reduced the social stigma attached to racial exogamy (exogamy refers to marriage outside a person’s core social unit). It is now common for the children of racially mixed parents to acknowledge and celebrate their various ethnic identities. Golfer Tiger Woods, for instance, has Chinese, Thai, African American, Native American, and Dutch heritage; he jokingly refers to his ethnicity as “Cablinasian,” a term he coined to combine several of his ethnic backgrounds. While this is the trend, it is not yet evident in all aspects of our society. For example, the U.S. Census only recently added additional categories for people to identify themselves, such as non-white Hispanic. A growing number of people chose multiple races to describe themselves on the 2010 Census, paving the way for the 2020 Census to provide yet more choices.

The confederate flag vs. the first amendment

A photo of the Confederate flag hanging on a flagpole
To some, the Confederate flag is a symbol of pride in Southern history. To others, it is a grim reminder of a degrading period of the United States’ past. (Photo courtesy of Eyeliam/flickr)

In January 2006, two girls walked into Burleson High School in Texas carrying purses that displayed large images of Confederate flags. School administrators told the girls that they were in violation of the dress code, which prohibited apparel with inappropriate symbolism or clothing that discriminated based on race. To stay in school, they’d have to have someone pick up their purses or leave them in the office. The girls chose to go home for the day but then challenged the school’s decision, appealing first to the principal, then to the district superintendent, then to the U.S. District Court, and finally to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Why did the school ban the purses, and why did it stand behind that ban, even when being sued? Why did the girls, identified anonymously in court documents as A.M. and A.T., pursue such strong legal measures for their right to carry the purses? The issue, of course, is not the purses: it is the Confederate flag that adorns them. The parties in this case join a long line of people and institutions that have fought for their right to display it, saying such a display is covered by the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech. In the end, the court sided with the district and noted that the Confederate flag carried symbolism significant enough to disrupt normal school activities.

While many young people in the United States like to believe that racism is mostly in the country’s past, this case illustrates how racism and discrimination are quite alive today. If the Confederate flag is synonymous with slavery, is there any place for its display in modern society? Those who fight for their right to display the flag say such a display should be covered by the First Amendment: the right to free speech. But others say the flag is equivalent to hate speech. Do you think that displaying the Confederate flag should considered free speech or hate speech?

Summary

Stereotypes are oversimplified ideas about groups of people. Prejudice refers to thoughts and feelings, while discrimination refers to actions. Racism refers to the belief that one race is inherently superior or inferior to other races.

Short answer

How do redlining and racial steering contribute to institutionalized racism?

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Give an example of stereotyping that you see in everyday life. Explain what would need to happen for this to be eliminated.

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Further research

How far should First Amendment rights extend? Read more about the subject at the First Amendment Center: (External Link)

Learn more about institutional racism at www.splcenter.org

Learn more about how prejudice develops by watching the short documentary “Eye of the Storm”: (External Link)

References

Bouie, Jamelle. (August 19, 2014). "Why the Fires in Ferguson Won't End Soon." Slate.com. N.p., Retrieved October 9, 2014 (http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2014/08/ferguson_protests_over_michael_brown_won_t_end_soon_the_black_community.2.html)

Herring, C., V. M. Keith, and H.D. Horton. 2004. Skin Deep: How Race and Complexion Matter in the “Color-Blind” Era (Ed.), Chicago, IL: University of Illinois Press.

Hudson, David L. 2009. “Students Lose Confederate-Flag Purse Case in 5th Circuit.” Retrieved December 7, 2011 ( (External Link) ).

Klonoff, E., and H. Landrine. 2000. “Is Skin Color a Marker for Racial Discrimination? Explaining the Skin Color-Hypertension Relationship.” Journal of Behavioral Medicine . 23: 329–338.

Landor, Antoinette M., Leslie Gordon Simons, Ronald L. Simons, Gene H. Brody, Chalandra M. Bryant, Frederick X. Gibbons, Ellen M. Granberg, and Janet N. Melby. 2013. "Exploring the impact of skin tone on family dynamics and race-related outcomes." Journal Of Family Psychology . 27 (5): 817-826.

Lowery, Wesley and Darryl Fears. (August 31, 2014). "Michael Brown and Dorian Johnson, the friend who witnessed his shooting". The Washington Post . Retrieved October 9 , 2014. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/michael-brown-and-dorian-johnson-the-friend-who-witnessed-his-shooting/2014/08/31/bb9b47ba-2ee2-11e4-9b98-848790384093_story.html)

McIntosh, Peggy. 1988. “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.” White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming to See Correspondences Through Work in Women’s Studies . Wellesley, MA: Wellesley College Center for Research on Women.

Missouri Attorney General’s Office. (n.d.) "Racial Profiling Report." N.p. Retrieved October 9, 2014 (http://ago.mo.gov/VehicleStops/2013/reports/161.pdf).

Nobles, Frances, and Julie Bosman. (August 17, 2014). "Autopsy Shows Michael Brown Was Struck at Least Six Times." The New York Times . Retrieved October 9, 2014 (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/18/us/michael-brown-autopsy-shows-he-was-shot-at-least-6-times.html)

Yerevanci. 2013. "Public Opinion of Interracial Marriage in the United States." Wikimedia Commons . Retrieved December 23, 2014 (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Public_opinion_of_interracial_marriage_in_the_United_States.png).

Questions & Answers

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Source:  OpenStax, Introduction to sociology 2e. OpenStax CNX. Jan 20, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11762/1.6
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