tv Elijah Anderson Black in White Space CSPAN February 27, 2022 5:59pm-7:00pm EST
america that's followed by how to be perfect television writer and producer michael schurz thoughts on living an ethical life. and wrapping up our look at the new york times bestselling nonfiction books. is johann hari on our ability to focus and technologies impact on our attention spans in stolen focus some of these authors have appeared on book tv and you can watch their programs anytime at book tv.org. good evening, and welcome to our first program of the new year in new semester. my name is jake bugard and i service program manager of the common ground initiative and howin stein center for presidential studies at grand valley state university on behalf of the howin stein center. jesse bernal and grand valley state university's division of inclusion and equity and bobby springer and mlk committee. thank you for joining us for our annual event commemorating reverend dr. martin luther king, jr. week here at grand valley. we'll begin this evening with a leadership minute from a student
in our peter c cook leadership academy followed by an introduction of this evening speaker by vice president jesse bernal professor elijah anderson will then present his new book black and white space the enduring impact of color in everyday life. vice president bernal will then rejoin elijah for the question and answer portion. so this questions come to mind, please use the zoom toolbar at the bottom of your screen. just let them the theme of this week commemorating dr. king is equity and education and publishers. weekly is called black and white space quote a penetrating ethnographic study and a fine-grained portrait of how systemic racism operates and quote. but before we hear from professor anderson, i'd like to introduce a student striving to create the future both dr. king and professor anderson and vision. annalize robinson is a first year student in the leadership academy. after graduating this april with their bachelor's and criminal justice she plans to attend law school. please help me virtually. welcome on a lease.
hello, my name is analise robinson and i'm a peter c cook leadership academy fellow candidate. i am a senior at grand valley majoring in criminal justice with a minor in spanish. last week in my capstone class my professor discussed the attica prison, right? many of my classmates had never heard of this incident in which prisoners who were majority black protested the inhumane demeaning and racist treatment. they experienced inside the prison. instead of listening to the demands of the prisoners and making changes new york law enforcement officers through tier gas shot at the prisoners resulting in the bloodiest prison riot and the history of the united states. the attica prison riot was horrible incident one that must not be forgotten as people and leaders. especially we have the responsibility to educate ourselves on the history of our country. not only the good but also the bad and ugly. knowing and understanding our history is how we can learn from the past and improve the future.
the presentation you are all attending is an honor of the reverend dr. martin luther king jr. a brave man who sit against the racist attitudes and segregation in this country. do you believe that all those attitudes were present? they did not need to prevail instead dr. king believe that the spirit of love could defeat attitudes of hatred and violence the spirit of love prevail and that his children. would one day attend school play live and work alongside children of all races. his children would have the same opportunities as whites and would not be judged by the color of their skin. one of the leadership competencies of cla is social responsibility as leaders. we have the responsibility to educate ourselves uneventively passed and present in order to improve all social interactions. we have have whether personal or professional by becoming aware of the implicit biases. we all hold we can push past and defeat the presence of stereotypes and prejudices that are present in this country.
my name is analise robinson and i am a leader. thank you annalize. it's always great to hear from our students. especially our cook leadership fellows your you're always leading the path in these important conversations. so thanks again and really good evening. welcome to everyone as well the division of inclusion equity is proud to continue our partnership with the how insane center in tonight's event tonight is annalee said is a part of a week-long series of events and activities to commemorate the legacy of dr. martin luther king jr. at grand valley and across grand rapids and in allendale, we began this partnership with the helen stein center in 2017 seeking to engage our campus and community and sometimes challenging conversations about race racial and equality and racism and it's lasting impact on our nation importantly. we hope that these conversations will contribute not only to the dialogue about racial and equity that's occurring in our own community and on our campuses,
but really inspire action towards institutional and systemic transformation tonight's event is also a demonstration of our commitment to civil discourse creating spaces for difficult and sometimes challenging dialogues. is that the heart of our liberal arts education and to advancing a more inclusive campus climate where we can learn from those who may disagree and strive to listen for understanding. we're honored to be joined this evening by professor elijah anderson professor anderson. is this sterling professor of sociology and of african american studies at yale university. he's one of the leading urban ethnographers in the united states his publications include code of the street winner of the comorovski award from the eastern sociological society streetwise winner of the american sociological associations, robert e. park award for the best published book in the area of urban sociology and the classic sociological work a place on the corner. the cosmopolitan canopy race and civility in everyday life was
published in 2011. his latest most recent ethnographic work which jacob mentioned black and white spaces then during impact of color and everyday life was just published this month. it's available now from chicago university, press and pre-orders on amazon for delivery later this month. i was just chatting with dr. anderson said that i read the e-text version yesterday in this morning, and it's really an engaging ethnography. that one's stories history current events as well as the personal experiences a professor anderson to really shape a compelling picture of contemporary racism from individual experiences to systemic challenges that we see today in all of our everyday interactions. professor anderson is the recipient of numerous professional awards. most recently the 2021 stockholm prize in criminology. the world's most prestigious award in the field of criminology. please join me in welcoming professor elijah anderson. thanks for being here.
thank you for that. introduction, i appreciate that very much and it's a pleasure. it's an absolute pleasure to be here before you this evening and to speak to you about my work. i'm an ethnographer. and you might wonder what that is what that means but ethnography is defined as the systematic study of culture. and culture for our purposes and photography is a set of shared understandings. and it's the only method really in social science. we're in the where the scholar puts his body in the field so to speak. you spend time with real people. you listen to what they say and you watch what they do and you try to make sense of it all see. that's what we do in ethnography. and the assumption is that people any community of people have to go about meeting the
demands of everyday life. it is they do so they come up with understandings. and solutions to everyday problems and they share these problems with people they care about people they love. this is the this this becomes their local knowledge what they know you see. and the ethnographers job is to somehow apprehend and comprehend this local knowledge and then represent it you see and you do that by doing few work qualitative few work among the people watching what they do and listening what they say. interrogating them trying to understand this local knowledge. so what i'm going to present to you today this evening and what appears in my book really is a attempt to represent that local knowledge of communities in philadelphia. this work is based in philadelphia based on observation interviews history.
what have you? and i lived in various parts of philadelphia and i've done few work in these areas of the city. and follow people through these spaces. i've been i've worked in corporations. i've worked on the street. i've worked in communities. i've befriended all kinds of people blacks and whites to get this understanding this body of work that i've created over the years beginning in chicago with a place on the corner that's spent three years on one street corner with the black street quantum men. that was my phd thesis. but then i came to philadelphia and i wrote this book called streetwise, which was an analysis and ethnography of a changing the inner city community. basically, the gentrifiers were moving in and black people were moving out oftentimes, but it was all about how people live in
that community called streetwise. and then i was very became very concerned about why so many young people in inner city communities were killing each other and so began to investigate that issue and that resulted in the ethnography code of the street. and then after that basically, i began looking at center city philadelphia looking at the various. spaces and that can that city where people come together and basically act real nice across racial ethnic gender sexual preference lines, and that book is called the cosmopolitan canopy and ireland of racial civility located in a sea of segregation. and from that i began to look at the black experience more or critically and this has resulted in the book and white space.
so this is working in philadelphia this this this work i'm going to report on tonight this philadelphia and it has implications probably understand other areas of the of our country. but keep in mind. this is a this is about this is about philadelphia, so in 1955 we rosa parks refused to move from her seat in the white section of montgomery bus. that day she started. a new day for black people and for the civil rights her actions inspired many others of the black community people who have been committed themselves to the struggle the first class citizenship. demanding a better day for themselves and their people their actions aided and led by dr. martin luther king jr. 26 year old minister brought the bus company and the city to its
knees and resulted in a major victory for the nascent civil rights movement that ultimately elevated the status. of black people in america over the past 50 years americans society is undergoing a major racial incorporation process. because large numbers of black people have left the rural areas and urban ghettos. and made their way into the wider society. in the many areas previously claimed only by white people. during the civil rights movements. black people and their white allies strongly petitioned the governments for civil rights and job opportunities and as a people who increasingly insistence and militants. as many of you know and appreciate. the civil rights movement
culminated in riots urban rebellions and civil disturbances and major cities throughout the nation. in response the government ultimately passed far-reaching civil rights legislation, especially voting rights, and i'm pointing here the boating rights bill. a act of 1965 which was so important for black people. black people were made to be full citizens under the laws of the land. well the government targeted for reform racially segregated workplaces local neighborhoods schools universities. and cities more generally. which thereby set the stage for the historic period of racial integration and incorporation.
that has resulted in the subsequent growth of the black middle class the largest in american history. however the wider society is reception of black people. was decidedly mixed. to be sure many white people, encouraged and promoted and racially quality and progress but many others powerfully resisted these changes. which they feared abrogated their own rights and presumed privileges. the civil rights movement is long past yet segregation persists. the wider society is replete. with overwhelmingly white neighborhoods restaurants schools universities workplaces associations churches towns courthouses and cemeteries that reinforce is a normative white
sensibility in which black people are typically absent. or marginalized in turn black people often perceive such settings and refer to them among themselves as the white space. and they typically approach this space with care. when entering white space and especially deep white space or spaces that are completely white. black people quickly note the proportion of whites to blacks. and may adjust their comfort level. accordingly when judging a setting is too white they can feel uneasy and consider such places. such spaces to be informally off limits for people like them. provides out over the same settings are generally perceived as unremarkable. was normal reflections of civil society. the american cities public
spaces and workplaces and neighborhoods may now be thought of is essentially as a mosaic of white spaces black spaces and cosmopolitan spaces or racially diverse islands of stability located in a sea of segregated living. that may be in various stages of flux from white to black or from black to white. or white people may perceive is the verse however black people may see his homogeneously white. and while the white and black space is may appear to be racing homogeneous. typically, they can be subclassified in terms of ethnicity. white spaces for instance often include not only traditional americans of european descent but also recently arrived european immigrants and visitors as well as others who may be perceived as phenotypically. white similarly those inhabiting
black space are not always simply traditional african-americans, but maybe subclassified as african haitian caribbean cape verdian and so on and accordingly the racely mixed urban space a version of which i've referred to elsewhere as i mentioned as the cosmopolitan candidate. existing as this island of stability and the sea of segregation. however, as previously mentioned white people usually avoid black space. but black people are required to navigate the white space as a condition of their existence. the black space the black ghetto is no longer simply a physical space. it is it has become a major icon in american society and culture and as such it has become an
important source of stereotype prejudice and discrimination. this symbol is a function of the present iconography of the city and it hovers over race relations and many white people especially those who are racially insensitive or was limited knowledge about black people place and relegate all that people to the iconic ghetto. which for them symbolizes persistent poverty social disorganization violence and crime from the days of slavery through the civil rights period black people have occupied a lowly cast-like status in american society and today despite the progressive changes wrought by the race to incorporation process of the 1960s and 70s and 80s, but color line persists. albeit in new emergent, but highly symbolic form. to be worked out in the rough and tumble affairs of everyday
life. when black people receive what they know as the as the inward moments the moment of acute disrespect based on their blackness. these moments can be large or small? black people typically ignore the small ones so many slides but the big ones the big inward moments. but too significance and two consequential to ignore. they are more than slides. and can determine whether one. gets hired of fire or voted they can determine whether one gets a speeding ticket. for the one is stopped and frisked. were murdered in the process as so many black people. the come these days to be prejudices of white police officers these moments are no
fun for sure. at times they can be downright dramatic. in my book, i argue that these moments represent. the new american color line in the old days this line was bold. and black folks knew the social terrain, they knew their place and taught their children as much. today the color line is blurred and thus and and those who don't know better can touch this third rail of race relations and even get burned as it were. today many more black people now or highly educated we also do and reside in exclusive neighborhoods. formerly off limits to people like them. and their children attend formerly white schools. these black people work in a wider range of occupations and
ever not simply and meaningful positions, but in professional positions in which black people have rarely appeared before including as doctors lawyers professors corporate executives major elected officials and a super wealthy celebrities. and they all from reside in upscale and formerly all white neighborhoods. but as black people become increasingly more visible throughout society. the lenders and contradictions of status have also become more common. the physical and institutional black ghetto persists and as such it conditions many americans and maybe especially low information white people. to think that the black person's place is most often in the ghetto hood and not in middle class white dominated society. those lights and others often associated black individuals with the iconic ghetto.
and symbolically placed them there burdening them with the deficit of credibility that on occasion manifests and acts of acute. disrespect reminiscent of america's racial past again, the end moment is what i'm talking about here. that's what black people call it and they say this to themselves. they tell about their negative moments. tell the people, you know. among themselves black people call such incidents and i would i would again i say in the inward moment. and and generally they interpret them as deeply racist attempts to put them back in their place. and these moments of acute disrespect based on blackness. and the black ghetto is a concrete point of reference. constitute the present day american color line again in the old days of frederick douglass booker t, washington and wb the
boys this cast line was bold and clearly marked. today it has become blurred and it's often ignored until this inward moment occurs. you see this is what i found in my work. the white space when the anonymous black person enters the white space others there immediately try to make sense of him or her. to figure out who that is what the game the sense of the nature of the person's business. whether they need to be concerned. in the absence of routine social contact with black people stereotypes stimulating from the iconic ghetto. often rule white perceptions placing almost any unknown black person, especially a young male at a social distance. the anonymous black person is immediately burdened with a deficit of credibility and
symbolically relegated to the iconic ghetto with all its pejorative. connotations. most often erc a signifies trouble and security may be summoned. now such states such stereotypes persist not because of the individual's merit as a person but his or her blackness and what it has come to mean in the white space of credibility. strikingly this deficit may be minimized or possibly overcome. by a performance, but what some black people the reasonably preferred to as a dance. through which individual black people are required to show. that the ghetto stereotypes do not apply to them. the performance can be as a deliberate as addressing well and speaking in an educated way or as simple as producing an id or driver's license and situations where that would
never be the man that the white people. depending on how well the black person performs and how this performance is received he or she may pass inspection and be provisionally accepted in the white space. but others there may require additional proof on demand. in the workplace from the janitor to a middle-level manager until they have established themselves black persons live under the tyranny of the command performance. and the string of black i'm sorry and the string of people standing in line to witness the performance for the dance because those who were once condensed to demand an encore. so as long as the black person is present in the white space he or she is likely to be on. performing before a distance and highly judgmental audience distant because of the racial
divide and judgmental because of the threat the black person may be assumed the pose to the white space or to white standing in judgments. moreover while present in the white space the anonymous black person is typically burdened with a negative presumption that he or she must disprove before being able to establish mutually trusting relationships with others. they presumption that is often hard if not impossible to overcome. striking way while navigating the white space the black person expects to meet at least three kinds of white people. those who mean well for those who do not and a wide swath of white people inclined to tolerate them. with little and no racial animus, but who show almost no interest in knowing them. it's also intending on high alert.
the black person's challenge is to figure out the kind of white person he or she is dealing with and then to take evasive action if necessary or to disassemble. a situation that encourages the black person to remain guarded in the presence of white people here. she does not know well. often black people plays anonymous whites as adversaries until they pass inspection. however, that more black people cannot negotiate their status in the white space through a performance signifies how much american society has changed since labor and the cast like system of state enforced racial segregation. in the aftermath of the shooting of florida teenager trayvon martin 2012 a handful of reporters and columnists and many members of the general public made the obvious comparison with the death of
night in 1955 of him until a black chicago teenager visiting mississippi killed by a group of whites who believed yet flirted with the white woman. and while that comparison has merit. these murders must be understood as a result of very different strains of racial tension in america. the racism that led to till's death was embedded in a virulent ideology of white racial superiority born out of slavery and the jim quote codes particularly in the deep south. that's what racism hinges on the idea. that blacks are an inherently inferior race morally no group that deserves both the subjugation and poverty they get today racism has become more highly symbolic and more nuanced or textured than anything america has seen before and usually does not always manifest
in overtly hateful or violent acts. instead it manifests in a pervasive attitude that all black people start from the inner city ghetto and therefore the geto icon especially it's supposed immorality danger crime and poverty stigmatizes them. often the white people black people encountered in white encounter in white spaces. don't think much of them. the racial hatred the materialize when the black people demand equality or when they get too close quote unquote. the most easily tolerated black person and white space appears to be one who has passed inspection. was in their place that is one who was working as a janitor or service person or the one who has been vouched for by white people and good standing. of such a black person is less likely to disturb the implicit racial order. places dominance and blacksys subordinates however, when the
black person appears to however, when the black person appears or operates and rules above his or her assumed low station on because of any color they perceive the situation with dissonance amusement or even with pleasant surprise. but not everyone is pleasantly surprised by the presence of black people in high places. some white people are outraged and seek to put the black person back in his or her place quote unquote. this is when racial harassment occurs and when the term inward is often voiced. in the white space the black person is subject of being called a treated. as a inward at any moment. this tells the black person he or she does not belong as one black person told me after experiencing such a moment. what's it happens to you? all bets are off. and one does not know what to expect no matter what you
thought of yourself for the moment. you don't know just where you stand. when feels like a stranger in a strange land any white person president in the white space can possess and wheels this enormous power. state but the whites who feel marginalized by black presidents may feel most compelled to will that but many of them blacks and the white space become a profound racial symbol. the personification of their own travail they're only inequality. and they can feel put down by the spectacle of black advancement. well, not all but white people are guilty of this act. white people are congealed and the complexity of the white space that blacks navigate as a condition of their existence. whites belong and where black people can so easily be reminded that they do not. usually taking the state of affairs for granted. black people approach the white
space and vivolently or even largely for instrumental reasons. when possible they may avoid it altogether or leave it as soon as possible. get exiting the white space. however, the black individual can feel both relief and regrets relief for getting out of a stressful environment and regret for perhaps leaving prematurely. to the white space is where the social rewards originates. and elegant night on the town education employment privilege prestige money and the promise of acceptance. to obtain these rewards black people must venture into the white space and explore its possibilities engaging it to the extent that they can and then hoping the benefit as much as possible. the be it all successful. they must navigate the white space and manage themselves within it. but the promise of acceptance is
too often only that a promise. are always prejudiced people in the light space who are ready and willing and able to marginalize the black person to remind her. of her outsider status or to put him in his place. ralph's experience is germane. ralph is a black 18 year old i met. a person who grew up in a nearly all white ultra middle-class neighborhood and has a tended private schools in a section of philadelphia. for his entire life his parents. oh well off and pay ralph's full tuition themselves a student of good character who makes excellent grades ralph as one of the few black students in his school. is also a member of the soccer team? when his team plays various elite schools high schools in the philadelphia suburbs, he is usually the only black player on
the field and he plays the game well, during these games ralph was occasionally called the inward. but such outbursts usually come from spectators. but recently when he was playing in an away game, the epithetic came from an opposing player. as the clock wound down and his team seemed destined to win tensions grew between the opposing teams. then one of the players on ralph's team was apparently foul up the field and ralph called this to the attention of the referee. to which one of the opposing players retorted? what are you going to do about it? inward he yelled his remarks directly at ralph. quite mildly and within your shot of the coaches the referee and the spectators including his mom. the only black spectator attending the game.
when rob heard this epic that directed into him, he said he simply didn't know what to do how to react. and everyone everyone focused on me. i never felt so alone in my life my head was about to explode he told me. and i just pushed the guy this is the opposing player. at this point the referee approached to address ralph's push and ralph said to him. did you hear that? did you hear that? he just called me the n-word. the references drug then in front of the referee the opposing player yelled at ralph. so what yeah, i said it and i'll say it again. the referee and the coaches all of whom quit at witnessed this exchange appeared to the white players comments. the situation was confused. the other spectators made up largely of school parents teachers and classmates looked on and passively through a field of hissed and booed at ralph.
and he thought uneasy and very alone not knowing where he stood with his teammates. brows mom fell deeply disturbed and humiliated but mostly she felt sad for her son. after the game when attention died down the opposing player a singled out ralph's mom approached her and dressed her. your son was in the wrong, you know, he never should have been so close to me. the ralph told me i'm glad i didn't see that. that is the posing blue approaching his mom. but the coaches suspended the post-game ritual of beating and handshake between the opposing sides. with a confusion not everyone understood exactly what a transpired during the game. the only knew had been unusual tension and that ralph had been involved. but even though they fail to know what the trouble was the attendees all seemed to blame
the incident on ralph. he said later went around mother's acquaintances acknowledged that she had gathered that there was some sort of trouble that ralph had been involved with and see now suggested that ralph not right back on the team bus. that his mother should drive ralph home separately from his teammates. his mother refused in conclusion because of slavery in years of jim crow segregation or essentially american apartheid black people of burden the persistence deficit of credibility that is very hard to shake. and as black people navigate white space, they typically incur random disrespect and under our treatment. and these are things that many white people have no idea about because they they don't have
black skin, but as a black person moving about there are these challenges every day that come out of the blue. and they've come to expect this in white space. and when they don't receive it, they are pleasantly surprised. for black people the white space and the people who occupy and control that space constitute a major problem in their everyday lives and because of this black people approached the white space and the white people there. carefully in the white space white people in comparison to their black counterparts have an implicit social power that is backed up by a peculiar moral authority than black people lack and of course by the same token for black people credibility is highly precarious. best in this space black people
are required to manage themselves. well, thank you very much. thank you professor anderson, appreciate your your insights and also the stories that you told that what up to the your most recent book black and white space, but i want to start what i want to do first is encourage the folks in the audience if you have questions, please use the q&a function. that's at the bottom of your zoom box and feel free to type in some questions and we'll get to as many as we can but professor anderson wanted to start with before before you start talking we were talking about the role of inographer particularly around topics that can make people uncomfortable like like race and racism the black experience and you were you were saying you were telling me that what you do is and i prefer is not an ideological or political argument but really is sharing your observations about realities that you that that you're experiencing. can you share more about that as
folks kind of soak in what you just shared sure and i talked to many people. in philadelphia black people white people up asian people jewish people all kinds of people in doing this kind of work you spend time with real people and you as i say you listen to what they what they say and you watch what what they do and you and you do this in terms of social observations not always a matter of interviewing you see you you observe and you you write feel notes and from these copious feel notes you make sense and then you represent you try to get a sense of that local knowledge. that is what people whole as they move about. with their presuppositional frames you do fieldwork you do qualitative feel work. and so this analysis is really a kind of set of findings. it's not.
even what would be ethnographer prefers or it doesn't prefer it's what makes sense given the observations here. she has been able to make if you follow me and and this this work this present work black white space is not simply based on a few years. it's it's based on kind of a lifetime of their observing social life in philadelphia and other places around the country you see but but it focuses on on philadelphia. and this is this is what i've been able to to come to now. we've come a long way in this country raceway. believe me a long way, but we have so far to go and the and the idea here is at least from from my perspective to represent it to tell it to put it out there hopefully to edify people and that people raise questions and to do better. thank you.
thank you for that. you know much of your book talks about the black experience in particular and you talk about sort of this this cycle or this powerful loop that you know, black and white people play in in the us context where these iconic ghettos are created because of slavery and segregation, but also creates this cycle of poverty and unemployment that then confirms some of the historical white perceptions of black people and and that therefore allows black people to justify their thinking around our stereotyping around around black experiences within our communities what and that's all generalized right as you as you mentioned in your book, but what role do you think white people play and disrupting that cycle in in sort of shifting away from when you call sort of the intractable races and that exists as part of the us history context. yeah. it's a very complicated so really one of the contributions
of this book is the concept of the iconic ghetto. the iconic ghetto is no longer to stay a physical space. it's become an icon, you know, i mean slavery as an institution established the black body at the bottom of the order. and after slavery black people migrated to cities of the south and of the north and we're often times still to keep going, you know, and they settled in some of these places on the outskirts of town and other black people joined them and pretty soon. he had a black community and it was referred to in so many of these places as the place for the black folk live. with these places where the precursors of the ghettos so to speak. and and this the setting reinforced this this this notion of white over black which
established if you follow and of course, you know so many white people of that of that. town of this town of that town of the country became invested. socially invested in the lowly place of black people and the notion that that's where the black folk lived. well over time these places grew and grew and became ghettos. and ultimately we had the civil rights movement as i suggested in the beginning of this talk. and that civil rights movement led by martin luther king. and rosa parks and people like that. i mean that movement basically was very very very important elevating the status of black people. but as you all know this movement culminated in riots and civil disturbances and political rebellions around the country you say and at the same time that this was going on we had a cold war we had the this country
competing with the soviet union. before leadership of the world and at the same time we had so many developing countries becoming newly independent. and they were looking for leadership which way to go when to follow the soviets of the fall of the west and so the powers that be in this country right at that that point began to push for, you know incorporation. you see we didn't look very good because black people of that time couldn't even vote and many of these countries that were becoming newly independent. we're looking for leadership from either the west or the soviets and we didn't look very good because we black people with such a lowly cast and so i think that this this this this this this problem this issue incurred so many politicians and and economic dominance to push for integration and incorporation of black people
into the system. and so this led to the largest black little plants in american history and a lot of changes in the way. we did things the racially in this country. so today we have the largest black middle class in american history as a result of this incorporation process and yet the geto remains you see profited by the winds of the industrialization the global economy because as jobs lead the inner cities in this country, they go to mexico. they go to china. they go to vietnam. they go to various third world countries and people working in these countries effectively compete with our poor people here and do the extent that they do the standard living in those places these ghettos these inner city areas goes down you see and this has been going on and the term that we social scientists use to describe. this is structural poverty.
you see and this affects not only the poor and the working class, but increasingly the middle class as well. you see and all this is going on, but at the same time the black community is it can be divided into people who live in the ghetto and those who live in the largest society again because of the incorporation process share housing and a whole host of civil rights laws that basically helped the black community expand and move into the largest society and yet the people who have been able to move into the largest society are still black and a lot of people who don't know any better confuse these people with people living together. so even though you're you you may be middle class. you may be a doctor. you may be a lawyer. you may be a professor as long as you have black spenal type. there are some white people who will associate you with the hood and so this the opposite of credibility at the same time.
i must say that that these changes that went on. we're really, you know, not possible without the support of white people and so over the years many many many many many white people have been very very supportive of these changes that you follow me. at the same time there were poor whites who felt that their own rights were being abrogated by the inclusion of black people and they resisted these changes if you will over the years this group that felt that their own rights are being abrogated by the inclusion of black people. this group has grown you say they've grown and number and in political influence and i might say they're saying that part of the issues that we face right now with the the republican party and others, you know, getting rid of the vote, you know ready to corrupt our political system some extent. this is related to these changes
that have been made and there's a peculiar kind of browning of america that people that some white people are very afraid of if you follow me so it's complicated what i'm saying, but the iconic ghetto is really important here because that's the place quote unquote for the black people live, but it's no longer just a physical space anymore. it's become iconic you say and so what that means is that it becomes this really major source of stereotype and prejudice and discrimination you say when you walk down the street as a black person a lot of people associate you with that ghetto long before they associate you with a middle class white space if you will. and this can be the policeman it can be the professor. it can be the doctor in the emergency room. it can be an employer. i mean you see and so the black person because of this dynamic moves about with this deficit of
credibility until he or she can disabuse people of the idea that their get a stereotypes apply to him or her and this puts emotion this this kind of a dance that some black people resent if you follow me, thank you. thank you for so thinking about sort of the role that that white communities have in in really shifting and transforming our society around its racist behaviors are racial sort of socialization. so we talked a little bit about grand valleys to university being a predominantly white institution one of our one of our guests. our viewers asked how how do universities like grand valley that are predominate white institutions create. so kind of twofold create more inclusive spaces for black faculty staff and students and what role do we have in educating our our students and faculty and staff are not black to to be supportive of some of the movements that we have around civil rights and inclusion for people of color.
i think it's important to show people to teach people that they have more in common with other people who seem so different superficially they have more in common with them than they supposed then they know if well in essence what we're talking about is education here. i think people need to be educated about the fact that we're all in this together, you know. and that and as martin luther king said so so powerfully we must judge people not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character, i think that's a really really important to do and yet so many people as i say because of the iconic ghetto so to speak what's complicates so much. i mean, they're ready to associate all black people with that space. i mean the webinars they're prejudices and put people in that place if you will and this is like a really tough situation you can imagine for the black
college student for the black lawyer the black doctor the lack professor. what have you you say because of the association with this this space and this is not to put people on the geto down, but it's just the dynamic is complicated because of the ways in which people are associated with space in our society iconography of the city. also has implications for how people are regarded if you will. thank you. so you mentioned in your one of your responses that as a ethnographer you participate in your own research in a lot of ways. so one of the viewers is asking if you're willing and i know you share a number of these stories in your in your book if you're willing to share any of your personal experiences and navigating and in white spaces where they're positive moments, of course where they're challenging moments that helped you reflect on how you're sharing this story in black and white spaces. absolutely. absolutely in the beginning of
the book. i talk about my own background. i was born in the mississippi delta on what used to be a plantation and my grandmother was the midwife. well that was born and my folks doing the war my dad my my mom and dad they all went to the to be to the cotton field. we all cotton, you know. but after the war my dad could see that he couldn't live in the south anymore. he'd been sees he'd been treated like a full human being he just didn't want that anymore and the north beckons and he and my mom and and i you know, we made our migration to south bend. he got a job at studebakers in the boundary. he had a fourth grade education and i was raised in south been there. and and with respect to the to my own upbringing this is like laid out and the very beginning of the book i talk about this track to south bend. i talk about my own childhood
there and one story that i don't put in the book, but it's so essential is the the experience of my mother when she worked as a cleaning lady and a in an appliance store on the outskirts of south bend and see was the only black person there and she would dust the appliances and not the floor and make the coffee and she got on very well with all these these people the white salesman and the the owner and all that and one day she had this bright idea because she didn't see black people coming and buying things and in the store and she had this idea that she could she could have her church people come, you know, she was an user in the church and very popular and she felt that she could after she after the date because it still was over the man and nine at night. and so she figured that between 5:30 and 9:00. she could be a sales lady, you know kind of thing and her friends could come in and by
appliances because they like tvs they like washing machines. they're like all these things, you know. and so she she approached the owner and he thought was a great idea. and so next thing i know as a as a 13 year old. my mom is having these cards made up, you know, and she's gonna be a sales elena and all that and she was so proud of herself and she did and she distributed the cards and her people began to come out to the place and buy tvs and buy appliances and and the the owner who was a very liberal person was very pleased with this until the white salesman began to complain so to speak, you know, and eventually he called my mother and had a talk with her and and she looked at him she was very candid in her very frank and she told him that john i didn't know you were like
that, you know, like what you know, she said prejudice, you know, i'm not the salesman and you know, anyway the upshot of it. all is that she had to stop. and and she was really she was really deflated by this whole experience, you know. i was 13 years old. i could see everything right there the whole story but it's the classic in moment. this this moment of acute disrespect that is is so powerful and it's the new color line so to speak, you know, and it's it's a very powerful thing, but she had to had to not be a sales lady anymore and she she had been such a such a spirit such a lively spirit around the place, you know, and she'd laugh at the jokes and talk about what was on tv last night and this kind of thing that kind of thing. but activists happens, she could no longer laugh at their jokes. jokes. she can no longer.
feel the same feeling that she had before and in about three weeks. she quit she quit, you know, she couldn't be there anymore. i say this because this is the kind of thing. i is the classic. in moments that moment of acute disrespect that you feel and these can be small, but they can be big the small ones black people, especially the middle class they deal with, you know, they don't i mean you can't just freak out over every little thing that happens to you. and so they put up with it and they deal with it, you know, but the big ones are more consequential the big ones are traumatic sometimes. the big ones can make you change your job. the big ones can get you fired. the big ones can get your written on the big ones can get you killed by the police using. and and this this this this this in moment. is the new american color line
we say and it's not as bold as it was say 50 60 70 years ago today. it's blurred because of all the popular changes that we've gone through but you can always hit that hit that third rail of race relations and be electrocuted if you will, you know, so that's kind of a personal experience that yet i have had but i again this is not in the book. but this is a this is something that a lot of black people, you know experience and they they share these these in moments with their friends. they share these end moments with everybody except white people the white people don't know about being moment. you see but every black person knows about the end movement this moment of a cuteness respect based on your blackness and this this causes black people to give the talk to their sons in the talk to their daughters to warn them about white people, you know, kind of thing, you know, because white
people can change up and become hostile so quickly, you know kind of thing again, they're a good white people. there are people who are racist and the mindset of black people the problem is knowing which is which you say as i said in my presentation and this comes out in the analysis and comes out in the interviews. i did i mean black people moved to white space. we expect to meet three kinds of white people. white people who mean them well and there plenty of those who do but also there are white people who don't mean them. well, you know and and the antenna on high alert to figure out who was who which is which you see and the third type of white person is the what white person who has no racial animus. he or she is just simply tolerant, you know, and this is probably most white people, but they're not really interested necessarily in really getting to know the black people when black people can feel this and see this and and basically
generalize sometimes if you will, but these this is all in the study. this is all in the book this this this way of navigating white space is all in the book from the point of of an ethnographer. as it were right. well, dr. aaron saying we're out of time for questions. i want to thank folks who have submitted questions what i would encourage you lots of your questions are answered in dr. anderson's most recent books. so, please please go out and get that. it's called black and white space and it will scott to your question as an educator. it will share some examples about how you can understand how black students may navigate whitespaces. so i do encourage you to read it. it's interesting read that dr. anderson shares a lot of his stories and experiences and also as i mentioned weeds in history and some of the the systemic issues that we see plug in our society today, so dr. -- and thank you so much for joining us. you're watching book tv with top nonfiction books and authors
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