Week 15 – Brooke Washington

Chapter 10:


Chapter 10 provides an overview of the circumstances African American families live with in the United States. As a result of the outcomes of slavery, government effort and initiatives, policy reform, socialization, education systems and many more African Americans are marginalized at higher rates than their counterparts of other races in America. These terms and situations can be understood as attributes of systemic racism. The prison system, education, and discrimination within the hiring process are more than enough to set blacks back economically, but unfortunately the chapter reminds us of many more variables within the state of our country. What can be done now is to better educate other races on the state of the situation. Even though many privileged people understand the issue their everyday lives are not affected in the same way so it’s much harder to initiate change by the people who are in positions of power. This is what it takes to help marginalized people escape their tribulations on a systemic level. An example of this working in the media recently is when white actresses refuse to be a part of films unless their black costars receive the pay that they deserve.


Exam Prep: 

1.The New Jim Crow refers to the “get-tough” sentencing policies, war on drugs, and concepts involving mass         incarceration in America. True/False?


2. What percentage of black immigrants arrived in the U.S. in 2000 or later?

a. 31%

b. 24%


d. 67%


3.  When deciding on bond amounts ICE does not have full discretion to set the amount based on facts such as a                    person’s fight risk, community ties, and criminal history. True/False


4. Which character is used as an approachable model for understanding the social construction of gender, based on              the input of thousands of voices over several decades?

a. The Easter Bunny

b.The Orientation Orangutan

c.The Spectrum Snake

d.The Genderbread Person


5. Black women disproportionately experience violence at home, at school, on the job, and in their neighborhoods.             True/False?



Course Evaluation:

  1. I like the awareness that this course brings to people who may not understand all the areas that systemic racism lives. Media has turned off many people from addressing social issues where it does not affect them, so this course is a good way to educationally inform without the bias of popular media.
  2. I honestly believe that the course is formatted well as an online course.
  3. Each week I enjoyed reading the articles for the blog posts, but it could feel redundant at times when writing about these topics and some of the themes overlap.
  4.  I wish I could have learned more about black individuals in politics and areas of government.
  5. I really enjoyed the supplemental materials on RamPages. Text books can be out of touch sometimes, so having the materials to base writings off helps a lot.
  6. Learning about black immigrants felt the most important to me personally, because the topic is so nuanced it can be easy to generalize even as an African American who is not from an immigrated family. I will especially remember the viewpoints and stories of the black people who shared their stories about being a part of the LGBTQ community, and the experiences of black women and mothers.
  7. Thank you so much for allowing students of all backgrounds the opportunity to become educated about marginalization. I think that an online course similar to this one should be offered for various families of ethnic backgrounds since VCU is so diverse.

Weel 11


My knowledge of black immigrants is substantial when comparing generally, but as an African American who is uncertain of their ethnic background, I’ve derived most of my knowledge from friends who are first generation immigrants of either the Caribbean or Africa. I do understand how diverse black American backgrounds are, and when talking to other black Americans or Americans of other races it can be obvious that there is a lack of knowledge about all the places black people live and immigrant from. There is always more to learn, but I like to think that I am about seventy percent there since I don’t have many first-hand interactions with black immigrant culture. Similar to any other group of immigrants, most leave their home counties in order to pursue opportunities that may not be tangible where they lived prior to immigrating.   



According the Pew Research Center, the black immigrant population has increased five-fold since 1980. The transatlantic slave trade caused there to be a large population of black immigrants involuntarily, but since the 16th century black migration had rapidly increased due to voluntary relocation as well. “Between 2000 and 2016, the black African immigrant population more than doubled, from 574,000 to 1.6 million. Africans now make up 39% of the overall foreign-born black population, up from 24% in 2000.” In 2016, 8% of blacks were second-generation Americans – meaning they were born in the U.S. but have at least one foreign-born parent, according to the Center’s analysis of the Census Bureau’s 2016 Current Population Survey. In total, black immigrants and their children make up roughly one-fifth (18%) of the overall black population in the U.S. 



Anti-Blackness in Immigration: 

Anti-Black rhetoric and policies within immigration discourse can be seen in the language that is used by natural citizens throughout history. Treating immigrants like the “other” translates into a similar attitude within the policies that are passed through the American government. For example, Western preferences for ‘white’ immigrant’s construct ‘whites’’ position at the top of two intersecting hierarchical systems: one a racial system, and the other a hierarchy of nations that some refer to as the world system. Whiteness is not shaped in isolation, for the processes that construct the top construct a hierarchies’ bottom (Bashi 1998, Winant 2001) Cultural and biological arguments have been used in America’s history in order to make blackness seem inadequate, and as other groups of immigrants such as Asians no longer were a priority of discrimination black immigrants shifted to the primary focus. The language of national quotas did not specifically deny black entry in the 1920s, but scientific racism was used to deny entry to all ‘inferior races’ on grounds that ‘immigrants’ poor performance [was attributable] to Negroid strains inherent in their biological character’ (Wang 1975, p. 61).  


Vilna Bashi (2004) Globalized anti-blackness: Transnationalizing Western immigration law, policy, and practice, Ethnic and Racial Studies, 27:4, 584-606, DOI: 10.1080/01491987042000216726 


Final Thoughts: 

The mission statement of the UndocuBlack Network claims a multigenerational network of currently and formerly undocumented Black people that fosters community, facilitates access to resources and contributes to transforming the realities of our people, so we are thriving and living our fullest lives. Immigrant rights and racial justice for African American and black immigrants is the focus of BAJI, which stands for The Black Alliance for Just Immigration. Alliances such as these two help communities of black immigrants organize their goals and educate themselves on policy.  


From this week I gained a better knowledge about the numbers of black immigrants that live in the United States. The rate of immigration in recent years stood out to me compared to prior decades. I also enjoyed learning about unions of blacks who are fighting for their rights as both immigrants and people of color.  

Week 10

Top Ten Facts

  1. 71 percent of African-Americans in same-sex couples are employed compared to 68 percent of their counterparts in different-sex couples
  1. According to the Public Religion Research Institute, support for marriage equality increased from 23 percent to 38 percent among Black Protestants between 2013 and 2014.
  1. Approximately 3.7 percent of all African Americans identify as LGBT, with 84,000 African Americans living in same-sex couples and roughly a third of those couples raising children.
  1. It is more likely that a member of an African American same-sex couple will have a college degree than a member of a heterosexual African American couple — 41 percent versus 33 percent
  1. African American females in same-sex couples are three times more likely to enter the military than non-LGBT counterparts — nine percent versus only three.
  1. Between 2 million and 3.7 million children under age 18 have an LGBTQ parent, and approximately 200,000 of them are being raised by a same-sex couple. Many of these children are being raised by a single LGBTQ parent or by a different-sex couple where one parent is bisexual.
  1. Nearly 1.1 million LGBTQ people in the U.S. are married to someone of the same-sex. That means, there are more than 547,000 married same-sex couples nationwide.
  1. LGBTQ people and same-sex couples are more likely to foster and adopt than their non-LGBTQ counterparts. Same-sex couples are six times more likely to foster children, and at least 4 times more likely to adopt
  1. More than a third of same-sex couples raising children are racial or ethnic minorities – approximately 12% are African American and 15% Latinx.
  1. Nearly one in five children being raised by same-sex couples (24%) live in poverty compared to 14% of children being raised by different-sex couples.



Intersectional oppressions exist for African American members of LGBTQ community widely. Classism commonly intersects with other oppressions faced within the community. Studies show overall higher unemployment rates (15 percent v. 12 percent) and lower proportions with a college degree (23 percent v. 26 percent) among LGBT African-Americans, when compared to their non-LGBT counterparts. Transphobia is also an area where intersectional oppression thrives. Attitudes towards transgender people from both queer and “cishet” people are reflected in the lack of transgender elected officials. Unlike gay and lesbian officials which have little but some representation in our government, transgendered people have not been given the opportunity to break those barriers.



1.Audre Lorde graduated from Hunter college in 1959 and began exploring her lesbian identity son thereafter. As the feminist movement of the 1960s gained speed she soon became a leader who advocated for the rights of black women whose concerns were often disregarded among common feminist discussions. Lorde went on to write nine novels of poetry and feminist writings.

2. James Baldwin is celebrated as a member of American LGBT history. He had a passion for writing, and his most famous novels include Go Tell It on the Mountain, Giovanni’s Room, Tell Me How Long the Train Has Been Gone and Another Country. The latter two deal with homosexual and bisexual characters in their plots.


Shanice and Angelita Howard were featured on the Huffington Post as one of six queer couples who defined black love in their own way. What we learn from this couple is that an individual who may not identify themselves as a member of the LGBT community can still form meaningful, romantic relationships with members of the same-sex. These two women were not initially attracted to one another, but as time went on, they realized that they complement one another. They defined black love as “an unconditional, patient, supportive, spiritual, unstoppable love that can weather any storm.”

Transgender Youth

In reflecting on the video about black parents raising a transgender son I enjoyed the mother discussing her initial thoughts in terms of what her sons statement meant to her. She explained how she had to shift her mindset in order to be more open to what her child was going through.



The intersectional oppression that occurs within the LGBTQ community is what struck me the most throughout this week’s readings. It is unfortunate to learn that marginalized groups of people commit the same oppressions against those are oppressed by transphobia, ableism, and more. Those of us who have family structures that are within the 60 percent should make life easier for one another and try to unlearn practices and attitudes that are damaging to families that we can learn from.

Week 9

“They were fathers, vulnerable and present, and their lives were full and important. None of this fullness, however, was reflected in mainstream media or the broader culture. These men, in the context of fatherhood, were almost invisible.” The author of “Fathers”, Robyn Price Pierre, states her personal experiences and memories of black men in comparison the image spread by the media, or lack thereof in this case. For many people the stereotype of the invisible black father is something they cannot relate to their personal lives. Similar to Robyn, lots of mothers and children have great relationships with their fathers, and even though this is true the behaviors from the general public when they see a black family engaging with a present father reveal the true attitudes that exist.  

“The divorce rate is 49% in the US, buts it’s only black dads that are painted as deadbeats. We have allowed society to say that we are absentee fathers, when in fact, we are just as dedicated to our children as white fathers.” The 100 Black Dads project features similar quotes like this one from a man named Tim that describe what it’s like to be a black father. Statistics prove modern myths false all the time, but it is hard to bring the truth to light when there is much effort put in by the media and systemic racism to cripple black fathers and claim them as less than fathers of other races.  

Structural racism in relation to black fathers can be seen in the disproportional sentencing of black men to prisons compared to other men.” Once convicted, black offenders receive longer sentences compared to white offenders. The U.S. Sentencing Commission stated that in the federal system black offenders receive sentences that are 10 percent longer than white offenders for the same crimes. The Sentencing Project reports that African Americans are 21 percent more likely to receive mandatory-minimum sentences than white defendants and are 20 percent more like to be sentenced to prison[4].” The Southern Coalition website gives many statistics like this one that prove black men are serving more time for the same offences. Convictions that result in prison time cause so much harm to the family structure, and the results of this statistic have a huge effect on the number of black women that are single parents as well.  Despite all of this hard evidence, the myth continues because on average members of society are consuming more non-scholarly media than content that can be proven true. For people who hold racist stereotypes as truthful, the media makes it very easy to keep those harmful ideas alive, and so they persist. Systemic racism also thrives within law enforcement and various sectors of government, so with that people in powerful positions are allows to judge and affect black families based on the stereotypes and myth that they believe to be true.  

As an American, and especially African American, it is important to never forget the policies and ethics that this country was built on and constantly works to keep lawful. The legacy of slavery has disrupted the black family in so many ways, and even though they are not always as blatant as the separation of families during slavery, they work now in a manner that is easier to overlook and because of this lots of people will still negate facts about loving and involved black fathers. In the readings from this week, there were common themes of what black fathers found necessary to tell their young children as they live their lives. The talk is not only necessary in times of extreme police brutality, but many men discussed teaching their kids how to behave in front of authority figures and when in public. Large media never really talks about this side of black families until something tragic has happened, but it is important to start showing the effects of racism so that myths can be debunked. Essentially, the news serves only those in power anyways, so it is important as a citizen to understand this and do research that is truthful.  


Week 8

1. Kimberle Crenshaw was the first sociologist to coin the term intersectionality and bring light to the particular discriminations that black women face compared to other minorities. The awareness of police brutality was sparked by encounters between black men and law enforcement. While this awareness by the public and social activists is necessary, many people used these injustices of black men to spark rage and concern while completely masking the wrongful encounters that black women have with the police. Crenshaw is in favor of the SayHerName movement and believes that it sheds a light on the untold narratives of women experiencing civil unrest in their lives.

Tarana Burke sparked the Me Too movement and found the inspiration ten years before she was able to create resources that helped victims. In order to help sexual assault and harassment victims she created a nonprofit organization that eventually sparked the widespread hashtag which brought awareness to the issue. Throughout promotion of the Me Too movement, black and Latina women critiqued white feminism that left out the voices and concerns of black women among others. This movement initiated by Burke gave black women a chance to be a part of something traditional feminism kept them out of.

2. IPV stands for intimate partner violence. Within black families and relationships, it is extremely prevalent, and seen at higher levels compared to other races. The race, gender, and class paradigm exists largely in matters of IPV in which women of African descent are involved. In studies of IPV with women, it has been found that black, lower class, females are disproportionally victims. Whether the abuse be physical, emotional, sexual, or psychological it is a form of degradation by partners.


3. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the annual murder rate for Americans ages 15 to 34 is about one in 12,000. But an investigation by the news organization Mic found that for black transgender women in the same age group, the rate was one in 2,600.

44 percent of lesbians and 61 percent of bisexual women experience rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner, compared to 35 percent of heterosexual women

2 percent of bisexual women have been raped by an intimate partner, compared to 9 percent of heterosexual women

Among people of color, American Indian (65%), multiracial (59%), Middle Eastern (58%), and Black (53%) respondents of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey were most likely to have been sexually assaulted in their lifetime

The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey found that 47% of transgender people are sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetime.

46 percent of bisexual women have been raped, compared to 17 percent of heterosexual women and 13 percent of lesbians


4. The story of Malissa Williams is just as devastating as the other wrongful instances of police brutality in the United States. I chose her story, because of the gruesome manner that she and a man faced in Cleveland during 2012. A police officer thought that he heard gunshots coming from the car that she was a passenger of and insisted on following her and her friend for 25 minutes, according to local news. Not only did this officer’s thoughts result in a high-speed chase involving over a dozen other police cars. WIlliams was corned and over 137 bullets were fired at their car killing both herself and the driver. This instance in particular deserves a highlight, because it shows the way that officers treat minorities as sub-human. Neither one of the passengers of her vehicle were armed, and yet they were shot at more times than when white offenders actually threaten law enforcement. This case is one of the extremely rare instances of an officer receiving a manslaughter charge, which still cannot impose enough justice on the situation for the loss of a life that was taken wrongfully.


5. Though as a black woman I will never forget the way people who look like me are treated by officers, this week’s readings reminded me to never forget the humans whose lives were taken too soon and often without reconciliation. It is easy to forget the wrongs that our society masks daily when we are all living our lives and focusing on matters that we find personal but taking a few moments to at the very least acknowledge issues within our country such as these would serve everyone better. Taking a course on violence against women taught me about the lessons we learned in our IPV readings this week. Those lessons help me understand the context of the race, gender, and class paradigm more efficiently. Seeing the numbers of all the black women who die without acknowledgment or justice always strikes me, especially when statistics reveal the true size of the problem.

Week 7 Blog


Patricia Hill Collins is arguably the most notable theorist in terms of intersectionality and feminism, and prior to her discussion and theoretical analyses feminism did not consider the experiences of women of color, specifically for African American women. This meaning that the majority of feminist theory prior has been produced from the experiences of white women who are usually educated or racially in a position of power, and it is produced for other white women in order to construct progressive movements that technically exclude the issues of black feminism. Key points in describing the discussion of the black mother’s standpoint are the themes of addressing race, gender, and class as they intersect and effect the institutions of economics and politics. The mammy, jezebel, and welfare mother are all archetypes discussed by Collins where stereotypes are used to oppress black mother’s in various spaces of society. Due to racial history of African Americans and modern oppressions like mass incarceration, black women must be “super” mothers and wear a brave face throughout the already challenging experience of raising children while facing these obstacles. “Othermothers” refers to the addition of family infrastructure by any woman helping raise or mentor children whom are not their own biologically. Whether short or long-term, othermothers are simply classified as someone who provides care for children and offers lessons of ethics, teaching, and often community service.  


“Stepping out of the realm of Black discourse reveals that far too many Black men who praise their own mothers feel less accountable to the mothers of their daughters and sons.” 

I chose this quote because I think it speaks to the multifaceted layers of oppression experienced by black women, and specifically mothers. Apart from the oppression they get outside of their community, there still exists discriminations from black men within their community which forces them to play the role of super mothers in order to make up for the support that is lost in these relationships with black men. 

“Every trial I endured, every sacrifice I made for their sakes, drew them closer to my heart, and gave me fresh courage.”  

This quote appears to be an example of the strength approach, because the speaker is a black woman who is internalizing her trials as a mother as something that makes her stronger. This is something that black women often must do and though it is not a bad thing that she feels courage from her sacrifices, it is unfortunate that she as an individual is often forced to see the brighter side of her adversity in order to survive.  



Welfare has many racialized myths surrounding it, because it provides ammunition for racist policy makers and elements of economics that thrive off structures of oppression. By painting African Americans as the majority of welfare recipients’ even though they are not, members of other races can justify the discrimination of minorities and therefore become the victim in situations where they may see fit in order to push certain agendas and laws.  


This photo represents the stigma around welfare recipients, and the common idea that tax payers are supporting lazy members of society who have no intentions of getting or keeping a job. Many people on welfare have jobs, but the nature of our economy does not provide much stability to people who work for minimum wage or larger families. Even well qualified people face struggles trying to get a job, and qualified minorities are less likely to be hired over qualified white applicants. These are a couple of explanations that explain the common myth depicted in this photo.  



  • Black women are 243 percent more likely to die from pregnancy- or childbirth-related causes 
  • black women were two to three times more likely to die than white women who had the same condition. 
  • Black mothers in the U.S. die at three to four times the rate of white mothers 
  • The disproportionate toll on African-Americans is the main reason the U.S. maternal mortality rate is so much higher than that of other affluent countries 
  • Black expectant and new mothers in the U.S. die at about the same rate as women in countries such as Mexico and Uzbekistan, the World Health Organization estimates. 


Black women in mass incarceration have even harsher statistics when it comes to childbirth as an inmate. As read in a case study from the “Black Mothers Respond…” article, it is common for black women from all socioeconomic levels to fee brushed off and offered lower amounts of empathy from their health-care providers during pregnancy.  



Black mothers are inherently a source of strength since they must first overcome issues presented in healthcare to successfully have your children healthily. Throughout raising their children, they must address social conversations about prejudice such as “the talk” when their kids are only young children. My reading and research from this week allow me to apply a better understanding of the intersectionality of oppression, that I as a black woman can use to inform and protect myself throughout life and as a sociologist.  








Week 5 Blog Post


The themes of many of my quotes relate to the idea that racism is something that is learned and not innately within us as humans. Throughout different spaces in society it can seem like certain beliefs we hold as individuals have always been within us. In reality, many of the negative behaviors we see on a daily basis are learned, and can therefore become unlearned with some effort and reflection. Many black and brown people are demonized and hyper-sexualized before they reach adult hood, and in order for a change to occur it begins with first acknowledging these ideas rather than holding them as concrete.

As someone who has been discriminated against I put a lot of effort towards being sure that I do not do the same to others who are different than me. Lots of times communities who are discriminated against by the out-group commit these same discriminatory practices within their in-group. For example colorism and classism are often done to minorities by minorities, and it is important to acknowledge and address this behavior as well as the types of racism that are the most visible in our society. Quotes help package some of these concepts in a form that is short and simple, which really allows us as members of society the opportunity to digest our reality further.

Week 4 – Brooke Washington

Though every statistic from this week’s quote under investigation is based in truth, to someone who is not educated on the political and economic factors that yielded these results they can be very damaging and promote the idea that there is a hereditary inadequacy in African American families. The Race, Gender, and Class Paradigm is one of the best theoretical approaches when studying black families, because it encompasses many of the factors that contribute to the stats from this week’s quote. “Why Marriage Isn’t for Black Women” by Drayton is the personal account of a young, single black mother who fits into many of the suggesting framings of the quote even though she beat the odds in finding a partner that she loves. Unfortunately, in a world where black is seen as subpar by other races there still exists a hierarchy even within the black community based on race, class, and gender. The author explains the situation of one of her girlfriends where her husband cheated on her and conceived a child with another woman. The husband explained how he found the child conceived out of wed-lock to be more desirable, because it would be mixed. As we have discussed, the concept of race is a social construct. This fact proves to be true when it comes to individual’s ideas on what they find best for their future kids. That being said it is not rare for black men to find relations with black women undesirable, and vice versa, because they do not want a child who is perceived to be fully black regardless of their race. This can be seen as a product of white supremacy, and the Critical Race theory explains how racism and colorism are pervasive in the dominant culture.  

The class portion of the paradigm is evident in the way that the system works to marginalize the poor and especially lower-class people of color. Drayton describes her financial situation and compares her financial burden when she is single and if she got married. In every situation, marrying her partner who she loves would increase their debts by hundreds or thousands of dollars. The government institutions of healthcare and employment rates are designed in favor of whites, and the effects that this has on blacks is extremely damaging to the dynamic that would be most ideal in a perfect world. Being a single mother is trait that society frowns upon, yet when you look at the facts it is much more practical to remain unmarried because of the intersectional disadvantage’s blacks face in every aspect of their lives.  

The author of the article mentioned how her partner stated that all his male peers were “either dead or locked up” and the significance of that statement is evident in the amount of black men who are incarcerated or who have early deaths as a part of the violence crisis. Paired with race and class, being a man who is already on the unfavored side of the first two paradigms result in a much harsher reality when it comes to living in a racist society. Mix the three together and the results are even more crucial than when they do not exist together. The worst part of this article is that she overcame many of the obstacles that black couples face, and yet her reality was still not in favor of getting married due to economic disadvantages organized historically by those in power.   

Week 2 -Brooke W- Structural Racism

Structural Racism, Defined–  

Institutional and structural racism go hand in hand in my opinion. When the higher political powers of society control the economic structures of a group of people, they are able to impose a specific set of beliefs that are either explicit or implicit in the effects that they have on marginalized people. It is evident in the treatment of people of color within schools, hospitals, jails, and the overall management of institutions that certain groups of people were meant to be excluded or treated differently than those in power who set up these conditions. For example, redlining and denying black people housing loans creates geographical structures that are motivated by race and have consequences for people of color and the poor.  


Two Quotes 

“Even though African American families had a larger percentage increase in net worth than white families between 2013 and 2016, the average wealth gap grew because white families’ wealth in 2013 was so much greater than African Americans’ wealth. Average wealth increased about 35 percent for African Americans in that time frame, compared with 28 percent for white families.”   


This quote does a great job of putting structural racism into perspective, because even though African Americans have increased their wealth at higher rates than other races the structure of economics still proves that the wealth gap exists in favor of whites.  

“Systemic racism persists in our schools, offices, court system, police departments, and elsewhere. Why? Think about it: when white people occupy most positions of decision-making power, people of color have a difficult time getting a fair shake, let alone getting ahead.” 


Ben & Jerry’s did an exceptional job of explaining why structural racism persists, and I like this quote because they are simply an ice cream company, yet they are informing the general public on issues within society. Wealth, employment, criminal justice, healthcare, and surveillance are only some of the topics with which they proved structural racism to be true.  


Three Facts 

1) Healthcare 

  • A 2012 study found that a majority of doctors have “unconscious racial biases” when it comes to their black patients. Black Americans are far more likely than whites to lack access to emergency medical care.  
  • Even black doctors face discrimination: they are less likely than their similarly credentialed white peers to receive government grants for research projects. 
  • Facing a lifetime of racism leaves African Americans vulnerable to developing stress-related health issues that can lead to chronic issues later in life. 
  • Several medical journals have just published guidelines for doctors with titles like “Dealing with Racist Patients” and “The Discriminatory Patient and Family: Strategies to Address Discrimination Towards Trainees.” 


  • The black unemployment rate has been consistently twice that of whites over the past 60 years, no matter what has been going on with the economy (whether it’s been up or down).
  • Blacks with college degrees are twice as likely to be unemployed as all other graduates.
  • Job applicants with white-sounding names get called back about 50% more of the time than applicants with black-sounding names, even when they have identical resumes.
  • Since 2011, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission [EEOC] has received over 45,000 complaints that are directly related to racial discrimination.


  • Blacks make up 13% of the population, yet they represent about 40% of the prison population.
  • If a black person and a white person each commit a crime, the black person has a better chance of being arrested.
  • Laws assigned much harsher sentences for using or possessing crack, for example, compared to cocaine.
  • Finally, when black people are convicted, they are about 20% more likely to be sentenced to jail time, and typically see sentences 20% longer than those for whites who were convicted of similar crimes.


This is What Structural Racism Feels Like 


I am choosing to expand on this portion of structural racism, because it effects so many aspects of the black family dynamic. Not only does it impact the entire family and leave the children with less of a support system, but it also has a great impact on dating for African American women. This fact disturbs the culture of African American’s in the United States greatly, as we have the highest incarceration rate of all developed nations.  

Women suffer greatly when men are incarcerated, and the stress that this has on black communities is evident in the behavior of some members. I selected this topic, because the treatment of black inmates inside jails in especially detrimental to their health and has effects on their personal lives even if they are released from the prison system. Though the public has been made aware of this issue, the laws and legislation of the thirteenth amendment that were reinforced and protected throughout the War on Drugs is and can affect the black community for generations in a similar manner to slavery.  


SOCY 305- Week 3- Brooke W

Part 1: 

When defining family, Hattery and Smith offer a variety of definitions that encompass a broad range of family structures, offering a specific definition with which a broad range of people can claim. My personal association with the word family most closely relates to the fifth definition: “Family is a set of people whom you love.” Though this seems excessively general at first thought, I relate to this the most because my family are the only people who I can love in a certain unconditional way. For example, there is nothing my family has said or done that caused me to voluntarily lose contact with them for a long period of time out of spite. Regardless of intense arguments or hard times, I am always interested in having a relationship with them. Of course, I do love the close friends that I have in my life, but I would be inclined to cut ties with those relationships much quicker than family if I felt as if they were becoming increasingly negative or unhealthy. Therefore, I believe that I only love my family in this unconditional respect.  

“Family is a set of people with whom you share social, physical, and/or financial support” is a definition that I realized I don’t like, because I feel like this can apply to any close friend or partner regardless of how much you love them. The version of family that I related to the least is “people with whom you live with”, because many people that I associate with including myself do not live with the people they would consider to be their family. Even within some homes of biological family members I believe that an individual may not consider them to be family solely for that reason if someone else has supported and loved them more throughout their life.  


Part 2: 

Race has been a social construct long throughout history as we look at hierarchies throughout Europe, and colonization of cultures all around the world. Vox’s 11 Ways that Race Isn’t Real first mentions that “Americans embraced the idea of race to make slavery okay.” I believe that this is true for many countries, because slaves were mostly chosen based on societies definition of an inferior race, or by levels of wealth. Race has no biological basis, because it is defined by stereotypical characteristics attributed to our idea of a specific group of people. In reality, the people who are biologically tied to a race have physical characteristics that vary from those stereotypical attributes. An example of race being socially constructed is seen when we look at Europeans pre-Industrial Revolution compared to after. Before thousands of European immigrants came to America there was a hierarchy based on different ethnicities, and certain nationalities within Europe were socially seen as superior to others. Once immigrants from nations all over Europe came to this country for the Revolution, they primarily identified as white and people of color then became inferior with the rise of slavery. Another example is when people ask me “what are you?” Throughout my entire life I have been asked what specific country I am from, because some members of society do not understand how someone with a deep skin tone can have non-stereotypical African- American facial features. When I say I am black, I am often met with looks of confusion or lack of satisfaction in my answer, which shows that there was an expectation of certain characteristics. Clearly race is a social construct, because there is much confusion when someone does not look like the most socially prevalent members of their race.

 This photo explains how race causes some of the largest consequences in our world, but the phenomena is not concrete by any scientific means.  


Here is a photo of set of twins born in the UK who, despite their physical appearance, share replicas of the same DNA. This is an example of how science is not able to explain why certain people are born with specific features. Du to the differences in their looks, one is often viewed as white and the other as black.


Part 3: 

The three theoretical frameworks are the strength approach, sociology pathology approach, and the race, class, and gender paradigm approach. The strength approach focuses on the resilience of black families at different stages. Robert Hill is the theorist who describes how “blacks constitute adaptations necessary for survival and advancement in a hostile environment.” Strong kinship bonds, strong work orientation, and the adaptability of family roles are all elements of the strength approach.  

Durkheim is a prominent social pathology theorist, and this approach is attributed to the black family due to the nature of African American history and the sociological effects that are left as a result. Essentially, this theory describes how social factors such as higher incarceration rates, discrimination, old age, and poverty lead to social disorganization within a community. Many elements of this disorganization are inherited and subconscious, which make it especially difficult to overcome these faults as a group. 

Lastly, the intersectionality of race, class, and gender form a paradigm that describes how each factor affects spaces in society and result in different yet related inequalities. This theory originated in the last quarter of the twentieth century, and as cultures attempted to assimilate to the highest structures they are often met with various short comings in relation to race, class, and gender. The framework that I like the most is the strength approach, because it talks about positive attributes within the black community despite all the negative events that have occurred throughout history.  


Part 4:  

A prominent social issue facing black families today is the rate of intimate partner violence amongst black women. Black women are killed at higher rates than any other race in society, and this issue takes more lives than that of HIV/AIDs. The media makes it very evident that it is less of a tragedy in society when black women go missing, especially compared to their white counterparts.  

The race, gender, and class paradigm can very effectively approach this issue, because the value of women is already seen as lower than men socially. A woman of a lower class is seen on an even lesser scale, so when you add the racialized component of what it means to be a black woman it becomes evident why society seems to not even bat an eye at this social issue. Throughout slavery black women were seen as jezebels and inseminated in inhumane ways, and it seems that the disrespect that was born in that era has had longevity throughout history since that time period.  

This same idea can be used by the social pathology theory. Elements of the disorganization in regard to black women and how she was stripped away from her family then bought by men who would abuse and rape her have scarred the group as a whole. Even if an individual has not encountered any of this in her personal life, the rates of violence against black women show how society views her and even within the black community these behaviors have persisted as black women assimilate to being able to join the work force and accumulate wealth for themselves.  

The strength theory can explain the resilience of black women throughout troubling times, and even as these boundaries are placed it seems that black women still find ways to overcome and have been making strides in education as well as the work force.  

Race, class, and gender approach would be the best in described this social issue. It looks at the intersectionality of the problem, and helps discover which attributes cause society to treat individuals worse than others.