Category Archives: SOCY305-2016

Jailyn Williams Week 16b SOCY305

What has changed since the collapse of Jim Crow has less to do with the basic structure of our society than with the language we use to justify it. In the era of colorblindness, it is no longer socially permissible to use race, explicitly, as a justification for discrimination, exclusion, and social contempt. Rather than rely on race, we use our criminal justice system to label people of color “criminals” and then engage in all the practices we say we left behind. Today it is perfectly legal to discriminate against criminals in nearly all the ways that it once was legal to discriminate against African Americans. Once you are a felon, the old forms of discrimination –employment, housing, denial of the right to vote, denial of educational opportunity, denial of food stamps and other public benefits, and exclusion from jury service –are suddenly legal. The author claims that we have not ended racial caste in American, we have merely redesigned it.

Studies show that people of all colors use and sell illegal drugs at similar rates. Whites, particularly white youth, are more likely to engage in drug crime than people of color. Drug crime was declining, not rising, when the drug war was declared. The lack of correlation between crime and punishment is nothing new. Governments decide how much punishment they want, and these decisions are in no way related to crime rates. Although crime rates in the United States has not been markedly higher than those of other Western countries, incarceration has soared in the United States while it has remained stable or declined in other countries.

The American penal system has emerged as a system of social control unparalleled in world history. The primary targets of its control can be defined largely by race. The National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals, which issued a recommendation in 1973 that “no new institutions for adults should be built and existing institutions for juveniles should be closed. This recommendation was based on their finding that “the prison, the reformatory and the jail have achieved only a shocking record of failure. There is overwhelming evidence that these institutions create crime rather than prevent it.” The attention of civil rights advocates has been largely devoted to other issues, such as affirmative action. The struggle to preserve affirmative action in higher education, and maintain diversity in the nations most elite colleges and universities, has consumed much of the attention and resources of the civil rights community and dominated racial justice discourse in the mainstream media, leading the general public to believe that affirmative action is the main battlefront in U.S race relations –even as our prisons fill with black and brown men.

Far from fading away, it appears that prisons are here to stay. And despite the unprecedented levels of incarceration in the African American community, the civil rights community is oddly quiet. One in three young African American men is currently under the control of the criminal justice system –in prison, in jail, on probation, or on parole –yet mass incarceration tends to be categorized as a criminal justice issue as opposed to a racial issue or civil rights issue.

What is key to understanding Americas understanding of class is the persistent belief –despite all evidence to the contrary –that anyone, with the proper discipline and drive, can move from a lower class to a higher class. We recognize that mobility may be difficult, but the key to our collective self image is that the assumption that mobility is always possible, so failure to move up reflects on one’s character. By extension, the failure of a race or ethnic group to move up reflects very poorly on the group as a whole. The recent decisions by some state legislatures, most notably New York’s, to repeal or reduce mandatory drug sentencing laws have led some to believe that the system of racial control is fading away. This is not true. Many of the states that have reconsidered their harsh sentencing schemes have done so not out of concern for the lives and families that have been destroyed by these laws or racial dimensions of the drug war, but out of concern for busting states budgets in a time of economic recession.

This book is intended to stimulate a much needed conversation about the role of the criminal justice system in creating and perpetrating racial hierarchy in the United States. The fate of millions of people –indeed the future of the black community itself –may depend on the willingness of those who care about racial justice to re-examine their basic assumptions about the role of the criminal justice system in our society.

Jailyn Williams Week 16 SOCY 305

The U.S prison population, incarceration in all types of institutions from county jails to the new supermax prisons, has grown exponentially. Jails exist to fill three primary functions. Jails hold inmates who 1. Are awaiting trail and either cannot make bail or have been denied bail, 2. Are required to make a court appearance for any reason –this is because jails are connected to court-houses, whereas prisons generally are not; and 3. Are serving sentences of 364 days or less. Prisons are administered at both the state and federal level. State prisons hold inmates who 1. Are convicted of state crimes in that state; 2. Have sentences of more than 1 year; and 3. Are of all custody levels: minimum, medium, maximum, and death row. Private prisons are administered by corporations. The largest, Corrections Association of America (CAA), trades on the New York Stock Exchange. In 2005, CAA’s total revenues were $1.2 billion.

“Total Institutions” was coined by Goffman. The definition of total institutions is “their encompassing or total character is symbolized by the barrier to social intercourse with the outside and to departure that is often built right into the physical plant, such as locked doors, high walls, barbed wire, cliffs, water forests, or moors.” The central feature of total institutions can be described as a breakdown of the barriers ordinarily separating these three spheres of life. Goffman identifies four specific features of total institutions: First, all aspects of life are conducted in the same place and under the same central authority. Second, the members daily activity is carried on in the company of a large group of others who are treated alike and do the same things. Third, all phases of the day’s activities are tightly scheduled and finally, various enforced activities are brought together into a single rational plan designed to fulfill the official aims of the institution.

Richard Nixon added the position of “Drug Czar” to the president’s executive office. The war on drugs was no so much about criminalizing substances, it was about putting stiffer sentencing guidelines that required 1. Longer sentences, 2. Mandatory minimums, and 3. Moving some drug offenses from the misdemeanor category to the felony category, and 4. Instituting the “Three Strikes You’re Out” policy. Currently, 450,000 of the more than 2 million inmates (45%) in state and federal prison are incarcerated for nonviolent drug offenses. Whites implicitly or explicitly, benefit from the mass incarceration of African Americans. One benefit is that the high levels of incarceration effectively remove these men from the competitive labor force, upon release, they are disenfranchised in the political system. Thus, whites can hoard jobs and political power for themselves. Second, advantage can accrue to communities. The number of prisons as well as the locating of prisons in industrialized communities and rural communities is an economic advantage that accrues to whites in the form of jobs –as prison staff –and in terms of building contracts and other services that are necessary when a town builds a prison.

Women constitute 6%-10% of the prison population, or of the 2.6 million Americans who are incarcerated, 150,000 or so are women. Gender differences in incarceration are primarily related to reproductive health, childbearing, and childrearing. Of the 2.6 million Americans who are incarcerated, one million are African American. Nearly 1 out of 3 African American men will be incarcerated during their lifetimes. African American men and women have much higher rates of incarceration than any other racial/ethnic group, especially when compared to the rates for white Americans. There are many beliefs, myths, and stereotypes that are invoked to explain these differences. African Americans commit more crime is one of them. However, just as African Americans are disproportionately likely to commit certain crimes, whites are disproportionately likely to commit others. Another popular stereotype is that African Americans Mothers Are Crack heads. It targets poor African American mothers by saying that they are addicted to both welfare and crack. As a result, they are treated more harshly by social service agencies and the criminal justice system when they do use drugs. Stereotypes such as this are powerful in shaping the kinds of behavior that affect the overall incarceration rates of African Americans and whites.

Another myth is about the unregulated nature of African American male sexuality. This myth led to the widespread belief that African American men were propelled toward the desire to rape white women. Because whites believed this, the protection of white women fell to white men and it was a duty that they took seriously. Thousands of African American men were accused of raping white women, but they were lynched by mobs long before they were ever tried in court. The power of this accusation without the requirement of evidentiary support provided the justification for the vast majority of the lynching’s of 10,000 African American men during the time period of 1880 and 1930.

Jailyn Williams Week 15 SOCY305

Poverty is one of the most important and pressing issues facing African American families. Poverty shapes many of the experiences of African Americans, from their experiences with marriage and childbearing, to violence in their intimate relationships, to their experiences with health and health care, and finally, to their experiences with education. Wages are the primary source of income for individuals and families. Yet income is only part of the equation when we consider access to the American Dream (via wealth). Wage workers are generally more familiar with their income in terms of dollars per hour, whereas salaried and professional employees are generally more familiar with their income expressed as their monthly salary.Wealth is the total value of one’s assets minus the cumulation of one’s debts. The problem with the way that wealth has been measured in the past is because the median income measure masks the incredible disparity at the top of the income distribution.

Occupations remain highly race and sex segregated, and that one of the most important and significant outcomes of occupational segregation, resulting from legacy, blocked access, discrimination, and inadequate preparation, educational attainment, is disparities in income. The difference in median household income for African Americans and whites is 62%. African Americans are twice as likely to be poor as whites. This is because of the history of slavery and Jim Crow segregation, whites have been able to work in the professions, build businesses, and accumulate wealth over several hundred years. Whereas African Americans have been able to do so only recently. Second, among the affluent who work for a living – the professional classes –as opposed to those living on an inheritance –African Americans are more likely to have come from lower and middle-class backgrounds than their white counterparts, and thus, they have had to personally invest more in preparing for entry into their professions.

The explanation for the difference of wealth verses welfare between African Americans and Whites lies in the predatory lending practices that target the poor and, disproportionately, African Americans. Poor African Americans hold, on average, $57 in assets compared to $24,000 (a gap of 420 times) held by their white counterparts. Because the poor live on the proverbial economic edge, living paycheck to paycheck, any emergency, be it medical, a layoff, a short trip to jail, or even something as routine as having to miss a shift at work because the baby-sitter is sick, can plunge these families over the edge, into homelessness. Many African American families live every day with severe threats to their very existence.

There are four key components to the “American Dream” 1. Owning a single family home, 2. Being able to afford quality child care, 3. Being able to afford a college education for one’s children, and 4. Being able to afford full health insurance. The dream that was within reach of working Americans during the 20th century is out of reach for all but the affluent in the 21st century. Through much of the 20th century, working families, even those working at the bottom of the salary ladder, could afford a portion of what they call the American Dream. A conscientious working family could achieve the American Dream in 1973 by taking on a few extra hours at work, saving carefully, and so on. Today, the typical working-class family living on two minimum wage incomes earns less than half of what is necessary to achieve the American Dream. The inability to buy into the American Dream, especially buying a home, has significant consequences for wealth attainment.

Homeownership is one of the most important elements of the American Dream because it is so central to the definition of the American Dream and because it is one of the most common forms of wealth. Disparities in rates of homeownership are a powerful illustration of differential access to the American Dream. African Americans face discrimination with regard to access housing. Discrimination includes red-lining –refusing to show or sell homes in predominately white neighborhoods to African Americans –refusing to rent or sell to African Americans, and unfair mortgage practices. The primary victims of housing discrimination in the Untied States are racial minorities and especially Hispanics and African Americans. African Americans face discrimination in lending practices as well, especially when they are looking to borrow money for mortgages. As a result of predatory mortgage practices, African Americans lose upwards of $25 billion annually. Borrowers of color are more likely to get a higher rate, subprime home loans –even with the same qualifications as white borrowers.


Jailyn Williams SOCY305 Week 13

Denying African Americans access to education has been a fundamental part of their experience in the United States. The prohibition against teaching African Americans to read was a primary mechanism to keep slaves on the plantation. After emancipation, freed black slaves began setting up schools all over the South. Before this the South never established a public school system. Wealthy whites, not wanting to pay taxes for public education, just sent their kids to private schools in the Northeast to be educated. They did not send them for postsecondary education. Soon after African Americans set up their schools, African American children began to outpace poor whites in terms of education. The white’s response was to establish a public school system for poor whites so that they would not fall behind African Americans. Their system of education was of course segregated and would be challenged regularly until the historic Brown vs. The Board of Education.

The Brown decision, which guaranteed African Americans the right to attend any public school, was intended to offer access to the institution of education in the United States. It has only been partially successful. The Supreme Court decision was resisted in the deep South. Many southern school districts were not integrated until the early 1970’s, almost 20 years after the decision. The most severe resistance was in Mississippi. The resistance movement resulted in the development of a set of private, religious affiliated, academies that were not required by the Brown decision to integrate. The development of “segregated academies” has been the most successful of all strategies employed to resist integration, and it continues today. Over the past 15 years, there has been a 13% decline in integration. African American children today attend schools that are more segregated than the schools their parents attended. Even though minority enrollment in public schools is now nearly 40% nationwide, a typical white student attends a public school that is 80% white. Separate education is never equal.

With this long history of a struggle for equal education, it is not surprising that education still remains unequal for African Americans. There is a wide disparity in the graduation rates of white and minority students, especially with regard to the type of diploma earned. There is also a significant race/ethnic difference in the percentage of students who leave high school eligible for college admission. These differences in high school graduation rates translate into a series of parallel problems. First, the high school degree or its equivalent remains a requirement for many jobs that pay above minimum wage. This means not having a high school diploma means one will be eligible for only the lowest paying jobs in the service sector. Second, if the quality of high school education differs then the opportunities to pursue postsecondary education will differ.

One of the major systems of exclusion is the system of legacy. Most colleges and universities offer preferential admission to applicants whose parents, grandparents, or other relatives are alumni. The preference for legacies can be considered the ultimate in affirmative action, precisely because it gives preference based on status rather than qualifications. Also, legacy is a benefit that accrues to whites, and white men in particular. Legacies are associated with institutions that refused admission to African Americans just until recently so, African Americans have been locked out of legacy preferences.

Work and the economy are important parts of any discussion on family life. Work is something that African Americans have always done but, the myth of laziness still remains. African American women and men have been portrayed in every possible medium, including motion pictures, across all time periods from slavery to freedom, as lazy, shiftless, and incompetent. This ridiculous stereotype comes from things like the slave master having to whip African Americans to work and resistance from pregnant slaves, in the ending stages of labor, to work fueled the stereotype.

It is true, occupations are highly segregated by race and gender. When we think of medical doctors, lawyers, investment bankers, and college professors, most Americans see images of white men. When we think of teachers and secretaries, we think of white women. When we think of garbage collectors and road crews, we think of African American men, and when we think of food service workers, cleaning ladies, and especially in the south, nannies, we think of African American women.

Industry segregation is the fact that there are gendered and racialized jobs. In other words, there are jobs that African American men do, jobs that white women do, and so on. This is the type of segregation with which most people are familiar. Establishment segregation is the segregation within otherwise integrated occupations. For an example, if you sit down in a café, you will most likely be served by a white woman but, if you go to an upscale restaurant in a major city you will most likely be served by a white male.

It is true, recidivism rates are not related to employment. Women believe that there is  no reason for them to marry the men they were involved with did not have a job. There was no reason for them to marry because they wont gain the typical advantages that come to married women via their husband’s salaries. Unemployment creates an economic power imbalance in the household. When the unemployed person is the male, there is often an attempt to re-establish the power differential and restore masculinity.  When the woman out earn their husbands, the men do less housework and the woman does more in an attempt to re-establish what the couple sees as the “normal” gendered power balance. Beating up a female partner is another way to restore their masculinity.



Jailyn Williams SOCY305 Week 12

Despite living in the most advanced economy in the world with the most advanced health care system in the world, many Americans live with chronic disease and health crises that are similar to those of citizens in developing nations. Even within the United States, health and illness are not distributed randomly; in fact, African Americans are more likely to suffer from chronic diseases, lack access to health care, and die earlier than their white counterparts. Its important to consider these racial disparities in health and life expectancy within the context of the U.S system of health care. Access to this system of health care is significantly shaped by race and social class. AIDS is now the leading cause of death among blacks aged 25 to 44, greater than homicide, heart disease, and accidents combined. The disease, long associated with white gay males, is slowly devastating black communities, claiming more men, women, and children everyday. The leading cause of death for Americans, regardless of race and gender, is heart disease. Heart disease is the only major disease in which the rate of death is higher for whites than for African Americans. This is driven primarily by the extraordinarily high rates of heart disease among white men. With the exception of heart disease among white men, African Americans experience higher rates of each of the most prevalent chronic diseases and higher mortality rates as a result of these diseases.

In June 2005, the FDA approved a drug called BiDil to treat cardiovascular disease specifically in African Americans. 700,000 African Americans have chronic heart disease and they seem somewhat less likely to respond to traditional therapies. The development of BiDil relies on DNA or genetic coding. The pharmacology is based on the fact that an individual’s genetic makeup will make him or her less or more receptive to specific drug therapies. After cardiovascular disease, diabetes ranks as the next most significant chronic disease among Americans. African Americans are 1.6 times more likely to have diabetes than whites of similar age. The rate of diabetes is important because it is related to so many other diseases. Patients with diabetes are 2 to 4 times more likely to develop heart disease and 4 to 6 times more likely to suffer a stroke, and they account for 60% of all non-trauma-related amputations.

HIV/AIDS is an important health issue facing the African American community for a variety of reasons. First, it is the leading cause of death of all African American men and women, and it is the leading cause of death among young African Americans aged 15-44. Second, it is a preventable form of death. Third, it is directly linked to other issues like sexual practice and incarceration. Lastly, the rate of HIV/AIDS in the African American community can be examined not just as an outcome, but also as a symptom of other issues of well being: drug use, poverty, and sexual practices such as multiple sex partners and the “down low”. African American men report at least three reasons for being on the DL, male to male prostitution, habitual mean heaving sex with men, MSM behavior begins in prison and may or may not be continued after release, and the desire to “reject a homosexual identity and maintain a façade of heterosexuality within African American culture, where homosexuality is a highly stigmatized identity”.

More than half a million African Americans are HIV positive. Black males are more likely to contract HIV from IV drug use than their white counterparts and less likely to contract HIV through sexual contact with an infected male. African American women are more likely to contract HIV through sex with an infected male partner than their white counterparts and less likely to contract HIV through all other modes of transmission than their white counterparts. This is also the most common form of transmission of HIV/AIDS for Black women.

The fifth leading cause of death for African American men is homicide. Both HIV/AIDS deaths and homicide often result in children being put into foster care or being raised by their grandmothers, aunts, or other relatives. Premature death is disruptive to family life and frequently results in both poverty and a significant change in family structure. This can also affect the health of the children. One measure of health and well-being is the infant mortality rate, which refers to the probability that a child will die before his or her first birthday. Rates of infant mortality are twice as high for African Americans as for whites. White women have the longest life expectancy and African American men have the shortest.

The relationship between lifestyle causes of poor health and illness and race is confounded by social class. The affluent have the resources to purchase more meat and “rich” foods, it is the poor who find it difficult to afford healthy food such as fresh fruits and vegetables. Social class shapes lifestyle, in particular, access to healthy food and exercise. African Americans are disproportionately likely to be poor, they are less likely to eat healthfully and exercise and more likely to suffer diseases. Americans never die of the diseases the worlds poor die of, such as malaria and cholera; instead, they die of diseases of overconsumption, such as diabetes and heart disease.

Walmart engages in a popular practice of employing its workers fewer than the 40-hour mark that requires health insurance benefits, and as a result, the majority of its employees do not have health insurance. As a result of unemployment and these sorts of corporate strategies, nearly 40 million Americans are without health insurance. Health insurance is linked primarily to employment. The government provides health insurance for the very poor and the retired. The costs continue to rise, making health care a virtually unattainable luxury for all but the insured. At risk individuals are less likely to receive the kind of preventive care that will lead to better health. The cost of the premiums are not fair. Many people cannot afford to pay 300 dollars’ monthly for health insurance. Insurance companies also have a history of charging higher premiums to African Americans.

Private health insurance has the most flexibility; patients find that they can see any physician they choose at any hospital or clinic. The costs vary but they are always reasonable unlike Medicaid. Medicaid has severe limits on hospital and physician’s reimbursements, and as a result, many of the highly ranked hospitals and clinics will not see Medicaid patients. The system of private and public health insurance creates a system of health care that is segregated by social class, and as a result of the conflation of race and social class, the system is racially segregated as well. The vast majority of Medicaid is 70% African Americans. African Americans are twice as likely to report having difficulty accessing specialists when compared to whites.

Access to health insurance directly affects access to health care. African Americans, who are more likely to have chronic diseases are less likely to have access who have the training necessary to treat these diseases. Treatment may be delayed because the patient may not be diagnosed. Diagnosis may be delayed because the patient fails to present his or her symptoms to a health care professional out of fear, lack of health insurance, and access. Diagnosis may also be delayed because of biases on the part of the health care professional. Also, the health care professional may be undertrained or underqualified. African Americans are far less likely to receive regular health care. Delays in treatment may be a direct cause of access to health care or health insurance. Finally, delays in treatment may be a result of prejudice and discrimination.

African Americans have a long and justified history of distrust of the medical community. It was strongly shaped by the Tuskegee syphilis experiment’s and the eugenics movement. The Tuskegee experiments involved poor black men with syphilis got untreated in order to study the long-term affects of the disease. They never told them their disease nor how serious it was. They were basically left to die. The eugenics movement was a social movement for the improvement of the races that relied primarily on the sterilization of potential “unfit” parents. The policies had racial and social class overtones.



Jailyn Williams Week 11 SOCY305

Intimate Partner Violence refers to the physical, emotional, psychological, and sexual abuse that takes place between intimate partners. IPV is an epidemic in the contemporary United States. Family violence accounted for 11% of all reported and unreported violence between 1998 and 2002, with violence between intimate partners accounting for half (49%) of all family violence. Minority women report higher rates of IPV: twenty percent of minority and poor women reported an incident in the past year (2000). Domestic violence is no longer a term that is used. The term domestic implies a shared residence. Domestic also refers to violence that occurs between other members of the domestic household, such as the abuse of children by parents. Many of the casualties of IPV do not live together, and often when they do live together, the violence began before they moved in together or got married. Lastly, the authors chose the term intimate partner rather than domestic in order to highlight the nature of the relationship –these are intimate partners who claim to love each other –regardless of their martial status. Intimate partner violence is present in both martial and cohabitating relationships.

IPV kills 1500 women each year. Until recently, intimate partner violence was something that was dealt with inside the family. It was legal, men were legally allowed to beat their wives as long as they didn’t kill them or the violence didn’t get out of hand. In the late 1970’s and early 1960’s, second wave feminist began to draw attention to the situation. The writings of Browne and Kirkwood were crucial to the movement because they brought the common experience of IPV to the attention of the American population. As awareness of IPV has grown it has been conceptualized and defined as a “woman’s problem”.

Family violence theorist locate domestic violence (their term) in the larger framework of other forms of family violence such as child abuse, sibling abuse, and elder abuse. Family violence scholars examine these various forms of violence within families and among family members and identify patterns. They note that the most common factor across all of these various forms of violence is the relationship between the perpetrator and the victim: The perpetrator always has more power than the victim. Parents abuse their children, older siblings abuse younger siblings, male siblings abuse female siblings, adult children abuse aging parents, and husbands abuse wives. This pattern reveals at least two key elements to family violence, first power provides a license to abuse. Powerful people are rarely held accountable for victimizing less powerful people. Second, violence is an effective strategy for controlling the behavior of other family members.

Feminists argue that violence against women, such as sexual assault, battering, and sexual harassment, is an expected outgrowth of the power relations between men and women, just as lynching is an expected outgrowth in systems of racial domination. Some women beat their male partners, and although some families live with what can be best characterized as a mutual combat, or situational couple violence. Because feminists argue that IPV is a direct outcome of a social system dominated by patriarchy, one of the challenges is to explain mutual combat or situational couple violence –the times when women initiate the violence or hit back.  The authors found that self defense, poor emotional regulation, provocation by partner, and retaliation for past abuse were the most common reasons for violence perpetration.

The stories of men and women living with IPV will be presented and analyzed, but they will be woven together with other issues like poverty, employment, HIV/AIDS, and incarceration. IPV is a gendered phenomenon. All of its causes and outcomes, must be located within the larger system of patriarchy. Women continue to be socialized to believe that it is between to have a man who beats you than no man at all. Until we address these fundamental, root causes, such as economic dependency, for staying in a battering relationship, battered woman will continue to leave unsuccessfully or not leave at all. Intimate partner violence is not simply structured by a system of patriarchy. It is also structured by a system of racial superiority and by the intersections of these two systems.

One of the key issues involved with IPV in all families is women’s economic dependency on men. One of the strongest compulsions for women to marry or cohabit is the fact that their economic standing is almost always enhanced by the economic contributions of their male partners. This dependency on men makes it hard for women to leave their abusers. Economic dependency, which is brutal and sometimes lethal, is more common in the experiences of African American women precisely because they have less education and fewer economic opportunities, they work for lower wages and often have more children to support. Thus, African American women are vulnerable to a dependency that leads to selling or trading one’s sexuality in exchange for having ones basic (financial) needs met.

Men who were victims of physical child abuse are also twice as likely to batter in adulthood but, the strongest predictor of becoming a batterer for men is growing up in a household in which there is IPV. A batterer is a person who inflicts violent physical abuse on a person. Men who batter are of all races/ethnicities, all ages, all levels of education, and all different occupations, and they live in all different regions of the country. Marginalized groups often develop alternative ideologies that are more in line with their lived realities. The attempt at understanding African American male masculinity and the issues surrounding it comes from Majors and Bilson who argue that “Cool Pose” is an attempt to make the African American male visible. Cool Pose is a ritualized form of masculinity that entails behaviors, scripts, physical posturing, impression management, and carefully crafted performances that deliver a single, critical message: pride, strength, and control. Being cool is an ego booster for black males comparable to the kind white males more easily find through attending good schools, landing prestigious jobs and bringing home decent wages. African American men construct their masculinity behind masks, worn to survive not only their second-class status but also their environment.

The first B is breadwinning. This is one of the key roles in society men must play. In the traditional American family, the man is the breadwinner. He provides economic support for the family, usually in the form of a paycheck. Although, the woman nurtures and takes care of the children and the man by cleaning, cooking, etc. The second B is the bedroom. The bedroom brings up several issues, from men’s ability to satisfy their partners (sexual prowess) to men’s success in the proverbial bedroom, often defined as the number of sex partners he is able to have over his lifetime. Sex in America is a double standard. The double standard is that men should or can have more sexual experiences and more sexual partners than women.

Jailyn Williams Week 10 SOCY 305

Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a significant public health concern that affects an alarmingly high percentage of women. IPV is a serious national problem associated with numerous deleterious consequences for families and society at large. There is a growing body of literature on diverse women’s experiences, unfortunately, to date, conceptualizations of IPV and interventions for IPV are predominately grounded in the experience and worldview of Caucasian women. This has resulted in the neglect of ethnic minority women, whose cultural context has largely been ignored.

The National Family Violence Survey conducted in 1975, is one of the first representative studies reporting on the prevalence and incidence of IPV in the United States. They found that African American men evidenced a higher rate of severe IPV perpetration than Caucasian men. When they looked at income, African American husbands were less likely to have perpetrated IPV than Caucasian husbands in all income groups except for those in the $6000-$11,999 income brackets. Approximately 40% of African American men that were in this were the second-lowest income grouping. The authors conclude that overrepresentation of African Americans with respect to a key social class indicator (income) complicates generalization of racial differences in the perpetration of IPV.

African American women were 1.23 times more likely to undergo minor IPV and 2.36 times more likely to endure severe IPV than were Caucasian women. Differences in prevalence rates were not significant after controlling income level, African American women in the lowest income bracket still evidence slightly elevated levels of male-perpetrated IPV victimization than did Caucasian women. The National Violence Against Women Survey (NVAWS) is a population based study that assessed incidence of sexual assault, IPV, and stalking victimization. The NVAWS found comparable rates of sexual assault, IPV, and stalking victimization among African American women American men and women report higher rates of IPV victimization and perpetration than Caucasian women and men. In addition, African American women are more likely to experience severe IPV victimization than their Caucasian counterparts. However, when income is controlled for, differences by race in rates IPV are diminished or eliminated, suggesting that income may be a stronger predictor of IPV than ethnicity. For example, Caucasian women make up 11% of the persons living in persistent poverty in this country, African American women comprise 25% of the persons living in the same condition.

African Americans are socialized in a different manner than Caucasians, such that there is not as large a difference in gender role socialization within African American families as in Caucasian families. A lack of access to educational, economic, and political resources among African American men is one facto that contributes to more egalitarian familial roles. Other researchers have said they are socialized in a similar way, in that they are taught to believe that men are superior to women. They endorse traditional notions of gender roles. African American men confronted by racism and classism may endorse hyper masculinity, which is the exaggeration of male stereotypical behavior such as an emphasis on physical strength, aggression, and sexuality.

Macro structural factors that can contribute to IPV in African American men are living in areas of extreme poverty, relative to members of other ethnic groups. Societal stressors such as institutional racism and discrimination often block access to a variety of educational and occupational opportunities. Inaccessibility of these resources creates frustration. A common result of this frustration is anger toward society and oneself. Low self esteem has also been identified as a risk factor for IPV. Racisms causes self dislike which can lead to internalized racism which is racist attitudes towards people of their own ethnic group, including themselves. Possible internalized oppression is not manifesting itself in direct self-harming behaviors but in the harming of others, namely African American women.

Several stereotypes regarding African Americans that are prominent in mainstream American culture may serve to contribute to violence against African American women. American mainstream culture holds that being perceived as feminine and frail is necessary in order for women to remain safe and respectable. African American women are stereotyped in the media as not feminine enough. This stereotype limits the empathy and concern of society and may contribute to the lack of advocacy for African American victims of IPV. The “Black superwoman” stereotype is dangerous because it internalizes the ideas by African American women. Women who stick to this stereotype may be reluctant to share details of their situations with others such as therapists and people in their support networks. The idea that you can handle everything and anything on your own can be very harmful. They often hesitate to seek assistance and deny the abuse and its impact on them.

African American women who are victims of IPV don’t turn to shelter in the same rates as Caucasians because of a lack of resources. There is limited access to a variety of key resources, including but not limited to transportation, employment opportunities, affordable medical care, social and mental health services, homeless and domestic violence shelters, police protection, and legal services. A lack of resources promotes Black women’s dependence on their abuser resulting in an increased risk of IPV for prolonged periods of time. African American victims of IPV lacking financial resources find themselves trapped in situations with a likelihood of revictimization without access to the institutional and personal resources to which they would have access elsewhere.

PTSD, depression, substance abuse, and suicidality may be universal responses to IPV victimization. African American survivors of IPV, similar to survivors of other cultural backgrounds, utilize a number of coping strategies in an attempt to take care of themselves physically, emotionally, and even spiritually. Women who reported greater general coping, more efficacious behavioral strategies in response to IPV, more effective use of resources, greater social supper and less substance abuse were less likely to attempt suicide compared with those who did not exhibit these behaviors.

The majority of intervention programs for IPV perpetrators ignores cultural differences and treat all clients with the same standardized group treatment approach. There is an absence of programs that are culturally tailored to service minority clients. African American men have been reported to be less likely to participate in these programs and more likely to prematurely terminate their participation.

Jailyn Williams Week 9 SOCY 305

One of the most frequently discussed and problematic issues surrounding the African American family is the issue of teen childbearing. In the 1960’s, teen mothers were more likely to be at least 17 years old, now we see a rise in the number of births to girls aged 14-16. Teen pregnancy has become problematized first with the implementation of mandatory schooling until age 18 and then with the overall rise in the age of first marriage, which is now around 24 years old for women. The low marriage rate among African American women results in a situation in which, more often than not, babies born to African American women are non-martial births. African Americans are more than twice as likely to become pregnant as teenagers than are whites.

There are several negative outcomes associated with teen pregnancy and childbearing that affect the mother and the baby. Some of these risks are teenagers are more likely to give birth to low weight babies. Low birth is associated with physical and developmental problems. The babies usually have a longer hospital stay in the neonatal intensive care unit. As they get older they may need to be put in special classrooms or requiring educational services that are expensive. Low birth rate is also associated with infant mortality. Teen pregnancy poses a risk to the life of the baby as well as increasing the risk of long-term costly problems. Abortion is not often an option for African American teens. Some reasons for this are choice, religious beliefs and access. Abortions cost a lot of money and are not covered by Medicaid in the first trimester. Majority of the African American population lives in the South where access to abortion is severely limited. There is only one abortion clinic in the state of Mississippi.

Teen pregnancy can also lead to lack of education and a life living in poverty. Teen pregnancy is strongly associated with poverty. Teenage parents are disproportionately concentrated in poor, often racially segregated communities characterized by inferior housing, high crime, poor schools, and limited health services. Girls who give birth in their teen years are less likely to finish high school. It is significantly less likely for them to get their postsecondary education. A result of this is poverty. It is hard for teen mothers to secure employment that pays a living wage. They are more likely to rely on welfare. The likelihood of the mother getting out of poverty as she ages is highly unlikely. “More than 80 percent of young teen mothers received welfare during the 10 years following the birth of their first child, 44 percent of them for more than 5 years” (African American Families).

Tammy was a senior at large state institution in 1996. She was raising two children and going to school. Her dream was to get a good job and make a better life for her son and daughter. Tammy was on welfare. She lived in section 8 housing and received a child care subsidy so her children could stay in high quality daycare while she went to school. In November of 1996 she was informed of the welfare changes that basically said she had to drop out of school and keep her welfare or enroll in a two-year program at a technical college if she wanted to continue with her education. I already know the welfare system is a sham. Tammy’s story proves it to me even more. The system is meant to trap people in especially minorities.

Teen mothers are more likely to engage in child abuse. This is most likely related to a variety of factors, including the mother’s education; her access to financial and stress-reducing resources (parenting classes, baby-sitting relief); her lack of training for parenting; and her own likelihood of having grown up in an abusive relationship. Child abuse is one of the many reasons why children of teen mothers end up in jail. Also, children born to teen mothers are almost three times as likely to be behind bars at some point in their adolescence or early 20s as are the children of mothers who delayed childbearing. The factors that play into why the probability of incarceration for children born to teen mothers is so high is because they are raised in poverty. They may spend time in an unstable environment moving from home to home or even end up in foster care. These terrible outcomes could be changed if there was a community with norms that encouraged teen childbearing and that had the presence of social support for teen mothers, the result would be a greater number of teens bearing and raising their children. Teenage mothers construct their motherhood by separating marriage and childbearing, accelerated family time tables, compressed generations, and intergenerational caregiving patterns.

Non-marital childbearing is not terribly problematic. The distinction that should be made about non-martial births is the presence or absence of a father figure. 68% of African American babies are born to unmarried mothers who often have little to no contact with the child’s father. There are a variety of reasons why fathers choose not to be involved in the lives of their children, there are at least three structural causes that limit the involvement of African American men: homicide, incarceration, and unemployment. All three of these situations which stands at about 15% for African American men seriously impede the ability of African American men to provide financially for their children.

Liquor houses are unregulated social clubs. They exist in an apartment in the projects. In these houses a man allows a woman and her children (sometimes) to live rent free in exchange for her and (her children) running the liquor house. This arrangement is usually the woman having sex with the man whenever the man wants. These liquor houses are open 24 hours a day. Child and teen prostitution and other illegal activities were a major part of the scene. The police looked the other way because they were paid off. The teens living there sometimes did not have time to go to school because they had to work. A lot of the teens have sex in exchange for food or drugs. Half of the African American women the authors interviewed had experienced sexual experiences consensual or not by the age of 16.

Jailyn Williams SOCY305 Week 8

Recently, researchers have devoted more attention to determining the causes and adverse effects of single parenthood than to examining ways in which single mothers can overcome the difficultes associated with rearing children alone. Sociologist study Black families by emphasizing the social factors that contribute to variations in family forms. To explain increases in the number of single-parent families, they give specific attention to racial, ethnic, and social class differences, as well as to changes in norms and values about family formation.

In this article the research design was focused on examining within-group variability among African American families rather than presenting mean differences between Blacks and members of other ethnic groups. They also included studies that focused on families with children of varying ages in various living arrangements, including multi-generational families. Because of the complexities of disentangling risks related to a parents chronological age from the challenges inherently associated with parenting , research studies that focused specifically on adolescent  mothers were not included in the authors review. The authors also incorporated only studies published in peer-reviewed journals to ensure an acceptable degree of scientific rigor. They used conceptual and methodological approaches for studying African American single-mother families. Also, they used ecological theory to describe the ways in which contexual influences may explain variations in family functioning, parenting processes, and child outcomes.

The ecological risk/protection conceptual frame-work is useful in organizing research on African American families because it allows investigators to study human development by intergrating components of ecological theory and resiliency perspectives. The model clarifies the links between risk and protective processess at the individual, family, and community levels. It also incorporates developmental and contextual processess associated with maternal pyschological functioning and child development, thus focusing on a conceptual universe appropriate for single-parent families. In addition, it can be used to explain why some single mothers and their children succumb to the risks they face and others do not , and why many children at risk grow up to lead successful adult lives.  This model also focuses on circumstances and individual characteristics that foster competence and healthy behavior. Most importantly, it enables and encourgaes researchers to define and broaden their views about the characteristics that constitute positive family fuctioning and the means of attaining it.

Children born during the 1980’s and 1990’s have a 50% chance of living in single-parent families at some time before reaching adulthood childhoods. More than 25% of American families are headed by either a mother or father alone. 67% of Black births are to single mothers. This percentage is very frightening to me. Fewer than 350,000 children lived in single-father households in 1960, compared to 1.4 million children in 1989, when fathers headed 15.6% of all single-parent families. Because a greater proportion of African American children than children from other ethnic groups are reared in impoverished single-mother families, they are at particular risk for compromised outcomes. There is research states a difference in children who grew up in two parent households when it comes to externalizing and internalizing problems. Specifically temper tantrums, fighting, cheating, lying, depression, academic problems, gang-related activity, and adolescent pregnancy have been found to be more prevalent among children of single mothers. Family structure is also associated with parent-child relationships. Research found that adolescents in single-parent families reported more conflict with their parents, less positive communication, and lower levels of family cohesion than did their counterparts living in nuclear families. Economic status also explains the differences between children from one and two-parent families.

Resiliency is the ability to recover from negative experiences and situations. I think African Americans women are born with resiliency. Single-mother families typically encounter economic, work-related, and family-related difficulties. Economic stress creates additional difficulties by negativley impacting family processess. Educational and financial resources appear to be critical contextual factors affecting simple African American mothers quality life apparently through their associations with mothers perceptions of their current situations, which in turn impact their mental health. This can also affect their parenting style which needs further research to gain a better understanding of discipline style. The authors suggest additional studies are needed to identify the aspects of African Americans parenting behaviors that are not described and intepreted accurately using the existing parenting constructs. This will help researchers understand the extent to which African Americans formulate parenting strategies in response to the specific risks that are unique to their families lives.

There are several factors that influence parental style like dangerous neighborhoods. The heterogeneity in disciplinary practices among Black parents likely reflects adaptive responses to the demands of the surrounding enviornment. African American parents are likely to be aware of the challenges of raising children in situations in which disobedience to rules can have grave consequences; accordingly, they adapt their parenting practices to fit the context, especially in dangerous neighborhoods. Under these circumstances, parents may acheive their goals by using stringent child management techniques. Another factor that plays into parental style is education and employment. Employed mothers with higher education are less likely to use physical punishment despite high levels of depression. Maternal depression is more likely to affect parenting when mothers have fewer personal resources available to them or when they experience great contexual stress.


Jailyn Williams Week 7 SOCY305

Marriage rates in the African American community are one of the most contentious issues both inside and outside the African American community. There are various reasons why African Americans, especially African American women, marry at a rate significantly lower than that of their white counterparts. Two important factors that contribute to the ways in which adult relationships are constructed are the economy and religion. Economy of a society plays an important role in structuring family relationships, while religious ideology aslo plays a significant role in shaping marriage patterns.

Agricultural economies are heavily dependent on both labor, power, and land. Because of this, fertility rates are high and marriage patterns follow certain rules. For example, in many agricultural societies, polygamy is common. Polygamy is useful to these societies in many ways. Polygamy allows fathers to have more children who can provide intensive labor which is needed to survive in an agriculture economy. Also, cross cousin marriage in many cultures is the preferred marriage pattern. Cross cousin marriage is when a son in one family marries their mothers brothers daughter. This pattern allows for the concentration of land and the wealth within families. Religion plays a huge role in shaping marriage patterns in postindustrial societies like Saudi Arabia. Polygamy is preferred despite the fact that it may not be the most efficient family form for this type of economy. Although, economy plays a huge role in shaping family patterns, it is more powerful in shaping family patterns than in shaping marriage patterns. Marriage patterns are shaped by hegemonic religious ideology.

These marriage and fertility patterns are different from those that we see in industrial and postindustrial societies across Western Europe, Japan, and the United States. In industrial and postindustrial societies adults go to work in the service economy. There is no benefit in having large families, it is easier for them to be successful if they have fewer children and invest in their childs development (education). Since there is no benefit in having a lot of children, fertility rates drop as societies industralize. This is called the “demographic transition”. The most successful marriages in postindustrial economies will be long-term monogamous marriages.

One outcome of marriage is economic stability. Marriage allows for the accumulation of land, wealth, and power within families. One of the most serious negative consequences of the low marriage rates amoung African Americans is poverty. One of the negative outcomes of low rates of interracial mariage is the exclusion of African Americans from the social networks of whites. One of the most important functions of marriage is to restrict sexual relations. It it used to protect children from sexaul violence and it also was used to prevent marriages. For an example, antimiscegenation laws laws in the U.S were used to prevent whites from marrying non whites till 1967. This prevented access to the social, economic, and political power that marriage can bring. However, the primary function of marriage has always been to provide evidence of paternity.

Scholars have argued that lower marriage rate among African Americans was driven by their lack of morality. This is based on the belief that African Americans were never socialized into understanding the importance of marriage. Assumptions are made that the family structure in Africa was “uncivilized”, polygamous, and morally questionable. Other scholars argue that the descendants of Africans, slaves, and freed slaves had a high regard and valued family life. They argue that its better to focus on the success of African Americans being able to maintain family life that they were not entitled to have. However, other scholars have a different opinion. they believe the trends in African American family form are the result of gender roles, coping strategies, and resiliency.

One of the biggest gender norms of contemporary American family life is that of the male breadwinner. Although, this is different for African American families. African American men have face significantly more employment and wage discrimination than their white counterparts. Which explains why African American women are and have always been more likley to be employed, and in many cases they have out earned their male partners. When wives are the primary wage earners or they outearn their husbands, the marriages tend to dissolve. Men feel like they have to be finacially superior to women caused by the hegemonic gender role ideology. If women are the breadwinners or outearn their male partners, they are less likley to get married and stay married.

A significant impact on family formation in African American civil society, and low income African Americans were the welfare programs that orignated out of the period of the “war on poverty”. One of the requirements was that their had to be only one parent in the household to recieve extra help from the government. Poor mothers would refuse to marry the father of their children because of this requirement also know as “man of the house rule”.

There are a limited number of African American men in because of a lack of education, employment, and incarceration. African American men face severe limitations in access to the opportunity structure of education and employment. African Americans are more likely to attend underresourced primary and secondary schools which leave them without the credentials to pursue higher education. Incarceration also plays a role in the marriage pool and explains the lower marriage rates among African Americans. 25-33% of African American men are incarcerated making the possibility of maintaing healthy, stable intimate realtionships is highly unlikely. There are a variety of reasons why there is a decrease in marriage among African Americans (unemployment, incarceration, norms, and interracial marriage). Interracial marriage has the smallest impact but is treated in the media and especially in popular magazines targeting African American women as the most important reason why they are single.  Asian women and White men have the  highest rates when it comes to interracial marriage.

Feminization of poverty is the result of many structural forces, from gendered wage discrimination to the responsibilites associated with childbearing and childrenbearing, even when women are employed full time, they earn less, on average, than their male counterparts. Women who are not in marital or cohabiting relationships with men are more likely to find themselves living in poverty. 36.5% of single households held by African American women are living in poverty.