Sociology 122 Final

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185 Terms



The amount of money a person earns in a given period of time for work, Social Security, or some other government transfer payment that person might receive.

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Refers to a person’s assets, which include savings, retirement accounts, and the equity in one’s home, minus anything the person owes. Can be thought of as a “cushion”, what people have to fall back on if they no longer have income. Can be transmitted from one generation to the next, giving a person’s children increased opportunities

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Racial Wage Gap

White workers earn more than nonwhite workers even when controlling for education, skill, and experience. In 2015, black men earned 75% of what white men earned.

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Racial Wealth Gap

The gap in wealth between whites and people of color. Has increased between 1995 and 2001, in which families of color saw their net worth fall 7% and white families saw their net worth grow by 37%. Is exacerbated by economic crisis.

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Median income by race, Asian American


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Median income by race, Whites


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Median income by race, Hispanic


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Median income by race, Black


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Median income by race, All races


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Bifurcated nature of income and wealth for Asian Americans

Some are doing very well and some in desperate poverty. Poverty rates are higher than those for whites. 2008 impacted wealth, dropping from $168,992 to $78,066. Legislation in the 19th century made citizenship illegal for Chinese and Japanese immigrants and were barred from owning land. Turned to self-employment and ethnic enclaves.

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Unemployment rate

Refers to data collected from unemployment offices around the country on people who are actively searching for work and are unable to find it. Does not include discouraged workers or underemployed workers.

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racialized nature of unemployment rates

Unemployment rates for whites are lower than for Blacks, Latinos, and Natives. Even Black men with a college degree have double the unemployment rate of their white college-educated counterparts. Does not include discouraged workers or underemployed workers.

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Joblessness (Wilson 2010)

Refers not only to those looking for work but also those who have been marginalized from the labor force and are no longer actively looking for work

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Those who are working part-time or temporary jobs and are no longer part of the official unemployment statistics but are not working in a job that provides sufficient income and economic security for them

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Working poor

People who work full time and still fall below the poverty line in the United States

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discouraged workers

Those who would like to be employed by have given up the search and/or no longer report to their local unemployment offices

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The movement of manufacturing jobs from Northern and Midwestern cities to the nonunionized South or to Third World locations to take advantage of cheaper labor. This burden has been carried majorly against African Americans and Latinos. Minorities suffer more in a recession because they are often the first to be laid off, because they are more likely to have been the last hired, so seniority does not protect them

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Statistical discrimination

Individual applicants are disregarded based upon employer assumptions about inner-city black workers in general

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poverty line

The designated income threshold that separates those in poverty from those that are low-income. An estimation of the cost of a minimal food budget for different family sizes, multiplied by three, under the assumption that a family spends one-third of its budget on food

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How poverty is raced

Racial minorities are more likely to be in poverty than whites. Blacks and Hispanics are more than twice as likely to be impoverished than whites. Asian American families have higher poverty rates than whites. Varies, Koreans, Hmong, Vietnamese, Laotian, and Cambodians are much higher whereas Chinese, Indian, Taiwanese, and Japanese Americans have significantly lower poverty rates

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Spatial Mismatch Hypothesis (Wilson)

When blue-collar manufacturing jobs move far away from the population of people limited to these skills, from urban areas to rural/suburbs. Encourages the emergence of low-wage service-sector jobs, often met by Latinos and new immigrants and contributing to their impoverishment. Sees unemployment as a poor explanation for poverty rates as many are impoverished AND employed.

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Feminization of Poverty

Female-headed households are disproportionately impoverished. Women earn less on average and single-parent households bring in less money, and both African Americans and Puerto Ricans have disproportionately high rates of female-headed single-parent households

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Low educational attainment

Argues that Latinos, African Americans, and Natives are less likely to graduate high school or attend college and causes differences in poverty rates. Is challenged by the fact that graduation rates for POC have risen dramatically as poverty has increased. Overall, poverty can be explained better by looking at changes in the economy, specifically, those encouraged by government policies.

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welfare dependency

Argues that current government policies and programs are insufficient to address poverty. Nearly all address the nonworking poor, yet a large percentage of people falling below the poverty line are working and do not qualify for TANF.

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Refers to the new face of poverty that emerged in response to deindustrialization. Not just chronically poor but also live in areas of concentrated poverty and are generally able-bodied, young, and black. Detachment from labor becomes self-perpetuating as a lack of employment hinders access to potential job opportunities. Emerged in 70s and 80s due to dramatic economic restructuring and movement of middle-class blacks to suburbs. Class integrated communities became concentrations of impoverished people in black communities, further isolating them from mainstream institutions and behaviors.

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Black Middle Class

One of the greatest accomplishments of the civil rights movement. First emerged during reconstruction, became targets for racial violence and disappeared due to southern white backlash. Second emerged after 1900s, during the Jim Crow era. Earned status in occupations of service to their own communities (preaching and teaching). Not threatening to whites as they had no interest in serving the black community. Third emerged after WWII in result of black access to manufacturing jobs, did not last long. Result of the Civil Rights Movement, Affirmative Action Legislation, School Desegregations, and the Civil Rights Act. Whites view this as evidence of the demise of racial inequality. Should be understood as progress, not the end goal (residential segregation, more economically fragile, do not perform as well in school, vulnerable of racial discrimination)

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racial realism

The belief persists among whites that racial minority workers actually face advantages in the job market due to their race

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Racial signaling

When a business owner hires a minority group member because they believe their customer base will approve and reward them with their loyalty

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Racial abilities

The stereotypical perceptions of workers of color as lazy and inept

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African American Mobility Trap

Where black employees are hired to market to minorities and then find themselves stuck in racialized jobs

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Opportunity hoarding

The ways in which one social group restricts access to scarce resources, like job opportunities. Most jobs for whites were obtained through the help of family and friends

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Social networks

The connections and relationships that people have. Social networks influence opinion, behavior, and can open or close doors of opportunity depending on the network. Invaluable when searching for a job as most are not listed in advertisements and personal contacts are the most effective ways to secure employment

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Racialization of the State

How state policies have interfered with the ability of black Americans to accumulate wealth, from the beginning of slavery throughout American history while simultaneously supporting white wealth accumulation

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Racial apathy

The ways racial prejudice manifests itself among whites in the post-Civil Rights era. Refers to a lack of feeling or an indifference towards racial/ethnic inequality

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Mutual Aid societies

AKA Benevolent societies, provided aid to their members and served as safety nets during times when life circumstances overwhelmed members’ individual capabilities to provide for themselves or their families. Very popular prior to US Welfare state. Also found amongst marginalized racial/ethnic groups and new immigrants to the country, encouraged building of black hospitals in the south

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Welfare state

Refers to “a collection of programs designed to assure economic security to all citizens by guaranteeing the fundamental necessities of life: food, shelter, medical care, protection in childhood, and support in old age”. Established with New Deal

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social policies

Government policies and programs designed to help citizens meet their needs, intended to provide some basic level of security for people. Government support is NOT applied equally (POC more likely to be underserved in event of emergency). Support for urban programs decreased as the racial demographics of them changed

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“when affirmative action was white”

The impacts of the GI Bill as giving whites who previously did not have access to higher education an opportunity to obtain an education as well as an increase in white home ownership due to investments from the federal government.

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FDRs New Deal

Goal was to protect workers through the establishment of social security and unemployment insurance yet excluded agricultural workers and domestic laborers. Bulk of New Deal policies were aimed to protect Americans from the Great Depression yet did not reach Latinos or Blacks

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National Labor Relations Act (Wagner Act of 1935)

Granted workers the right to unionize and collectively bargain. Many unions were racially segregated, so African Americans often lacked the protections. Eventually formed own unions but were not as powerful.

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GI Bill

Passed after WWII to better assimilate thousands of veterans into the workforce, bill provided access to higher education through tuition funding and stipends, low-interest home and business loans, job training and placement, disability payments, and unemployment insurance. Jumpstarted college attendance. Thought to be color-blind but supported racial inequality. Southern Democrats forced the bill to be administrated at the state level, allowing locals to maintain systems of racial inequality. Had some positive impacts on Black Americans, did increase education, but was not equal to whites.

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GI BIll on White Ethnics

Worked as a fast-track to the American dream. Antisemitism declined, allowing Jews and other white ethnics to access the white, middle-class mainstream

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Healthcare Reform

Originally opposed during Great Depression, continued through 2010 and the introduction of Obamacare. Prior to ACA, 45+ million Americans were uninsured.

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Race Baiting

Using racially derisive language to influence the actions or attitudes of a group of people. Used during CRM and continues today, although more subtle

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% of americans without healthcare

overall around 10%, highest amongst natives and hispanics (27% and 20%) and lowest amongst asians and whites (7% and 8%).

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support for healthcare reform

highest among blacks (78.6%), lowest among whites (38.4%)

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reproductive rights

Often highlighted in government during times of economic crisis and of rapid social transformation, particularly eras of dramatic changes in the family and gender roles (ex. “race suicide”).

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population control

Government attempts to alter the rate of a nation’s population growth

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reproductive justice

Defined as the “human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities”.

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forced sterilization

Used in the Eugenics movement to control births among “unfit” groups. By 1970, 20% of all married black women were sterilized and were targets of 43% of federally subsidized sterilizations. Usually coerced. Fought still through infant mortality rates which are twice as high for black babies than white babies (wider than in 1850).

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racial resentment and support for or opposition to social policies

Racial resentment is the attitude help by many whites that people of color are undeserving of government benefits. Politicians use race-neutral language to generate support for social policies. Oppositions use racialized language to generate opposition to social policies.

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affirmative action

Exists primarily due to inequality in the labor force. A collection of policies that are designed to promote equal employment opportunities for women and racial minorities and to fight institutional racism in the economic sphere. Meant to be proactive rather than reactive and to address institutional racism and subconscious racism (which is harder to detect and address).

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affirmative action history

First used by JFK, Johnson issued executive order stating firms must not discriminate to receive a federal contract, Nixon expanded affirmative action to include the establishment of “goals and timetables” or plans to diversify a company’s labor force

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affirmative action myths

Requires employers to establish quotas (illegal), While males are discriminated against (wrong, AA have double the unemployment rate of whites), racism no longer exists (just untrue)

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affirmative action effects

Has been more successful at helping some minorities more than others, like white women and middle-class blacks

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affirmative action stigma

While white women have benefitted more than any other group, the perception exists that it is a policy designed to provide racial minorities special advantages in the labor force and college admissions, which has resulted in hostility towards the policy

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suggested explanations for the racial wealth gap

Cannot be explained by cultural difference in financial habits, such as savings, investing, or family structure, and increasing educational attainment, and the likelihood of self-employment. Median net worth of a college-educated white is 7.2 times more than their black counterpart or 3.9 times more than their Latino counterpart. The net worth of a white single parent is 2.2 times that of a black two-parent household and 1.9 times that of a Latino two-parent household

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Baby bonds

Involves giving every baby born in the US between $500-$50,000 on the day they are born to attempt to level the playing field for the next generation. Embraced by Corey Booker who calls them “opportunity accounts”.

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Universal Basic Income

Gives every adult a set of monthly income ($600-$1200 a month), embraced by Andrew Yang

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home ownership rates

highest among whites (70%) lowest among blacks (42.3%)

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home ownership and the racial wealth gap

Most wealth is stored in a person’s home, known as “home equity”. Some argue that “the racial wealth gap is primarily a housing wealth gap”. Number of years of homeownership explains 27% of the black-white wealth gap. White families buy homes and start acquiring equity an average 8 years earlier than black families.

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History of american home ownership

Originally used to counter spread of communism under Wilson administration. If people have private property, they will oppose losing it. Initiated a “own your own home” campaign.

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Federal Housing Administration

from FDR to insure bank mortgages and allowed for a 20-yr repayment period, encouraged purchasing a home to help pull the country out of the Great Depression. Required official governmental appraisals of properties to ensure low-risk of default (appraisal standards included a whites-only requirement). “The FHA judged that properties would probably be too risky for insurance if they were in racially mixed neighborhoods near black ones that might possibly integrate in the future”. Did not insure multi-family homes. Neighborhood stability was contingent on it remaining white. GI Bill offered home loans to vets but only whites, following the policies of the FHA. Suburbs began expanding post WWII yet were racially segregated so the affordable loans for these were not denied to blacks.

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2008 recession

7.1 million foreclosures from 2007-2009. POC more than 3x as likely to have subprime loans than whites regardless of credit score. POC overrepresented in foreclosures due to subprime lending. Communities with high foreclosure rates lose billions in assets

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Subprime loan

Mortgage made to borrowers with lower credit. Has higher interest rates and less favorable terms, or fluctuating interest rates (payments balloon or rise overtime).

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Low-income housing crisis

The federal governments investment in creation of low-income housing has declined since the 70s, Reagan cut budget, no other president has invested in low-income housing. A result of private landlords choosing to remove their properties from subsidized housing programs so they can charge more for rent. Cost of rent skyrocketed, majority of low-income families spend over half their income on rent, one in four spend 70% of income on rent. Rental housing for the poorest Americans is substandard. Low vacancy rates for even the worst housing with no incentive for landlords to improve conditions. Fueled an eviction crisis because landlords are less likely to cooperate with a family facing a temporary crisis as they know they are others waiting to take their spot

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The process of renovating deteriorating urban neighborhoods by means of an influx of more affluent residents. Class shift, but also a racial shift from a predominantly black neighborhood to a predominantly white neighborhood. Controversial, brings amenities and improvements, but results in the displacements of the original low-income residents

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sociology of displacement (desmond)

Studies the prevalence, causes, and consequences of evictions. He found that eviction helps create poverty and finds that this epidemic of evictions has hit African Americans in the south the hardest. 9/10 cities with highest eviction rates are in the South and are at least 30% black. In the South, laws are more protective of landlords than renters. Impacts of eviction: higher rates of depression, suicide, and severing of social networks. Stays on record, makes it harder to find new housing

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sundown towns

The exclusion of blacks and other racial minorities from suburban and rural communities or white neighborhoods through violence and racist governmental policies. Locals used violence to run blacks out and keep them out. During Great Migration, goodwill was brought towards the new black citizens, but faded due to economic tensions in late 19th and early 20th centuries. Also had race riots. Chinese Americans had similar experience in West. Linked to lower white poverty in that area in modern day

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Towns that are much whiter than the nation. Began in Levittown when William Levitt refused to sell to blacks. Others also refused to sell to Jews. Passage of Fair Housing Act made this illegal, but white communities still exist.

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Role of federal policies in residential segregation

Former practices encouraged racial segregation rather than prevented it. CRA did not end this because federal mortgage insurance programs were exempted from antidiscrimination requirements. The Fair Housing Act did not end them either, since the law stipulated that authorities could not punish the perpetrators, making this legislation “unique in the annals of legal discourse”.

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Labeling areas of the city that are predominantly black as risky to creditors, thus ensuring most black families were ineligible for federally insured loans, meaning most black families were ineligible for federal insured loans and resulted in less bank loans as well

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restrictive covenants

Language on a deed or sales contract saying that the buyer agrees not to sell the home to a member of a specific group. Enforced until 1948, but practice continued another decade

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racial steering

The selective showing of different houses to black home buyer sand white home buyers, showing homes in white and black neighborhoods respectively. Real estate agents would discourage buying homes in integrated neighborhoods

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When unscrupulous realtors play on the fears of whites and the limited housing options of blacks to make more money by encouraging the rapid turnover of a neighborhood from all white to all black. They spread fear in whites that blacks are moving into the neighborhood, finding whites fear their housing values will decrease and sell for less than the house it worth. The same agent who bought the house for cheap will sell it to a black family who will pay more for a house because they have limited options. Also illegal, but harder to prosecute

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personal housing preferences

People of all races claim they prefer to live in integrated neighborhoods, but also express a preference for not being outnumbered by other races

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white housing preferences

Deny moving into communities because they are all or nearly all white, but say they did for the amenities. Whiteness is a signal that “implies other qualities that are desirable… higher property values, friendliness, orderliness, hospitality, cleanliness, safety, and comfort”. More likely to prefer living in all-white neighborhoods. Express negative preferences toward black and Latino neighbors. The more Latinos and blacks in a neighborhood, the less favorable. Presence of Asians has no impact.

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black housing preferences

tend toward more racially integrated neighborhoods. Black Americans do not prefer to live in all-white neighborhoods and many also do not wish to live in all-black neighborhoods

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social structural sorting processes

Social dynamics that influence people’s decision-making like social networks, life experiences, residential histories, media exposure, and daily activities. Certain areas of the city are excluded from consideration throughout the decision-making process, in a narrowing down of options. People’s decision-making process around housing exists within a larger system of racial stratification, why residential segregation is perpetuation even through social structural sorting processes. Social networks are important sources of information about neighborhoods or leads on apartments or communities. People also consider the proximity to their friends and family

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Residential segregation

The separation of racial groups into different spaces, specifically, where urban areas are disproportionately composed of people of color while suburban and rural communities are almost all white. Neither natural nor harmless.

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de facto segregation

Happens by fact rather than legal requirement

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de jure segregation

Segregation that is official policy

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dissimilarity index

The evenness with which two groups are distributed across an area. “For any two groups, such as blacks and whites, the segregation index tells us what percentage of a city’s black or white population would have to move to another block or census tract in order to have no segregation at all”. Ranges from 0-1, zero being least segregated and one being least integrated. For most cities, a DI under 0.3 is considered integrated, those with a DI between 0.3-0.6 as moderately segregated, and those above 0.6 as very segregated.

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DI movement

1880s-1930s: average DI went from 0.49-0.68 (blacks leaving rural south for urban north). Post-WWII-1970: average DI went from 0.68-0.73 (peak segregation). 1970-1990: average DI went from 0.73-0.48. Since 1980: black-white segregation has declined (yet remain severely segregated in the majority of US cities). Increases in minority residents in suburban areas. Blacks vs Hispanics: BW DI is 0.67 but HW DI is 0.52. Asian Americans and Hispanics: moderately segregated, has been increasing since 1970. 2000: 60% of Asians, 50% of Hispanics, 40% of blacks, and 71% of whites lived in suburbs, but suburb segregation mirror those of larger metropolitan areas

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Extreme segregation in which blacks are so isolated that they only rarely share neighborhoods with whites and are concentrated in very small areas. Amplifies other social problems, such as crime, drugs, dysfunctional schools, joblessness, and isolation. Result in continued racial inequality because economic success is increasingly dependent on people’s social networks and access to cultural and social capital. Argued to be outgrowths of a shift in federal and local housing initiatives in the 1980s and 90s that emphasized disinvestment of public resources and a “blind faith” in private markets to solve housing needs. Coincided with the economic shift from an industrial to a service economy

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role of government in creating the suburbs and ghettos

After Board, white flight created white suburbs and black ghettos. Under-resourced schools that are unable to prepare students, lack of decent affordable housing, and economic shifts impact employment abilities.

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originally referred to a Jewish area in 16th century Venice, but now refers to a crowded, urban section of a city populated by minority groups who are legally, socially, or physically restricted from living outside the designated area. Most attention to ghettos focuses on criminal behaviors, like alcoholism, drug addition, teen pregnancy, and behavioral issues

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chocolate cities

Areas where black culture is embraced

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public housing

Refers to housing stock that is owned by the government, specifically HUD. Originally built for white working- and lower-middle-class families and was designed to address a need during the great depression and post-WWII urban housing shortage

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shifts in public housing

in 1960s, residents were more likely to be poor rather than working class and the population became less white. This was because the federal gov made a different program for whites, involving single-family suburban programs leaving the high-rise urban projects as the program that catered to blacks. Currently have a year-long repair backlog as rents do not cover maintenance costs, and they were built cheaply and not designed to last

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section 8 housing

Housing voucher program, now a racial slur

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environmental racism

Whereby an industry policy or practice differentially affects a group based upon its race or color, shifting industry costs onto communities of color. Communities of color are targeted by toxic waste facilities, landfills, incinerators, chemical production facilities, and a host of other polluting industries. Not classed, middle-class and low-class black neighborhoods are targeted just as often. Ex. Flint, Michigan. Moving to different water systems resulted in the corrosion of the city’s pipes, leading to lead in the water supply.

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ER by race

Latinos experience more work-related hazards and occupational diseases than whites. Ex. Pesticides Natives face radioactive contamination due to mining on their lands and stores nuclear waste on poor tribal lands. Chosen because they are poor and politically unorganized. Ex. Hog farms in North Carolina, hazards on black communities. Ex. Mississippi River Corridor has a high concentration of chemical plants, incinerators, landfills, and petroleum processors where black communities are located. Ex. Louisiana’s Cancer Alley

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coalition against death alley

Formed to fight polluters in the Cancer Alley

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environmental justice movement

Movement merges issues and tactics of the 1960s civil rights movement and the environmental movement of the 1970s to challenge polluting industries and their practices. Began in ‘82 to stop the dumping of contaminated soil in North Carolina

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climate refugees

People who are forced to leave their community of origin due to environmental destruction such as soil erosion, drought, floods, or climate change. First are the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw, in Louisiana

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Milton Gordon’s Stages of Assimilation (1964)

cultural, structural, marital, identification, attitude-receptional, behavior-receptional, civic

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cultural assimilation

When the members of a subordinate group adapt to cultural patterns of the dominant group.

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structural assimilation

The point where subordinate groups are accepted into the dominant group’s primary and secondary group structures. Members of the minority group attend the same schools and participate in the same social organizations as do the members of the dominant group.

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marital assimilation

When there is no difference in societal acceptance levels between interracial and monoracial marriages

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