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Definition of terms from the Bonilla-Silva book

What do the following terms mean re: black inequality from the Bonilla -Silva book, White Supremacy and racism in the Post-Civil Rights era?

Abstract liberalism, biologization, naturalization, and minimization

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General meaning of the terms:

1) Abstract liberalism is an "[a]bstract and decontextualized extension of principles of liberalism to racial matters in ways that preserve racially unfair situations."

2) The Biologization Of Culture

Modern racial ideology no longer relies on the claim that blacks are biologically inferior to whites. Instead, it has biologized their presumed cultural practices (i.e., presented them as fixed features) and used that as the rationale for explaining racial inequality. For instance, Sharon, a student at Duke University, agrees with the premise that blacks are poor because they lack the drive to succeed.

3) Naturalization, or the assertion that "racial phenomena ... are natural occurrences. This is normalization of events or actions that could otherwise be interpreted as racially motivated.

(4) minimization, or efforts to reduce or dismiss the continuing significance of race and racism.

Please read the article below that was transcribed from a talk given by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva that goes into more detail on each of the four central frames of color blind racism.

The Strange Enigma of Racism in Contemporary America
by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva

[This is an edited version of a talk given on March 7, 2001, at a forum on racism at Texas A & M sponsored by the Multicultural Leadership Forum and the Department of Multicultural Studies.]

For most Americans, talking about racism is talking about white supremacist organizations or Archie Bunkers. I anchor my remarks from a different theoretical shore and one that will make many of you feel quite uncomfortable. I contend that racism is, more than anything else, a matter of group power; it is about a dominant racial group (whites) striving to maintain its systemic advantages and minorities fighting to subvert the racial status quo. Hence, although "bigots" are part of America's (and A&M's) racial landscape, they are not the central actors responsible for the reproduction of racial inequality. If bigots are not the cogs propelling America's racial dynamics, who are they? My answer: regular white folks just following the racial script of America. Today most whites assert that they "don't see any color, just people;" that although the ugly face of discrimination is still with us, it is no longer the main factor determining minorities' life chances; and, finally, that they, like Dr. Martin Luther King, aspire to live in a society where "people are judged by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin." More poignantly, and in a curious case of group projection, many whites insist that minorities (especially blacks) are the ones responsible for our "racial problems."

But regardless of whites' "sincere fictions," racial considerations shade almost everything that happens in this country. Blacks--and dark-skinned racial minorities--lag well behind whites in virtually every relevant social indicator. For example, blacks are poorer, earn less, and are significantly less wealthy than whites. They also receive an inferior education than whites even when they attend integrated settings. Regarding housing, blacks pay more for similar units and, because of discrimination, cannot access the totality of the housing market in any locality. In terms of social interaction, blacks receive impolite and discriminatory treatment in stores, restaurants, attempting to hail taxicabs, driving, and in a host of other commercial and social transactions. In short, blacks are, using the apt metaphor coined by Professor Derrick Bell, "at the bottom of the well."

How is it possible to have this tremendous level of racial inequality in a country where most people (whites) claim that race is no longer a relevant social factor and that "racists" are a species on the brink of extinction? More significantly, how do whites explain the contradiction between their professed color blindness and America's color-coded inequality? I will attempt to answer both of these questions. My main argument is that whites have developed a new, powerful ideology that justifies contemporary racial inequality and thus help maintain "systemic white privilege." I label this new ideology "color blind racism" because this term fits quite well the language used by whites to defend the racial status quo. This ideology emerged in the 1960s concurrently with what I have labeled the "New Racism." "New Racism" practices maintain white privilege, and, unlike those typical of Jim Crow, tend to be slippery, institutional, and apparently non-racial. Post civil rights discrimination, for the most part, operates in a "now you see it, now you don't" fashion. For instance, instead of whites relying on housing covenants or on the Jim Crow signs of the past (e.g., "This is a WHITE neighborhood"), today realtors steer blacks into certain neighborhoods, individual whites use "smiling discrimination" to exclude blacks (e.g., studies by HUD and The Urban Institute), and, in some white neighborhoods, sponsorship is the hidden strategy relied upon to keep them white. Similar practices are at work in universities, banks, restaurants, and other venues.

Because the tactics for maintaining systemic white privilege changed in the 1960s, the rationalizations for explaining racial inequality changed, too. Whereas Jim Crow racism explained blacks' social standing as the product of their imputed biological and moral inferiority, color blind racism explains it as the product of market dynamics, naturally occurring phenomena, and presumed cultural deficiencies. Below, I will highlight the central frames of color blind racism with interview data from two projects: the 1997 survey of College Students and the 1998 Detroit Area Study. The four central frames of color blind racism are 1) Abstract Liberalism, 2) Naturalization, 3) Biologization of Culture, and 4) Minimization of Racism. I discuss each frame separately.

Abstract Liberalism

Whereas the principles liberalism and humanism were not extended to nonwhites in the past, they have become the main rhetorical weapons to justify contemporary racial inequality. Whites use these principles in an abstract way that allows them to support the racial status quo in an apparently ...

Solution Summary

This solution provides a working definition of the terms Abstract liberalism, biologization, naturalization, and minimization as they relate to the Bonilla-Silva book.