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Dismantling the Racism Machine Part 5

Dismantling the Racism Machine Part 5

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Dismantling the Racism Machine Part 5

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  1. Dismantling the Racism MachinePart 5 Dr. Karen Gaffney English Department Raritan Valley Community College Branchburg, NJ Website: Email: Twitter: @dividednolonger Pronouns: she/her/hers

  2. Resources on my website • My website = Divided No Longer: • Along the side, scroll down for a list of recommended Blogs, Magazines, & Podcasts • Keep scrolling for a list of recommended Organizations • Check out the tabs at the top (or in a menu list depending on your browser), which include Resources on Race and Racism (which then includes sub-tabs on specific topics) • Also click on the tab “My Presentations” and scroll down to the Leisure Learning Series of Bernards Library and click on the link to this page: • I created this page for you to compile resources relevant for each week of this series, so please check it out • Feel free to email me with any feedback or questions • Email:

  3. How can my book help you? • This entire lecture series is based on my book, Dismantling the Racism Machine: A Manual and Toolbox (Routledge, 2018) • My book will help answer many of the questions you’ve raised • My book can help you with next steps: • The last chapter (Step 5) is entirely action steps, specific actions you can take to address the problems of systemic racism being raised here • Organize a book club reading & discussion of my book to raise awareness among your neighbors, community group members, church group members, etc. • My book also serves as professional development for K-12 educators, so recommend it to teachers and school board members you know • Recommend it to your network of family members, friends, former colleagues, and more • If lack of awareness is one of our obstacles, use my book to help address that

  4. Review: Whiteness • “whiteness defined through European ancestry was a calculated racial solution developed by colonial leaders to the economic and physical threat of laboring-class solidarity” • Part of this “calculation” of whiteness needed to include mechanisms for establishing the borders around whiteness (since it’s not real to begin with – it’s an invention) and for patrolling those borders • One such mechanism: Census (Today’s topic) • How did the census serve as a weapon of white supremacy in the past? What is the relationship between the census and race today?

  5. Slavery & US Constitutional Convention, 1787 • Three-Fifths Compromise • Slave states could count (using the census) three-fifths of the state’s slave population toward representation for that state in the House of Representatives and in the Electoral College • Gave states with more slaves more representation and power in government • This greater representation didn’t mean that slaves were being represented because they were identified as property • Three-Fifths also has an enduring legacy because it symbolizes how black people have not been seen as fully human (see Dismantling the Racism Machine, page 92)

  6. Census • Started in 1790 • Conducted every 10 years since then (“decennial”) • Until 1960, people did not fill out their own forms; a census worker (“enumerator”) filled it out on your behalf • Every Census since 1790 categorizes people by race (see Dismantling the Racism Machine, pages 92-93)

  7. Census gives legitimacy to idea of racial categorization and to categories used Why does this matter? • Also in 1790: Naturalization Act stated that only “free white persons” were citizens Census helped normalize the following false beliefs: • race is biological • white people are superior • whiteness is real and not an invention • whiteness needs to be protected • people of color need to be identified and controlled (see Dismantling the Racism Machine, pages 92-93)

  8. Census: 1840 • New category of “insane, idiotic” created to compare black people who were free vs. black people who were enslaved • SC Senator John C. Calhoun used census data to “prove” that freedom for black people causes insanity because “natural” condition was slavery • Used to justify why Texas should be slave state • Consistent w mainstream science, which perpetuated false belief white people were biologically superior (see What is Your Race? by Kenneth Prewitt, 50-51)

  9. Census: 1870 Categories and Directions to Census workers • “Color: white, black, Chinese, mulatto, Indian” • “It must not be assumed that, where nothing is written in this column, ‘White’ is to be understood. The column is always to be filled. Be particularly careful in reporting the class Mulatto. The word is here generic, and includes quadroons, octoroons, and all persons having any perceptible trace of African blood. Important scientific results depend upon the correct determination of this class in schedules 1 and 2.” (see Dismantling the Racism Machine, pages 93)

  10. Census: 1930 Categories and Directions to Census workers • “Color or Race: White, Negro, Mexican, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Hindu, Korean” • The previous category “Mulatto” has been removed and now “Negro” includes “A person of mixed white and Negro blood…no matter how small the percentage of Negro blood” • “Mexican” is a new category: “Practically all Mexican laborers are of a racial mixture difficult to classify” • (see Dismantling the Racism Machine, pages 94-95)

  11. Census: 1930 – Scholarly analysis • “The Census Bureau explained that the category was added because of increased immigration to the United States in the wake of Mexico’s revolution of the 1920s. . . . During the economic depression of the 1930s, nearly 400,000 Mexicans and Mexican Americans living in the United States were deported to Mexico. Many Mexicans saw a link between the Mexican racial category on the census and this forced expulsion” (Goodman et al. 160). (see Dismantling the Racism Machine, pages 96)

  12. Census: 1930 and 1940 • Ian Haney López explains that the new census category of “Mexican” “helped legitimize federal and state expulsion campaigns” in the 1930s (“Race on the 2010 Census” 44). • However, that category did not remain on the census, and the 1940 census instructions explain, “Mexicans are to be regarded as white unless definitely of Indian or other nonwhite race” (see Dismantling the Racism Machine, pages 96)

  13. Census: 1940 Racial category “Japanese” • Washington Post recentlyreports “Secret use of census info helped send Japanese Americans to internment camps in WWII” (Lori Aratani 4/6/18)

  14. Post-Civil Rights Census • People self-identify and fill out their own census form (since 1960) • Since 2000, people can identify as more than one race

  15. Post-Civil Rights Census The Census Bureau’s website says: • “The racial categories included in the census questionnaire generally reflect a social definition of race recognized in this country and not an attempt to define race biologically, anthropologically, or genetically.” • “Information on race is required for many Federal programs and is critical in making policy decisions, particularly for civil rights. States use these data to meet legislative redistricting principles. Race data also are used to promote equal employment opportunities and to assess racial disparities in health and environmental risks.”

  16. Challenging the Census • In other words, the Census Bureau explicitly acknowledges that race is a social construct and not biological and that they want to use the data they collect to advance civil rights • However, the Census Bureau uses the 5 racial categories that Johann Blumenbach developed in the late 1700s, which became very foundation of false ideology that race is biological and hierarchical that we’ve been talking about • How can the Census Bureau reconcile continuing to use something that was a weapon of white supremacy to supposedly advance civil rights?

  17. Media reports census results In 2001 • “Latinos Surge in Census Count Officials Surprised By 2000 Figures” • “New Census Shows Hispanics Are Even with Blacks in U.S.” In 2003 • “Latinos Now Top Minority” In 2005 • “Census: Hispanics are Fastest Growing Minority” In 2008 • “In a Generation, Minorities May Be the U.S. Majority” In 2009 • “Projections Put Whites in Minority in U.S. by 2050”

  18. 2010 Census: Questions 8 & 9 See handout for copy of 2010 Census • Question 8: “origin” • Hispanic? Yes/No • Question 9: “race” • 5 options plus “Some other race” • Doesn’t include Hispanic • Results: “Some other race” is 3rd most popular choice, especially for people who said yes to Question 8

  19. 2020 Census • Citizenship question? • Administration is proceeding but there are many lawsuits • Follow NPR census analyst Hansi Lo Wang • Revised “origin” and “race” questions (see handout for proposed 2020 Census)

  20. Questions? Comments? • Thanks to the Leisure Learning Program, sponsored by the Friends of the Bernards Township Library and the Bernards Township Library • Dismantling the Racism Machine: A Manual and Toolbox is available at and Amazon • Visit my website for this Powerpoint and many resources, inc. a page for this series under My Presentations • Email me: