ERIC Number: ED335434
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1990-Nov-16
Reference Count: N/A
On William Julius Wilson's "Truly Disadvantaged."
A premise of this paper is that in his book "The Truly Disadvantaged" (1987), William Julius Wilson fails to recognize the effect of covert racism on the plight of the African American underclass. Wilson asserts that historical racism has contributed to the present predicament of the underclass, who have been abandoned in the ghettos by their black middle-class counterparts and by the working class. However, he also asserts that contemporary racism is no longer a major factor contributing to that predicament and that affirmative action policies have been counterproductive. He proposes a policy that would promote economic growth and sustained full employment that would benefit the underclass disproportionately. The counter-opinion is offered that while overt racism may be a thing of the past, a new breed of "symbolic racists" has evolved whose unspoken adherence to the Protestant work ethic offers a convenient moral foil to affirmative action and other social policies promoting equity. This invisible moral stance leads to a perception that racial minorities have received more than their share of social opportunity; hence reasonable access to opportunity is equated with favoritism and handouts, and racism is rationalized by wrapping it in the moral values of American secular faith. The paper concludes that it is important for students to understand why Wilson calls for an economic solution to social problems and important also to understand the nature of the challenges to that position, but that enabling students to examine the nature of the process by which people construct and attach value to the social experience and exercise control over that experience is not only important but essential. A seven-item bibliography is appended. (FMW)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Book/Product Reviews
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: African Americans
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Council for the Social Studies (Anaheim, CA, November 16, 1990).