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How Racism Takes Place

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White identity in the United States is place bound, asserts George Lipsitz in How Racism Takes Place. An influential scholar in American and racial studies, Lipsitz contends that racism persists because a network of practices skew opportunities and life chances along racial lines. That is, these practices assign people of different races to different spaces and therefore a White identity in the United States is place bound, asserts George Lipsitz in How Racism Takes Place. An influential scholar in American and racial studies, Lipsitz contends that racism persists because a network of practices skew opportunities and life chances along racial lines. That is, these practices assign people of different races to different spaces and therefore allow grossly unequal access to education, employment, transportation, and shelter. Revealing how seemingly race-neutral urban sites contain hidden racial assumptions and imperatives, Lipsitz examines the ways in which urban space and social experience are racialized and emphasizes that aggrieved communities do not passively acquiesce to racism. He recognizes the people and communities that have re-imagined segregated spaces in expressive culture as places for congregation. How Racism Takes Place not only exposes the degree to which this white spatial imagining structures our society but also celebrates the black artists and activists who struggle to create a just and decent society.


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White identity in the United States is place bound, asserts George Lipsitz in How Racism Takes Place. An influential scholar in American and racial studies, Lipsitz contends that racism persists because a network of practices skew opportunities and life chances along racial lines. That is, these practices assign people of different races to different spaces and therefore a White identity in the United States is place bound, asserts George Lipsitz in How Racism Takes Place. An influential scholar in American and racial studies, Lipsitz contends that racism persists because a network of practices skew opportunities and life chances along racial lines. That is, these practices assign people of different races to different spaces and therefore allow grossly unequal access to education, employment, transportation, and shelter. Revealing how seemingly race-neutral urban sites contain hidden racial assumptions and imperatives, Lipsitz examines the ways in which urban space and social experience are racialized and emphasizes that aggrieved communities do not passively acquiesce to racism. He recognizes the people and communities that have re-imagined segregated spaces in expressive culture as places for congregation. How Racism Takes Place not only exposes the degree to which this white spatial imagining structures our society but also celebrates the black artists and activists who struggle to create a just and decent society.

30 review for How Racism Takes Place

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mehrsa

    This book is pretty dry and academic, but it's super important. The first half was much more interesting than the second. Lipsitz shows how racial segregation is interwoven into a lot of the American divide on race. The most interesting chapter for me was his analysis of the wire (which I never watched), but I thought Lipsitz' argument was convincing. The chapters felt disjoined too, but each was interesting.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Frank

    I actually read only about half of this book; the second half started to get a little tedious. But the first half was electrifying. Two chapters in particular really grabbed me: one an analysis of the St. Louis Rams as an example of how "subsidies for professional sports teams and other corporations do not 'trickle down' to the majority of the population, but instead function largely as a means for transferring wealth and resources from the poor and the middle class to the rich"; the other a det I actually read only about half of this book; the second half started to get a little tedious. But the first half was electrifying. Two chapters in particular really grabbed me: one an analysis of the St. Louis Rams as an example of how "subsidies for professional sports teams and other corporations do not 'trickle down' to the majority of the population, but instead function largely as a means for transferring wealth and resources from the poor and the middle class to the rich"; the other a detailed appreciation of the accomplishments of the HBO series The Wire along with a devastating critique of the show's failure to represent the system of exploitation and racism that created the Baltimore ghetto that provides the setting for much of the show: Without a systemic analysis of how housing discrimination creates the ghetto, The Wire is left with the default positions inscribed in the white spatial imaginary: that people who have problems are problems, that social welfare programs produce only "poverty pimps" and hustlers who take advantage of the poor, and that social disintegration has gone so far it simply cannot be stopped. These values "hail" certain kinds of viewers: knowing cynics who enjoy having their worst fears confirmed, passive voyeurs who think of themselves as noble because they feel sorry for others from the safety of their living rooms, and self-satisfied suburbanites who use portrayals of Black criminality to absolve themselves of any responsibility for the inequalities that provide them with unfair gains and unjust enrichments. Back when I watched The Wire, I did a lot of writing on my blog about the show. Especially in this post, I struggled with the issues that Lipsitz writes about, and I yearned for some type of analysis to identify what I felt was missing in the show. Lipsitz satisfyingly provides that analysis.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    This is both a great description of the effects of racism on space and of some innovative and important efforts to reimagine and take power on a small scale within space. That said, it doesn't really get beyond the descriptive. It calls on a wide array of theorists to support the argument but strips them of their own radical calls for overturning the system. Thus we have Michelle Alexander on incarceration without her arguments about caste, Ruth Gilmore without her political economy of prisons, L This is both a great description of the effects of racism on space and of some innovative and important efforts to reimagine and take power on a small scale within space. That said, it doesn't really get beyond the descriptive. It calls on a wide array of theorists to support the argument but strips them of their own radical calls for overturning the system. Thus we have Michelle Alexander on incarceration without her arguments about caste, Ruth Gilmore without her political economy of prisons, Logan and Moloch without their theory of the capitalist growth machine based on Marxists Smith and Harvey, Cedric Robinson without his Black Marxism and Raymond Williams without his white working-class Marxism, Ture and Hamilton without Black Power. I'm not big on single unifying theories that explain all, but reading this made me feel the importance of exposing underlying mechanisms, theorising causes and working towards a real solution that actually grapples with power and struggle and how real concrete change occurs. I love writing and art and reclaiming spaces and finding self-affirming power in our daily lives and communities but is that sufficient to overcome centuries of injustice inscribed in the land and urban fabric itself? No. Necessary but not sufficient. There is so much good radical work that this isn't in conversation with--the construction of race and whiteness, racial hierarchies, the meaning of racism itself, the cobbling together of hegemony, radial understandings of socio-spatial dynamics. I feel that whiteness is essentialised as a privileged suburban experience. While I agree that there is undoubtedly a dominant white spatial imaginary tied to suburban experience and privilege, and that this is part of the problem, I don't find it useful to posit it without exposing its chinks and gaps and recognising the ways that this is itself an ideal construction far from the experience of many. To create a duality between white and Black I find even less useful given America's rich diversity of tradition and struggle and the rich veins of work on intersectionality. Thus I fully agree with the problems as he describes them, and the importance of drawing of histories and experiences of struggle, but not particularly the way he does so. How Racism Takes Place argues for the importance of acknowledging the degree to which our society is structured by a white spatial imaginary and for confronting the serious moral, political and social challenges mounted against it by a black spatial imaginary. The white spatial imaginary portrays the properly gendered prosperous suburban home as the privileged moral geography of the nation. Widespread, costly, and often counterproductive practices of surveillance, regulation, and incarceration become justified as forms of frontier defense against demonized people of color. Works of popular film and fiction often revolve around phobic representations of Black people unfit for freedom. These cultural commitments have political consequences. They emerge from public policies that place the acquisitive consumer at the center of the social world, that promote hostile privatism and defensive localism as suburban structures of feeling. they encourage homeowners to band together to capture amenities and advantages for themselves while outsourcing responsibilities and burdens to less powerful communities. [13] He also has a rather folksy prescription for 'changing the scale, scope, and stakes of space--burrowing in, building up, and branching out' [20]. I hate it when academics fail to recognise the amazing things people do to survive a terrible world with souls intact, at the same time I think it is a failure of theory to imagine that these can change anything without a strong and sustained movement in struggle. He writes 'Ending the fatal links that connect place and race would do much for social justice', but I cannot find the answers to breaking them here. He writes This requires a two-part strategy that entails a frontal attack on all the mechanisms that prevent people of color from equal opportunities to accumulate assets that appreciate in value and can be passed down across generations, as well as a concomitant embrace of the Black spatial imaginary based on privileging use value over exchange value, sociality over selfishness, and inclusion over exclusion. [61] But I think the answers to ending these links lie in the way that racism and capitalism have been born and grown together and we cannot unpick one with unpicking both. Almost all of the theory he draws on tries to address this, yet he doesn't really. How do you engage in a massive redistribution of wealth without some serious changes in the economic system, and is that not what the white spatial imaginary has been constructed to prevent? Is it useful to claim a privileging of use value as a Black imaginary, isn't its power that it is shared by a wide variety of imaginaries rooted in struggles for justice? I feel like we're back to winning a piece of the pie without challenging the pie itself, in a world facing global injustices on a massive scale and environmental annihilation, we need more. A few other statements I think are interesting 'The white spatial imaginary has cultural as well as a social consequences. It structures feelings as well as social institutions. the white spatial imaginary idealizes 'pure' and homogenous spaces, controlled environments, and predictable patterns of design and behaviour. It seeks to hide social problems rather than solve them'. [29] How I long for dialectics when I read this, surely all of these things act upon each other--how is this imaginary formed, reformed, reinforced, reimagined? He also writes 'The white spatial imaginary views space as a locus for the generation of exchange value' [30], but that 'Preferences for private dwellings, private developments, and privatization of municipal services may appear to be market choices, but in reality they reflect the coordinated manipulation of market forces by wealthy corporations and their allies in government' [31]. So how does that work, and how do they get people to buy in and continue buying in. What this book does, as his earlier Investment in Whiteness does, is stand as a descriptive synthesis of what we know, bridging political, economic and cultural strands of work. To get a broad sense of how things work and where deeper more theoretical work can be found to get closer to causes and closer to solutions, this is good. To end with a great quote from Amiri Baraka, stating that the enduring power of Lorraine Hansberry's Raisin in the Sun lies in how it states the central problems Black people in America face every day: the powerlessness of black people to control their own fat or that of their families in capitalist America where race is place, white is right, and money makes and defines the man. (quoted from 'A Critical Reevaluation: A Raisin in the Sun's Enduring Passion')

  4. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Higginbotham

    Excellent book that explores the nature of segregation even after Civil Right legislation has pasted by the continuation of White supremacy as we get lax enforcement of laws and court decisions that continue to pay deference to the desires of White people. The books also explores how the Black community, often working in restricted spaces challenges barriers and brings forth a different value and ethic that found in the White community. An engaging books that raises many questions about neoliber Excellent book that explores the nature of segregation even after Civil Right legislation has pasted by the continuation of White supremacy as we get lax enforcement of laws and court decisions that continue to pay deference to the desires of White people. The books also explores how the Black community, often working in restricted spaces challenges barriers and brings forth a different value and ethic that found in the White community. An engaging books that raises many questions about neoliberal thinking and also the bias in policies that few people even question today.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Connie Combs

    Chapters 1 - 4 are essential! the other chapters are most relevant for those interested in cultural expression of blacks under oppression

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mekal

    I love this book. I lacked the perception that this book gave me, and I am grateful that I found it here. This is an extremely important read for anyone.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Milton Reynolds

    Entertaining and informative. George Lipsitz always brings his "A" game!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Paulette

  9. 5 out of 5

    Anna

  10. 4 out of 5

    Hilary

  11. 4 out of 5

    Yassir Morsi

  12. 5 out of 5

    Anna

  13. 4 out of 5

    Charles Kell

  14. 5 out of 5

    osoordinary

  15. 5 out of 5

    Mike Mann

  16. 4 out of 5

    Julia Olson

  17. 5 out of 5

    Stentor

  18. 5 out of 5

    Aaron Middleton

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jahi

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jared

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mercedes

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sophie

  23. 5 out of 5

    Hailey

  24. 4 out of 5

    DONALD R. WATKINS, JR.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Emerson Robles-Tuttle

  26. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Mueller

  27. 5 out of 5

    Taida

  28. 4 out of 5

    Rob

  29. 4 out of 5

    Andee Nero

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mairead

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