August 16th, 2014

Plenary Session. Social Class in Daily Life


Social class divisions are powerful forces in American society: they influence the rituals of daily life, they cast a long shadow over the life course, and they are thrown into sharper relief in times of crisis. This panel shows a range of ways in which class divisions matter. Jay MacLeod, author of the classic work, Ain’t No Makin’ It, will make a rare appearance at an ASA meeting to discuss the impact of class on life chances over the life course. Linda Burton will share the results of a thirty-year ethnographic study of low-income mothers. Her study highlights the interweaving of race and class in their lives. Eric Klinenberg, drawing on recent data on the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, will show how the experiences of this natural disaster varied by class. William Julius Wilson will be the discussant on this Saturday plenary session.


>> One of the pleasures of being president of A.S.A. is the opportunity to shape the invited program, particularly the plenaries. We had a program committee that helped us with the other sessions. And
so the panel before you this afternoon is one I wanted to have because with the theme hard times I think one of the important aspects of seeing how these hard times reverberate through daily life in
countless ways. And, of course, these hard times are non-equally shared. We will have three speakers today and a discussion; William Julius Wilson who will join us shortly. And let me introduce them
right before their talk.
So it's an honor particularly to have Jay MacLeod join us. He is a preacher at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in New London, New Hampshire and he recently returned after spending several years as a
clergyman in England. He does not usually attend A.S.A. But he's the author of classic work "Ain't No Makin' It," which was his undergraduate thesis. And he has followed these men for decades. And so
today he is going to update us on the Hallway Hangers and the Brothers. His speech is called "Outclassed." Please welcome Jay MacLeod. [Applause]
>> "I ain't going to college. Who wants to go to college? I'd just end up getting a shitty job anyway," so said Freddy Panella. Freddy was an 11-year-old white kid from the projects. I was a
19-year-old white kid from the sticks. We met at a summer youth enrichment program. Basically my job that summer was to prove Freddy wrong. I'd founded the program with another classmate and we each
worked intensively with the group of eight to 10 kids in this low-income housing development that I call in the book Clarendon Heights. And my job was to motivate Freddy, to challenge him, to show
him and his friends the world outside of Clarendon Heights and all the possibilities that therein. And I largely motivated them the way I had been motivated myself. I parroted what I call in the book
the achievement ideology. Look, behave yourselves, work hard, put out in school, get good grades, go to college and end up getting a good job.
Of course, by denying any barriers to success, that ideology could end up reinforcing the feelings of personal inadequacy and failure that these kids would have felt anyway because none of them were
from families who had made it. I cared about these kids. What I discovered over that summer is caring isn't enough. Good intentions aren't enough. We can actually do damage in communities like
Clarendon Heights if we're not careful. We need analysis because I imported into Clarendon Heights all of the biases, values and assumptions from my own rural, lower middle class social world.
Fortunately my job that summer was an intense one. We actually lived in the neighborhood. We spent our free time there. We got to know not just the kids but their parents and their siblings. And I saw
plenty on the street that can confirm some of my prejudices but I also saw a great deal that challenged my perspectives, that surprised and bewildered me. In particular I was struck by the leveled
aspirations of the kids I was working with, even the most energetic, even the brightest didn't even aspire to middle class work. And that surprised me. Here in an ostensibly open society, how is it
that these kids' dreams didn't even cut across the lines of social class? How could this be? And "Ain't No Makin' It" seeks to answer that question. I'm not going to go over the argument because I
gather that some of you have read the book. If you haven't, you should do. I thought the least I could do for Annette, she's paid my airfare to San Francisco, was to read it, which I did, finished it
this morning. And it's not an easy read. By the end I was in tears. I had forgotten how compelling these kids or at the end of the book these men in middle age can be. That's a little disconcerting.
Now I see why everybody uses PowerPoints. [Laughter]
"Ain't No Makin' It" illuminates, it grounds, it makes real many of the things that you all have been talking about for generations. How structural inequality, class, race, and gender-based
constraints can impact on actual human beings. How structure and social inequality can reach down into communities like Clarendon Heights and into the lives, into the minds and also into the hearts
of these kids.
And so what we find in the Hallway Hangers, this group of white kids who look to be simply self-destructive hoodlums, we discovered beneath their behavior a conduct that has a rationality and a logic
to it given the constraints that they face. When asked about their aspirations, Jinx's reply is typical -- I think you're kidding yourself to have any. We're just going to take whatever we can get.
Given the hand they had dealt, the Hallway Hangers refused to gamely engage in a contest they are destined to lose. And instead they create their own distinctive subculture which inverts society's
norms but which allows them some semblance of self-respect and dignity. Of course, the study had and I think this was one of the reasons why it appeals to all of you and one of the reasons I like it,
is it's got this racial twist. Criminality is almost completely confined to the white kids. The black group of teenagers, or mostly black group, only the one white member, they do what you're
supposed to do. They listen to what their parents say. They apply themselves in school. They shun alcohol, drugs, and violence and they optimistically embrace the future.
Now by this time my thesis adviser sitting right there, Katherine McClelland, she'd had me read all the sort of theorists. So I read Bowles and Gintis. I've read Bourdieu which is hard work, brilliant
but hard work to read Pierre Bourdieu at least as an undergraduate. But I suspected and I said in the first edition of the book that class and racially based constraints on their opportunity would
mean that the kids would struggle. And for this pessimism I was panned. Media critics said the Hallway Hangers are burnouts and deserve what they get and the Brothers will make it, just give them a
chance. The Washington Post called me a Marxist and my parents hid from their New Hampshire neighbors. [Laughter]
The big question the first edition of the book raises just that; what ends up happening to these kids? So I returned to Clarendon Heights after studying in England and four years in rural Mississippi.
After ten years the guys were in their mid-20's to find out how they had fared. Most of the Hallway Hangers had slid deeper into marginality. To be fair they dug themselves mostly deeper into
marginality. They abused alcohol and drugs. They fight, they steal, they deal crack. They can't stay out of jail much less hold down stable jobs. But what about the Brothers? I actually wrote in the
first edition of "Ain't No Makin' It," with a high school diploma, a positive attitude and a disciplined readiness for the rigors of the workplace, the Brothers should be capable of landing steady
jobs. Sadly, far from being overly cynical about the Brothers' prospects, like them, I was naive. Instead of climbing up the ladder, the Brothers tripped up in the new service economy. They graduated
from high school, many of them did some college but they were still stuck in low-wage, menial jobs. Most of the new information processing jobs were located in the suburbs beyond their educational
and physical reach. And neither did the Brothers have a thing the Hallway Hangers did which was white ethnic networking. They didn't have connections to a trade union or to the city where they can
get decent jobs.
And the service economy posed a special challenge for the Brothers. They're constantly in the new service economy as opposed to traditional, manual labor. They're constantly rubbing shoulders with
supervisors and customers and this placed them in a bind. Because young, black street culture had been so sensationalized, even demonized in this country, the Brothers could be viewed by whites as
criminally inclined if not downright dangerous. Now the Brothers, they don't look like hoodlums but neither did they immediately convey a mastery of middle class culture. They're honest, dedicated
and hardworking, but these qualities are not easily projected across the class and cultural divides that separate them from white middle class America. And so for the Brothers, bussing tables in a
swanky restaurant, photo copying files in a corporate office or working the register at a health food store, they must overcome the wariness and unease of their mainly white clientele and
And so it really was depressing going back in 1991, seven years after the original study had been done and defined not just the Hallway Hangers struggling, that was expected, but to find so many of
the Brothers really struggling as well. Only one of them had a place he could call his own, and the sign post that traditionally marked the transition to adulthood, a stable job, an independent
household, the prospect of a family that those had proved beyond their reach. So the Hallway Hangers can be dismissed by outsiders as self-destructive burnouts, but the Brothers cannot. They made
mistakes, but they're generally conscientious men committed to the American dream. They show quite clearly that our society is not as open as it advertises. That perspective though is not an easy one
for Americans to accept.
I remember distinctly -- this is stuff we used to do; hitchhiking down from home down to Clarendon Heights and I got a ride one day from a guy in a BMW. It was in the book but I couldn't find it. And
this was a nice guy, you know, he'd stopped and given me a lift. We talked on the way down about all sorts of things. When he dropped me off in front of Clarendon Heights, it was nothing but disgust.
He looked over at the Hallway Hangers, some of their friends and others hanging out and he and dismissed them all as ignorant, lazy losers. Now what was interesting when I went back, I was able to
put something of that perspective to some of the guys. And this is how Slick responded. "Tell a person like that to come on down. I'll let them stay at my mother's house. The rich people you're
talking about, let them stay there with the cockroaches and junkies shooting up outside and see how they react to it, without their little Porsches and their little Saabs. Let them survive for a
while. And Slick touches on an important dimension of poverty. Living in Clarendon Heights during the summers, over those four summers I worked in this youth enrichment program, and living across the
street in a tenement building in my senior year in college I began to understand how demoralizing persistent poverty can be. It can eat away at your insides and at your energy.
Very unlikely but I ended up going back and following up as Annette said. Annette, can you tell me when I've got five minutes? Going back and following up with these guys in 2006-2007, so they're now
40 years old most of them. And what we discovered was that social reproduction marches on. Things weren't as bad as when I'd visited them in the mid-20's. In fact, I wondered if I had to add a
question mark at the end of the book because three of the kids in the study arguably had at least begun to make it. But still we see the influence of social class and of race. Still they're having a
rough time with the criminal justice system. Still they don't have the connections. Relationships that helped to save some of them, fatherhood had helped as well, and some of them were able to parlay
their working class culture capital into new careers. Both self-employed. Mike, the one white member of the Brothers is in real estate. Slick, the Hallway Hanger, had started his own roofing firm
down in the Southern United States.
And so I was much, much -- it wasn't as difficult doing that bit of field work. It wasn't as bleak as before. Now one of the nice things about this enrichment program, there's a kid, Isaac. The first
year of the youth enrichment program in Clarendon Heights, there were four of us working in Clarendon Heights. It worked so well in contrary to what everyone expected including the human services
bureaucracy, we started the next summer in an additional housing project across the city, almost all African-American and then in the third summer in another housing project that was much more mixed.
Isaac was a kid that got into the program in its second year. He was from Washington Elms, an African-American lad. When I went back in 2007, I hooked up with Isaac. He's done very well. He was on
the school committee. He's been politicized. He does community work. So I sat down and I was talking to him and I said that some of the kids had even broken into the middle class. Isaac stopped me,
"What do you mean even?" I looked at him blankly. He continued, "Is it such a great achievement that two or three or four of your guys had made it even to the middle class? How some of those guys
have the same smarts and social skills to be running a company or a college or a country. Look at the clown who's running this one now," George W. Bush. "Seriously, Jay, now I have been around, been
to college and have gotten politically active I can see those guys that I grew up that are now in prison, living on the edge, some of them dead, lots of those guys were bright -- real bright and I'm
not just talking about street smarts. A lot were academically gifted as well or could have been. It's such a loss for them and their families but also for the city and this society. It makes me sad
and it makes me angry. I look back and I know I've been really lucky. Avenues opened up for me that could easily have been shut down and blocked off. Now people use me to deflect criticism away from
the system suggesting that if Isaac from Emerson Heights can make it, anybody can if they have the smarts and the drive. We're back to blaming individuals rather than looking at the environment and
the society. Your book taught me to resist this individualistic way of thinking that comes so naturally to most people. You haven't forgotten the lessons of your own book, have you?" Perhaps I had.
It's a magical moment, isn't it, when students teach us. And that was a magical moment for me. I managed to keep in touch with a lot of the kids in the youth project. Less in the book but in the youth
project. A couple years ago, we had a big reunion, 25th reunion and it was extraordinary to have all of these kids come back. I invited some of the -- youth program continues. It's still going to
this day. So some of the counselors working were invited and it was a wonderful, wonderful occasion. One of the guys I met was Frankie. Frankie at the beginning of the book, "I ain't going to
college. Who wants to go to college?" Frankie did go to college. He went to the same college as Isaac. They took a sociology class together. They were assigned this book. [Laughter] Isaac read it.
Freddie rather, I have to work back and forth between the real names and the made-up names, Freddy hadn't, of course. Like so many of your students, right? You come into class. He's like, "What was I
supposed to read? Can I borrow the book?" He borrows it, he skims it, quite likes it. In the class discussion he's sitting up front. Isaac's at the back. Freddie raises his hand and said, "Well,
yeah, I thought it was quite good. I mean it was quite accurate. I mean this could have been my neighborhood." And Isaac laughs from the back and says, "Frankie, look at the author. It's Jay. It is
your neighborhood" [Laughter]
I was going to make a little digression to talk a little bit -- I have been in England nearly 30 years, that's why I speak funny -- to talk a little about what I've learned there and contrast,
particularly with class consciousness between there and here. I don't have time for that. I just want to emphasize that it's only in the United States -- only in the United States that there's such a
stigma attached to being poor. The Brothers and the Hallway Hangers live in a class society committed to the denial of class. And I wasn't immune from this. Again, I won't tell that story because I
want to move on a little bit to Holmes County, Mississippi.
One of the things that really used to trouble me as the youth worker, as leading this youth project was the way kids, all poor -- this was now back in Clarendon Heights -- would Ruthlessly judge each
other. I remember the first day trip we took and the kids turned up with packed lunches. Remember the Shurfine soda, you know, the cheap soda? One or two of the kids turn up with that and they're
ridiculed by all the other kids because they don't have Coke or they don't have Pepsi. They've got the cheap one. This happens over and over again.
In rural Mississippi where in Holmes County where I worked, and Holmes County is a real throw-back, you know. This is a place where, you know, 74% black still dominated by a white elite economically.
It's a place, we were there from 1987 to 1991. During that time, you know how big American football is in these high school communities. Completely segregated schools, of course. All-white private
academies, all-black public schools. East Holmes Academy forfeits the football game. This is 1989 because one of the opposition's team had a black player. It's a throwback, Holmes County,
Mississippi, not typical and I assume it's changed at least a little bit since then.
But in Holmes County you had the same thing. I remember taking Ann Fox, one of the teenagers in the program, she lived on Egypt Plantation in one of these share cropper cabins. We've got a van load of
kids, we're dropping her off after finishing this project. Her mother's coming the other way driving this really beat up old car and all of the other kids are laughing. And there's Ann denying the
car belongs to them. That's not our car. That's not my car.
Holmes County, we worked for an organization called the Rural and I'm just going to go over it a little bit if I can, Annette. Working for the Rural Organizing and Culture Center. Right there in the
name. This was a group that was African-American led but had never been separatists. Right in the name they saw how important culture and history was to community organizing. And so one of the things
that I did there with Rock was to develop this oral history project. Oral history, remarkably powerful. And what the kids discovered is they started interviewing their grandparents as that Holmes
County had been a hot bed of civil rights activity. Not the community mobilizing tradition that Dr. King and others used, but the community organizing tradition developed by Snick, inspired by Ella
Baker, exemplified by Bob Moses. They'd worked in Holmes County trying to develop local leadership to carry the civil rights agenda for the long haul. And what the kids discovered was remarkable.
Hartman Turnbow who is notorious, I later discovered, lived in Holmes County, he was one of the first 14 to go up to register to vote. This was 1963. He was the first one that stepped forward. The
next day his house was firebombed. He was arrested for arson along with Bob Moses and a couple other Snick workers. Hartman Turnbow fired back when they firebombed his house. He used to go to these
civil rights meetings carrying a briefcase, dressed in overhauls, carrying a briefcase and in the briefcase was his automatic rifle.
But Hartman Turnbow and others -- as the kids interviewed them, they began to understand the structural roots of their plight. They started to go deeper into the history. I will never forget we went
up to the Holmes County courthouse. These three black teenagers finding the actual document that showed that in 1938-39 Holmes County School District spent $33.22 on the instruction of each white
student and $2.63 on each African-American. Now that kind of discovery helped students to understand the structural roots of their plight and to connect a path to the present. Pained and angered by
much of what they discovered, they also found grounds for hope and optimism.
In 1940 as part of the new deal, the federal government purchased five failing white-owned plantations in Holmes County, a community called Mileston. And they sold those 10,000 acres of fertile land
to 100 black share cropping families on long-term, low-interest mortgages with tools, seed and mule as well making good finally on this one little patch in Mississippi the reconstruction promise of
40 acres and a mule. Interviewed generations later by these kids, one woman said, "The land was a gift from the Lord, had your own stuff then, wasn't dependent on the white man for nothing." The
Mileston farmers never had income much above subsistence, but what they had was more threatening to the class system; independence, pride and control over their own destiny. Assaulted by Congress for
its socialist bend, the federal program was soon disbanded, but in Holmes County the seeds for social change had been sewn. Transformed from share croppers to land owners, the Mileston farmers were
the back bone of the civil rights movement in Holmes County. All 14 of those who went up to register to vote, Hartman Turnbow included, were Mileston farmers. It can be done. Mileston, Mississippi
shows that the government can actually attack the underlying causes of poverty and social inequality, of class and racial injustice with dramatic results. Sadly, Mileston is very much the exception.
Much more typical was the view from Ann's family, who lived on Egypt -- aptly named Egypt Plantation. There's the share cropper cabins and still the big house, the plantation house with the trees and
swimming pool and tennis courts there. It's visibly obscene that a process that enriches a few and impoverishes the many. And Egypt Plantation is a powerful American symbol. In the 18th Century this
rich Delta land belonged to the Choctaw Indians. Then they were dispossessed and displaced. In the mid-winter march to Oklahoma supervised by the U.S. government, 14,000 Choctaws perished. After the
Choctaws, of course, slaves worked these fields. Egypt Plantation reminds us that this nation was founded on the near genocide of one race and the enslavement of another. Egypt Plantation also drives
home the unconscionable inequalities today. And you don't have to be standing on Egypt Plantation. That same view we see in almost all American cities. Walk just two blocks down Taylor and you will
see the same view.
Such savage inequalities are painful to contemplate, but contemplate they must. As Charles Leonard maintains, "This nation founded and has endured on the basis of the grand denial of the reality of
its own aggression and evil. Until we work through our history of evil and face up to the reality of present injustice, little is likely to change. In a word we must come to grips with our sin."
That's probably not a word often used at A.S.A. meetings. We wince at that old-fashioned word and yet as the old civil rights workers understood it captures the reality of our personal and social
condition. Religion allows me to face up to the truth about myself. Prayer and reflection make me aware of my selfishness and moral blindness. I'm good at self-deception. Most of us are. It's not
that we're lying to ourselves because we're usually not conscious that we're deceiving ourselves. And policy of self-conception can lead to whole webs of illusion. Spirituality helps me encounter my
inertial drift into self-deception.
When I visited Chris in the Hallway Hangers of prison, my vocations as sociologist and priest became intertwined. Asked by Chris about how my faith helps me, I told him, " If we know in our gut that
God is merciful, that God accepts me just as I am, the real me, the me that's selfish and impatient and full of pride and vanity and ambition, then I don't need to deceive myself. I can face up to
the real me. I can put away all the masks that I put on for other people. I can begin to deal constructively with my sin, with my faults, and failings." The United States is even more prone to
self-deception than I am. The vocation of sociology is to tease out the truth of the world and that vocation has never been more badly needed. We are in the grip of denial and resistance to the
reality of our social sin and sociology can help the world to work through the ignorance of itself. For me, spirituality and sociology have parallel vocations. Spirituality reveals the truth about
ourselves. Sociology reveals the truth about society. Both spur us to struggle for justice. For in the end my redemption is linked to Freddie's and to Isaac's and to yours. Amen. [Applause]
>> Thank you. Eric Klinenberg is Professor of Sociology at New York University. His many books include "Heat Wave" which I have used with great success in my own classrooms. He takes his role as
public sociologist extremely serious and his most recent book "Solo" was everywhere in the airways and in the newspapers and the social media. He will tell us today about his most recent study about
Hurricane Sandy in the Northeast and how it had different ramifications across the communities. His title is Cities, Class and Climate Change: An Autopsy of Superstore Sandy. Welcome. [Applause]
>> Thank you, first of all, Annette for inviting me to be part of this panel. I think that's a little better. And it was a great invitation. I was very excited until I found out that I was going to be
following Jay on this panel which was like being invited to headline a hip-hop show and finding out that Lauren Hill is opening for you after having not been seen for many years. Thanks to the three
people who got that joke. [Laughter] And let me also say at the outset this work comes out of a big collaborative project that we're doing at New York University that we've been doing since the
lights came back on after Sandy and this paper comes out of work that I have been doing with an amazing graduate student, Liz Kozlov, who is somewhere up in the front and you will see her up on the
stage in a few years.
Sociologists have long understood that class shapes people's experiences in disasters as well as their outcomes. Class is obviously not the only thing that determines people's fate, but we know how it
matters when it comes to pivotal moments of evacuation and impact and how it affects the ensuing period of rebuilding and recovery. We know that class can determine who gets care and support and when
they get it. And we also know that often class determines who lives and who dies. Sociologists also believe that extreme events can be analytically useful because they shed light on everyday
conditions that are always present but are difficult to perceive. And I want to argue today that global warming makes the study of disasters even more essential to our discipline and that's not just
a thinly veiled and pathetic attempt to get you to teach heat wave. It's also because I believe that in the Anthropocene that every day has itself become an extreme event as increasingly becoming
Climate change makes these kinds of events more frequent and more severe which means heat waves and hurricanes and wildfires and droughts and floods are becoming normal, not anomalous. So these storms
of the century appear every few decades. The steady rise of sea levels is even more consequential. Today more than 600 million people worldwide live in low elevation coastal zones where they're
vulnerable to flooding as well as to the gradual erosion of their habitat. And that's not just true for people who are living in low-lying Pacific islands or in developing nations. Recent research
from the IPCC, the latest report projects 12 million people in four major American coastal areas could be displaced by 2030. Major American cities think that Miami or even New Orleans may not last
another 100 years.
And what that means is that in the next century our species will likely face the daunting challenge of relocating massive numbers of people, places, structures, and infrastructures; things that seem
permanent and fixed today. And in this process, class will play a key role in determining the fate of entire nations, of groups of families, and of individuals as well. And the main thing I want to
argue today is that it's time for sociology to make this problem our own.
Class matters for climate change in three key ways. The first is that it helps to determine who's causing the problem and it's generally most affluent. It also shapes people's vulnerability to the
effects of climate change. And class finally shapes our capacity to adapt to these effects. Now adaptation to drastic ecological transformation is expensive and it's easier for wealthier people and
places to protect themselves. Disasters are also costly in ways that are very difficult for us to appreciate. For instance, a recent paper that came out for The National Bureau of Economic Research
used data from more than 50 years of hurricanes to show that a single major storm typically cuts 3.7 years off the economic development in poor nations. And as disasters increase in frequency and
intensity, those who are already vulnerable will be at greatest risk of illness and death. They will be the least able to cope with ensuing spikes in the price of food and energy and the possibility
of shortages even for the most basic of resources, water. And I would be remiss not to say in this room in San Francisco in California that we are standing in the midst of an incredible drought, a
historic drought. One that threatens the agricultural economy of the state, the industrial economy of the state, and even threatens the possibility that the taps will run dry in many towns.
We're also already seeing these effects where I live in New York. And as you can see from this slide of temperature in New York, things are getting hotter. This is just a preview of what's to come.
The number of 90-degree plus days per year will likely increase more than 50% by the 2020's and will more than double by the 2050's. And we can't just turn on the air conditioning to fix the problem
because that will only make things worse. By the middle of the century today's one in 100 year flood may be a one in 20-year flood exacerbated by sea level rises that are predicted to rise at least
one to two feet.
Now the emerging sociological discussion of climate change highlights the disparity between those who contribute most to fossil fuel emissions and those who will suffer most from the consequences.
This unevenness is often presented as an international divide between the global north and global south as it is, but inequality also matters at smaller scales within regions, within cities, and even
at the neighborhood level. Global trends, like more intense heat waves and rising sea levels, inevitably intersect with local social dynamics and patterns of vulnerability. And this was the focus of
the first book I wrote "Heat Wave" about Chicago where you could see how inequality is played out during the disaster including some inequalities that we hadn't thought much about before then, like
the devastation of places. We can see it play out in hurricane Katrina, even more famously where we saw disproportionate impact on very poor people and African-Americans as well both during and after
the disaster.
Then there's Sandy; a massive super storm, a thousand miles wide that hit 20 U.S. states and other parts of the Caribbean as well that got much less attention. And on first glance, it really is harder
to see the effects of class on Sandy. I mean after all, you're looking at the famous iconic image of Sandy, downtown Manhattan, this concentration of wealth is dark. So wealth doesn't protect you
from everything. This image totally blew my mind of New York City because like most New Yorkers I just presumed that if things got really bad, like they'd shut off the power in the Bronx or something
like that. You know, there's like a working knowledge that New Yorkers have. Like they're going to take care of people downtown, but one of the things about climate change is that, in a strange way,
it brings us all into the same boat even while it puts us on different levels.
Now when it comes to mortality, you can see on the map of the people who died in New York City. The deaths are relatively few in number, but they're unevenly distributed. They were mostly in places
that were supposed to be evacuated. And class mattered but so did age and location and gender and social ties. For instance, about half of the people who died were older than 65. It's true in
Katrina. True in Chicago. Even higher then. Over 60% were men who have a tendency to be more socially isolated. And the number of people who died lived in these mandatory evacuation zones, but found
it very difficult to evacuate. They didn't have a place to evacuate to or they had someone to care for or had anxiety about having their place broken into. Class plays a role there.
But what about other impacts in addition to mortality? And I think as you can see from this slide there were lots of them and they were connected to everyday conditions before the storm. So consider
the Rockaways outside in Queens where one-quarter of residents had no health insurance before Sandy hit. And right before Sandy, one of the two hospitals in the Rockaways went bankrupt and closed
down which meant that the hospital was at double the emergency room. So the capacity to provide care during everyday conditions and extreme events is strained. Now after Sandy, a year afterwards, 60%
of the health care providers just in this one community were still closed down. So it's not like things get better when the weather changes.
Sandy exacerbated the chronic food insecurity you find in New York City where one in six goes hungry on a daily basis. And I could give you lots of details about how it happened, but consider just one
data point which is that public schools in New York City closed for at least five days and often more in neighborhoods that were very hard hit. They served 800,000 meals a day so what is that, four
million children's meals that were skipped. Now all of this happened despite the fact Hunts Point, one of the world's largest food distribution centers escaped severe flooding due only to the fortune
of low tide that hit the Long Island Sound. Can you see where Hunts Point is; it's in a totally vulnerable place and it will be increasingly vulnerable to catastrophic flooding as sea level rises. So
we cannot say with any security that it will survive the next major storm.
Even if there's food available, you have to get it to people. We have to find some way to share it and other forms of support. And one of the things I discovered in my research on the heat wave in
Chicago held true in Sandy as well. That there's variation across neighborhoods and the social infrastructure of people and organizations and places really makes a difference. There are some places
that can function much better and we should not make the mistake of thinking this is a question of values or morals. Let me be very clear about that. The attributes of places themselves can determine
who lives and who dies. This is an image of Red Hook which was fortunate enough to have a social infrastructure that protected people while some of the neighboring communities did not.
The social infrastructure was especially perilous in public housing buildings in New York City and not just for the conventional reasons. It turns out that the vital systems of high-rises are in the
basements. I'm talking about like the power and the water systems, heating pumps. And when the power went out, huge numbers of people -- 80,000 public housing residents -- lost power and heat and hot
water. In some cases for many weeks. Two hundred and one buildings lost elevator service, high-rise buildings, which meant that old and frail and disabled people were stranded in their apartments.
This is not just a problem of Sandy. Before Sandy, in the month before, the New York Housing Agency had a backlog of 330,000 repair jobs waiting to be done and prevalent mold and mold-related health
problems. There have been repeated cuts in our funding for New York public housing and public housing in other places as well as we prioritized other political projects over the last few years. Right
now NYCHA has $18 billion in unmet capital needs and you can bet given the real class politics of cities that making sure people in public housing are safe is not as high a priority as we might want
it to be.
Sandy led to nearly 30,000 job losses in New York. And those who were most affected are the populations already struggling with insecurity like older workers and single parents and immigrants. One
survey of immigrants in low-income neighborhoods around New York City found that 33% missed four days of work or more and 11% permanently lost their jobs because of disruption from the storm. What
about social assistance? After Sandy, the recovery has been profoundly uneven and that's perhaps most visible in the amount of time that people have been displaced from their homes. Many of those who
lacked resources to rebuild their homes remain displaced still today nearly two years after the storm. The aid has been painfully slow. The city has a Build It Back Program, but they didn't set it up
for seven months after Sandy hit. And they still have not provided assistance to any of the 20,000 registered families or had not as of March of this year. And in the meantime, people face a struggle
to find affordable, temporary housing. Rents are rising around New York City just as they did around New Orleans after Katrina.
Class determines who gets aid, how much of it they get, and when they get it. People need resources, skills, education, and time to get the assistance they need. It doesn't just come in a check with a
smile. Some people are ineligible for any assistance at all like many undocumented workers who can't get FEMA aid or unemployment benefits or temporary government housing. And people renting
apartments off the books, which is a big thing in many cities and especially New York City, are ineligible for public assistance. There are estimates of tens of thousands of informal rental units
that were damaged by Sandy. There the problem isn't just for the renters who lose their homes, there's a problem that compounds it because those units are owned by small-scale private family
businesses mostly for whom the rent is a vital source of income. So you see in these areas, the tenants move out, the homeowners lose their capacity to pay their mortgage, and then the foreclosure
crisis gets ramped up. And amazingly, even during a time when the foreclosure crisis has slowed down in communities across the country, New York City foreclosures have skyrocketed since Sandy and
they have hit an eight-year high in New Jersey as well. And this is serious stuff that has fallen out of the news because the weather is different.
I hope you can see the text on this slide. It actually says "thank you, Allstate." The house was approved for $165 in damage. Only 18% of Americans in flood zones are actually insured but of those who
are insured, it takes incredible energy and stamina and intelligence and network ties to fight for a fair settlement. True in Katrina. True again in New York. Now, as the flood zones have grown
larger and more populous, the federal government moved to phase out subsidies from the National Flood Insurance Program. So rates are set to dramatically rise in some areas. This will not only make
it prohibitively expensive for many coastal residents to stay in their homes, it will also make it difficult for them to sell the property if they want to leave. It's going to devalue the property
because who wants to buy a home that is impossible to insure?
Now, if you live in the flood plain and if you live in a vulnerable area and you're impacted by the end of this federal subsidy, this policy change declining the federal subsidy seems like it is the
government's major policy response to climate change. And you can imagine after decades of public support for coastal development, public subsidies that encourage coastal development and relocation,
a veritable recruitment campaign to the seaside, you can understand why residents who live along the coast, not all of them are wealthy, feel punished even if in some ways pulling away that subsidy
seems like a smart adaptation measure. The truth is that policymakers have a much wider set of climate change adaptation options and we have no choice but to adapt. If we could hit a button in this
room today and stop carbon emissions, we would still face at least decades and probably more of rising sea levels and increased temperatures. So we can group the different adaptation possibilities we
have today into three different categories. I'm going to end by talking about them.
The first thing that we can do is we can accommodate to climate change which effectively means letting the water in. Let's learn to live with the water. Another thing we can do and it's very tempting
to do this is to say we can armor up. Let's keep the water out. We will protect ourselves. And the third thing we can do is we can relocate. We can move to higher ground or to a safer place. So let's
start with accommodation which is the strategy of learning to live with the water. This is not a new strategy. If you live near coastal area or you have been to beach towns, you will know a lot of
places are built up so that the water can go underneath or the minimum not do major damage to the things that are on the first levels, the lower levels of the home. Raising a building which is what
residents in many coastal areas are now being told they have to do can be extremely expensive. It costs about $10,000 per foot to elevate a home. And, of course, it can't be done with a large or an
old building. So if you go to downtown Manhattan and think about it, it would be like to elevate the structures and then we will sell you a bridge. Of course, this is a policy change. Raising homes
that only helps on an individual or family basis and it only works for those who can afford it which is to say that this is not much of a solution at all.
There's another way to accommodate the new climate, the new weather we have, the new climate we live in at the public level. And this is an image from one of the most exciting proposals that emerged
out of the White House's rebuild by design competition, we led the research for this at the institute for public knowledge at N.Y.U. And this is a proposal called the Blue Way for the East River and
it's kind of amazing shore-front park. What I love about this design is that it provides flood protection for a part of New York that's extremely vulnerable, but it's not like Homeland Security
architecture which is clumsy and stupid in that it only protects you against this threat which may or may not happen and probably isn't going to and drives down the quality of life every day. With
climate change security, we can build designs that protect us but also improve the quality of everyday life. So this creates a place where people have access to park and water and exercise. For
All of those things are exciting and projects like the Blue Way are now being built around New York City. But whenever there's a major flood event, it's inevitable people will say, "You can't just do
something like a path. You know, a park's not going to help. We need to build some big gates to keep the water out. We need sea walls." This is the armoring strategy, the second one. And I grant that
it's intuitively appealing, but the thing is that as sea level rises and disasters become more frequent, it's going to be incredibly difficult to keep the water out. This is a design you see here for
a sea gate that would be next to Verrazano Bridge. And think about what would happen if could build this. Well, first of all you'd have to try to get it built. There are about 300 municipalities that
are adjacent to New York City that would not have very good feelings about a gate like this and that would probably sue. Maybe that would take 20 years to work out. And they'd have good reason to sue
which is that if there's a storm surge and it hits that gate, it doesn't just disappear. It goes to the sides and inundates other communities as does the sediment that normally would flow into this
riverway. So you disrupt the entire ecosystem.
What's more, so much of this country and inhabited places around the world are vulnerable to rising sea levels and storm surges. You can't build a wall around every coastal area. This strategy doesn't
make much sense either. And of course it's also a very expensive one. So what we will likely see in coming years is that there will be very strong pushes to protect the highest value land with the
most expensive infrastructure and the most capital-intensive projects and the most politically influential people. And you can bet that class will matter when we decide where to build those walls.
What about the third option; relocation or retreat? These are dirty words in policy circles today. If you ever want to really feel love, go to a town meeting on the coast of New Jersey and tell people
that they should leave their homes in the next few decades and move to higher ground. It's a hard thing to say. I have been told not to mention it by funders, in policy circles. It's a debate killer.
Let's be clear that in sociology, relocation doesn't have a great reputation either, especially those of us who work on disasters. If you think about the implications of Kai Erikson's book, it's that
the relocation process after this flood was even more damaging than the flooding itself. So we know the problems of relocating.
But the truth is that we can't stop the conversation. We have to speak about it because as the sea levels rise, some places will flood so often that sustaining the infrastructure in them will be
impossible and recurrent rebuilding will be impossibly expensive. Surprisingly, after Sandy residents in some of the neighborhoods with catastrophic flooding surprised everyone by organizing to
demand buyouts from the government and return their neighborhoods to mother nature. Let's give it back. In Staten Island, where Liz's dissertation research is focused, we have mounted an intensive
ethnographic project and longitudinal study to look at the process of moving away from the coastline. And I think Staten Island won't be the only place where this happens. It will be happening all
over. It's almost inevitable at this point. And that means that we as sociologists are going to have to reconsider our relationship to nature, to the environment, to habitat, to the sacred places
that we are so used to cherishing and taking for granted.
They're going to be class consequences for relocation out of coastal areas. Who will have the opportunity to decide where and when they move and who will have those decisions made for them? What will
happen to people who can't move or refuse to move or to those who stay behind? I want to end by saying that sociologists can do a great public service by opening up conversations about the challenges
of adapting to climate change and managing retreat and accommodating water in all of the most dangerous places of the world. And we should, not least because millions of poor and vulnerable people
currently live in areas that probably aren't sustainable. And they'll likely have the least capacity to shape their own destiny. Thanks very much. [Applause]
>> We're going to switch gears now and instead of looking at weary events, we'll look at enduring life processes. Linda Burton hails from Duke, where she is the Dean of Social Sciences and a James B.
Duke Professor of Sociology. Among her many publications, I have a number of favorites. But one is an outstanding example of mixed methods that she did with many colleagues including Andrew Cherlin
on spousal abuse that was in ASR some years ago. She has conducted one of the most impressive ethnographic longitudinal studies that I know of, of poor families anywhere and she's going to share it
with us today. Her title is Racializing Low Income Rural Mothers: A 30-year Ethnography of Race, Class, and Socioeconomic Inequality. Please welcome Linda Burton. [Applause]
>> All righty. Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you so much, Annette, for inviting me to be a part of this panel. Before I begin the presentation, I'd like to share two items with you; first of all, I
want to make sure that I thank Carol Stack, Joe Feagin -- can you hear me OK?
>> Can you move the microphone?
>> Okay, very good.
>> Again, I want to make sure that I thank Carol Stack, Joe Feagin, Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, Margaret Nelson, Elizabeth Manlove, and also Gina, who was one of my key informants in the study for helping
me think seriously about the issue of race. The second thing I'd like to do is to share a memo to myself with you which represents a bit of the struggle I had...
It represents a bit of the struggle that I had with working through the data. This is a hard presentation for me to give, a very painful as a matter... am I still in trouble?
>> Okay. So, it's a very painful presentation for me to give and so I wanted to share some of my thoughts with you as I'm moving to this discussion. In 1984, Paula Giddings published "When and Where I
Entered: the Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America." She tells the story of how new cycles of history eclipse the old and how people, black women in particular, invent and reinvent
themselves in those contexts. As I consider the path-breaking work of Giddings, I am reminded about how the experiences of historical and contextual time in everyday life can sometimes be made to
stand still in our research to simplify the analysis. But standing in predominantly white, rural, and small-town America for several decades, I observed the everyday contextual changes taking place
around race, colorism and the lives of black and white girls and women that surely rendered this approach untenable. The racial beliefs and practices that shake these women's lives were anything but
simple. Rural girls and women were actively engaged in constructing the public and private narratives and discourse about race, colorism, and social class that framed their everyday lives. During
most of this 30-year period, my research eye had been focused intently on women's fertility and intimate unions. I'm primarily a family researcher. And the patterns in focusing on that, I almost
tucked away a more comprehensive analysis of race. But in the end, the unbridled power of the transformative processes principally around race and colorism would not let me.
So what is this perspective that took hold of me? This is the perspective I'm going to talk to you about today. I'm going to tell you a tale in, I think, a rather speedy manner. About 30 years of
ethnographic work on child bearing and intimate unions in rural and small towns and low-income families in rural America and what led me to engage in serendipitous discoveries of how deeply
racialization and colorism practices were embedded in these women's everyday lives, their fertility in part and behaviors and the narratives and discourses they carried out ultimately in relation to
class. This presentation focuses on the groups of women in predominantly three groups. I'm going to talk about white women, low-income white women, low-income African-American women, and I put this
in quotes, middle class white women. These are women who think of themselves as middle class, but are actually working class. And these are individuals that I visited through the period of 1984
through 2004. This discussion is not about women who are actively involved in racist activities of the genre profiled in BLEE's outstanding research on the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi groups. It is
about ordinary women; specifically it is about women who are stayers in these particular areas.
What I will also do, to the extent that there is time, is I will highlight how these practices are linked to broader contextual forces across two time periods, the mid-1980's to the mid-1990's, and
then the mid-1990's to the turn of the century. Specifically, I'll focus on how women's racialization and colorism practices are shaped over time by real and imagined -- that's the key word there --
contextual forces such as economic restructuring, the attenuation of social mobility for the working and middle class, the decline of patriarchy and paternalism, the realignment of gender roles, and
the influx of racial and ethnic minorities to rural communities.
And finally, we're going to move, as I said, through this presentation fairly quickly. I'm going to give you just a real brief summary of the theoretical and methodological issues and most of the
presentation will focus on actual data. So with that, let's move to just key terms that you should know. The first key term is rationalization, a term you probably teach in many of your classes,
Sociology 101. It involves the assignment of racial meaning to real, perceived, and ascribed differences among individuals or groups to produce hierarchies of power and privilege among races. The
second important concept is colorism. It involves the allocation of privilege and disadvantage according to the lightness or darkness of one's skin. The practices of colorism tend to favor lighter
skin over darker skin as indicated by a person's appearance as proximal to a white phenotype.
And here's a third very, very important point and one that really disturbed me in doing this work. I also wanted you to be aware of another force that shapes how some women grow into womanhood through
mothering and partnering in complex racialized and color systems. We see it in Ella Ceron's point which states, "In a context in which asymmetrical race and class relations are a central organizing
principle, one may become a woman in opposition to other women." So the women I'm talking about this afternoon are not the women that are singing the song, sisters are doing it for themselves. In a
sense, it is not a pretty story. So as we move to think about theoretical perspectives, trust me on this. I read a lot. I read a lot about symbolic interactionism, generic processes in inequality,
critical race theory, intersectionality, and class theory. In addition to that, I spent a lot of time focusing on rural sociology. And also looking to the existing ethnographies that you could find
certain recipes that I found in my work about how people were dealing with racialization and colorism. And definitely what you will find in some of those examples, we see it, for example, in Jay
MacLeod's work with the Hallway Hangers in "Ain't No Makin' It." Some of those same patterns you found in your work, I find in my work as well. We see it with Willis' work in "The Lads" and also in
Betty's work in "Girls Without Class" as well as McDermott's work.
Moving on to issues of data, very complicated data system. Over the 30 years I was involved in nine studies. Well over 500 families have been studied in each one of those projects. And the projects
involve team ethnography as well as individual ethnography and well over a thousand individuals were interviewed during the process. So my primary data in looking or addressing these questions are
detailed observations and field notes as well as historical documents about the context. And if you want to ask the question about accountability and reliability, my answer to your question is yes. I
am sure my personal characteristics influenced this research. I am an outsider, African-American, as you can see, and from Compton, California, which means something totally different in Central
Pennsylvania. So it had a real impact on some of the things that I was doing there.
Also, with respect to accountability that you should know, that I worked really hard to get other perspectives on my work. So I had a white male ethnographer go in behind me in recent years to visit
with some of the families and some of the people I interviewed to see what his take on the situation was. I also have a partner in crime, Dr. Laura Lang. Laura has studied poor African-American
families in rural environments and I was studying as an African-American white poor individuals in rural environments. And we would have weekly to monthly discussions about what some of the issues
were that we were facing in those environments and we tape-recorded those interviews and actually analyzed them.
So let's move quickly to the issue of context and how context matters in all of this. And so here we move to the issue of setting. As I said, the work was done in Central Pennsylvania which has a long
history of racism. You see it often in the media. There's, you know, articles about racism and how it dies hard in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, for example, the Ku Klux Klan, and how it's been revived in
Pennsylvania and so on. There are also abundant symbols of patriarchy about the relationships that exist in these environments. And you see symbols of that along the highways and byways. So here's
just an example of what you would see if you were driving on one of those particular roads.
The other thing one also has to understand are what are the major trends that serve as a backdrop for what I'm discussing here? Essentially we have seen in the last 20 to 30 years in that area a shift
from a stable family sustaining production -- a production of jobs to low-wage labor service jobs, like in Wal-Mart; declines in male employment while women's employment markedly increased. We see
increased migration of low-income ethnic and racial minorities to areas and the emergence of a new black awareness that are associated with that which is called the urban influence. This is where the
imagined part of this really takes hold because if you were to go into some of these areas and you talked to white residents, you would swear that one million African-Americans from Philadelphia had
just moved into their community, where we're only talking maybe about 50, at most. So that was an important issue as well. These are contacts which have also experienced population loss, increased
illegal drug activities, and as one respondent has said that men have lost their hold with respect to paternalism and taking the lead in terms of power in their intimate relationships.
So with this in mind, I divided the time periods into two periods, 1980's through 1990's. And what you'll see in the data is at first, in the first group just before the sharp decline hit, you're
going to see women's muted, complacent and sort of patronizing expressions of racialism and colorism. But after the mid-1990's and the turn of the century when men really started losing jobs, what
you're going to see is that these middle class white women started exerting stronger racialization and colorization of voices that had a strong impact on low-income white and African-American women.
So let's move very quickly to group one and I will discuss them by groups. We're going to start out with the African-American, low-income African-American women. What the data show is that low-income
black women in the studies were embedded in a system of white and black induced colorism and racism that impacted the romantic and child-bearing choices of some. Many took a complacent or submissive
stance on racialization in the 1980's while others in the late 1990's turned their attention to fighting back against racial ascription by asserting a uniquely developed form of interracial power.
So here is how I got started. I arrived in Central Pennsylvania in 1984 and during the first week that I was there, I was walking down the hallway in the Human Development Building where they have the
child care center and I had a couple -- actually, three things on my mind. The first thing that I had on my mind was how I was going to get rid of my current husband. [Laughter] And fortunately, I
did. [Laughter] And I am happy to say that I married a wonderful man, Keith Whitfield. Please don't confuse him with the ex. So that was point number one. Point number two that I was thinking about
is how I was going to raise my four children, because I had four children that were all under the ages of eight in starting my new job. And then also how I was going to get tenure. So as I'm walking
down the hallway thinking about this, an African-American woman comes out of the classroom and she scares me to death. And what she goes on to say, as you see in the quote, is she's exuberant. She
says, "You're the new black professor. We've been waiting for you for a long time." And I thought, ooh, this is too much of a Messiah vibe for me. That's making me kind of nervous. [Laughter]
So I listened, and she went on, you know, to talk with me. And she said, "We really, really need your help." And one of her personal pleas to me is that I want you to teach me how to be a black woman.
And that was a stunning question to me. I had never been asked that question before. And so she piqued my interest with that. And she said, "I'm going to take you into this area and I'm going to show
you why I asked this question." So one of the first ones that I had was to Gina's house, where I met her brother, Sonny, who was 27 years old, African-American and unemployed. And, you know, as soon
as I walked in the door, he says, "Well, Gina, why did you bring this woman up in here to talk to me about your colored-woman stuff? And why you always talking about white women and prejudice stuff?
If you hung out with white women, maybe you could learn something about how to be a black -- how to treat a black man with respect." I go, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh. [Laughter]
So he said "colored," I mean black. You know, I don't like to use this term to refer to women, so I won't. "Ain't worth nothing but a hard way to go. White women are the best a black man can do." So
that's what Sonny had to say to me. So I said, "Well, okay dude, and moved forward." So I said let me see how many other people think like this. So I used to go to -- one of the things I would do is
take my children to church, the various churches, like churches in the community on the weekends with me. And so here's what one of the preachers said. And that's when I realized I was really in
trouble. Apparently Sonny was not alone in his thinking.
As part of my field work I often attended Sunday services in black churches in the counties and frequently took my children with me. On this particular Sunday, Gina took me to a church where the
minister had decided to divorce his black wife and take up with a local white female. The pastor's new girlfriend sat in the front pew as black women in the pew behind her scoffed. The pastor went on
to deliver a spiritual sermon. Head in the wrong woman's lap. I repeat, head in the wrong woman's lap, which sent a clear message in support of black men choosing white women over black women as
partners. The deacons of the church held up the "amen" corner. I could not believe my ears and a personal note I wrote to myself is, I am so glad I did not bring my children to church today.
So what does that mean for girls that are growing into womanhood in this environment and thinking about themselves as members of certain racial groups, certain class groups and so on? Here's the
answer to that question. And I think it's probably the most heartbreaking interview I have ever done in my career. I want you to meet Danielle. Danielle, when I met her, was 13 years old and she
wasn't staying in her home at the time. She was in a foster care. That's where her mom had her placed. And she was pregnant for the first time with her first child. And so we got in a discussion
about this pregnancy and why she got pregnant and how all of that was connected to ideas about race. And what she said is, "White girls in school make fun of me. I am coal-black and ugly with bad
hair. So, yeah, I got pregnant by Josh. He's a 14-year-old white male. And I gave my mama what she wanted -- a light-skinned baby boy with blue eyes and good hair. My mama is happy with her new son.
But she don't want me. Nobody does." Danielle went on to have three more pretty light-skinned children, one with Josh and two with other white males.
That is one example of many of how colorism was experienced by African-American girls across these communities. In addition to issues of colorism, when you look among the older generations -- and I
won't have time to read all of these -- you also see during this era in older women voices of complacency and I'll just take whatever is handed to me, albeit from white women or black men or black
women with class as well. The other thing that you also see, however, is that there is a group of African-American women who are not complacent and very irritated by that velvet-glove approach that
white women were taking toward them. And what I meant by that velvet-glove approach, it's sort of akin to what Jackman talks about and is very paternalistic in how these white women at this point in
historical times were trying to fix the black women or girls in this community and their method of fixing them was through moral acts, so to teach them how to behave morally. The white women took the
moral high ground. Those who did not want to put up with that moral high ground left. And so Sandra was an example of one of the leavers.
So as we move forward into the turn of the century, however, as all these contextual things are happening, I start to meet a new kind of African-American woman who is dealing with this issue of
colorism and racism and let me introduce you to Kiara who engaged in a strategy that was very different than the one Danielle did. She was a 25 year old black mother of two biracial children. She
said to me, "Don't tell Amanda," Amanda was her ethnographer, "that I told you this. She's an okay white girl, but I can't tell her everything. I don't want to hurt her feelings. She's not like the
rest of them. So I give her a break. But I got my payback on those other white such-and-such. I have pretty kids by a white man and his mother is so mad about it. She cusses all the time. She hates
me. I love it. I laugh at her. Gotcha! And now I'm with a black man who has babies with five white women. I'm his number one. These women buy him stuff and he gives it to me. I got a cell phone that
one of them bought right here." And then she shows it to me and she laughs. She says, "Who's got the juice now, huh? Who is number one now," she says. And so with this influx actually of new
African-Americans coming in from urban environments we see the different kind of competition going on with respect to black women and how they're thinking about these issues of colorism.
So I better move very, very quickly. All right. I am going to skip Stacy and actually move on to a discussion of the low-income white women. Now, what the data shows with respect to the low-income
white women in the first period is that in the 1980's they were complicit in patriarchal ideologies and their racialization voices were muted in the process. Some paid more attention to
discrimination at the hands of privileged white women than they did to racial issues. So they were more concerned about class than they were about race. In the late 1990's, some low-income white
women expanded their racialization options in acting diverse forms of racialized expressions and in some instances even racial tolerance. So in many respects they were not the enemy to
African-American women in the community.
So I'll skip through this really quickly just to say that in period number one where patriarchy is very, very strong and you see that white men are employed and supposedly the rulers of their house,
it's the men that are the spokespeople about racialization and colorism and how their women, so to speak, should act with respect to that. But there were also some women who were trying to break
loose from this kind of control. And if there's time at the question-and-answer period, I'll explain this example a little bit more.
When we move into the second period, we find that some low-income white women remain the same in terms of following their husband's lead on racialization practices. But we also see, again, with the
influx of African-American males into the community that men saw themselves as losing power over their women and it had an effect on how these women thought about relationships and race. Here's an
example from a discussion with one of the police officers or the police captains in the area. Insights into some of the more recent racialization practices of low-income white females involved a
contest between black urban males, newcomers, and white male stares. Field notes from an interview with a small white town police chief provided insights on this issue. "Every week there's some
racially connected problem which results in violence. The core issue every time is that black males with white females are seen as a threat by whites. Brothers come up from the city and bring their
friends. They get a nice-looking white girl and go out dancing. The brothers dance better than us. That's how they get the white girls. And then one of the brothers will say something and trouble
will start. The white guys can't dance. And they are always stupid about that. Okay. I don't know what happened to us, but for some reason we're stupid. White guys always get beat up by the
brothers." One of my graduate assistants said in terms of an intervention that she thought what might help race relations in this instance is to teach white boys to dance. [Laughter] But, of course,
it was more complicated than that.
I'm actually going to move very quickly to the focus on middle class white women and as one of my last points because this woman sort of brings the story home most dramatically to me. And at this
point, you know, we're talking about women who have really kind of moved from the failed promise of paternalism and being protected to a situation where their husbands don't have any jobs and they
have to go out in the job market. And they are highly, highly pissed off. Mariah, a 35-year-old married mother of two and a service provider for these very same other women I'm talking about -- so
she's a service provider for the low-income mothers that I'm working with. "I will do everything I can to help low-income women and single mothers regardless of their race. But I don't know why black
women get everything; financial aid for college, housing, all kinds of opportunities, and they don't even work for it. And me, I get nothing. No help at all. I don't have a husband to support me the
way I need it. Who told us that white lie about men providing for their wives? What a joke. I had to help him get a job before some minority came along and took it from him. I had to bring him along.
He was never going to make it past where we are. I could have been somebody. We could have had more if not for him and all the help black women get. I have more talent in my pinkie finger -- and she
puts it up like this -- than Tranita, a black graduate intern that was working with me. So why does she have everything? It's not fair. It's morally wrong."
So I write in my field notes, when her eyes shifted to direct contact with mine it was clear that she had just realized what she was revealing to me about herself and her thoughts about black women.
She remained emotionally anchored in her body and her physical stance in the center of the room. She didn't flinch and unlike her usual colorblind, semi-politically correct behavior, she didn't offer
a proper but backhanded apology for her racial slurs. She stared at me in simultaneous anger and triumph, now clenching her fist, suggesting that she wanted me to know exactly how she felt and that
my success as a black woman had also in some way compromised her opportunity for success. She finally pulled the trigger. I was so relieved to know for sure her perspective was both general and very
So in terms of concluding remarks, I've had the opportunity to share lots of different perspectives with you, and I won't go through all of those concluding remarks. But what I will leave you with is
an important message about how the experience of racism and colorism in everyday in an environment like this can do long-term damage to individuals. When I moved my family -- and I moved to Duke
about six years ago -- you know, I gave you the story about when I met Gina for the first time at Penn State. Within a year's time, Gina had followed me to North Carolina. And she just showed up one
day. And so we had a discussion. It's like, Gina, you know, what are you doing here?" And basically she asked me the same question. She said, "I'm still looking to you to teach me how to be a black
woman." Thank you. [Applause]
>> William Julius Wilson has graciously agreed to be in our discussion. He, of course, is on the faculty at Harvard where he's a Lewis and Linda Geyser University Professor. He's the author of many
well-known books. He's a former A.S.A. President. And although he's received many honors, tomorrow afternoon I'm pleased to note that he will receive the W.E.B. Dubois Career Distinguished
Scholarship Award for 2014. William Julius Wilson. [Applause]
>> So this session ends at 2:10? So I'm going to have to be brief. These interesting presentations make me more aware that class matters. In many ways that may not occur to us, and I'm going to begin
with Eric Klinenberg and Liz Kozlov's important paper on the role of class and the effects of climate change; effects that make extreme events such as hurricanes, floods, heat waves and droughts more
frequent and severe. And they drew my immediate and complete attention with their warnings about the dangers from severe flooding and low elevation coastal zones due to the steady rise of sea levels.
And drawing upon research presented by an intergovernmental panel on climate change, they report that 12 million people in four major U.S. coastal cities could be displaced by 2030 and that major
cities such as Miami and New Orleans may not last much longer.
So I don't have time to sort of highlight many of the important points in this paper because we're running out of time. But this is an important paper and I share the remarks that we really should be
paying more attention to the disastrous effects of events such as Hurricane Katrina, the 1995 Chicago heat wave, super storm Sandy in New York. But also, as they point out, in the government's
response to these natural disasters. Now, Eric, I have some great things to say about this paper, but I don't have time. So I'm going to move to the criticism, okay? [Laughter]
All right. Now, you know, in your excellent New Yorker paper, you highlighted the racial effects of natural disasters; his New Yorker paper published earlier this year. But in this paper, Kozlov did
not particularly pay much attention to the racial effects of natural disasters, particularly their asymmetrical effects on black inner city neighborhoods. Because, you know, just as class shapes
people's experiences in disasters as well as their outcomes, so does race. Now you guys do mention briefly the effects of Hurricane Katrina on low-income African-Americans in New Orleans and the
disparity in government assistance between white and African-American homeowners in New Orleans, but the role of race is not really discussed with respect to super storm Sandy in New York. But in
fairness to you guys, I mean, this session focuses on social class, not race and daily life. And given the time constraints, one could hardly expect a detailed exploration of a role of race in
natural disasters.
Now, the issues of both race and class in daily life are explicitly addressed in Linda Burton's presentation. And just as Klinenberg and Kozlov call upon sociologists to pay more attention to the
disastrous effects of climate change, Burton calls upon us to give more attention to changes that are occurring among our rural Americans. And Linda, if I had time I would have -- I did emphasize
that there are some important insights in this presentation that I wanted to make explicit, but I don't have time. So just let me move to the criticisms. [Laughter] And I should say that I think, you
know, you people should pay some attention to this research because the real new and original insights that have emerged from this unique longitudinal research include changes in what you call
colorism and racialization from the earlier to the later periods of your research.
Now your study, Linda, is interesting and some of the findings are original. But your presentation is not without shortcomings which I'd just like to briefly highlight. Now, in your discussion of
fundamental contextual changes, you failed to explain why an area that is suffering from industrial reconstruction with the loss of stable production jobs and depopulation with the out migration of
white families is attracting low-income black and Mexican families. And relatedly, why black males from the city are now showing up in these areas and dating young white women. Moreover, it's not
really clear whether the handful of quotations selected from your interviews about colorism and racialization are representative of the views expressed in the larger sample of respondents in your
study. And also, given that there are no middle class black women in your sample and as applied in your paper, a negligible number of middle class black women in the area, it's difficult to
understand why the white middle class, middle class quotation marks -- women you interviewed view themselves as being in serious competition with minority women for social mobility opportunities.
So in many ways, I think your study raises more questions than provides definitive answers including questions about changing aspects of colorism and racialization. But maybe that's what makes the
paper so important. Because as is frequently said, questions raised in empirical research sometimes are more important than the answers provided. And let me just briefly end by saying that Jay
MacLeod's classic book, "Ain't No Makin' It," can also be viewed as a longitudinal ethnographic study that spans 25 years as seen in the third edition of the book which was published in 2007. And he
did not provide prepared remarks and I came in late, but I was able to hear some of his interesting comments.
And let me take just one minute just to say something about what impresses me about him. I'm reminded that his work has significantly enhanced our understanding of the complex relationship between
institutional structures and attitudes, beliefs and experiences. And his analysis does not simply focus on how the class structure sets limits on mobility, his analysis also provides a deeper
interrogation of how individual agency engages with their restricted range of social and structural constraints. In other words, he shows us how personal agency is expanded or inhibited by the
circumstances people confront such as their interaction and social networks and institutions, in distressed social environments including environments featuring racial constraints as the social
outcomes of the Brothers discussed in the second and third edition of "Ain't No Makin' It" so plainly revealed. So, you know, listening to him I'm just sort of reminded that his work -- when you read
his work -- one can clearly appreciate how personal agency is recursively associated with the structural forces within which it operates. Furthermore, his work clearly reveals the role of important
intermediaries and the institutions they represent in helping individuals confront adversity, intermediaries that certainly vary by social class. And these are just a few of the reasons we are and
continue to be indebted to Jay MacLeod. Thank you. [Applause]
>> Well, we've had a great panel. I owe an apology to William Julius Wilson for squinching his time, but please join me in thanking the panel. [Applause]