Yale professor presents new book on symbolic racism – Grand Valley Lanthorn
The Hauenstein Center at Grand Valley State University has partnered with the Division of Inclusion and Equity to create a week-long series of events to commemorate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. These events have held in Grand Rapids, Allendale and online to reach as many interested people as possible.
On Thursday, January 20, Dr. Elijah Anderson, an excellent professor of sociology at Yale, was invited by GVSU to speak about his recently published book, “Black in White Space: The Enduring Impact of Color in Everyday Life”.
Before speaking, Analise Anderson, fourth-year student and Peter C. Cook Leadership Academy Fellowship candidate, introduced the webinar with anecdotes about the trials and triumphs of the fight for racial equality.
“Knowing and understanding our history is how we can learn from the past and move on into the future,” Robinson said.
Bernal concluded by presenting Anderson’s latest ethnographic work, “Black in White Space”. The book analyzed personal experiences, current events, and other happenings to paint a picture of modern racism. He won the 2021 Stockholm Prize for Criminology.
Anderson introduced the idea of ethnography, describing it as the systematic study of culture and the ongoing research method when the researcher puts their body directly in the field and spends time with real people listening to what they say and what they do makes sense of it. all.
Ethnographers take that knowledge and share it with the world, Anderson said. His experiences of visiting different communities in Philadelphia are collected in his book.
“I’ve been with businesses, streets, communities, I’ve stood up for all kinds of people, black and white to get that understanding; this body of work that I’ve created over the years,” Anderson said.
The basis of her research is on the “ghetto” stereotypes that follow black people as they navigate their lives in the United States, Anderson said. These stereotypes began to appear during the great racial incorporation that the United States has experienced over the past 50 years. However, this racial integration has also begun to create unspoken white and black spaces that continue to perpetuate harmful stereotypes.
“The broader society is replete with predominantly white neighborhoods, restaurants, schools, universities, workplaces, associates, churches, towns, courthouses and cemeteries,” said said Anderson.
Anderson said black people are alienated and absent from white society. He also said that black people entering white spaces are automatically refuted, feared and concerned, and must disprove these stereotypes before they are eventually accepted. Blacks encounter a credibility deficit from the get-go, Anderson said.
“When present in white space, the anonymous black person is usually burdened with a negative presumption that they must rebut before they can establish relationships of mutual trust with others; a presumption that is often difficult, if not impossible, to overcome,” Anderson said.
Anderson’s book delves further into the idea of being Black in white spaces and the assumptions that are made in those spaces, as well as a deeper critical analysis of his research in Philadelphia.
Following Robinson’s speech, Chief of Staff to the President and GVSU Vice President for Inclusion and Equity, Jesse Bernal, spoke about the importance of the discussion in improving the climate on GVSU’s campus, including speaking to those with whom we disagree.
“We (the Inclusion and Equity Division) inspire action toward institutional and systemic transformation,” Bernal said.
A recording of Anderson’s speech is available on the Hauenstein Center’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/user/HauensteinCenter.