White People’s Friendships are Racially Limited

White People’s Friendships are Racially Limited

While the average Black American has eight White friends, White Americans only have one Black friend. Research by the Public Religion Research Institute finds that 75% of White people have “entirely white social networks without any minority presence.” Researcher Robert Jones argues the lack of diversity amongst White social networks has a negative impact on civil society. White people lack a personal connection to Black history and culture because they don’t receive adequate formal education on these issues, and because they do not know many Black people. As a result, they are not forced to see and recognise the marginalisation that Black people go through. As such, Jones argues, White people are not “socially positioned” to understand the significance of events at Ferguson and other civil disputes.

This data is backed up by a recent Pew Research study which finds that only 37% of White Americans think Michael Brown’s death and subsequent events in Ferguson raise important issues about race, in contrast to 80% of Black people who do see the connection to racism.

In sociology, we use the concept of homophily to explain the structure of social networks. This word literally means “love of the same.” In sociology, this concept measures how little people mix outside their groups, and the consequences of this lack of intermingling. On the outside, friendship groups seem diverse because we tend to think of relationships in reference to individuals. For example: I have a friend who is outgoing and likes horror films and manga comics; I have another friend who’s quiet and likes 70s rock music; another friend likes going to the art gallery and reading Margaret Atwood books; and so on. The fact is, that most people tend to know people similar to themselves where it really counts: along racial and socio-economic lines.

Research shows that lack of diversity in White people’s friendship circles has a societal impact, in that it stagnates social change. White people share the balance of social power, whether they like to admit to it or not. People of colour find ways to connect with White people, but the reverse is not true of the majority of White people. Friendships don’t just “naturally” happen; they aren’t even the strict outcome of personalities or personal preferences. Social relationships are one clear way that power and the status quo are maintained.

Credits & Learn More

Information on race in social networks and graphic via Washington Post: http://buff.ly/XUw3oz

Pew study: http://buff.ly/XUw3oA

On homophili:

A classic study: http://buff.ly/XUw5wS

Broader impact on social organisation: http://buff.ly/XUw5wT

Race & impact on elite structures in society: http://buff.ly/XUw5wU

#sociology #socialscience #ferguson #michaelbrown #racism

Sociologists please share widely

Sociologists please share widely

Consider adding your voice by signing the open letter by Sociologists for Justice. Use the tag #socforjustice

From my blog: http://goo.gl/qUKNHk

Originally shared by Zuleyka Zevallos

Social Justice in Ferguson

Over 1,400 sociologists have signed an open letter protesting police brutality in Ferguson, USA. The letter includes practical measures to address the killing of Michael Brown and mistreatment of protesters in Ferguson. Coordinated by Sociologists for Justice, the letter shows that systemic racism needs to be addressed as well as wider socio-economic and political issues to ensure effective change is enacted.

The book The New Jim Crow outlines how the criminal justice system in America is affected by systemic racism (http://goo.gl/WUp7mx). Additionally, decades of sociological research shows that police officers’ decision-making is affected by racial stereotypes and that better training can address this bias. Effective change in community policing begins by understanding the effects of the victimisation of people of colour and by addressing the institutional practices that lead to excessive policing of people of colour.

Below are the suggestions outlined in the open letter, but I urge you to read the letter in full as it summarises sociological research on race bias in policing. Links on where sociologists can add their name to the open letter are below. 

Practical Measures to Address Justice in Ferguson – by Sociologists for Justice

There are no short cuts to addressing systemic problems. However, as our nation again confronts the reality of race within the criminal justice system, we urge the following actions to facilitate an appropriate response to the death of Michael Brown, and to begin moving toward addressing the systemic racialised police practices that devalue and threaten Black lives.

1. Immediate assurance from law enforcement authorities in Missouri and the federal government that constitutional rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of the press will be protected.

2. A civil rights investigation into the incidents related to the death of Michael Brown and general police practices in Ferguson.

3. The establishment of an independent committee to study and analyse the failures of the policing efforts during the week following Michael Brown’s death. 4. Ferguson residents, including leaders of grassroots organizations, should be included on the committee throughout this process. The committee must provide a clear roadmap for resetting community-police relations in a way that grants oversight power to residents.

5. An independent comprehensive national study of the role of implicit bias and systemic racism in policing. Federal funding should be allocated to support police departments in implementing the recommendations from the study and ongoing monitoring and public reporting of key benchmarks (e.g., use of force, arrests by race) and improvements in police practices.

6. Legislation requiring the use of dash and body-worn cameras to record all police interactions. Data from these devices should be immediately stored in tamper-proof databases, and there should be clear procedures for public access to any such recordings.

7. Increased transparency of public law enforcement, including independent oversight agencies with guaranteed full access to law enforcement policies and on-the-ground operations; and more streamlined, transparent and efficient procedures for the processing of complaints and FOIA requests.

8. Federal legislation, currently being developed by Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), to halt the transfer of military equipment to local police departments, and additional legislation to curtail the use of such equipment against domestic civilian populations.

9. Establishment of a ‘Ferguson Fund’ that will support long term strategies grounded in the principles of social justice, systems reform and racial equity to bring about substantial and sustained change in Ferguson and other communities facing similar challenges.

– Sociologists for Justice.

Open letter & where sociologists can sign: http://sociologistsforjustice.wordpress.com/public-statement/

Learn More

#OpenAccess research on racial bias in policing: 

*How racial stereotypes affect police shooting decisions: http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/psp-9261006.pdf 

*How better training mediates this bias: http://www.psychologicalscience.org/pdf/ps/racialbias.pdf?origin=publication_detail 

*How policing and stereotype threat affects Black communities: http://indigo.uic.edu/bitstream/handle/10027/8336/Stereotype%20Threat%20in%20Interrogations%20-%20Najdowski%20-%20In%20Press.pdf?sequence=1

*Reflections on Trayvon Martin & how social science interventions can help: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3718570/

Image: by me.

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[Image text] We are troubled by the killing of Michael Brown. We are troubled by the excessive show of force and militarised response to protesters who rightfully seek justice and demand a change in the treatment of people of colour by law enforcement. – Sociologists for Justice.

#socforjustice #sociology #socialscience #michaelbrown #ferguson #police #community #socialjustice #trayvonmartin #racism #peopleofcolor #poc #peopleofcolour   #stereotypes   #stereotypethreat   #psychology  

Social Justice in Ferguson

Over 1,400 sociologists have signed an open letter protesting police brutality in Ferguson, USA. The letter includes practical measures to address the killing of Michael Brown and mistreatment of protesters in Ferguson. Coordinated by Sociologists for Justice, the letter shows that systemic racism needs to be addressed as well as wider socio-economic and political issues to ensure effective change is enacted.

The book The New Jim Crow outlines how the criminal justice system in America is affected by systemic racism. Additionally, decades of sociological research shows that police officers’ decision-making is affected by racial stereotypes and that better training can address this bias (more links below). Effective change in community policing begins by understanding the effects of the victimisation of people of colour and by addressing the institutional practices that lead to excessive policing of people of colour. Below are the suggestions outlined in the open letter, but I urge you to read the letter in full as it summarises sociological research on race bias in policing. You can also add your name to the open letter, as I have done.

Social Justice for Michael Brown and Ferguson
We are troubled by the killing of Michael Brown. We are troubled by the excessive show of force and militarised response to protesters who rightfully seek justice and demand a change in the treatment of people of colour by law enforcement. – Sociologists for Justice.

Continue reading Social Justice in Ferguson

Police Control Over Black Bodies in the USA

Police Control Over Black Bodies in the USA

“This summer in Ferguson and Staten Island we have seen that dominion [the police] employed to the maximum ends—destruction of the body. This is neither new nor extraordinary. It does not matter if the destruction of your body was an overreaction. It does not matter if the destruction of your body resulted from a misunderstanding. It does not matter if the destruction of your body springs from foolish policy. …The destroyers of your body will rarely be held accountable. Mostly they will receive pensions.

It will not do to point out the rarity of the destruction of your body by the people whom you pay to protect it. As Gene Demby has noted, destruction is merely the superlative form of a dominion whose prerogatives include friskings, detainings, beatings, and humiliations. All of this is common to black people. All of this is old for black people. No one is held accountable. The body of Michael Brown was left in the middle of the street for four hours. It can not be expected that anyone will be held accountable…

the body count that led us to our present tenuous democratic moment does not elevate us above the community of nations, but installs us uncomfortably within its ranks.” Ta-Nehisi Coates.

The Atantic: http://buff.ly/VGW2Ok #sociology #socialscience #ferguson #michaelbrown