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This research paper examines racial relations in the United States, France, and South Africa. After examining the ideas of race, racial group, and ethnic group, the research paper explores social science theories of racial and ethnic relations – order-assimilation theories and power-conflict theories. The research paper concludes with an examination of challenges to white European domination of non- European peoples around the globe.
- The Idea of Race
- Racial and Ethnic Groups
- Conceptual Approaches to Racial Relations
- Assimilation Approaches
- Power-Conflict Approaches
- Continuing Racial Oppression: The US Case
- Racism in Europe: The Case of France
- Racism in Former European Empires: The South African Case
- The Future of the Global Racial Order
This research paper examines the reality and development of racial relations in the United States, France, and South Africa. After an examination of the ideas of race, racial group, and ethnic group, the research paper explores two broad categories of social science theories of racial and ethnic relations – order-assimilation theories and power-conflict theories. Then the research paper briefly examines typical racial relations in three countries – the United States, France, and South Africa – and concludes with an examination of coming challenges to white European domination of non-European peoples around the globe.
The term racial relations denotes relationships between important societal groups socially defined as races. In common usage, this term race is ambiguous and taken by many popular and some scholarly analysts to mean that racial relations are not primarily matters of societal power and oppression, but rather mostly involve relationships between groups with relatively comparable societal resources. In many cases, however, racial relations are much more accurately termed racist relations. Thus, in areas of the globe where there has been significant European colonization and imperialism – eventually most areas of the globe – systems of racist oppression were created by European colonists and their descendants, who typically enriched themselves substantially at the expense of indigenous peoples’ land, resources, and labor. This often brutally executed white Western enrichment became part of the economic foundation for Europe’s and North America’s long-term economic prosperity and dominant wealth, as well as for the impoverishment of indigenous peoples around the globe (Du Bois, 1965 ).
The Idea of Race
Before the eighteenth century, the English word race was used for descendants of a common ancestor, emphasizing kinship rather than skin color or other physical characteristics. By the eighteenth century, this word had evolved fully into its modern racist sense of a category of human beings with distinctive and determining physical characteristics transmitted by descent. In the 1770s, the preeminent Western philosopher Immanuel Kant was the first major scholar to use the term ‘races of mankind’ (in German) in the sense of physically and biologically distinct ‘race’ categories. Soon thereafter, the German anatomist Johann Blumenbach laid out a ladder of races that became influential (Hannaford, 1996, pp. 205–207). At the top were the ‘Caucasians,’ a racist term Blumenbach coined for Europeans, whom he considered to be the superior racial group. Groups lower on his racial ladder were, in order, the Mongolians (Asians), the Ethiopians (Africans), the Americans (Native Americans), and the Malays (Polynesians).
In the late-eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, Kant, Blumenbach, Thomas Jefferson, and other leading European and North American intellectuals increasingly proclaimed the superior virtues and privileges of being white and of European origin. Educated Europeans and European Americans crystallized the distinction between the ‘superior white race’ and ‘inferior races’ and disseminated these views to the general public in their countries and also globally. This social construction of races developed dramatically in impact and assertion as Europeans and European Americans expanded their colonial excursions and exploitation of more groups overseas. European and European American colonizers developed an array of racist stereotypes, explanations, and rationalizations for their destruction of indigenous societies, enslavement of Africans, and other colonial exploitation. This array congealed in a broad white racial framing, a pervasive and increasingly dominant white worldview with racialized ideological, narrative, and other elements that emphasized the superior white ‘race’ and legitimated this extensive oppression and exploitation around the globe (Feagin, 2010b).
Racial and Ethnic Groups
Taking into account this history of asymmetrical racial relations and racial oppression, most social scientists define a racial group as a socially constructed group that people in- or outside that group have decided is important to single out as inferior or superior, typically on the basis of physical characteristics subjectively selected. For marking off racial groups, certain physical characteristics like skin color are often chosen, and other characteristics like eye or hair color usually are rejected, solely for social reasons. Similarly, an ethnic group is a group that is set apart by insiders or outsiders primarily on the basis of cultural or national-origin characteristics subjectively selected (Feagin and Feagin, 2011).
Racial and ethnic groups are not fixed groups or essential categories that endure forever, but rather are temporary human inventions that are constructed socially and usually are shaped in sociopolitical struggles at particular historical times and geographical places. Most important, they have significance and meaning only in relationship to group interaction. Although the two types, racial and ethnic groups, can be distinguished on theoretical grounds, in the everyday operation of societies, racial and ethnic markers, identities, and oppressions usually are intertwined.
Conceptual Approaches to Racial Relations
Most conceptual approaches to racial (and ethnic) group relations can be classified roughly as (1) order-assimilation theories or (2) power-conflict theories. Order-assimilation theories tend to emphasize the gradual incorporation (assimilation) of immigrant groups into the dominant culture of a society and to give more attention to stability over time in intergroup relations. In contrast, power-conflict theories give central attention to the outcomes of racial (and ethnic) group contacts (immigrants and others) that result in oppression, labor exploitation, and genocide.
In Europe and the United States, much theorizing about racial and ethnic group relations has placed an emphasis on assimilation, on the more or less orderly adaptation of a migrating group, such as Italian or Russian immigrants to the United States in the early 1900s, to the ways of an established host group, such as the dominant white-Anglo-Protestant core culture of the United States then (and now). Related theories stress individual or group competition seen as resolving itself in the direction of eventual accommodation and assimilation (e.g., Banton, 1983). In most order-assimilation theorizing, relatively little attention has been paid to outcomes of intergroup contact taking the form of long-term or foundational racial oppression. One early US theorist, the influential University of Chicago sociologist Robert E. Park (1950), argued that intergroup relations generally move through the stages of a race relations cycle – contact, competition, accommodation, and eventual assimilation – that are more or less continuous and largely irreversible. Scholars in this assimilationist tradition typically have assumed that there is a long-term trend toward eventual adaptation of immigrant groups in Western societies to the dominant group and culture and that racial-ethnic conflicts will diminish with the eventual assimilation of incoming groups to the dominant core culture.
Giving primary attention to immigrants to the United States, influential sociologist Milton Gordon (1964) viewed the typical trend of such racial-ethnic group adaptation to be in the direction of immigrants giving up much of their home country heritage for the preexisting and dominant white- Anglo-Protestant core culture. This group adaptation takes place in seven different and defined arenas of assimilation: cultural assimilation, structural (primary group) assimilation, marital assimilation, attitude-receptional assimilation (breakdown of prejudices), behavior-receptional assimilation (decline of discrimination), identificational assimilation, and civic assimilation. Mainstream assimilation theorists like the pioneering Gordon and subsequent researchers utilizing assimilation theory usually have had in mind as their main examples of racial-ethnic adaptation European immigrant groups migrating voluntarily to the United States or to various European nations. Over recent decades, this assimilation framework has persisted, in more nuanced form, as an influential mainstream perspective. Examples of the contemporary use of Gordon’s typology can be seen in the research of sociologist Silvia Pedraza (1985) on Latino immigration to the United States and the research of sociologists Richard Alba and Victor Nee (2003) on white ethnic adaptation. Alba (2009) has drawn on the mainstream conceptualization of assimilation in critically assessing the contemporary loss of strong ethnic identities among white Americans. Richard Alba and Victor Nee (2003) have amplified this theoretical perspective by demonstrating reciprocity in the assimilation process – that is, how the cultures of immigrants have had an impact on the ‘core’ culture of society. Contemporary assimilation theory has become considerably more developed and nuanced than in earlier decades.
Still, mainstream US assimilation theorists have as a rule given relatively less attention to the adaptation of non-European groups to the US core culture than have power-conflict theorists. When they have, they have viewed non-Europeans as likely assimilating more or less like earlier white European immigrants. One prominent European researcher of US racial relations, Gunnar Myrdal (1964 , vol. 2, p. 929), has argued that as a practical matter it is to the advantage of African Americans “as individuals and as a group to become assimilated into American culture, to acquire the traits held in esteem by the dominant white Americans.” Even today, many order-assimilation analysts expect the importance of initial racial-ethnic stratification to decline as powerful universalistic forces, such as industrialization and urbanization, wipe out the vestiges of earlier particularistic value and racial-ethnic (including racist) coding systems in societies such as the United States.
Several social scientists (e.g., Mia Tuan, 1998) have used empirical field studies to examine certain problematical aspects of the assimilation perspective in regard to the contemporary experiences of immigrants of color and their immediate descendants. Their findings show that, even as Asian American immigrants and their children substantially acculturate to the Anglo-American core culture, most retain a strong racialized identity – substantially because they regularly suffer discrimination from whites who constantly impose on them the racially stereotyped identity of undesirable ‘alien’ and ‘foreigner.’ Contrary to the perspective of Gordon and some recent mainstream assimilation thinkers, most Asian Americans, in spite of significant cultural and socioeconomic assimilation, remain racialized and thus a substantial distance from being fully accepted and assimilated into white middleclass society.
Generally speaking, mainstream assimilation theorists are most concerned with cultural (such as language) or primary-group network (such as intermarriage) features of the adaptation of migrating groups to a host society, whereas power-conflict theorists are most concerned with racial-ethnic oppression, exploitation, and subordination that affect incoming and other groups in society. An early US advocate of this perspective, Oliver C. Cox (1948), emphasized the role of the capitalist class in creating racial conflict by exploiting the labor of groups like African Americans and propagating racist ideologies to divide the working class in Western societies such as the United States. Providing much evidence, scholars in this power-conflict tradition have shown that early racial (e.g., white-on-black) stratification largely grew out of the global and other territorial expansion of profit-oriented capitalism and has continued to be reinforced and maintained by still-extant capitalism and associated imperialism.
Some scholars have drawn on theoretical discussions of external colonialism and developed the concept of internal colonialism to describe what happens to many non-European groups coming into and integrated into Western societies. An emphasis on great power inequalities between whites and people of color is generally at the heart of this model. Thus, people of color, such as Native Americans and African Americans, were brought into the sphere of expanding capitalistic system of North America by force. Subsequent group adaptation was characterized by extensive dominant-group coercion and oppression of these racially subordinated groups, as well as by significant group resistance by the latter. Racial stratification thus has a firm material base, an underpinning rooted in a specific political–economic histories. Internal-colonialism theorists are not concerned primarily with white immigrant groups but rather with the persistence of systemic oppression and the asymmetrical control processes that maintain white dominance over various groups of color in a society like the United States (Blauner, 1972).
Power-conflict analysts look at the immigration of non- European peoples as involving much more than continuous assimilation. John Rex (1973) has analyzed the immigration of such groups from the former European colonies to the metropolitan cities of numerous colonizing countries. In the latter countries, most of these colonial immigrants of color historically have gotten inferior and marginal jobs and often have suffered higher unemployment – thereby typically becoming structurally distinct from the native-born, white working and middle classes and, thus, a low-ranking social group often viewed as alien or foreign.
Generally, power-conflict analysts emphasize the direct and continuing impact of structural racial barriers on people of color in countries around the globe. In the 1980s and 1990s, innovative sociologists Michael Omi and Howard Winant (1994) developed an important theory of ‘racial formation.’ Racial formation is the “sociohistorical process by which racial categories are created, inhabited, transformed, and destroyed” in societies like the United States (Omi and Winant, 1994, p. 55). Critically reviewing prior theorizing – especially that of assimilation (ethnicity) and Marxist theorists – that avoided or downplayed racial oppression issues in favor of accents on ethnicity or class, Omi and Winant have emphasized the continuing significance of racial formations in the United States over the generations. From their influential perspective, asymmetrical racial relationships are substantially defined by state action, such as that defining who is ‘black’ and ‘white’ (the infamous ‘one drop of blood’ US rule) or that restricting immigration to the United States from Asian and Latin American countries on the basis of racist reasoning. Numerous social science and humanities scholars have made significant use of this racial formation theory in theorizing about issues, such as struggles among whites and Mexican Americans, racism and popular culture, and interpreting the societal construction of race (see Gomez, 2002; Brock, 2009).
Other power-conflict analysts (see Feagin and Elias, 2012) have demonstrated that the racial formation approach of Omi and Winant does not go far enough in probing empirically and theorizing thoroughly the foundational and systemic reality of racial oppression in white-settler societies like the United States. The concept of systemic racism (also termed institutional racism) emphasizes the importance of these determining patterns of racial oppression that are threaded throughout a society’s everyday operations and institutions – and well beyond the state institutions. From its major development in the seventeenth century to the twenty-first century, white-imposed racism has been about much more than whites’ racist attitudes and biases, for it has long encompassed a complex array of racially inegalitarian economic, political, and other social relationships developed and sustained over many generations and embedded in all major institutions in the United States and other Eurocentric societies (Du Bois, 1965 ; Feagin, 2010a).
In the US case, from the 1600s to the present, the dominant white group – especially, the white male elite – has created and maintained the hierarchical patterns of racial oppression. They have created and perpetuated the oppressive practices that unjustly enrich the dominant white group and unjustly impoverish groups of color. The long history of white oppression in the US case has been well documented by an array of social scientists (Frederickson, 2008/1971, 1987; Singh, 2005; Feagin, 2010a). In racist systems, such as that of the United States, most whites become privileged stakeholders in a hierarchical structure of opportunities, resources, wealth, and power linked to a long history of racial exploitation and oppression.
Among others, Joe Feagin (2010a; see also Feagin and Feagin, 2011) has argued that the concept of systemic racism encompasses both the creation and sustained maintenance of substantial white privilege and power in society and the construction of a broad white racial frame to explain and rationalize that unjustly gained privilege and power. Individuals, whether they are the perpetrators or recipients of racial oppression, are caught in a complex web of alienating individual and group relationships. Systemic racism divides human beings and severely impedes the development of a common consciousness. At the macro level, large-scale institutions routinely perpetuate the subordination of certain racial groups to yet other racial groups. In turn, these racially inegalitarian institutions are maintained by recurring discriminatory practices of dominant group individuals at the micro level of everyday interaction. Individual acts of discrimination activate, on a recurring basis, whites’ major power-and-privilege position, a point underscored by, among others, the pioneering European scholar of institutional racism, Philomena Essed (1991).
In some theorizing about contemporary racial conflict and inequality, there is an emphasis on the growing importance of class, defined in the Weberian sense of socioeconomic status. Some of these analysts argue that systemic racism is of declining importance in Western societies like the United States and increasingly is consigned to societal fringes, whereas socioeconomic (class) divisions are increasing (Wilson, 1978). Yet research evidence suggests that such a conclusion is premature. Critics (e.g., Omi and Winant, 1994; Feagin, 2010a) of this view of the ‘declining significance of race’ have shown that, for the United States at least, race cannot be reduced to socioeconomic status and divisions, but rather it remains an autonomous and continuing field of much intergroup conflict, political organization, and ideological meanings.
Some contemporary theorizing about racial and ethnic relations, especially ‘segmented assimilation’ theory, draws heavily on the mainstream assimilation tradition, yet also makes use of power-conflict ideas. Researchers like Alejandro Portes (1995) have argued that societal outcomes of immigrant adaptation vary greatly, with groups of color like Mexican Americans substantially confined to the lower rungs of US society’s economic ladder in later generations, even as other groups such as early twentieth-century European immigrants have experienced over generations much faster socioeconomic mobility. Researchers (Portes, 1995) have found that the second-generation children of relatively recent Mexican immigrants, unlike children of European immigrants, continue to face racial-ethnic discrimination and related difficult economic circumstances, including disproportionate placement in low-paying jobs and inadequate housing. These researchers underscore the significant problems associated with traditional immigrant-assimilation theories when they are applied to immigrants of color and have insisted on spelling out who is being assimilated and under what circumstances.
Continuing Racial Oppression: The US Case
In the twenty-first century, people of African descent appear to be the globe’s largest racially oppressed group; they are now resident in a number of countries as a result of the overseas slave trade carried out by Europeans centuries ago. One of the major groups in this large-scale African diaspora includes the residents in the United States, where much research evidence remains of continuing white-on-black discrimination and other racial oppression.
Recent field studies and opinion surveys show that among white Americans, racist attitudes and other racial framing remain widespread. Psychologists recently have given implicit racial attitude tests online to thousands of white Americans. The overwhelming majority quickly associate black faces with negative words and traits, yet they have more difficulty in quickly associating black faces with pleasant words and positive traits than they do for white faces. In these and other research tests, most whites of various educations and occupations have revealed a strong anti-black and a pro-white bias (for a summary, see Feagin, 2010a, pp. 102–103). In addition, recent surveys of African Americans have found that a substantial majority report that they as a group face significant discrimination from whites in local housing, employment, restaurants, and other institutional areas (Feagin, 2010a, p. 120). One focus-group study (Nuru-Jeter et al., 2009) involving black women found that they reported numerous instances of discrimination in schools, housing, shopping, and health care institutions; additionally, they stressed how vigilant they must be in countering the everyday racism faced by themselves and their families. Numerous studies demonstrate that African Americans continue to face significant discrimination from police officers doing racial profiling and from real estate agents and landlords who engage in anti-black housing discrimination (Smith, 2006).
In the United States, as in numerous other white-controlled countries, whites also direct much racist framing, hostility, and discrimination at other groups of color. Numerous research studies have shown that many Asian Americans are moving into the mainstream of the US economy and suburban neighborhoods, yet as they do so, they still encounter much racial discrimination at the hands of whites. Blue-collar and white-collar workers, including administrators and professionals in historically white institutions, report ingrained patterns of anti-Asian discrimination (Cheng, 1997; Feagin, 2010a, pp. 244–245). Similarly, Latino Americans report much continuing discrimination in employment and housing. Political discrimination targets Latino and Asian Americans. Over recent decades, voters in the state of California, especially white voters, have supported ballot propositions designed to abolish government services for Latino and Asian immigrants and eliminate antidiscrimination (e.g., affirmative action) and bilingual programs. White hostility to Spanish-speaking Americans of color persists, such as in the widespread mocking of the Spanish language and other aspects of Latino culture in the United States (Feagin, 2010a, pp. 221, 240–247).
Racism in Europe: The Case of France
The United States is not the only Western nation pervaded by a white racial framing of society and thus of racist relations. The reality of racial oppression can be seen in the growth of neo-Nazi groups and the often-associated outbreak of hate crimes in many European countries since the 1980s, as well as in routine discrimination in housing and employment in those European countries. For example, in France, immigrants from Algeria and other African countries often face racist framing, hostility, and discrimination much like that of the United States. France imposed colonial rule on Algeria in the nineteenth century; later, beginning in the 1960s, large numbers of Algerian immigrants migrated to France. Defining these and other African immigrant groups as undesirable, many French whites have publicly alleged the lack of assimilation by African immigrants into (white) French culture as the major issue. Yet, these whites typically play down or ignore the way in which such societal realities as housing separation and other social segregation result from institutionalized, race-linked discrimination by whites against French people of African descent. In France racist–right political groups like the French National Front – with its strong white racial framing, anti-immigrant, and anti-multiculturalism agendas – have grown in social and political influence in recent years. In the 2012 election, the head of the National Front ran as a presidential candidate and got millions of votes. The national government in France periodically responded to white voters’ pressures with its own racialized anti-immigrant framing and repressive attacks on African immigrants and their French descendants (Batur-VanderLippe, 2011; Hollinger, 2012).
For numerous European countries, overseas colonialism in areas like Africa involved the use of organized violence to exploit the resources of the colonies there and to oppress their indigenous peoples – practices often legitimated with a strong white-racist framing and Eurocentric ideologies (Du Bois, 1965 ; Batur-VanderLippe, 2011). More recently, the descendants of the formerly colonized often face racial oppression in the colonizers’ home countries. In a number of European countries, the legacy of colonialism can be seen graphically in the of tenviolent expressions of racialized hatred for the identity and culture of African, Asian, Middle Eastern, or West Indian immigrants and their descendants in Europe.
Still, there are some differences between Europe’s racist patterns and those of the United States. One example can be seen in the dramatic increase in white supremacist and other hate-oriented websites on the Internet. The number of these websites is estimated to be at least 5000, with some estimates being much higher. Although European countries do have a serious problem with racist and other hate websites and their mostly white followers, a majority of the major racist and other hate-speech websites are based in the United States – in part because of the way that judges and politicians in the United States interpret the US Constitution’s first amendment to protect most hate speech. In contrast, many European countries, including Italy, Austria, England, France, Germany, and the Netherlands, have important laws that significantly restrict white supremacist and other hate speech both on the Internet and in other societal settings.
Racism in Former European Empires: The South African Case
In many ways South Africa is a major symbol of racist relations as they developed between European and non-European peoples in the ever-spreading European empires from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries. In the South African case, two colonizing powers, Great Britain and Holland, invaded the lands of the indigenous African peoples, and their white descendants became the economically and politically dominant group in the country. In the first decade of the twentieth century, a new country, called the Union of South Africa, was formed, combining white residents of British and Dutch origin as the ruling group over several black African groups. Black Africans gradually were forced into a system of comprehensive racial segregation (called apartheid) where the relations between the white and black groups, as well as between these groups and middle groups like the Asians and the ‘coloreds’ (those of mixed racial backgrounds), were determined by an asymmetrical racial hierarchy and an extensive system of racial segregation laws. Over time, the racial apartheid system came to encompass most aspects of the relations between white residents and residents of color, including relationships of great racial oppression in the major institutional areas of politics, employment, education, and housing (Batur-VanderLippe, 2011; Feagin and Feagin, 2011).
As in the case of African Americans, this comprehensive system of racial oppression especially targeted black South Africans. As a result, apartheid generated much black resistance in the form of major organizations like the African National Congress (ANC). The ANC, working with other antiapartheid groups, engaged in collective protests and eventually forced an end to white-imposed apartheid, thereby bringing new hope for improved living conditions for the oppressed black majority. Racial relations in numerous spheres dramatically changed. In the mid-1990s, the Republic of South Africa (the country’s name changed in the 1960s) moved from white to black political control and began to change its traditional patterns of political, economic, and social apartheid. This societal change has so far marked only a significant beginning, for the important political changes have not yet ended extensive economic domination by whites, and the country still ranks very high among the world’s countries in unemployment and socioeconomic inequality along racial lines. Racially discriminatory practices – blatant, subtle, and indirect – still are found in numerous areas, including employment, housing, and education. Educational and other socioeconomic mobility opportunities, although much better than in the past, are limited severely by the unjust impoverishment of most black African families over generations of racial apartheid imposed by whites and its continuing impact on the assets and resources available to black families to the present day. Attempts at remedial and reparatory action by the black-led government have helped to create a black middle class, but they have not yet provided much sustained improvement in socioeconomic conditions for the black working-class majority (Batur-VanderLippe, 2011; Feagin and Feagin, 2011).
These late-twentieth-century events in South Africa have helped to link black African-origin peoples around the globe in a common struggle against the descendants of European colonists, who have long maintained economic or political control in numerous countries where people of color are the numerical majority. Struggles against systemic racism in one country often inspire or inform struggles in other countries. Since the early 1900s, for example, black American efforts for liberation from white racism, including recurring black civil rights movements, have provided inspiration and assistance for struggles of people of color in South Africa and other countries with significant oppressed populations (e.g., Brazil). In a similar fashion, the successes of black Africans in South Africa in bringing down political and other apartheids have encouraged African-origin peoples in the United States and other countries in the Americas in their struggles against racial framing and racial discrimination. Indeed, African Americans have long drawn on the history, spirituality, and symbolism of Africa as part of their individual and group strategies for countering and coping with a white-dominated and racialized US society. These cross-national examples again suggest how racial relations and racist histories in one country have been set within a larger global racial context. This has been true for centuries now (Feagin and Feagin, 2011; Batur-VanderLippe, 2011).
The Future of the Global Racial Order
Over several centuries, the global expansion of capitalism by European entrepreneurs, colonists, and missionaries – European colonialism and imperialism – frequently generated an extensive system of white-racist oppression and framing, one with a global scope. Eventually, in the early twentieth century, a substantial majority of this planet’s people of color were dominated in one way or another by people of European descent (see Batur-VanderLippe, 2011). Yet this oppression eventually generated large-scale resistance and periodically substantial change.
In many countries around the globe, recurring challenges to white racial domination and its discriminatory consequences are arising not only from human-rights organizations’ efforts but also from important demographic and sociopolitical changes. Europeans and European Americans are a decreasing fifth of the world’s population and a decreasing proportion of the US population. In the second decade of the twenty-first century, US whites are a statistical minority in many large cities and in the states of New Mexico, Hawaii, California, and Texas. Demographic projections indicate that no later than the year 2050, white Americans will be a statistical minority of the US population, for the first time since the country’s beginning in the 1790s. According to a 2011 US Census Bureau’s official count, the white non-Hispanic population percentage had declined to just 63%, and the white proportion of babies born had dropped for the first time to just under 50%.
As whites become the statistical minority in the United States and in the many national and international organizations they once dominated, traditional patterns of white-dominant racial relations will be under greater pressure to change. The demographic changes have significant political, economic, and other social implications. For the US case, by the 2040s, the majority of the labor force will very likely not be white, and the population and labor force will be older. This likely will give Americans of color yet more political and economic clout. Political–economic tensions may well increase between a mostly white retired population and the majority of the nonwhite working population. In the United States and other Western countries, white politicians intensely opposed to legal immigration by non-Europeans and to major remedial programs for racial discrimination likely will not be elected when much larger proportions of political constituencies become voters of color. As these constituencies change away from white dominance, it seems probable that juries and justice systems, education systems, government policy-making arenas, and other societal institutions also will change in the direction of more influence and power for citizens of color.
Around the globe, the relations of colonialism and systemic racism are slowly but dramatically changing. The deep-lying contradictions of the global racial order were set into motion by the colonial and imperialistic ventures of numerous European nations. This European colonialism generated sociopolitical structures that have long embedded the practices, ideologies, and institutions of racist subordination in numerous countries. In the twenty-first century, international relations, global markets, the global mainstream media, and multinational corporations are all racialized, with white European perspectives and white or white-oriented executives usually in control. Half a millennium of European-dominated national and international institutions is slowly coming to an end. As the twenty-first century develops further, asymmetrical racial relations and racial hierarchies in Europe, the United States, and other parts of the globe are likely to change substantially. Many once racially oppressed groups probably will move farther out from under the racialized dominance of Europeans and European Americans.
Not surprisingly, over the past few decades, strong antiracism movements have arisen in South Africa, Brazil, the United States, and other countries with colonial histories. The possibility of a global democratic order substantially rid of the oppressive relations of white-imposed racism remains only a dream, but the US civil rights movements and the South African political revolution, among other racialized global struggles, demonstrate that it is still a powerful dream for a great many people around the globe.
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