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Tag Archives: racism

TV chef Paula Deen is the most recent celebrity to become caught in a scandal related to racist language or behavior. In breaking the story, most news outlets have emphasized Deen’s deposed statements admitting that she has used racial epithets for blacks, describing her admiration for a restaurant that evoked Civil War era-racial imagery of black men in service professions, and her fear that her wish to plan a wedding around that theme would be “misinterpreted.”

 

However, many reports overlook an important aspect of this story—the way in which it reveals the persistence of ongoing racial discrimination at work.

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On occasion, I find myself engaged in a conversation with a complete stranger—in an airport, on the bus, or in a bar. More often than not this stranger is demographically similar to me, white, college educated, and male. These discussions generally start off with greetings, introductions, and a conversation about what each party does for a living. Once the stranger learns that I am a sociologist who studies labor markets, work, and organizations, I can be fairly certain that the topic of race, employment, and Affirmative Action will soon ensue.

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