Laissez-Faire Racism (a.k.a. symbolic racism) is closely related to color-blind racism and covert racism, and is theorized to encompass an ideology that blames minorities for their poorer economic situations, viewing it as the result of cultural inferiority. The term is used largely by scholars of whiteness studies, who are critical of this theorized ideology, while no one does or would self-identify as holding it.
Dr. Lawrence D. Bobo, Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard University, and Ryan Smith use this term to represent how the racial outlooks of white Americans have shifted from the more overtly racist Jim Crow attitudes—which endorsed school segregation, advocated for governmentally imposed discrimination, and embraced the idea that minorities were biologically inferior to whites—to a more subtle form of racism that continues to rationalize the ongoing problem of racial oppression in the United States. Laissez-faire racists claim to support equality while maintaining negative, stereotypical beliefs about minorities.
Katherine Tarca writes that laissez-faire racism is the belief, stated or implied through actions, that one can end racial inequality and discrimination by refusing to acknowledge that race and racial discrimination exists. Laissez-faire racism has two main ideas: first, the belief in the melting pot and America’s assertion of ideas of equal opportunity, regardless of race. Second, laissez-faire racism encompasses the ideology of how individual deficiencies explain the problems of entire social groups. Tarca explains that Whites tend to view laissez-faire racism as being beneficial to people of color, while many minorities believe that these ideologies contrast and ignore the realities facing many minorities in America.
Eduardo Bonilla Silva, who is a professor of sociology at Duke University, suggests that all groups of people in power construct these ideologies in order to justify social inequalities. For example, most racial ideologies today are more inclined to omit unfashionable racist language, which protects racial privilege by employing certain philosophies of liberalism in a more conceptual and decontextualized approach. These ideologies help to reinforce the existing condition of affairs by concentrating on cultural distinctions as the cause of the inferior accomplishments of minorities in education and employment. These ideas are primarily focused on the more darker-skinned minorities, such as, African-Americans, Asians and Latinos. Ideologies like these refuse to acknowledge the systematic oppression, such as the continuing school segregation or persistent negative racial stereotypes that continue to occur in American society.
Read more about Laissez-faire Racism: Race, Jim Crow, Support of Integration and Equality, Resistance To Social Policy, Meritocracy, Color-blind, White Privilege and Laissez-Faire Racism, Racial Preferences and Laissez-Faire Racism, Symbolic Racism
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... Symbolic racism, which is a term connected with the work of David O ... to Silva, many researchers have criticized the concept of symbolic racism because it asserts the theory that the "anti-Black" affect and individualism is new ... These critics believe that laissez-faire racism should not be confused with "symbolic racism." Dr ...
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