Seminar 6 Outline – Feb 16, 2021

Race Together: Learnings about and Race and Racism in America
Arturo Pierre Lewis

“Understanding Inequality while on our way to Equality and Equity”

Origins of Racial and Ethnic Inequality in the United States-Topic/Chapter 5

Chapter Objectives—after reading Chapter Five you should be able to:

  • Differentiate between a caste and class system of stratification
  • Describe paternalistic, rigid competitive and fluid competitive race relations and describe the differences in each in several areas
  • Differentiate between the different ways to have initial contacts between racial and ethnic groups
  • Discuss the theoretical basis for the origins of ethnic inequality and apply these to African Americans, Native Americans and Mexican Americans in the United States 

African Americans: Institution of Slavery in the Antebellum South 


Free Labor

No Rights and No Power

(Civil War to Reconstruction)

Mexican Americans: War, Displacement and Economic Discrimination


Competition for land

Limited Rights and Unequal Power (U.S. Military and Whites)

Forced Labor, Cheap Labor and Deportation

Paternalistic Race Relations

. A kind of caste system whereby racial roles are clearly defined and it places the minority group in an inferior social system beneath the majority group.

Competitive Race Relations

. Competition and conflict and takes place between race groups.

Rigid Competitive Race Relations

. A pattern of race relations that resembles an unstable caste system. 

. Ethnic minorities receive lower pay for the same job as the dominant white majority.

. Dominant white majority will also receive housing more easily over minorities if population is a problem.

. The potential for major conflict exists.

Fluid Competitive Race Relations

. A pattern of race relations best described as a class system with racial inequalities remaining from a past racial caste system.

. Here, groups are free to pursue whatever they like and then be judged based on merit.

. It’s accepted that minorities begin with a disadvantage due to past discrimination.

. There remains less restrictions here for minorities; however, competition on a macro scale still isn’t equal. 

. Racial conflict exists but is controlled.

Discussion Questions 

  1. Explain why there is more racial segregation in a rigid competitive system of race relations than in a paternalistic system of race relations. Also, explain why there typically is more conflict in a rigid competitive system. 
  2. Explain the following statement: “There is still significant racial inequality in a fluid competitive system of race relations, but it is less visible and works in different ways than in a paternalistic or rigid competitive system.”
  3. Slavery of African Americans became institutionalized in the U.S. South. Explain why (1) this did not happen as much in the U.S. North, and (2) why other groups (such as white indentured servants and American Indians) avoided institutional slavery in the South to the same degree. 
  4. Research suggests that ethnocentrism by itself does not necessarily lead to racial inequality unless there is also scarcity, competition, and unequal power. In what ways does this idea support explanations of racial inequality offered by the conflict perspective? Also, in what ways does it apply to the early experiences of African Americans, American Indians, and Mexican Americans in the United States? 

Web Links This is an interactive website that allows the viewer to learn more about 6 of the most common ways that African American slaves acquired their freedom during slavery. Interactive website about slavery in Natchez, Mississippi and gives students the chance to understand more about the everyday lives of slaves. PBS Website and the series, Slavery and the Making of America. documents/wpa.html  WPA Slave Narratives. In the 1930s, the Works Progress Administration sponsored a Federal Writers’ Project dedicated to chronicling the experience of slavery as remembered by former slaves. Their stories were recorded and transcribed.  Historical overview of Mexican Americans in the United States. Website about the national boarding schools and Native Americans during the early 20th century