||UNESCO issues statement on race
||Only when claims of inherent racial
inferiority are taken to a horrifying extreme by the Nazis
is race science finally discredited. After the Holocaust,
the United Nations issues an official statement declaring
that "race" has no scientific basis and calling for an end
to racial thinking in scientific and political thought. The
statement's principal author is Ashley Montagu, a student
of Franz Boas. Although important, this shift in scientific
thinking has little impact on social policy and ingrained
public attitudes about race.
||Legal segregation ends
||In the wake of the Brown v. Board of Education
decision, civil rights advocates led by Martin Luther King,
Jr. organize a yearlong boycott of city buses in Montgomery,
Alabama, to protest the state's resistance to school integration.
What begins as a struggle over schools spreads to public transportation,
voting, and all areas of social life. Despite the violent
opposition of some white groups, especially in the Deep South,
integration and the freedom struggle continue during the 1950s
and 1960s through the work of whites and nonwhites alike.
Students, church groups, workers, and volunteers participate
in massive non-violent protest, civil disobedience, and public
education campaigns. Their efforts culminate in the 1964 Civil
Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
||sickle cell not "racial"
||In the 1960s, several key scientific discoveries
pave the way for a new understanding of human variation. Among
them is the work of Frank Livingstone and A.C. Allison, who
unlock the origins of sickle cell, often considered a "racial"
disease afflicting Africans. Their research shows that the
sickling gene is linked to protection from malaria, not skin
color, and the trait is found in areas where malaria was once
common, such as the Mediterranean, Arabia, India, and central
and western (but not southern) Africa. Livingstone also shows
that most traits vary independently from one another and don't
come packaged together into what we think of as races.
||Laws against mixed marriages declared invalid
||In the 19th century, 38 states have anti-miscegenation
laws prohibiting marriage between whites and nonwhites. By
1924, 29 states, including Virginia, still ban interracial
marriages. Anti-miscegenation statutes are not outlawed until
1967, when a Virginia couple is tried and convicted, and files
a suit challenging the law. Although the state Supreme Court
of Appeals upholds their conviction, the U.S. Supreme Court
rules unanimously against it, declaring that a person's individual
right to marry cannot be restricted by race. The Loving decision
finally reverses the racist policies set forth in the 1924
Racial Purity Act and invalidates the antimiscegenation laws
remaining in 16 other states.
||Human diversity is mapped
||In the early 1970s, geneticist Richard Lewontin
decides to find out just how much genetic variation falls
within, versus between, the groups we call races. He discovers
that 85% of all human variation can be found within any local
population; about 94% within any continent. This means local
groups are much more diverse than they appear, and our species
as a whole is much more similar than we appear. Lewontin's
work, confirmed over and over again by others, remains an
important milestone in our understanding of race and biology
||Lau v. Nichols guarantees bilingual education
||A class action suit by 1800 Chinese families
whose children speak limited English leads to a unanimous
Supreme Court decision with far-reaching consequences. The
court mandates that school districts must provide students
with special instruction to ensure "equal access" to the curriculum.
Significantly, the court distinguishes between treating students
"the same" and supplying them with the tools needed to put
them on a par with other students. Although the case specifically
deals with language ability and public education, it opens
up a new era in federal enforcement of equal opportunity laws.
||Government defines race and ethnic categories
||In response to the 1974 Equal Educational Opportunity
Act, the federal Office of Management and Budget issues Directive
15, creating a standard government definition of race for
the first time. The categories are meant to aid government
agencies, but they also reveal inconsistencies and assumptions
about the way different groups are defined. For example, "Black"
is defined as a "racial group" but "white" is not. "Hispanic"
reflects a pattern of colonization and excludes non-Spanish
parts of Central and South America; while "American Indian
or Alaskan Native" requires "cultural identification through
tribal affiliation or community recognition" - a condition
of no other category. The categories are amended in 1996,
and a new one, "Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander,"
||Minorities lead nationwide union campaign
||The struggling Service Employees International
Union begins a campaign to attract and organize low-wage workers,
predominantly Black and immigrant janitors. Their efforts
culminate in the nationwide Justice for Janitors Campaign
2000, headed by minority leaders on the local level. A hundred
thousand janitors in 16 cities pledge to fight for a living
wage, full-time work, and ongoing health coverage. First to
strike are hundreds of Latino and Latina janitors in Los Angeles,
who win widespread public support and a dramatic victory after
three weeks. Similar protests and strikes follow in New York
City, Chicago, Cleveland, Seattle, and other major cities
- raising awareness of the "invisible" labor forces dominated
by minorities and reinvigorating and diversifying organized
||Black-white wealth gap
||Centuries of inequality are not remedied overnight,
and colorblind policies only perpetuate disparities. Today,
the average white family has eight times the wealth of the
average nonwhite family. Even at the same income level, whites
have, on average, two to three times as much wealth. Whites
are more likely to be segregated that any other group, and
86% of suburban whites still live in places with a Black population
of less than 1%. Today, 71% of whites own their own home,
compared to 44% of African Americans. Black and Latino mortgage
applicants are 60% more likely than whites to be turned down
for loans, even after controlling for employment, financial,
and neighborhood characteristics.
||Census allows more than one race
||To reflect the growing diversity of the U.S.
populace, the 2000 Census adds new race subcategories and
allows respondents to check more than one race. Their decision
is controversial. "Multi-racial" advocates want to be distinct
from traditional constituencies, while civil rights groups
fear a loss of support for anti-discrimination programs tied
to census numbers. The public's increased interest reflects
the census' changing role since the civil rights movement
- from one of exclusion to inclusion. Although the debate
is far from over, it shows how the construction of race is
still important to politics and social policy.