Category Archives: Racist and Racial Justice Movements

Racist and Right-Wing Extremist Movements in the U.S.: Two Things Scholars Know, One Thing Scholars Don’t Know, and the Implications for Antiracist Activism

By Kathleen Blee

What We Know #1:    The relationship between U.S right-wing/racist movements and the population in which they emerge is significantly different today than it was in earlier times.  In the past, far right and racist movements often took root at times and in places in which a significant proportion of the population shared their racist and political values.  The largest racist movement in U.S. history, for example, was the 1920s Ku Klux Klan whose 3-5 million members espoused ideas of white Christian supremacy and nativism that were not significantly different than those held by the white native-born Protestant majority in the early twentieth century.  Similarly, German Nazism, commonly regarded as the prototypical Western racist movement, was nested within a population in which many embraced fundamental aspects of Nazi ideology such as anti-Semitism and nationalism. Continue reading

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The Racialist Movement: Past and Present Strategies, Opportunities, and Constraints

By Todd J. Schroer

The constraints that are faced by the current racialist movement are in many ways the same that they have always historically faced:  governmental and countermovement opposition, negative publicity, movement infighting, etc.  Looming great over these is the bifurcation within the movement concerning the strategies and tactics that they feel should be used to achieve movement goals.  Namely, should they be focusing upon legal or extralegal actions?  Should they go underground, engaging in violence, or try to gain power through the political process? The path chosen can greatly affect recruitment, mobilization efforts, and the likelihood of success. Continue reading

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Action, Inaction, and “Color-blindness”

By Kim Ebert

The killing of Trayvon Martin and subsequent trial and acquittal of George Zimmerman offers valuable insight into the operations of color-blind racial ideology and the way color-blindness sustains white privilege even in the absence of any formal, organized movements openly dedicated to maintaining whites’ status as the dominant group. Indeed, while the events surrounding the Martin shooting sparked outrage and mobilized protests among the African-American community, it is telling that they did not inspire any sort of meaningful collective action among those (primarily non-blacks) who were sympathetic to Zimmerman’s cause. This is not to say the events were greeted entirely with indifference among Zimmerman’s supporters, but they mostly did not see the shooting and trial as occasions around which to organize and rally. Instead, many viewed the entire episode as a legal process centering on fundamental individual rights—in this case, the right to defend oneself and the right to bear arms—rather than issues of race. Continue reading

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Change is Not for the Faint of Heart

By damali ayo

“Change is not for the faint of heart.” Someone told me this once, and it stuck with me. I was sitting in a room full of women trying to recover from dieting, binging, starving and a plethora of other food addiction behaviors. I had raised my hand earlier in that hour and said, “I am a compulsive dieter.”

It was just one of the many groups of similar people, or one on one with a therapist, on the phone with a friend on a similar journey, or being coached by a mentor who has walked one of the paths I have found myself on in my lifetime. These are humbling journeys that evolve me from being unwell, to understanding what is wrong and why, to learning how to heal, to the reward of a daily maintenance of real lasting change. Continue reading

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The Challenge of Collective Action in Racialized Market Culture

By John Brueggemann

I will never forget April 29, 1992. In Atlanta, “the city too busy to hate,” we eagerly awaited the verdict for the police officers who beat Rodney King. When the decisions were announced, everyone I knew was aware that vastly different reactions were unfolding among blacks and whites.

That same week Freaknik was held, which was a large annual gathering of students from historically black colleges. Thousands of kids came to Atlanta to party. They were known for riding around on top of cars and disrupting traffic downtown, which of course drove the city’s leadership crazy. Out of curiosity I took a walk in Piedmont Park one afternoon to check it out. The whole thing seemed pretty familiar (a bunch of drunk college students having fun and trying to hook up) and notably less dramatic than the media coverage had suggested. As I walked back to my car, several young black men drove by. One yelled: “hey man, what you think about that verdict?” The car slowed as I kept walking. I said: “It was fucked up.” “You don’t sound like you mean it,” he said, with a note of menace. I got focused as I took the last few steps to my car, got in, and left.  Continue reading

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Thoughts on Continuity and Change in White Power Movement Recruitment Strategies in the United States

By Betty A. Dobratz and Lisa K. Waldner

We focus on a few aspects of a very complex set of questions about recruitment in the white power movement (WPM), including cultural influences on the WPM, whether framing of recruitment strategies have changed, and what the future may hold for the WPM.  We discuss the perceptions of WPM members (WPMMs) in part because we agree with W. I. Thomas’s Theorem that perceptions can have real consequences whether rooted in fact or not (Robertson 1981:289).

We believe it important to place possible changes in WPM recruitment strategies in a broad historical and cultural perspective recognizing that societal changes beyond the control of movement members have affected WPM framing of issues.  Continue reading

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Increasing Synergy between the Conservative Movement and the Far Right

By Abby L. Ferber

I would like to take this opportunity to examine my own recent, personal experience with both the “far right” and “conservative right” to raise questions about the ways in which they support each other, and the synergy between them that has been opened up as a result of the internet scene. My own early research on the white supremacist movement argued that the distinction between the far right and mainstream served to disavow mainstream racism, and that we needed to examine their shared assumptions about race. Now, as a result of my own personal experiences coming under attack from both mainstream conservatives and the far right, I am even more convinced of the need for sociologists to examine the synergy between the mainstream conservative movement and the far right. Continue reading

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Racist Movements without Racists?

By Peter Owens

A recent New York Times article captures a disturbing, yet increasingly common, practice in the contemporary American white power movement: the secretive taking over of ostensibly marginal and largely white communities or buying up of marginal land in order to transform them into strongholds of white racist organizing. Most disturbingly, many of the residents of this small North Dakota town were unaware that such a process was unfolding underneath their feet until they were alerted by the Southern Poverty Law Center! Such strategies reflect the importance of creating various covert “free spaces,” as Simi and Futrell have noted, in which movement adherents are able to openly socialize with each other and profess their beliefs. In the case of contemporary white racist movements, the cultivation of these free spaces, often referred to within the movement as “pioneer little Europes” (PLEs), is a significant objective of their activism. Continue reading

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