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Researcher Examines Ways to Resolve Racial Inequality

The co-author of "Getting Respect: Responding to Stigma and Discrimination in the United States, Brazil and Israel" says inequality is not only a historical issue, it's a reality today. (WikiImages/Pixabay)
The co-author of "Getting Respect: Responding to Stigma and Discrimination in the United States, Brazil and Israel" says inequality is not only a historical issue, it's a reality today. (WikiImages/Pixabay)
August 18, 2017

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – For many minorities, the recent events in Charlottesville, Va., and the response to them come as no surprise. Other Americans have interpreted the events as isolated and rare. A Midwest researcher is working to resolve the disconnect and provide tools to reduce inequality.

Jessica Welburn Paige is an assistant professor of sociology and African-American studies at the University of Iowa, co-author of Getting Respect: Responding to Stigma and Discrimination in the United States, Brazil and Israel. She says white supremacist and Nazi rallies may not be representative of the majority, but there's much more to consider.

"It's easy at moments like this to focus on extremists, to focus on white nationalists, but there are a lot of people that continue in micro- and macro-level ways to do things that support and uphold and sustain racial inequality in the U.S.," she explains.

The Missouri Attorney General's office reports that in 2016, black drivers were 75 percent more likely to be stopped in the state.

Welburn Paige says it's important for whites to pay attention to hiring practices and applicant pools in the workplace, to watch for segregation efforts in schools, and to not tolerate micro-aggression such as racial comments from friends.

She also notes that there's a portion of the public that's unaware of the disparities, as well as those who are actively invested in maintaining the status quo.

Welburn Paige adds that the people who are unaware of the predominance of racial inequality have the facts available at their fingertips.

"Google quickly 'black-white incarceration rates' and find the disparities or the differences in incarceration rates in your state within seconds," she says. "If you don't know, it's so easy to start becoming informed."

Welburn Paige has reams of study respondents' accounts of racial inequality in their daily lives. She says she has days in which she's not convinced that even friends and allies are truly committed to creating change.

Kevin Patrick Allen, Public News Service - MO