Gendered racism is irrespective of class

“To be accepted in life, you will have to work twice, if not thrice, as hard as a white person”

A new research study published in the April 2016 issue of Gender & Society, a top-ranked journal in Gender Studies and Sociology, has highlighted what many black people have been bred knowing.

According to the study, middle-class parents with an African heritage or background, must parent their children – particularly their sons – differently than their white counterparts. Why…because they want to prepare their children to navigate “gendered racism” or any discrimination based on race and gender from childhood.

For many African and Caribbean people, none of this is news. For non-Africans and non-people of colour, scepticism over the findings is their default stance. Some do not even have the willingness to explore the findings further.

In the US, young black men have to survive their way through everyday life by following a set of rules from their parents – all to protect themselves from suspicion, criminalisation as “thugs” and harm; regardless of their status. It is down the colour of their skin, the research found.

The research provides more evidence that the phenomenon is widespread, and gives deeper insights regarding the nature of the problem and the role of mothers in addressing it.

In the UK, racial profiling with governmental measures like the police’s Stop and Search, has seen many black men unwarrantedly discriminated against – with many citing the colour of their skin as the cause.

Drawing on 60 interviews of middle and upper-middle class African American mothers, the study, titled, “The Deadly Challenges of Raising African American Boys: Navigating the Controlling Image of the ‘Thug’,” outlines “bias-preparation” strategies mothers use to address the challenges their sons will face in a society that often criminalises black boys and men.

Importantly, Dow’s study confirms that these mothers are not able to turn to middle-class safety nets in the same way as their white counterparts.

While the #BlackLivesMatter movement has shaved a lot of scepticism around the reality black men face, Dow’s research describes a number of parenting strategies mothers adopt.  To deal with the negative stereotype of the “thug”, mothers often teach their sons how to mingle in different communities, divert attention from their physical appearance, and how to interact with the general public.

“These mothers live with the daily tension of having to teach their sons individual strategies of survival under racist and gendered norms, while also teaching them how to challenge those norms”, Dow explains. Of the society we are raising our children in; this is both frightening and devastating.

TNT News Yasin Chinembiri


Photo Credit: The New York Times

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