I've come upon a new term. Well, it's new to me, anyway, but I guess it's a term that's been used by scholars in The Academy for a few years now.
I first discovered it when a friend wrote to commend the recently published book, "Authoritarianism & Polarization in American Politics", by Marc J. Hetherington and Jonathan D. Weiler.
I became intrigued by it and found a couple of interesting blogs here and here.
The authors use the term "Racial Resentment," noting that it's a term used by more and more political scientists. In fact, that's the term the authors used in a survey they did to measure the link between Health Care Reform and Racial Attitudes.
It's such a new term that even Wikipedia doesn't have a definition for it. Here's one I found in the American Journal of Political Science:
White racial resentment is associated with opposition to a broad range of racial policies but it is unclear whether it derives from racial prejudice or stems from ideological principles. To resolve this ambiguity, we examined the impact of racial resentment on support for a college-scholarship program in which program beneficiaries' race and socioeconomic class was experimentally varied. The analyses yield a potentially troubling finding: racial resentment means different things to white liberals and conservatives. Among liberals, racial resentment conveys the political effects of racial prejudice, by predicting program support for black but not white students, and is better predicted by overt measures of racial prejudice than among conservatives. Among conservatives, racial resentment appears more ideological. It is closely tied to opposition to race-conscious programs regardless of recipient race and is only weakly tied to measures of overt prejudice. Racial resentment, therefore, is not a clear-cut measure of racial prejudice for all Americans.
I find myself having problems with the term. It feels like a nuanced, polite-white term for bad, old fashioned 'racism'.
It feels like a similar nuance to the one I experience between 'homophobia' and 'heterosexism'.
One feels like a nuanced term for the other. One can be 'heterosexist' without actually being homophobic, I suppose; but if one is homophobic one is probably heterosexist, as well.
Or, for another example: It is sexist to tell 'dumb blond jokes' (because they're exclusively about women) but misogyny is at the root of sexual assault and violence. However, I'm betting that no one laughs louder at 'dumb blond jokes' than a misogynist.
See what I'm trying to get at here?
I'm a hopeless wordsmith. I love words. Perhaps it comes from the fact that English is not my "mother tongue."
I suppose it's a sign of some social progress that some people are quick to vehemently deny being racist. Racism of a blatant kind is now impolitic. That doesn't change the fact that racism exists.
Or homophobia. Or heterosexism. Or misogyny. Or sexism.
But, 'racial resentment'?
This is 'social progress'?
I don't know. I'm still reacting to it. I understand it's a term from the realm of political science and that's just not my field. That may be part of my problem.
I'm a priest. In The Episcopal Church. I'm fine with nuance and paradox and even mystery. I'm not okay with injustice and prejudice.
Or, perhaps my real problem is that, ultimately, I don't find the nuances between sexism and misogyny, or homophobia and heterosexism very helpful.
'Racial resentment' still feels like a 'polite-white' dodge to confronting racism. There's no real "ambiguity" in my mind.
What do you think? Is it a 'dodge'? A sign of 'social progress'? Or is it a helpful way to talk about the variety and nuanced manifestations of prejudice?
Your thousand-word paper should be on my desk by 10 AM Tuesday morning. ;~)