When I teach Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, one thing I have to balance is disclosure of the horrendous history of racism in the U.S. and the risk of further traumatizing students in my classroom for whom these tragedies are not pure abstractions.  One of the these tragedies is lynching.

Lynching, or the killing of individuals targeted by non-police mobs, usually by hanging, became frighteningly common after slavery was ended.  It was a form of terrorism, designed to teach black people, and their white allies, that the end of slavery would not be the end of their subordination. Because a lynching need not be based on evidence that could stand up in court, all anti-racists were at risk of death. Thousands of people — most, but not all of them black — were violently hanged, their bodies often set afire.

Despite the importance of this chapter of American history, I do not show pictures of lynchings in my classroom.  These images are surprisingly easy to come by because the events were often gleefully public and photographs of the murders were sold as postcards. Sometimes, though, I think about showing Billie Holiday singing what is, perhaps, one of the most deeply troubling songs ever written, “Strange Fruit.”  Written by Abel Meeropol and Laura Duncan, it was first performed by Holiday in 1939, almost 30 years before lynching could be called “history.”

Strange Fruit:

Via BoingBoing.

Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

It must be a cliché that American movies are, overwhelmingly, made for 17-year-old white boys.  Goodness knows that there is plenty of evidence on this website to back up the cliché.  In light of this, I am surprising floored by the actual data showing who goes to movies.  It’s not that I didn’t know that women, people of color, and grown-ups went to movies.  It’s just that seeing it in technicolor just drills home the fact that the making of movies to please white male kids is ideological, not capitalist.  And that’s always an interesting observation to make.

55% of tickets sold are sold to not-men:


40% of tickets sold are sold to non-white people:


72% of tickets sold are sold to legal adults (i.e., not-kids, though they may be buying tickets for kids):

Data from the Motion Picture Association of America (via Racialicious).

See also our post on how about 1/3rd of ESPN’s audience are women.

Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Dmitriy T.M. sent in another example, via Jezebel, of the use of hunting as a metaphor for dating/attaining sex with women.  The metaphor portrays men as predators and women as prey,  suggesting that women are inherently unwilling and men inherently deceitful, coercive, and aggressive.  This sets the stage, discursively, for sexual assault.

Throw in a couple men representing a non-specifically “primitive” culture to remind us that such a relationships is “natural,” and you’ve got this Dos Equis ad:

For more of this metaphor, see Sex and Dating as a Hunt, Beer, Sex, and the Hunt, Taxidermied Girl Parts, and Hunting for Bambi.

Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Katrin sent us another in the long line of fashion shoots that exoticize the cultures and residents of non-Western countries. The article, titled “Indian Summer,” appeared in the British version of Vogue in September 2007, along with the tagline, “Eclectic, colourful, crazy…The modern gipsy’s style is every bit as exotic as her travels.” So the model is being presented as “exotic” herself (she’s a “gipsy,” after all), but her exoticism is proven by her travels to places that are themselves marked as exotic and extremely different from the UK.

It includes several elements common to these types of photo shoots, including a model who is clearly differentiated from the local population not just in terms of fashion, but by skin tone, as well as the use of locals as props surrounding or in the background of the blond model.

While a video Vogue posted about the photo shoot clearly shows cars, motorcycles, and paved roads, the photos tend to erase signs of modernity, focusing instead on items that present India as somehow stuck in pre-modern times, such as images with animals:

Also see Lisa’s post on the Anthropologie catalog set in India.

Gwen Sharp is an associate professor of sociology at Nevada State College. You can follow her on Twitter at @gwensharpnv.

We’ve posted a number of posts about cultural appropriation in fashion, particularly when it comes to Native Americans. Kristyn G. sent in a link to a story at the Huffington Post about a recent fashion show in Moscow that brings up questions about cultural appropriation of another group. The show, from St. Bessarion, included female models in hats, sidecurls, and some articles of clothing inspired by things worn by Orthodox Jews, combined with distinctly non-Orthodox items.

It’s not the first time Orthodox-inspired clothing has appeared on the runway. For instance, in 1993 Jean Paul Gaultier put together a men’s line he called Chosen People, which the New York Times says it was the first Judaism-inspired clothing line from a well-known designer. According to an article I found at Racked, “the collection ruffled quite a few feathers in the religious community, many of whom felt that Gaultier had misappropriated elements of religion in a disrespectful, frivolous manner.” It was quite the production:

Thoughts?

UPDATE: Just a quick note, since I see some confusion in the comments — the designer who recently made some horrid anti-Semitic remarks was John Galliano, not Jean Paul Gaultier.

Gwen Sharp is an associate professor of sociology at Nevada State College. You can follow her on Twitter at @gwensharpnv.

Following up on a post I put up last month about World War II internment camps for Japanese Americans, reader Eduardo let us know about a short film distributed by the federal Office of War Information explaining why the camps were necessary and trying to portray them in a positive light. It’s a great example of propaganda. Notice at about 2:45 the narrator explains the change from voluntarily to required relocation of Japanese Americans in terms of their own protection, and at 3:20 mentions that those forced to relocate “cheerfully” took part in the process. It was such a happy, smooth process, with the federal government helping out!

The implication starting at about 4:00 that “loyal” Japanese Americans were happy to relocate as part of their patriotic duty is particularly striking. Presumably, then, if you objected to the violation of your civil rights and treatment as a potential enemy of your country, you proved exactly why you needed to be relocated.

But don’t worry. “We are protecting ourselves without violating the principles of Christian decency.”

Sangyoub Park, who teaches sociology at Washburn University, sent us an interesting article posted by NPR on various aspects of unemployment. The overall official unemployment rate of 8.8 percent (as of March 2011) hides a lot of variation. For instance, the unemployment rate during this recession has been consistently worse for men than for women:

Nearly half of people have been out of work for at least 6 months:

The unemployment rate for those with a college education is under 5%, while for those who didn’t graduate high school, it’s nearly 10 percentage points higher:

Check out the NPR story for more discussion and a few more graphs.

The NPR article doesn’t include data on race, but Sangyoub found some racial data at the BLS website. As of March 2011, the unemployment rate for Whites was 7.9%, while for Blacks it was 15.5%.

Racialicious and Hermes’ Journeys featured a clip of stand-up comedian Gary Owens comparing black and white churches, joking about how long and loud black services are compared to white services.  Two things are happening in the clip.  First, Owens is commenting on two different styles of worship.  This is really interesting sociologically because it shows that how one worships is a cultural phenomenon that varies.  We’ve seen this powerfully illustrated by children recently in the viral videos Baby Preacher and Baby Worshipper.

Second, though, Owens is racializing these different forms of worship.  In consultation with Gwen, she reminded me that what he’s really talking about is “the difference between more mainline churches vs. the charismatic evangelical ones.”  At the latter churches yelling out and hours-long services are common, no matter the racial makeup of the congregation.

So, the clip is a good example of both a sociological principle (socialization) and a sociological mistake (racialization):

Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.