Over at Rachel’s Tavern, she has put up a post discussing how whites bestow “honorary whiteness” upon black people, http://www.rachelstavern.com/?p=876
She states the following:
“Personally, I think there are big gender differences in whites willingness to view blacks as “honorary whites”-I think black men are much more likely to get honorary white status than black women. I have a hard time articulating why I think this in 2 sentences or less. Broadly speaking I think it is related to the double discrimination that black women face, but I think there are other reasons, which we could expand on in this discussion.”
Black males receive it (honorary whiteness) more than black females.
Black women facing both sexism from BOTH black and white men, as well as men of other races.
Black women are looked at as less capable (sexism) because they are women, add to that the racism (from men of all races) then the chance of receiving honorary whiteness goes down tremendously.
Have to go back to a my favourite book title:
“All the blacks are men, all the women are white, but some of us are brave.”
By default, most people picture black men when the words “black people” are stated. Most people think white women when the word “women” is stated.
Black women in the eyes of whites face sexualized gendered racism, from both white men and white women:
-black women are invisible, non-existent as human beings OR as women
-black women are seen as sexual competition, and there are some white women who are only too glad to see black women as less than human in the eyes of all men, if only so that all eyes can remain on white women, no matter what kind of character, or lack thereof, a particular white woman may bring to the table of dating/marriage.
Race (blackness) and gender (femaleness) are seen first by people when they see/meet a black woman. Immediately perceptions of less than human occur.
In many people’s eyes black women have LED NO MAJOR MOVEMENTS in this country, and that lie cannot be further from the truth. Black women have led many movements in this country, contrary to what many people think of black women.
But, since this country worships BOTH whiteness AND maleness, black men can have that door open for them to an extent (hanging with the boys; more social capital from the boss), because of their gender, than black women can have accorded them.
As for white and black women friendships………….no.
Keep in mind that ALL women are unfortunately in sexual competition with each other where it concerns men, (and not just men: competition for promotion on jobs, better access to higher education, better pay/wages for the same type of work) and if there was a roomful of men of all races, and a black woman walked in at the same time as a white woman, the black woman would have to contend with racist AND sexist lies/myths/stereotypes directed her way, whereas the white woman would contend more with sexism.
White men and white women are quicker to give HW status to most black men before they will give any of it to most black women.
Another commentor spoke of “cultural capital”, a term that many people are not familiar with. Cultural capital—the learned patterns of mutual trust, encounter rituals, insider knowledge of how things work, as well as social sensibilities that constitute the language of power and success.
Residential segregation makes it very easy to give black citizens an inferior education, health care, other public services and a lower social connection standing in this nation, thereby excluding them from corporate, civic, and cultural life.
In addition to cultural capital, many people are not familiar with the terms “social capital” or “economic capital” (do black Americans get more for their economic dollars than white people? Are black people charged more for what their economic dollar can buy, for the same services/products, than whites?) , and how the negative effects of there being less of these in the lives of black people can seriously cripple the social/economical/educational lives of millions of black citizens. I addressed my comments to his post in the following comments:
“My research questions focused on cultural capital, and how race/class/gender affect the possession and activation of it.”
A very important aspect that many people are not aware of.
Black Americans have the LEAST cultural capital in this country, not so much that they do not have cultural capital; they do; but, that their cultural capital is not respected, honored nor validated by non-black America. The French sociologist, Pierre Bourdieu recognized and espoused four different types of capital: economic capital; cultural capital, embodied (in persons), objectified (in art), and institutionalized (university degrees); social capital, resources grounded in durable exchange networks of persons; and symbolic capital, manifestation of each of the other forms of capital when they are naturalized on their own terms. Cultural capital, like social capital, provides each of its group’s members with the backing of the collectively owned capital a “credential” which entitles them to credit———and credibility.
Asian-Americans (because of the Model Minority Lie/Myth) have the most cultural capital in the eyes of whites. Because of residential/educational/social segregation, on the job—and in daily life, this lack of cultural capital for black Americans is debilitating.
Cultural capital, forms of knowledge; skill; education (formal education); any advantages a person has which give them a higher status in society, including high expectations is severely diminished for black Americans because of the pariah status they have been saddled with by white Americans and white racist/supremacy.
It also depends on what the situation is where black people are. That can decide due to external factors, as to whom (black man or black woman) receives cultural capital. Sometimes it is the black man, sometimes it is the black woman.
Another situation where black men may have cultural/social capital would be in the dating/marriage aspect.
Even though black men as well as black women are disparaged by this country because of their black skin, black men do not suffer from the insidious beauty/looks that black women suffer.
Black men have cultural capital as MEN, and even though they are not white men, that is a form of cultural capital they can have.
Not all black women are seen as non-threatening. In some cases, black women are seen as more threatening than black men.
Middle class black women may be seen as less threatening than working-class (socio-economic) black women. Because of lack of contact with poor black women, many whites fear the “unknown x factor” of these women’s presence, and attribute degrading terms and behaviour to them. The assumptions against poor black women may range from all, or much of the following:
-Low class (lacking in manners: uncouth, loud)
-Lacking in morals (considered as liars, thieves)
-Lacking self-control (”baby mama drama”; mothers to 3 or more OOW children)
As a group, black Americans have the least cultural capital in this country, and even though black Americans have been in this country for over 10 generations, have contributed so much to this country, those groups who have come after them, have been more welcomed than blacks ever could have hoped to be.
Sundown towns, which still exist, kept black Americans out only more so just because black Americans were black—never mind that the black people simply wanted to move where they wanted to live.
As the government (which had a huge hand in creating AND maintaining sundown towns) finally began to attack the very racist geographical neighborhoods it helped create, sundown towns had to cease their predatory racist practices in housing. When these towns were challenged more, non-whites were able to begin to move into them.
But, not so for black people. A sundown town was more willing to let a Mexican, El Salvadoran or a Hmong with a third-grade education in before they would let a black with a Ph. D. in.
Cultural capital is very important.
It gives a person skills to be able to work with all people, it gives people STANDING in the eyes of every group in the environment: work, neighborhood, the country. Black people coming into a work environment, whether corporate, working-class or whatever, bring the least cultural capital because of this country’s continued persecution of them, persecution that continues in the present day.
And make no mistake, white America does have its picks about whom it will accord human status.
Today it may be a single black man (”Oh, you are different. You are not like all the other “hordes of angry barbarian” blacks. I will allow YOU white honorary status because you can’t possibly be like those OTHER black people.”) who receives this okay from white Americans, or it may be a black woman. This otherizing of most black people and singling out the one black person (or black group: middle class black women as opposed to working-class black women) also limits and defines the selected black person as some type of “pet black”, some type of mascot, ESPECIALLY if the black person does not come off as independent, outspoken, passionate in their beliefs, strong in their convictions.
But, even if the black person is as meek and mild as can be, that may still not help them. They (be they a black man or woman) can still be seen as threatening because of the millions of hateful stereotypical lies white people have told and lied on black people for over 400 years.
Everyone needs it.
You will have a difficult time functioning in this society if you have very little of it.
ECONOMIC and SOCIAL OSTRACISM has given black citizens the least and most deplorable cultural capital. This limits black people, very often, not through their fault, but, because of a black-race hating society. Many black people work twice as hard as everyone else, stay out of crime, are good citizens—-do everything but become saints, and still have to watch as this country not only treats other groups with more humanity than black people—black people have to see and feel the denigrating sting of whites showing favouritism as to which black person (man, or woman) that white people will consider as human.
Today a black man.
Tomorrow, a black woman.
Racist and sexist stereotypes can cut into and curtail a black person’s cultural capital:
-Black men: all savage monster beasts who everyone shuns, moves away from on elevators, on sidewalks, at night;
-Black women: treated as invisible in the promotion process in some corporations, not considered mentoring material by white CEO-type males); invisible in the dating/marriage market
Black Americans are saddled with the “Menace to Society” tag more than any other racial group in America (never mind that whites, Latinos, Asians have members in their group who commit crime…no…it is only black people who commit crime, so lock up, seal down your valuables, because you just can’t leave anything lying around when those blacks come on the job. Incidentally, how many black people on their jobs have seen a dime, dollar bill, of any money/or valuable object “conveniently” left out when that black person entered a room? As a black person you have to ask yourself, “Why?”).
This too, is a form of having the least cultural capital.
Cultural capital is not something that is always tangible.
It is not always something you can hold in your hands.
Cultural capital gives a person humanity in everyone’s eyes.
As Ellis Cose famously raged:
“I have done everything I was supposed to do. I have stayed out of trouble with the law, gone to the right schools, worked myself nearly to death. What more do they want! Why in God’s name won’t they accept me as a full human being.”
And it goes right back to residential segregation which I have to continually reference, because that is where much of this lack of cultural capital stems from. Langston Hughes wrote on this matter in 1949 in his poem, “Restrictive Covenants” which said in part:
“When I move
Into a neighborhood
Even every foreigner
That can move, moves.
Cose went straight to the heart of the matter: residential exclusion (and the school segregation it purchases) strikes at black people’s worth as FULL HUMAN BEINGS.
Excluding black citizens from social connections can be devastating for black people. Americans connect with the larger society in important ways often through what may seem like casual or unimportant relations. A whole career might open up as a result of a tip from a friend, a friend of a friend, opportunities than can land a person a good job. Contacts, mentoring, social contacts with VARIOUS groups of people (upper-class, working-class, black, white, etc.) affords EVERYONE a network to get to know better the full humanity of all people. Social ostracizing/isolation/exclusion offers none of that.
It lessens a person’s cultural capital.
It debilitates it, curtails it, strangles it.
Residential/educational/social exclusion/isolation perpetuates lack of cultural capital.
If this society really cares about its future it must cease and dismantle the horrible effects that racial segregation has wrought on the cultural capital of black citizens.
And that rests in the neighborhoods all across America.
Simply by dint of living among each other (blacks, whites, other racial/ethnic groups) can lead to the making of connections that lead further to educational and occupational opportunity, thus allowing for racial and economic integration.
“There is more to it, but that’s the short version. I should also add that there weren’t many black men at the company, so I suspect that contributed to it as well.”
Also can be seen in a “male environment” job or any job/occupation that is overwhelmingly male dominated (engineering, construction, etc.). Here black men may have more cultural capital probably due to homosocial bonding with other males of various races.
Many people do not think about cultural capital and all it can give to a human being’s feelings of worth, of value, of standing in the eyes of people.
It is very important, and the less you have of it, the harder and more debilitating life can be for you.
Not coming into contact with much of the dominant white society erodes cultural capital for black Americans.
Cultural capital would give to black citizens learned patterns of mutual trust, insider knowledge about how things really work, encounter rituals, and social sensibilities that constitute the language of success and power.
“The Rage of a Priviledged Class”, New York, Harper -Collins, 1993, Ellis Cose.
“Restrictive Covenant”, by Langston Hughes
“Sundown Towns”, New York, The New Press, 2005, James W. Loewen.
“This limits black people, very often, not through their fault, but, because of a black-race hating society.”
I cannot stress this often enough, but, since so many people want to concentrate on the INDIVIDUAL and not on this society’s racism, the individual black person is looked at as the lone representative for the entire black race, often with dire, negative consequences, for both that individual black person, and the entire black race.
Structural/institutions (all-white neighborhoods, schools, churches, businesses, colleges, etc.) have played a major role in producing inequality, and thereby, negative cultural capital that has been assigned to black citizens. On the other hand, whites being the dominant group, are assigned the most positive cultural capital.
Constantly directing the focus on the individual, instead of on the structural/institutional racism that perpetuates this lack of cultural capital, presents a lie that the inequality and disadvantage seen towards the black person is through their own fault, as a result of that black individuals fault.
Never mind that whites have had much help from the government (both state, and federal) in the building up of THEIR cultural capital.
Neighborhoods and schools is where the biggest inequalities can be seen all across America. Students, especially white ones, develop ethnocentric/stereotypical racist perceptions of black people due to residential exclusion of black people from their daily white lives. Going to school with their fellow black peers, and living in neighborhoods with their fellow black peers can be a start in tearing down this barrier, this divide that keeps so much cultural capital in the hands of whites, and so little of it in the hands, and lives, of blacks.
There is a difference in how HW is given to black people, and the gender of a black person is a strong factor in who will receive the most of it, and who will receive the least of it.
A commentor at Rachel’s post (http://www.rachelstavern.com/?p=876 ), left the following comment:
“gandolph mantooth, on February 1st, 2008 4:19 pm
“Cultural capital (le capital culturel) is a sociological concept that has gained widespread popularity since it was first articulated by Pierre Bourdieu. Bourdieu and Jean-Claude Passeron first used the term in Cultural Reproduction and Social Reproduction (1973). In this work he attempted to explain differences in educational outcomes in France during the 1960s. It has since been elaborated and developed in terms of other types of capital in The Forms of Capital (1986); and in terms of higher education, for instance, in The State Nobility (1996). For Bourdieu, capital acts as a social relation within a system of exchange, and the term is extended ‘to all the goods material and symbolic, without distinction, that present themselves as rare and worthy of being sought after in a particular social formation and cultural capital acts as a social relation within a system of exchange that includes the accumulated cultural knowledge that confers power AND status.
RELATIONS TO OTHER TYPES OF CAPITAL
In ‘The Forms of Capital’ (1986), Bourdieu distinguishes between three types of capital:
ECONOMIC CAPITAL: command over economic resources (cash, assets).
SOCIAL CAPITAL: resources based on group membership, relationships, networks of INFLUENCE and SUPPORT. Bourdieu defines social capital as “the aggregate of the actual or potential resources which are linked to possession of a durable network of more or less INSTITUTIONALIZED relationships of mutual acquaintance and recognition.”
CULTURAL CAPITAL: forms of knowledge; skill; education; any advantages a person has which give them a HIGHER STATUS in society, including HIGH EXPECTATIONS. Parents provide children with cultural capital, the attitudes and knowledge that makes the educational system a comfortable familiar place in which they can succeed easily.
Later he adds symbolic capital (resources available to an individual on the basis of honor, prestige or recognition) to this list.
Society can also provide the children of that society with cultural capital, but, in white-dominated America, white children are given more cultural capital than black children. Whites are accrued more cultural, and social, capital than blacks, due to four-plus centuries of the inequalities of racism and segregation. Therefore, some groups will be sought after more for their social capital than others.
White children are accorded HIGHER STATUS (the life and happiness of a white child is valued more than the life of a black child), and HIGHER EXPECTATIONS/RECOGNITION (a white child is looked upon as more intelligent, more educable, than a black child; a black child or for that matter, a black adult, is not accorded more intelligence: “Oh, you are so ARTICULATE for a black person”, “Oh, I did not know that black men liked [fill in the __________________.”, “Wow, black women are capable of being structural engineers? I did not know that?”)
All of the three forms of “capital”, translate into SYMBOLIC CAPITAL, which leads to resources available to an individual on the basis of HONOR, PRESTIGE or RECOGNITION).
White people, due to the worship of whiteness in America (never mind the vicious atrocities they have committed against every race they have encountered) are given a higher form of cultural capital due mainly to their “whiteness” and the high position in society they have in the eyes of many non-whites.
Black people (who have been this country’s moral voice, who have made it face up to its evils and hells of genocide, slavery, segregation) are disparaged not just by the majority of white society, but, also by those members found in other non-white groups who have accepted the pariah status given to black Americans by the institutionalized/structural racism.
Even though black people as a group do have INDIVIDUAL and GROUP cultural capital, that capital is mostly despised by the dominant group, unless it can take from black people what will serve the interest of whites, more than blacks. Many people erroneously think “cultural” capital means some sort of expertise in artwork, classical music, etc., but that is only one aspect of cultural capital.
White men are given more cultural capital in this country than are say, black women.
Even if a black woman had the same class background (and therefore same cultural capital) as a white man, worked diligently and capably on her high-career job, may face exclusion from high-level managerial positions. She may be passed over for promotion with the higher position going to a boss’s son/cousin, who may be inept in job skills, or worse, she may be passed over for promotion by the hiring of the person she taught the job to.
The dichotomy of white men’s standing (“homosocial reproduction” whereby men in managerial positions tend to reproduce themselves by hiring those people on the basis of social and gender similarity to themselves) and black women’s standing in America is the best example I can use to show the difference of types of “cultural capital”.
Even though many black people do as Ellis Cose have done:
““I have done everything I was supposed to do. I have stayed out of trouble with the law, gone to the right schools, worked myself nearly to death. WHAT MORE DO THEY WANT! Why in God’s name won’t they accept me as a full human being.”
The denigration of black Americans and all they have contributed to America is ignored, therefore black people’s cultural capital is not valued as much as white people’s cultural capital.
If I wrote in a way to imply that black people have NO cultural capital, it was not meant that way.
We do have tremendous amounts of cultural capital.
It is just that most of America refuses to see the beauty in OUR cultural capital the way they run after and uphold the cultural capital of whiteness.
American society has to question where values have originated from and evaluate the worth of those values. “Whose ideas/group are these values based on?” If the dominant group (much of racist white America’s history), then reasonable, sane people know that the GROUP IN THE MAJORITY is not always right, as America’s legalization of slavery and Native American genocide so aptly points out. They have to question the arbitrary, ethnocentric values of whiteness that designate blackness as devalued and lacking in value. They must question why wealth/land owning (home ownership) is constantly associated with whites and why poverty/ghetto/slum/crowded cities are constantly associated with blacks.
They have to question why when driving around most major metropolitan/urban cities, there is so much wealth/wage gap disparities in black neighborhoods, and why is there so much wealth/amenities/wage gap in all-white suburbs/gated communities/sundown towns?
Americans need to question why many of them prefer to assume/believe racist perceptions that all black people do not strive, all black people are lazy, all black people do not work hard—-and that only white people strive, only white people are not lazy, only white people work hard.
Cultural capital as I stated is often INTANGIBLE; you cannot hold it in your hand.
But, you know when you have it when you (black woman, black man) walk into a room, and you are accorded respect for your humanity, respect for your capabilities, respect for your value and worth as a human being without non-black people looking at you, treating you, shunning away from you as if you are a pariah.
And black citizens have not been granted that cultural capital in ALL of America’s eyes—————-yet.
Black people bring a cultural capital to this country that no other race has ever been able to do, and white-dominated America knows that.
That is why she shows the most disrespect and disregard for black citizens because with all of the cultural capital white people have built up from genocide, theft, lies, abominations—their cultural capital has not saved this country from itself time after time.
It is black people’s cultural capital that has shown America how it can be a better place for ALL.
Only thing is, much of white America (and non-black America) hates to own up to that truth.
Hope that answers your question.
Pierre Bourdieu and Jean Claude Passeron, (1990) “Reproduction in Education, Society and Culture”, Sage Publications Inc.
David Swartz, “Culture and Power: The Sociology of Pierre Bourdieu”, University of Chicago Press, (1998)
George Farkas, “Human Capital Or Cultural Capital?: Ethnicity and Poverty Groups in an Urban School District”,Publisher: Aldine Transaction, (1996).