Browsing Theses and Dissertations by Subject "Race Relations"
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Communities In Transition: Race, Immigration, and American Identity in York County, PennsylvaniaThis research examines constructs and discourses of racial and ethnic differences within York County, Pennsylvania. Located in south central Pennsylvania along the Maryland border, the York region has long held a reputation as a hotbed for white supremacy and racial prejudice. The Ku Klux Klan has been active in York County since the 1920s, and in recent years the Klan has resurfaced in the local area amidst an increase in the Latino population. The growth of the Latino population within York County has shifted the nature of racial and ethnic relations, as historically relations between whites and blacks comprised the primary axis of tension and conflict in the local area. Although the Latino population of York County consists of Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Dominicans, Cubans, and Central and South Americans, popular external local and media-driven discourses often conflate Latinos with Mexican-ness and racialize Latinos in highly negative terms as illegal aliens, criminals, and welfare recipients who threaten American national identity. These external discourses of latinidad contrast sharply with the manner in which local Latino and Latina residents construct their own ethnic identities. During Barack Obama's 2008 Presidential campaign, the black-white racial dichotomy reemerged in local racialized discourses. As such, the research also examines constructs and discourses of whiteness and blackness within the York area. York County features several anti-racist human relations activists and organizations. This research contains ethnographic interviews and analysis of local anti-racist activists and their activities designed to foster greater tolerance and to combat racial and ethnic prejudice within the local area. Anti-racist activists have had different life experiences that have raised their awareness to racism and have led them to become active in their cause. Public anti-racist activities take a variety of forms and consist of various programming strategies, which appears to impact their effectiveness in generating the size of turnout and level of interest among the general public.
Racing the City: Intentional Integration and the Pursuit of Racial Justice in Post-World War II AmericaMy dissertation, Racing the City: Intentional Integration and the Pursuit of Racial Justice in Post-WWII America, examines the creation, experience, and meaning of intentionally integrated residential space in the latter half of the twentieth century. Entering into the growing historiographical conversations on post-war American cities and the northern civil rights movement, I argue that with a strong commitment to maintaining residential cohesion and a heightened sense of racial justice in the wake of the Second World War, liberal integrationists around the country embarked on grassroots campaigns seeking to translate the ideals of racial equality into a blueprint for genuine interracial living. Through innovative real estate efforts, creative marketing techniques, and religious activism, pioneering community groups worked to intentionally integrate their neighborhoods, to serve as a model for sustainable urbanity and racial justice in the United States. My research, centered on the northwest Philadelphia neighborhood of West Mount Airy, chronicles a liberal community effort that confronted formal legal and governmental policies and deeply entrenched cultural understandings; through this integration project, activists sought to redefine post-war urban space in terms of racial inclusion. In crafting such a narrative, I challenge much of the scholarship on the northern struggle for racial justice, which paints a uniform picture of a divisive and violent racial urban environment. At the same time, my dissertation explores how hard it was for urban integrationists to build interracial communities. I portray a neighborhood struggling with the deeper meanings of integrated space, with identity politics and larger institutional, structural, and cultural forces, and with internal resistance to change. In that sense, I speak to the larger debates over post-WWII urban space; my research, here, implies a cultural explanation complementing the political and economic narratives of white flight and urban crisis that scholars have crafted over the last two decades. This is at once the story of a group of people seeking to challenge the seeming inevitability of segregation by creating an economically stable, racially integrated community predicated upon an idealized vision of American democracy, and it is the story of the fraying of that ideal.