Particularly in the United States, class and race seem to be interrelated, i.e., people are generally separated by both their wealth and by their race. Given the history of racism in the United States, a possible explanation of the interrelation of classism and racism is that racial prejudice continues to make it difficult for people of minority races to excel to the same degree as those in the majority class.

This explanation is an attempt to explain why it is that americans of minority races are less likely to obtain a college education, or why they are more likely to live below the poverty line.

I am interested in whether there are people who have explored alternative hypotheses including a story like the following: Racism has continued to decline in its effect and if measures being taken (affirmative action, race education, etc.) continue as they are racism will eventually have minimal effect. Even if this were correct, those of minority race continue under a different kind of oppression; they still statistically make less money and are given less opportunities for education. But if racism isn't the cause, it might be classism alone.

To test this hypothesis we would need to collect data about questions like the following:

  • How well do minority children of wealthy parents fare in comparison to both majority and minority children with parents with lower incomes?
  • How is a child's success influenced by interracial adoptions between the minority and majority class?

A good answer to my question would point in the direction of the popular literature on this subject, and possibly describe the popular viewpoints being discussed.

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    Your use of class seems to be confused between instrumentalist stratification by wealth/income and Marxist class. The question needs clarification. – Samuel Russell Apr 4 '13 at 23:54
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    These terms "minority class" and "majority class" aren't standard or scholarly, you need to either provide a definition or clarify. The dominant social class in the United States is the capitalist class, that fraction of the "1%" that owns capital. The majority class by population in a Marxist sense is the proletariat, people who work in order to survive. The majority class by a "decile" count doesn't exist, because it arbitrarily divides the population into ten equal "deciles." – Samuel Russell Apr 5 '13 at 4:11
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    IMO this question is more suitable for Politics rather than History StackExchange. One thing that comes to mind is a current (if not new) discussion in Germany, were some are concerned that how well your parents fared in life turns out to be too strong a predictor for how you will do during education, etc.: the system is designed to be relatively "flat" and "permeable" but it still seems to favor the already-favored "somehow" and perhaps too much. Hope this helps. – Drux Apr 5 '13 at 8:31
  • I believe that a writer for the Washington Post made that claim about Brazil several years ago. People who had darker skin but middle class incomes were "white", while people who had lower incomes and lighter skin were "black". She tried to point this out, and her companions treated her as though she were hallucinating. Alas, I lack a reference. – Mark C. Wallace Apr 5 '13 at 10:52
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    I am downvoting this question, although it is well stated: Too many *isms; tainted political and sociological jargon; assumptions with no substantiation whatsoever. This is still a history site... – user2590 Sep 24 '13 at 5:54

As a Chinese-American, I feel that the status of such people has become more "equal" in my lifetime (which began shortly after the middle of the twentieth century). And there seems to have been a correlation that and the way that Americans looked at CHINA.

When my parents came to the United States around 1950, China was considered a "backward" or "Third World country. At that time, Chinese Americans were clearly "non-elite" persons in American society, close to the bottom of the social ladder. Only their education and professional accomplishments put them maybe one notch above African- and Hispanic- Americans, but below most others.

Within the past decade, China has become all the "rage," at least among certain circles of the American elite. For instance, "WASP" founding families adopted Chinese girls within the past ten years. Look for a bunch of Chinese-blooded "debutantes" with marquee names to "come out" in the 2015-2020 time frame. This of course, followed the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, and the rise of China as the world's number two power. Whether consciously or not, the American elite appears to be "hedging its bets" with children of the rising power.

My mother used to say (in Chinese): "People will step all over you if you don't have a government that can protect you." All of a sudden, Chinese Americans have a "government" that people take seriously. And the status of Hispanic-Americans may rise if Mexico, for instance, becomes a great power.

  • Interesting idea, yet I am not totally convinced. – Anixx Apr 6 '13 at 23:03
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    @Anixx: I'm speaking only for the United States. This may not apply in your country. (What is your country BTW?) – Tom Au Apr 6 '13 at 23:07
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    @TomAu - How does this answer the question? – user2590 Sep 25 '13 at 5:40
  • @Vector: The answer to the question lies in my claim that "outside" perceptions of a race improves when perceptions of the class of people occupied by that race improves. And that "class" is a function not only of what happens in the United States, but abroad. Think of French wine. And I know Jews who will say that favorable perceptions of the state of Israel has improved perceptions of them. – Tom Au Sep 25 '13 at 16:56
  • @TomAu - I have no problem with your assertion here - it's quite valid IMO: The way you view yourself, and your personal accomplishments, project themselves outward, be they positive or negative. That dovetails nicely with the tack I took in my answer: It's not a question of any particular "*ism" - some sort of external cause - but relates to the internal behavior of a particular individual or group. My problem with this answer it doesn't at all address the question that was asked. – user2590 Sep 25 '13 at 18:28

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