" This is especially true of neighborhoods associated with gang activity, where the color of one's shirt or hat can become a matter of life or death regardless of racial similarity or dissimilarity.
In everyday social interactions in areas of the local community other than those where racial animosity may be merely part of much more general resentment based on social class or "home turf" defensiveness, I experience relatively non-racialized responses without any perceptible tension based on my race. That is not necessarily to suggest that individuals from respective races harbor no differences in their personal attitudes about race; it is only based on my perception of direct outward conduct and response to me.
If anything, I would have t say that I have experienced interactions where individuals of other racial backgrounds seem to relate to me more politely than racially similar individuals. For example, I have noticed that clerks and customer service personnel sometimes refer to me as "Sir" in routine exchanges whereas they omitted that element of social politeness in similar exchanges with more racially similar customers.
Again, from a sociological point-of-view, this could reflect either a perception of inequality on their part, or an expectation of my frame of mind; it could also be evidence of either purposeful or unconscious psychological distancing as well.
To the extent it is possible to characterize apparent sentiments based solely on my perceptions, it seems that middle class members of minority races of approximately my age range interact with me the most naturally, meaning without any objective evidence to suggest that their contribution to our exchanges relate to racialization issues. It has been my experience that both Hispanic and African-American individuals who are more than one or two decades my senior are more deferential to me than other age categories of individuals from either racial minorities....
In that regard, I have noticed that elderly African-Americans in particular are more cautious in their interactions with me, possibly the long-lasting result of their having lived through periods that preceded the Civil Rights era of the 1960s and contemporary social attitudes toward race in American society.
Admittedly, this is a perception that may also be influenced, at least somewhat, by my awareness of some of the shameful aspects of race relations and attitudes that prevailed among so many Caucasians at the time that many elderly African-Americans were approximately my present age.
On the other hand, I have noticed that many African-Americans and Hispanics a decade or more my junior tend to express various social behavior that is apparently much more racialized. Specifically, it seems that both African-American and Hispanic strangers are more likely to initiate (and to expect) social interactions within their respective racial group members than toward me; furthermore, it seems that they are both also somewhat more likely to do so with each other than members of either group do with Caucasians.
The types of interactions I have in mind are those arising in the context of conversational overtures in semi-public settings such as those that might arise between individuals waiting online or patronizing commercial facilities like health clubs, or public facilities like libraries. In my experience, even as relative (or complete) strangers, young adults from minority racial cultures tend to separate themselves from each other according to racial differences fairly typically. From an analytical point-of-view, it is difficult ever to know the degree to which the differences I experience in my everyday interactions with members of minority races are merely functions of expectations about my attitudes toward minorities. Nevertheless, I believe that within racial minorities, different individuals enter into social interactions with different degrees of preconceived expectations and racialized perspective in Las Vegas.
Henslin, J. (2002) Essentials of Sociology: A Down-to-Earth Approach. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Official Website of the City of Las Vegas (2007). Retrieved September 6, 2008 from the official City of Las Vegas public website, at http://www.lasvegasnevada.gov/Government/council.htm
Selby, D. (2007) Las Vegas, Nevada (Official City of Las Vegas Text Site). Retrieved September 6, 2008 from the official City of Las Vegas public website,…
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