Driving While Black is authored by Kenneth Meeks and published by Meeks Publisher. The Book highlights issues based on race, class and gender. It outlines specific issues and theoretical concerns based on racial balance, gender balance, class differences and the existence of racial profiling. A race, class and gender analysis is also referred to as intersectionality. According to Meeks (2000), intersectionality is another way or methodology for studying the relationships among multiple dimensions and modalities of social relationships and subject formations (p. 37). Intersectionality states that the standard conceptualizations of oppressing within society, such as sexism, religion-based fanaticism, homophobias, and racism are commonly met not separately from each other but these constitute a framework of oppressing which shows the “intersection” of different forms of discrimination.
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Driving While Black, therefore, unravels how the police officers target African-Americans for traffic checkups and there is a higher probability that they will be most interested to search an African-American vehicle. The notion held by the majority might be considered as a mere speculation but research has shown it is true and that racial profiling is deeply rooted in the American culture. This book further highlights racial discrimination and ethnic groupings in contemporary U.S. urban setting. For instance, James Rauch argues that the lack of informal relationship between the suppliers and the retailers is the main reason of the scarcity of African-American retailers relative to those of Cuban or East Asian origin. However, sociologists, such as Marta Tienda and Rebecca Raijman, argue that this problem rises as a result of ethnic residential segregation that is “whites are more tuned into their constitutional rights, so they decline more often.” These varied explanations by different scholars have not yet fully justified the root cause of this serious problem which still remains unresolved and this therefore means that more research should be carried out if the implementation of public policies is to be successful in providing African-American retailers with an equal platform of competition and a level playing field.
This Book highlights the solutions to the problems, exposed in the book. Namely, collaboration, as a result of cooperation between the network sociologists and economists, as argued by Alessandra Casella, provides an opportunity for the African-American retailers though the results will be mixed. This is because social networks do not always provide a beneficial function because it may exclude individuals or groups as in the case of ethnic entrepreneurship. She urges that the venerable institutions as well as the IMF and the OECD among other international economic organizations should recruit more sociologists as staff members and appoint them to the crucial executive positions and various missions so that better policy recommendations and programs for the developing states can be achieved. This book also focuses on complexity of inequalities. It further states that the inequalities of gender, race and class can neither be reduced nor do they correlate and it differs greatly in relation to different localities. A researcher McCall provides an evidence for her proposal on close examination on gender, class and race carried out in 554 U.S. labor markets in 1989 in conjunction with a detailed in-depth analysis of Dallas and Detroit which are assumed to represent the old and the new economies (U.S. Bureau of census, 2001).
McCall argues that each of the above inequalities have a “temporal correlation between the relative increase in class inequality and decreased gender inequality though they are not usually connected. Each of the inequality has its own specificity and different dynamics and trajectories of change of each form of inequality are different.” McCall also clearly provides an evidential platform for building and spearheading the fight against poverty and inequality. McCall is hugely concerned by the division in strategy between those who want to change the composition and structure of unequal system and those who propose elimination of discrimination within the existing system. McCall therefore proposes the combination of these two strategies rather than choosing one of the two options.
Meeks observes that racial inequality is far much greater in Dallas than in Detroit (p.69). This is because the Dallas economy does not favor men with little wages as compared to the economy of Detroit which is a new economy. A new economy can be defined as the economy that embraces the technological advances of the modern world, an economy that incorporates the international and worldwide market, more flexible and also offers more services to its esteemed clients. The conceptualization and the measurement of inequality is a critical area that has not yet been fully explored. Some of the methods that are used include the conventional forms of political economy, but McCall proposes that it should be purely based on the level of education that is the wage difference between the college educated and the noncollege educated rather than the position of the person in relationship with the division of labor.
However, this book has surprisingly ignored the role of globalization in the new economy. It is surprising because one can not consider the development of a new economy outside the restructuring of global relations or the creation of new intricate global hierarchies of labor in the growing economy. Furthermore, McCall’s main interest is in economic restructuring. Economic restructuring can be defined as the growth in an economy both in terms of volume and the means of operation. McCall ignores the impact of the new technological advancement that is information and computerization and the Internet which are the crucial pillars of the new economy (Royce & Straits, 1999).
The relevance of this book to policing issues and diversity course is shown through the discriminatory practices and inequality in race, class, gender and the widespread racial disparity especially against African-American, Hispanic, and American Indian drivers. These issues have been critically analyzed in the preceding paragraphs as highlighted above. The book also shows the problem of inequality and discrimination, especially of the African-American people in the United States of America, which is rampant and openly practiced. For instance, Weiss asserts that there is a premeditated discrimination against the minority, as this quote from the book shows, “All you can conclude is that minorities are more likely to consent to a search, and police are more likely to find contraband in the cars of whites. And the number of consent searches is dropping precipitously, so even if they’re racially disproportionate, they are infrequent.”
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