Sociology: Black Like Me
One argument made by Structural Functionalists is that society should be a meritocracy. People should be rewarded based on their abilities. (Class notes, SOCI 201, Winter 2010)
An example to illustrate this argument from Black Like Me is found on page 39. The elderly owner of the Y café complained to Griffin about how unfair the economic system was to black people. Many brilliant black students graduated with great marks, but still ended up doing the most menial work or very few selected jobs. Many black people, therefore, chose not to educate themselves. As a result, the whites said they were not worthy of first-class citizenship and everything continued in a vicious circle. (Griffin, 1996: 40)
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East was a successful Southern businessman who ran a little newspaper, The Petal Paper. The paper prospered as he tried hard to keep in line with “popular opinion” and never mention Negroes except in a manner harmonious to the Southern Way of Life. He made himself wealthy and popular among the townspeople. However, he started having trouble sleeping at night and felt he had abandoned his editorial responsibility and prostituted his conscious. After 1954 Supreme Court decision on segregation, he applied a “fair” editorial policy to his paper and started preaching justice. The paper lost its subscribers and ads; he received anonymous threatening calls; and his old friends turned against him. People called him a “goddamn nigger-loving, jew-loving, communist son-of-a-bitch.” As a result of this, wherever he went he carried a gun (Griffin, 1996: 76).
The white supremacy ideology allowed the white people to mistreat the blacks because they were thought of as lower beings. As a result, the blacks learned to behave in certain ways to “obey” the roles. For example, there was no segregation