‘A permanent possession’? US attitudes towards Puerto Rico
This chapter is concerned with the way in which racist ideas and stereotypes are reproduced in public discourse by a variety of means. Racism, which can be personal or institutional, intended or unintended, concerns beliefs and practices that are based on the assumption of racial difference. Characteristically, racist beliefs reflect and actively reproduce structured inequalities between social groups in terms of their differential access to the material and symbolic rewards of status and power. Beliefs and practices are mutually reinforcing through the process of social reproduction. In dealing with racism as an ideology at the level of discourse, therefore, we are also implicitly addressing the question of racism as institutionalized in practice. 1
Racist ideologies are expressed through a variety of media in both public and private domains. Political discourse represents a relatively public domain with privileged access to the mass media. Less public, but no less privileged in its own way, is the discourse of academic social science. Despite the appearance of ‘political neutrality’, ‘academic detachment’ and ‘scientific objectivity’, a closer reading of the evidence suggests that North American social science has consistently performed a highly ideological rôle in systematically perpetuating the structured inequalities of power that characterize the relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico.