Conflict theorists focus on economic stratification and access to power in their analyses of race and ethnic relations.Some emphasize the caste-like nature of racial
stratification, others analyze class-based discrimination, and still others examine internal colonialism and gendered racism. The Caste Perspective 11le caste perspective views racialracial and ethnic-inequality as a permanent feature of U.S. society. According to this approach, the African American experience must be viewed as different from that of other racial or ethnic groups. African Americans were the only group to be subjected to slavery;when slavery was abolished. a caste system was instituted to maintain economic and social inequality between whites and African Americans (Feagin and Feagin, 2008). . 111e caste system was strengthened by anti miscegenation lows, which prohibited sexual intercourse r marriage between persons of different races. Most states had such laws, which were later expanded to include relationships between whites and Chinese,
Japanese, and Filipinos. These laws were not declared unconstitutional until 1967 (Frankenberg, 1993). Although the caste perspective points ouf that racial tratification may be permanent because of structural eleme ts such as the law,it has been criticized for not examining the role of class in perpetuating racial inequality.
Class Perspectives Class perspectives emphasize the role of the capitalist class in racial exploitation. Based on early theories of race relations by the African American scholar W.E. B.Du Bois, the sociologist Oliver C. Cox (1948) suggested that African Americans were enslaved because they were the cheapest and best workers the owners could find for heavy labor in the mines and on plantations. Thus, the profit motive of capitalists, not skin color or racial prejudice, accounts for slavery. More recently, sociologists have debated the relative importance of class and race in explaining the unequal life chances of African Americans. Sociologist William Julius Wilson (1996) has suggested that race, cultural factors, social psychological variables, and social class must all be taken into account in examining the life chances of “inner-city residents.” His analysis focuses on ow class-based economic determinants of social social inequality, such as deindustrialization and the decline’ of the central (inner) city, have affected many African Americans, especially in the Northeast. African Americans were anlOng the most severely aFfected by the loss of factory jobs because work in the manufacturing sector had previously made upward mobility possible. Wilson (1996) is not suggesting that prejudice and discrimination have been eradicated; rather, he is arguing that they may be less important than class in explaining the current status of African Americans. How do conflict theorists view’ the relationship among race, class, and sports? Simply stated. sports reflects the interests of the wealthy and powerful. At all levels, sports exploits athletes (even highly paid ones) in order to gain high levels of profit and prestige for coaches, managers, and owners. African American athletes and central-city youths in particular are exploited by the message of rampant consumerism. Many are given the unrealistic expectation that sports.