The aim of this chapter is to examine the analytical category of racial disproportionality in the New York City child welfare system. Racial disproportionality is a generic definition which indicates over or under representation of a certain racial group in a determined social phenomenon or institutional realm. It is usually considered the outcome of a discriminatory dynamic and in this specific case refers to the over-representation of people of color in the institutional arena developed to protect the well being of children subjected to abuse or neglect in their households. In New York, the 94% of children in state custody are indeed black and Latino. I trace a genealogy of racial disproportionality in the child welfare debate and how this category became an object for policies, political claims and activism. I examine in particular politics of counting and categorizing through race as a practice embedded in the administration of welfare state and, more widely, in the process of racial formation in the US. Looking at anti-racism groups, committees and grass-root associations working on racial disproportionality, I discuss through ethnographic examples how this data is rationalized, re-appropriated and explained depending on the social subject involved and how they struggle to tackle the social complexity of inequalities and exit from the conceptual inflation of race-based datas. In my conclusions I argue that a strict focus on racial disproportionality could be an ambiguous conceptualizing frame if we do not take into account also other structural features, which co-produce this outcome, like class, gender and urban inequalities.

The Politics of Racial Disproportionality of the Child Welfare System in New York

Castellano,Viola
2017

Abstract

The aim of this chapter is to examine the analytical category of racial disproportionality in the New York City child welfare system. Racial disproportionality is a generic definition which indicates over or under representation of a certain racial group in a determined social phenomenon or institutional realm. It is usually considered the outcome of a discriminatory dynamic and in this specific case refers to the over-representation of people of color in the institutional arena developed to protect the well being of children subjected to abuse or neglect in their households. In New York, the 94% of children in state custody are indeed black and Latino. I trace a genealogy of racial disproportionality in the child welfare debate and how this category became an object for policies, political claims and activism. I examine in particular politics of counting and categorizing through race as a practice embedded in the administration of welfare state and, more widely, in the process of racial formation in the US. Looking at anti-racism groups, committees and grass-root associations working on racial disproportionality, I discuss through ethnographic examples how this data is rationalized, re-appropriated and explained depending on the social subject involved and how they struggle to tackle the social complexity of inequalities and exit from the conceptual inflation of race-based datas. In my conclusions I argue that a strict focus on racial disproportionality could be an ambiguous conceptualizing frame if we do not take into account also other structural features, which co-produce this outcome, like class, gender and urban inequalities.
Boundaries within: Nation, Kinship and Identity among Migrants and Minorities
53
74
Castellano,Viola
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11585/865034
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