Proceedings Journal Article — Oliver C. Cox on Caste, Class and Race: Theoretical and Policy Implications for a Color Blind Society — by Milton Butts, Jr.


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My aim in this paper is to initiate a discussion about Dr. Oliver C. Cox, who in the course of his life (8/24/ 01-9/4/74) consistently challenged the prevailing views of race relations in the United States and in so doing was labeled a Marxist and marginalized for his radical views—which for allintents and purposes were right on point though not palatable for many. Those who have been in positions of power might give voice to and embracea policy of color blindness, but Cox and others enable us to look behind that façade to see that if fundamental changes do not take place betweenthose who have the power to buy and exploit the labor of others and those who have to sell their labor-power at the risk of being exploited then nothing has really changed. The basis for the status quo remains and power would still remain in the hands of those who impose the White anglo-standard in terms of institutions, opportunities, and life chances, and this is what Cox argued. He not only challenged the powers to be precise in how they used terms like caste, but also to be clear about the distinction between social and political class. Being clear about these distinctions helps move the discussion of race away from the issue of morality.

Recommended Citation

Butts, Jr., Milton. 2004. “Oliver C. Cox on Caste, Class and Race: Theoretical and Policy Implications for a Color Blind Society.” Pp. 137-142 in Liberating Social Theory: Inspirations from Paulo Freire for Learning, Teaching, and Advancing Social Theory in Applied Settings: Proceedings of the First Annual Social Theory Forum, April 7, 2004, UMass Boston (Discourse of Sociological Practice, Vol. 6, Issues 2, Fall 2004). Issue Guest Editor: Mohammad H. Tamdgidi. Sociology Department, UMass Boston.

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