The Society for the Study of Social Problems
59th Annual Meeting
August 7-9, 2009

The Stanford Court Hotel
905 California Street, San Francisco, CA 





In 1903 W. E. B. DuBois famously wrote, “The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line.” More than one hundred years have passed since his prophetic statement, yet the color line remains a major problem of the twenty-first century.

Racial and ethnic inequality permeates American society and expresses itself through the many social problems studied by SSSP members. To mention just a few familiar examples, people of color are more likely to live in poverty, to receive poor health care, to live in areas with air and water pollution problems, and to be arrested and imprisoned. Racial and ethnic prejudice and stereotyping also remain widespread even if they are less extreme than in decades past. In the 2006 General Social Survey, almost half of non-Latino whites agreed that “most blacks just don’t have the motivation or will power to pull themselves out of poverty,” and one-fifth of whites opposed a close relative marrying an Asian American. Almost 60 percent of respondents in a 2007 Gallup Poll thought that immigrants to the United States are worsening the crime problem. And almost one-fourth of respondents in a 2006 Gallup Poll said they would not want to have a Muslim as a neighbor, while 39 percent admitted being prejudiced against Muslims. Other Gallup evidence shows that people of color are less satisfied than non-Latino whites with their lives and more likely to perceive that racial and ethnic discrimination exists in education, the workplace, and other areas.

About fifty years ago the civil rights movement put racial segregation on the national agenda, and that movement and later efforts succeeded in weakening the color line. Yet racial and ethnic inequality persists while most of the nation turns a blind eye by forgetting about it, by pretending it simply does not exist, or by blaming people of color for the inequality they suffer.

The theme of the 2009 annual meeting, “Race, Ethnicity, and the Continuing Problem of the Color Line,” will afford SSSP members the opportunity to discuss the place of race and ethnicity in the United States and to rededicate ourselves to addressing racial and ethnic issues in our professional work, political and social activism, and daily lives. Papers are invited that address the following questions: (1) What are the sources of racial and ethnic inequality in contemporary society? (2) How, why, and with what consequences do racial and ethnic prejudice and discrimination manifest themselves in social institutions and in everyday life? (3) What are the racial and ethnic dimensions and impact of the social problems studied by SSSP members? (4) Perhaps most important, what social programs and policies and political strategies, ranging from conventional political activity to protest tactics, offer the most hope for reducing racial and ethnic inequality?

The 2009 annual meeting in San Francisco will be an occasion both to celebrate the racial and ethnic diversity of our society and to reflect soberly on the color line that remains and the work that still needs to be done. President Barkan and the Program Committee invite your input, your participation, and, above all, your commitment to achieving a nation where, as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. so memorably urged, people “will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Steven E. Barkan, SSSP President, University of Maine

2009 Program Committee 

A. Javier Treviño, Chair, Wheaton College, Massachusetts
Otis Grant, Indiana University, South Bend
Mitchell Berbrier, University of Alabama, Huntsville
Michelle A. Harris, Northern Arizona University
Hoan N. Bui, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Karen M. McCormack, Wheaton College, Massachusetts