Dr. Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto

Dr. Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto

About

Victoria is Assistant Dean at the LBJ School of Public Affairs and a contributor to MSNBC and Telemundo. Her areas of expertise in the domestic policy landscape include immigration, Latinos, women and childcare, and economic equity. more→

Research

Victoria brings an interdisciplinary lens to understanding policy development and its intersection with institutional and political contexts. Underlying her academic work is the applicability of rigorous research to on-the-ground policy realities.

Dr. Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto
Dr. Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto

Recent Media

This post originally appeared on POLITICO’s Arena

In his landmark speech, “A More Perfect Union” Barack Obama called on America to look at its different stories, skin colors, cultures, and origins – its diversity – as a backdrop to pursuing a better future as a collective nation.  In other words, getting beyond these differences would bring about a perfect union.  The problem is that this unified ideal is impossible.  Humans are hardwired to distil the world into a simple division of us and them, where the us is naturally favored and the them is ignored at best and hated at worst.

The election of the nation’s first black president and the potential election of the first Mormon president in the near future reinforces the conventional wisdom of forward movement toward a society oblivious to group differences.  However, we are not and have never been on a one-way street to erasing prejudice as Obama’s speech on race would have us believe.  Though its incarnations change prejudice is a permanent fixture – in the late 1800s it was the Chinese Exclusion Act, today its Arizona SB 1070.  In the 1940s it was the Japanese internment camps, today its Arab-American profiling.  In the 1960s Catholicism was John F. Kennedy’s biggest political obstacle, today Mitt Romney’s is Mormonism.  Historically, black-white animosity marked the Southern landscape, today that has shifted to black-Latino animosity.

Prejudice can be dampened to allow for a harmonious union, but it cannot disappear.  Moreover, just as easily as prejudice is dampened it can be amplified to make our union even less perfect.