|Born||February 6, 1962|
Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Alma mater||University of Wisconsin-Madison|
|Known for||Work on systemic racism and racial "colorblindness" in the United States|
|Awards||2011 Cox-Johnson-Frazier Award from the American Sociological Association|
|Thesis||Squatters, politics, and state responses: the political economy of squatters in Puerto Rico, 1900–1992 (1993)|
|Doctoral advisor||Charles Camic|
Eduardo Bonilla-Silva (born February 6, 1962 in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania) is an Afro Puerto Rican political sociologist and professor of sociology at Duke University. He was the 2018 president of the American Sociological Association.
Bonilla-Silva was educated in Puerto Rico where he double majored in Sociology and Economics. In his work White Supremacy and Racism in the Post-civil Rights Era, he says that "Myriam Muniz, Arturo Torrecillas, Carlos Buitrago, Juan Jose Baldrich, Carlos Ramos [...] shaped my sociological imagination." Bonilla-Silva has stated that Jose A. Padin and Charles Camic were two mentors that influenced his development as a sociologist.
As an early sociologist, Bonilla-Silva was focused on Marxist ideas. He learned this from his mentor, Arturo Torrecillas. Torrecillas served as a professor of the Sociology and Anthropology Department at Bonilla-Silva's undergraduate university.
Born in Pennsylvania, Silva grew up in a family of intellectuals. His father, Jacinto Silva, was a university lecturer and his mother, Ruth Maria Silva, was a sociologist like her son.
Bonilla-Silva married Mary Hovsepian He has a son named Omar Francisco Bonilla from a previous marriage.
Bonilla-Silva received his BA in sociology and economics from the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus in 1984, and his MA and PhD from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1987 and 1993, respectively. He taught at the University of Michigan from 1993–1998 and at Texas A&M University from 1998–2005, after which he joined the Duke faculty.
Bonilla-Silva is known for researching the role of race in public life. In 2003, he published the book Racism Without Racists: Colorblind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in the United States, which discusses his view that systemic racism is a major problem in the United States, despite the fact that Americans do not do or say something overtly racist on a regular basis. As of 2014, it was his best-selling book. He has said that systemic racism in the United States did not disappear in the 1970s, as many Americans believe, but merely became less overt and harder to identify. He has also blamed the fact that formerly all-white colleges in the United States did not change their curriculum or culture after integrating for racist incidents re-occurring on the campuses of these colleges. He has described these colleges as "historically white", and has said that this problem is not one of bad apples, but that it may be one of the entire apple tree.
In October 2017, Bonilla-Silva criticized Supreme Court Justice John Roberts for referring to social science as "sociological gobbledygook."
In both his personal life and as a student, Bonilla-Silva encountered many influences. His professors, friends, coworkers, and eventually his own students all impacted his growth and development as a sociologist. As a student, he was influenced by Marxist teachings. However, he changed his focus soon as he learned and encountered racial prejudice and felt a calling to deal with the racism in the United States. This is evidenced by the explosion of published literature centering the structure of race in society and its influence on people.
In one of his earliest literature, Bonilla-Silva suggested a "structural" understanding of racism, a relatively unexplored and revolutionary way of approaching this idea. This was shown in his work Rethinking racism: Toward a structural interpretation. This work was done near the end of his time while the scholar was at the University of Michigan, before he started working at Texas A&M University.
As Bonilla-Silva continued to expand the boundaries of the understanding of racism, his literature reflected these new findings. Examples include:
From all of these works, it is evident that Bonilla-Silva has been an active scholar in the sociological topic of race. He has taken several angles at the topic, investigating it from a historical lens, a political lens such as with the recent political administration run by President Obama, and from his perspective looking at modern society. His seminal works have largely contributed to new ideas and new ways of envisioning the influence of racism in society.
Bonilla-Silva received the 2011 Cox-Johnson-Frazier Award from the American Sociological Association (ASA). In 2009, he and Tukufu Zuberi both received the Oliver C. Cox Award from the ASA's Section on Racial and Ethnic Minorities for their book White Logic, White Methods: Racism and Methodology.