Eduardo Bonilla-Silva
Born (1962-02-06) February 6, 1962 (age 59)
Alma materUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison
Known forWork on systemic racism and racial "colorblindness" in the United States
Spouse(s)Mary Hovsepian
Awards2011 Cox-Johnson-Frazier Award from the American Sociological Association
Scientific career
InstitutionsDuke University
ThesisSquatters, politics, and state responses: the political economy of squatters in Puerto Rico, 1900–1992 (1993)
Doctoral advisorCharles Camic

Eduardo Bonilla-Silva (born February 6, 1962 in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania)[1] is an Afro Puerto Rican political sociologist and professor of sociology at Duke University. He was the 2018 president of the American Sociological Association.[2]

Early influences

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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."[3] Bonilla-Silva has stated that Jose A. Padin and Charles Camic were two mentors that influenced his development as a sociologist.[3]

As an early sociologist, Bonilla-Silva was focused on Marxist ideas.[4] 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.[5]

Family and early life

Born in Pennsylvania,[6] Silva grew up in a family of intellectuals. His father, Jacinto Silva,[6] was a university lecturer and his mother, Ruth Maria Silva,[3] was a sociologist like her son.

Bonilla-Silva married Mary Hovsepian[6] He has a son named Omar Francisco Bonilla from a previous marriage.[3]

Education and career

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.[7]

Work and views

Bonilla-Silva is known for researching the role of race in public life.[8] 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.[9] 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.[10][11] 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",[12] and has said that this problem is not one of bad apples, but that it may be one of the entire apple tree.[11]

In October 2017, Bonilla-Silva criticized Supreme Court Justice John Roberts for referring to social science as "sociological gobbledygook."[13]

Publications and evolution of sociological views

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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.[14] 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.[15] 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.[7]

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,[16] a political lens such as with the recent political administration run by President Obama,[19][23] 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).[24] 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.[25]


  1. ^ "Bonilla-Silva, Eduardo 1962-". Contemporary Authors. Gale. 2009.
  2. ^ "Duke University Professor Elected President of the American Sociological Association" (Press release). American Sociological Association. 2016-10-12.
  3. ^ a b c d Bonilla-Silva, Eduardo (2001). White Supremacy and Racism in the Post-civil Rights Era. Lynne Rienner Publishers. pp. vii. ISBN 978-1-58826-032-1.
  4. ^ Embrick, David (September 2017). "Introducing Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, 2018 ASA President". Retrieved November 24, 2017.
  5. ^ Mario, Morales (February 25, 2011). "Arturo Torrecilla disecciona el dilema de los profesores". Retrieved November 24, 2017.
  6. ^ a b c "Bonilla-Silva, Eduardo 1962-". Contemporary Authors. Gale. 2009.
  7. ^ a b "Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, Ph.D." Center on Race and Social Problems, University of Pittsburgh. Retrieved 6 August 2016.
  8. ^ Ross, Janell (18 July 2016). "A majority of Americans — white and black — agree that race relations are bad and getting worse". Washington Post. Retrieved 6 August 2016.
  9. ^ Large, Jerry (21 September 2014). "Fighting a quiet, nearly invisible brand of systematic racism". Seattle Times. Retrieved 23 September 2016.
  10. ^ Shekhtman, Lonnie (25 November 2015). "Is there more racism in the US, or are we just more candid about it?". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 6 August 2016.
  11. ^ a b Shoichet, Catherine (24 November 2015). "Is racism on the rise? More in U.S. say it's a 'big problem,' CNN/KFF poll finds". CNN. Retrieved 1 November 2016.
  12. ^ Alcindor, Yamiche (11 November 2015). "University of Missouri unrest a signal for other schools, experts say". USA Today. Retrieved 1 November 2016.
  13. ^ Flaherty, Colleen (October 12, 2017). "Sociology's 'Mic Drop' Moment". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
  14. ^ Embrick, David (September 2017). "Introducing Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, 2018 ASA President". Retrieved November 24, 2017.
  15. ^ Bonilla-Silva, Eduardo (1997). "Rethinking Racism: Toward a Structural Interpretation". American Sociological Review. 62 (3): 465–480. CiteSeerX doi:10.2307/2657316. JSTOR 2657316.
  16. ^ a b Bonilla-Silva, Eduardo (2014). Racism without Racists. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. ISBN 978-1-4422-2054-6.
  17. ^ Bonilla-Silva, Eduardo (2017-05-01). "What We Were, What We Are, and What We Should Be: The Racial Problem of American Sociology". Social Problems. 64 (2): 179–187. doi:10.1093/socpro/spx006. ISSN 0037-7791.
  18. ^ "Duke University Professor Elected President of the American Sociological Association" (Press release). American Sociological Association. 2016-10-12.
  19. ^ a b c "The new racism: The racial regime of post-civil rights America | Scholars@Duke". Retrieved 2017-11-25.
  20. ^ "debating Introduction: Examining | Scholars@Duke". Retrieved 2017-11-25.
  21. ^ "The invisible weight of whiteness: the racial grammar of everyday life in contemporary America | Scholars@Duke". Retrieved 2017-11-25.
  22. ^ "The last shall be first: Best Books in the Race Field Since 2000 | Scholars@Duke". Retrieved 2017-11-25.
  23. ^ a b "The 2008 Elections and the Future of Anti-racism in 21st Century Amerika Or How We Got Drunk with Obama's Hope Liquor and Failed to See Reality | Scholars@Duke". Retrieved 2017-11-25.
  24. ^ "Eduardo Bonilla-Silva Award Statement". American Sociological Association. Retrieved 24 August 2016.
  25. ^ "Section Awards". Section on Racial and Ethnic Minorities. American Sociological Association.