Race is a term whose use and impact is far more consequential for those who have been targets of hostile actions than those who have perpetrated them, or even the incidental beneficiaries of their consequences. The subtle effects of race influence what we feel, think or believe as well as our action. Ignoring race in a race-neutral or colorblind way may do more disservice to the targets of racial bias as well as those presuming themselves to be free of racial bias. Its effects are complex and ubiquitous.
Keywords: race racial discrimination, Whites, Blacks, marginalization
Race Racial Discrimination
Most of the past researchers have focused on the role of science, social construction, and exploitation in the development of race and ethnic relations. Thus, not was been done with respect to the analysis of how race was established as a major social concept. The analysis of how the sociohistorical context of race established social relationships between the “old” racial groups of white, black, and Native Americans, can give a better understanding on how historical development has real structural consequences for individuals, groups, and social institutions today. This paper seeks to analytically and comparatively examine the sociohistorical development of race. Apart from race being an organizing principle ingrained in our societal institutions, race relations are best described by domination, marginalization, and exploitation (Ray, 2010).
The aspect of race as an organizing principle ingrained in our societal institutions is well demonstrated in class notes and the works of DuBois. The author considers that the social construction of race based on falsified scientific ‘evidence’ which is basically constructed to justify the exploitation of race from economic gain. Being a structural construct, race has real structural consequences. Evidently, race is an organizing principle that is ingrained in the institutions of our society, which works to marginalize and exploit minority group members. It comes with stereotypes which are basically insisted upon innate racial differences between groups despite legitimate scientific evidence of biological or genetic differences among races (DuBois, n.d.).
On the other hand, Ray (2010) argues that race relations are best described by domination, marginalization, and exploitation. He notes that race has continued acting as a center for people’s lives. In this context, one’s race is a strong determining factor to the kind of opportunities he/she can access as well as his or her social interactions. It is unfortunate that many people are yet to internalize the significance of race the way it was in the earlier centuries. The author disputes the claims that America has outgrown racial discrimination based on the recent Obama’s election to the presidency. Also, he observed that by the year 2005, the institutions of the country are still marred by acts of racial discrimination. Even then, the American schools and neighborhoods experienced higher level of segregation in comparison with the case in 1965. The 21th century came with the minority groups suffering from marginalized and relegated with reference to status.
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This is contrary to the observations in 1960s when studies revealed that the blacks were experiencing increasing level of tolerance from the whites. The positive trend was experienced in employments, neighborhoods and schools. The shift was totally the opposite of what had been experienced prior to 1960s when race was a major determining factor in almost all aspects of life. Just like in 1960s, the 21st century witnessed much racial discrimination to the extent that race became a determinant factor in employment, neighborhoods, and interaction. Race became a social structural factor determining various processes at personal levels shaping various mechanisms at the meso-levels as well as the macro-level institutional conditions. It means that race was a strong determinant of where an individual could work and live, the people he/she had interaction with and married to, as well as how wealthy they could become.
Thus, any discussion on political, social, and economic structures of the country cannot be well understood without being conscious on the role that ethnicity and race has continued to play on the whole process even in the 21st century. The argument by Ray seems convincing. First, the author supported his definition of race as “ethnoracial, historically rooted distinction or social constructions” with facts (Class notes). Ray noted that being rooted in social life, race is significant in the creation, establishment, maintenance, and enhancement of group differences. It means it is a principle of organization that can ensure the facilitation of two very different social systems resulting into hierarchical patterns at all societal levels to determine the structures of people’s prestige, status and power. Racism comes with domination by the major races while the subordinate groups are taken to be of cultural or biological inferiority to the dominant group (Ray, 2010).
The discussion above is an indication that race has been made an organization principle. Racism has continued to be portrayed as a social system that transmits the inferiority ideology associated with discrimination and prejudice. Ray (2010) noted that racism causes an alteration in the social systems as well as the arrangements of institutions in operation within the society. It is the reason why the minorities have continued to face such problems as lower attainment and prestige in their education, deprived neighborhoods compared to their white counterparts, health and schools.
Racism has resulted from forces that are intertwined with culture, ancestry and history. It cannot be disputed since ancestry is indicated by biological inferiority. Historically, there has been the racial domination ideology while in ethically, a hierarchy has been created among various groups. It is the forces that have made people to believe ignorantly the status quo that the outcomes of racism could be emanating from circumstances that are found biological, psychological, motivational and genetic differences among groups of different races.
That racial relations are best described by domination, marginalization, and exploitation demonstrated by Karen Brodkin’s case study. Writing How Jews Became White Folks, she argues that the foundation and development of America is traced back to race. She mentions the racial nature of the late 19th century and the early 20th century. The author begins by accusing Kenneth Roberts of the failure to consider her ancestors whites. The two centuries saw the popular press, policy makers and scientists warning against having the real Americans (Nordic or Anglo-Saxon race) mongrelized by the inferior races from Europe. Roberts had argued that allowing immigration of Europeans would destroy the America’s national fabric. Racial discrimination was at its peak with workers from Europe not being regarded as whites. Racial anti-Semitism was too much in the 1920s and 30s, when the Jews were considered to be of inferior race. The racial anti-Semitism also affected immigrants from Asia (Brodkin, 1998).
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A good example to demonstrate what was happening in the 21st century is Yudell’s work. He noted that by the beginning of the 21st century, there was a wide belief that it could be possible to have people organized in various groups based on their biological differences. People were looked at in terms of their intellectual, physical and social characteristics. Contributing to the change in racial discrimination of centuries, DuBois also notes that the major problem of the 20th century was that of color. According to him, this was the cause of the Civil War since it was based on Negro Slavery. Acknowledging the institutionalization of race, the author argues that the Negro problem could not be solved by military force since it was broadened and intensified by the law and was newly structured by social intervention. According to DuBois, race begun with the blacks being frames by the whites/dominant group as a problem (Class notes).
However, the scientists views on race have since changed compared to what was the case during the emergence of Civil Right Movement. Initially, blacks were portrayed to be of inferior genetically, a notion that was used against egalitarian policies. It was also used to justify slavery. Thus, race is more of a scientific concept since it is widely drawn from cues that are either genetic or visual. It can also be identified besides having a measurable past and a future that is not certain. The change in the way it has been viewed across centuries has been affected by economics, culture, geography, science and politics (Class notes).
In conclusion, race has been both an organizing principle ingrained in our societal institutions best described by domination, marginalization, and exploitation. However, the intensity of the discrimination has changed with time. For instance, radical change in discrimination was evident in the post World War II, when the Americans believed that people from Europe were qualified as “modeled middle class white suburban citizens” (Brodkin, 1998). This change in perception about races did not come with education. Instead, it is attributed to an affirmative action program for euromales while saw European immigrants being “whitened”, and transformed institutional racism. It calls for research into effectiveness of various anti-racial programs in fighting racism.