D. Chander Week Two-Systems of Difference

After looking at all the material and the videos posted for this week, it’s clear that we have many interpretations of what race is. In the PBS video, “Race the Power of Illusion” we learned many things about race and ethnicity. First of all, we aren’t as different as we seem at least genetically-speaking. We have similar DNA even if we are of different race. From a historical standpoint, African Americans have always been at a disadvantage due to inherent racism. People and society began to equate black skin with inferiority and they began to see black people as lower class, and uneducated. However, we say that we live in a post-racial society, that we have an African-American president, that were not as racist anymore. But that’s far from the truth. In fact, there has been an increase in gun related and police brutality towards African Americans. We keep saying “black lives matter” only because their lives don’t matter and we have to reassure and remind ourselves that their lives matter and that’s the way that we make it seem. All lives matter, but African American lives matter less according to society, which incredibly sad and racist. The video also talks about the debate about  African Americans being more athletic. In my opinion, African Americans have been genetically predisposed to being strong, sturdy, and rather athletic due to the fact that many of them toiled under horrible conditions as slaves, doing laborious tasks. However, I think that many of these athletes are talented and they know how to use their build and athleticism to their advantage which is why so many African Americans are professional athletes and Olympians.

I think that it was important that we learned that there are very small differences between race  and one’s DNA. Looking at someone we may not be able to narrow them down to one race. Many people have mixed ancestry or can look like a race that they aren’t a part of.

3 thoughts on “D. Chander Week Two-Systems of Difference

  1. I really appreciated your discussion of the inherit racism and the disadvantages that exists for African Americans, but I think this can be extended to any group that is not white. Historically speaking, every group that was not white European, was considered less than or below, hence the original creation of “them” vs. “us” as lecture 2.1 points out. Similarly, racial categories were created in order to keep these “unwanted groups” at lower positions in society. A great example of this is voting laws/literacy tests that kept African Americans from being able to vote. I’ve seen these tests and it is understandable why confusion was widespread. These tests were clearly a deliberate attempt to keep African Americans at a lower place in society for as long as possible, despite the legislation that was trying to allow their status to move.
    That being said, there is also inherent privilege that comes with being white, even if some people deny it. White people have always had access (generally speaking) to more privileges, more citizen rights, better health care, better treatment, etc., simply because they are white. A good example of this, if you ever have time or are interested is a book called “Mama might be better off dead”. It talks about health care disparities between races, mainly whites and African Americans. Smith also points out that police brutality on African American citizens in both the U.S. and Brazil directly undermines their rights as citizens to to protection by the government and the police. “While legal citizenship affords all citizens equal protection under the law in both nations, this protection does not practically extend to black people in either…the evidence for this is the indiscriminate manner by which black people are killed, beaten, tortured, and violated by the state with impunity” (Smith, pg. 385).
    Also, your comments about police brutality and “Black Lives Matter” also link directly to Smith’s article in this regard.
    While I think you have a well written, and thought provoking discussion, you only mentioned the one video as evidence to support your claims. Also, you forgot to end with questions over the readings.

  2. I liked your interest in the PBS video “Race: The power of An Illusion” because that is what I found myself to be most interested in also since it tackles subjects that are so taboo with real people. Like Rebecca said, though, blacks were definitely not the only race to receive such inherit racism as you can think about the kind of living situations that most immigrants (of all races and cultures) lived in when they came to America. If they were not white, they were different and less important or valuable. I think that there is definitely a predisposition to believe the things that our parents and grandparents were raised to believe which is why such racism still exists, hence the “black lives matter.” In terms of the athletic abilities of African Americans, I agree with you in thinking that they may have almost evolved to their horrendous conditions that they were put through when coming through America. But at the same time, if you think about the geographical location in which they came from in the first place, that would also give them a step-up on other athletes: temperature, constant danger, lifestyle necessities, etc. I think they have used the idea itself that they are more athletic to their advantage (similar to what I think you implied) so that they believe to be the best and train to that expectation, whereas other people/athletes believe that the African Americans have a “biological” or “genetic” advantage and that is what holds others from succeeding past. DNA, as the video and lectures stated, does not differentiate races from each other in any way so it then comes down to our social structures and reprogramming our thinking and treatment of others different than ourselves.

  3. There’s a common misconception in society that skin color determines the behaviors, athletic ability, and intelligence of an individual. I agree with you on the fact that racism is still a very prominent issue to this day. In the PBS Video “Race: The Power Of An Illusion” it is said that people of two different races can have a more similar genetic code than two people of the same race. This proves that race has nothing to do with the internal aspects of individuals. It’s disheartening to hear from some of my fellow white friends that racism is no longer a thing and the people who aren’t colorblind are the racists. This is a terrible statement to make because being colorblind will do nothing except ignore the racist issues that are still ongoing in our society. Smith also touches on this and talks about how structural racism contributes to police brutality. If we ignore these racial issues then people of color will never be able to feel as safe as the average white man in this country. It’s unfortunate that some people think black lives matter is an unfair statement. These people are actively fighting for racism if they don’t give recognition to the inequality in black communities.

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