D. Mao – Week Two – Systems of Difference

Through this week’s lectures, articles and videos, I found that people has been constructed difference between people for a long time. People love difference between. In addition, people like categorizing other people into this group or that group. For example, by looking at one’s facial appearance, people can categorize one into different race. By checking how much money can one make per year, people can categorize one into different social classes. In addition, there are more examples that close to our life. When people study in the school, they would categorize some people into “nerd” category or “popular” category. These examples show us that people like difference between people.

When I saw this week’s study materials, the first link I clicked was “Sorting People by Race”. In my opinion, I thought that sorting people by race is very easy. I can sort them just by watching their facial appealing. However, when I started sorting I faced a huge problem. I can not sort them at all. I sorted for more than five minutes and I even wanted to quit. This activity let me know that categorize people’s race just by facial appealing is crazy. In addition, I think category one’s race is crazy. By watching the video “Race: The Power of Illusion”, I learned that people are over 99% similar. This means a black people is not that different than a white people or an Asia people. By this evidence, why we categorize people into races? People can choose their religion, education level, income level and even cultural. However, one can not change his or her race. From the past, there were a lot of events about racial discrimination. However, we know that people are almost same, so why one race should better than another race? In my opinion, I think race should not be one factor to categorize people.

Cultural is also a kind of difference between people. Unlike race, one’s cultural contributes a lot to one’s identity. One’s cultural may include his or her language, life style, values and traditions. Different group of people have different kind of cultural. In addition, different kinds of cultural brings people different kinds of values. For example, in the Chinese culture, number “4” is a bad number because it sounds like “dead” in Mandarin. Therefore, people would avoid using number “4” during their life time. However, in other culture such as American culture, number “4” is not a bad number. Therefore, the diversity of culture makes one group of people hard to understand other group of people.

Nowadays, social class is more and more important in dividing people. Unlike culture, race or other thing that make people different from each other, social class zoom in the difference. Two different classes of people may live in a totally different kinds of life. For example, someone who was born in a rich family may not notice the importance of public education or health program. In addition, someone who was born in a poor family may can not image why one people can waste so much foods, money and other products. The different income level, education level and life experience contribute to one’s class. And these makes one class of people hard to understand other class of people.

Two Questions:

1)Do you think the concept of race is appropriate nowadays?

2)Do you think one day people would not classified one by his or her race?

2 thoughts on “D. Mao – Week Two – Systems of Difference

  1. Hello Dongjie,
    I enjoyed you reading your post. To answer your questions, I do not see a problem with race. I think the problems come because of discrimination of race. I understand that race is a construct, but the culture around race is very real. I do not think race will ever stop existing, so we should learn to accept those different than ourselves. I think over time race will become less important. It will not be used as a main identifier like it is today. At the very least, we will see race become a cyclical issue. Every 30-50 years race will be talked about again. This is how race has been for the last 200 years in America. You were right about our culture being obsessed with identity labels. Labels can help build communities through shared experiences. Identity is not a bad thing, prejudice based on identity is. I liked your last paragraph on class. Since the class divide in America is only getting larger, I think it will become a huge problem in the next 15 years. Thanks for writing this post and asking such thoughtful questions!

  2. I like your post, I think it is pretty straight forward, and easy to understand. But truth be told, I have to disagree your idea about the people have different cultural having a problem understand others. The example might be true that people from American probably won’t understand the meaning of “4” in Chinese, but this is really a very narrow topic to prove that people will have a hard time understand each other when they are not from a same cultural.
    For the first question, I think you should think about the fact that people produce difference and create boundaries between them and other people, that’s what people do, but those differences are not problematic themselves, but people’s projections are. So, I think the concept of race is appropriate now, it is biological real concept, but it is universal and people understand it easily. However, for the second question of yours, because it is an unscientific way to classify people, and in some senses, useless, I think some day in the future will stop using this concept in many situations.

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