E. Porter Jr, – Week Two – Systems of Differences

If I was ever asked the question “What exactly is so special about the human race?” I would have to answer with simple sentence consisting of only 4 words; “We are all different.” That’s it, that’s what makes us so special, the fact that we are the same species, and yet act completely unalike. For the most part, this great since it allows everyone to be unique in their own way. However, the problem that arises is that because were so different, we then tend to separate from each other and classify someone who is not the same as us as someone who is “normal”, sometimes to the point of which that person is not looked or regarded as a human anymore. The crazy part about this is the fact that most times it’s over something quite minor such as the way that the person may look, or what religion that person believes in.  Thus as humans we have created these “systems” which has in return divides us.

As mentioned above, a good example of this is how we divide people by race/nationality. Now in saying this, it must also be said that there are different levels of this. On one end of the spectrum, there are indeed people who are completely racist, meaning they are consciously making decisions to say or do things solely based on another person’s race. However most people, fall towards the opposite end in which they may say or do something in that may be racist though that was not their intention. People do things like this all the time, especially when they may meet someone for the first time. Even when we assume someone’s race, such as with the PBS Sorting activity, we are still trying to separate people based off of the various stereotypes that we were brought up with. When I did the activity, I scored an 8/20, and it was revolutionary to me because I realized that even when people who are trying their hardest to not judge people based on their skin still do.  Reason for this is because of the society that we were brought up and raised in. Christen Smith in his article Blackness, Citizenship, and the Transnational Vertigo of Violence in the Americas” says “We live in a society that grants and withholds privilege and power based on racial, ethnic, class, gender, and other identity markers. Institutions of higher education, as well as our discipline of anthropology, have played a crucial role in upholding these hierarchies over the years.” (Smith,  pg.390) I feel that he also came to the same conclusion as me when he wrote this. That from a young age, we were forced to adapt to a society that forcefully divides people. He goes even further in saying that this was due to some of the different programs that were actually supposed to help figure out why this was happing with people such as anthropology, was actually in fact holding us back.

Hopefully, one day people may be able to overcome these so called systems of differences so that we could all enjoy a truly diverse and accepting culture. One question that I would like to pose to Orin Starn about his Here Come the Anthros (Again): The Strange Marriage of Anthropology and Native America”  is what did he mean by a militant anthropology. I wouldn’t mind if he would expand upon it. Another question of that I would ask but that is this time targeted towards the lecture is that since we know that Lewis Henry Morgan’s definition of a civilization was wrong, can we as humans who live in one actually define it correctly? Or is it possible that we might be somewhat bias due to this?

One thought on “E. Porter Jr, – Week Two – Systems of Differences

  1. Upon listening to this weeks’ lectures and reading the articles, it came to my attention that for a very long we as human beings have always attempted to differentiate between people. This notion of differentiating between one person and the other spans across a variety of aspects, abilities and attributes. In a way you could say these forms of differentiation is what makes us all so special. One of the biggest ways of differentiating between people is race/nationality. As suggested by Edward Taylor implemented in the first lecture, Geographical location and well as race have been used as modeling tool to judge ones lifestyle or advancement in the society. The notion of the ” White European Culture” and ” every other culture” has been seen as the bigger comparison and thus the biggest difference in sociological advancement as every other race has been modeled to mimic the lifestyle and sociological ways of the ” white Europeans” (Edward Taylor). I agree with Eben’s point of view about systems of differentiation and i hope one day, we, a society as a whole will be able to overcome our differences and accept the diverse cultures of this amazing world.

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