Haolong Li – Week 2 blog post- Systems of Difference

People used to classify things by their physical characteristics, like exterior or weight, this is most intuitive judgment. For example, people can judge others’ race by their skin color, white, black or yellow. Another case is people will category items based on local culture foundation. For China, delicious foods, panda, rapid development, cheep labor, made in China are all clearly label for China. Foreigners will have a basic impression for China and Chinese based on their culture. These labels are indeed a part of Chinese culture, and on the other hand, it also proved cultural globalization.

Most of time, people will make the things simple, and give a fixed introduction for one thing. For British food, fish and chips is the fist word people can think, because in most foreigners mind, fish and chips can stand all British food, and ignore other food by this reason. This kind of simplifies things and give a fixed impression is not a good way about classification. One thing cannot stand for whole culture.

Now for “race”, there are many ways to classify. Skin color is the basic and widely physical determination method. People follow skin color to guess basic information for others, like where you from, what kind of language you will use, but sometimes is for classification of people. Like I had say, culture is a base when people judge things. Colonial expansion is an important part of the historical development. Most developing countries had experienced colonial rule, some of them still have it right now. This directly leads the class of the race, people in the colonies need to obey the role and requirements of the colonists, unfair but true reality. People used to divide people to “us” and “others”, like the lecture had shows, by reasons of society or culture.

To be honest, there still not an absolutely correct social or race division method. Morgan had divide human development by three stages: savagery, barbarism and civilization. This divides according to the facts, but still not accept by everyone. Levi-Strauss, Orin Starn and Christen A. Smith all describes the structure of today’s society by their works, each one has his opinion. In my opinion, people should find the relationship between culture, race and the label of culture, not try to choose a thing or a word to generalized everything.

My question is racial prejudice continues today, not matter dominant or recessive, how do you think of this and will you willing to change it? How? Cultural globalization is inevitable, and will this impact racial discrimination? How?

4 thoughts on “Haolong Li – Week 2 blog post- Systems of Difference

  1. Good Afternoon,
    I agree with your observation that skin color is s often used as an indicator of race but I am wondering if that is more so an American indicator of race. As mentioned in the lecture, the color of one’s skin is only one physical component of genes. There is face shape, eye shape, eye color, body build, hair texture, and many more. However, just as using something as non-distinctive and broad as skin color to assume race the category of race itself is very broad. We are also enlightened that race has no genetic association it is more of a cultural grouping. I also agree with you when you suggest that people not try to choose one word like, for example, “black” and “white” to generalize things. To label someone “black” or “white” is not very productive when acknowledging all of the possibilities of such diverse backgrounds people come from.
    Have a great week.

  2. Good job on detailing the various systems of difference. To answer your question about cultural globalization, I believe that, although we live in an era where many are pushing towards reform and education, the rapid pace of globalization and technological progress(with access traditionally restricted to the elite) could actually exacerbate the disparities between the haves and the have nots. We can hardly feed and clothe our burgeoning populations, but man is keen on chasing even more wealth and progress. More specifically, we already have vast inequalities between the races in America. For instance, for every dollar of wealth that white people have in America, African Americans have a nickel. This is no coincidence.Globalization, thus far, has only accentuated generational poverty and racial tensions and I believe that it will continue as long as those doing the globalizing(western nations)are extracting and exploiting the people of the second and the third world and not granting the citizens of those nations their proper sovereignty. Systems of difference have an insidious ability to change and adapt with the times, becoming less visible in the face of any incremental reform. This is evidenced by how initial notions of blacks as simians have managed to continue make it easy to justify more violent sentences for them in contemporary society(please see any news channel right now). Globalization is the new colonialism and until it continues to prey on the labor of other countries, it will continue to perpetuate differences and disparities via the consolidation of the media, influence on politicians(via donations and propping them up for their own interests) and the financial institutions upon which society is dependent.

  3. I’m a psychology major, and one thing we learned was that it is literally impossible for humans not to make snap judgments on things. One reason is that we just do not have the mental capacity to take the time to get to know every little detail our brains receive during the day. We make quick judgements about things so that we save our brains from exerting too much energy over something that could end up being insignificant. We can do this from books to food to cars to people, even some things that are so insignificant to us that we do not even realize we’re doing it.
    Another reason we do this is because we need to be able to know in an instant if something is dangerous. We need to make quick decisions about what we see in case it poises any kind of threat to us. And as it so happens, humans pose a lot of potential threats to other humans so it is not hard to wonder why we group people so easily.

    Another thing I learned is that humans are born “group-ist” but not necessarily “racist.” They did experiments with babies where a baby could choose from a puppet that liked the same kind of food they did, or from a puppet who did not like they same food they did. The babies almost always chose the puppet with the same tastes as them. Later in the experiment, they showed the babies a puppet being mean to the puppet that did not like the same food and the babies actually liked the puppet that was mean to those not in their group.
    These experiments show us that we are inborn with liking people who are in our group and disliking those who are in another group. It is when we grow up that we start maturing and realizing that the other groups are probably not so bad. Race is also just one of those groups that humanity created to cling to those inside our group and turn our nose up at those outside of our group.

  4. I agree with your opinion that people will give a fixed introduction for one thing , which i think should be called stereotype. Like you said, when mentioned about Britain we think about fish and chips, similar thing would be when thinking about Texas we think about cowboys, gunplay and violence, that is your impression about one thing even you don’t fully understand that. Also, I like your conclusion that one thing cannot stand for whole culture, all cultures have good or bad things, for example Chinese culture, ancient Chinese culture tells people to respect elders but also think that women are inferrior to men, so we should say that all coins have two sides, we can’t say one culture is completely good or one culture is completely bad.

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