V. Raju– Week 2 – Systems of Difference

In society it’s always been common for individuals to group others into multiple categories. This is a problem because it creates prejudice, discrimination, and racism. It’s easy to categorize people based on looks, but it leads to false assumptions and mistreatment of people that have darker skin tone or black features. Everyone has different skin, hair, and body types, but humans are more similar to each other than any other species on the planet. “1 out of every 1000 nucleotides is different from one individual to another.” It is scientifically proven that there aren’t any internal differences between races and this is shown in the video “Race: The Power Of An Illusion.” In this video it was stated, “There are no genetic markers that are in everybody of a particular race.” It’s human nature to make judgments about others based on appearance, but this does not mean they are any more different from each other than people from the same race. “Race: The Power of An Illusion” was a very interesting video because it covered the idea of how race is nothing more than a social construct (Video 2.1, Race: The Power of an Illusion). It’s become a common misconception in society to assume that things such as gender and race determine the way people behave and act. It’s important for people to understand that these ideas are nothing more than social constructs used to oppress marginalized groups.

Ever since the western world colonized other parts of the world the people with darker skin tones and darker features were always treated worse, because these civilizations had not progressed as quickly. Since this time those with darker skin have been stigmatized and viewed as more “apeish” humans. This dehumanization is still something that sticks with black people and people of color even to this day. Smith addresses this issue and discusses how it still pertains to modern day society and how these negative associations propel racism and brutality even to this day. Smith stated, “Symbolically, black horizons of death emerge from the cognitive dissociation between blackness and humanity” (385 Smith). All of these negative associations end up causing stereotypes for minorities, which only ends up endangering them even more. It’s more common to see a larger Hispanic population living in lower socioeconomic communities; because of this people tend to associate Hispanics with being poor. This form of prejudice impacts Hispanics because they end up internalizing the stereotypes so they in turn become stereotype threats to them. These stereotype threats ends up hurting the confidence of people that are Hispanic, because they themselves begin to believe that they are at a disadvantage. The same can be said for African Americans that live in dangerous communities. Since there may be more violence in lower socioeconomic communities and there tend to be a high percentage of African Americans in these communities, it’s easy for people to generalize and assume that African Americans tend to be more dangerous. People so often overlook the history of the history of the United States and ignore the fact that colonization was a huge factor as to why minorities are still suffering and disadvantaged to this day. Christen Smith made it clear that injustices are still incredibly common in the United States today. It’s clear that race is something that is assumed to be biological, but in reality it is only a social construct. It is important to address the issues of racism, because minorities and disadvantaged groups are still suffering and being treated unfairly even to this day. People need to become aware of the fact skin color does not make one individual different from another. It’s unfortunate that we’ve divided people based on their skin color and features, because these external differences play no factor on what people are like.

 

Is it problematic to say race isn’t a real thing when racism is still an issue that endangers many lives around the world?

Is it possible for racism to truly come to an end or is it already too deeply engraved in society?

4 thoughts on “V. Raju– Week 2 – Systems of Difference

  1. I think it is possible to get rid of racism, however this will be a very long tedious process. The problem starts with the fact that racism can be felt even inside the womb, as we saw in previous lectures. So we would have to start there, and look specifically at races that receive the most racism, which would be African Americans, and Latinos respectively. By educating people on white privilege, and stereotypes and such we could get rid of it. More people need to go to school and get an education, and we also need media to stop portraying racism. Like for example, using African Americans in roles that are mostly negative, such as depicting them as criminals, rapists, uneducated, lazy, gangsters. And we have to stop portraying black women as strippers, promiscuous, etc. I think that once society has positive role models of different races, we can slowly begin to erase some racism, but to a degree there will always be some racism.

  2. Hi V. Raju,

    I think you posed some great questions that will open up interesting dialogue. I don’t think it’s problematic to say race isn’t “real” when racism is so prevalent in our society, because I think that’s actually moving us in the right direction. As racism continues to divide our nation and cause harm to individuals as you mentioned, the concept of race builds strength. The more division we see, the more people believe that biological differences such as skin color determine the actions and beliefs of a specific culture. As Levi Strauss said, “Every culture, is by its very essence powerless to make a true judgment about another culture, since a culture cannot escape itself, and its evaluation thus remains prisoner to a relativism against which there is no recourse.” I think it’s important for anthropologists to share their evidence and give power to this perspective. It’s not denying racism, it’s simply laying the foundation for improvement by stressing that race is merely a cultural construct.

  3. I love your questions as well- to your first query, I’d say it’s extremely problematic to not recognize race as real because it hinders society’s ability to attempt to reconcile centuries of racial discrimination. This is embodied in the whole idea of being colorblind, which is practically impossible- you cannot both know and not know someone’s assigned race by society. I believe we need to recognize race for the arbitrary function by which colored people have been subjugated. However, while race is arbitrary, the problems its classifications have brought on are certainly real and need to be combatted in our culture, media, legal system to change our accepted truths about race. No one is doing minorities a service by suddenly declaring race irrelevant after having subjugated assigned racial groups for centuries. That’s negligent, irresponsible, and it points to the possible notion that we would like to distract from or make existing systems of power that prey on people of color invisible and all the more insidious. Society, as Foucault says, structures itself around accepted truths. To your second question, it all depends on your idea of what is possible(and indeed that’s what sets apart so-called optimists and pragmatists). I believe that we should combat the problems that racial discrimination has ended by hitting at their root factors- poverty , lack of political power and agency, lack of resources(in essence empower the people elites have subjugated and cast off)- while simultaneously incentivizing our media and academia to really tackle and spread the truths about race, culture, and biology. We need to have higher standards for these influences and seek to stop normalizing and supporting bigotry through them. More important, we need to humanize different cultures and races in America by encouraging more interaction between them to make it more difficult to create any sense of hatred or distrust amongst peoples. This problem is evidenced by Islamophobia. Half of Americans do not know a single Muslim personally, so they turn to outlets such as Fox News which only present a group of 1.6 billion people as bearded killers. Thus, much of the public, instead of getting to know Muslims or checking out their local mosques, relieve themselves of that effort and believe in the caricatures on TV. Alternative outlets which have journalistic integrity need to be sponsored to counter such influences.

  4. Your questions were rather similar to my own. I also wonder whether it is actually truly possible to end racism considering that it will always be instilled in the society we live in. maybe over many many years it will slowly get watered down and disappear. I love how you also looked at the fact that western civilization went out and colonized the rest of the world. This is where darker skinned individuals originate from and were thought of as lesser beings considering they were not as advance as the West. And yes, this is the reason they made a reference to apes and darker skinned people. And this causes people of color to doubt themselves due to society. I personally, as a muslim, have seen people judge Islam based on what they hear. They look at bias and popular media, which isn’t necessarily always right and develop islamophobia. They dont make the effort to come out and explore or learn for themselves, which would cause them to actually truly learn about these concepts. The ending of racism also requires effort in which some people would not put into society. Its easier for them to just go with whatever they hear and use that knowledge to establish an opinion.

Leave a Reply