(I chose to write about option 2 and answer the second set of questions.)
I have always believed that race was socially constructed to put white people in power and everyone else different in a status lower than them. In Jonathan B. Freeman’s paper I read about the social cues that people use to identity race. One of those main cues are the color of someone’s skin. Freeman talked about a study where the status of someone was determined by the color of their skin. The results were that people with white skin were thought to have higher status and people with black skin were thought to have lower status. You had to have a certain amount of lightness or darkness to be considered either white or dark. This comes to show that now people are using social and economic status as a cue for what “race” someone is as well as skin color. ( Freeman, 2011)
Rachel Dolezal, a woman with two biological white parents, identifies herself as being black. Her biological parent said that she had white skin and straight, blonde hair, and with them being both Caucasians, there is no way that she can be black. Rachel Dolezal was adopted by a black family and now she has slightly darker skin and curly, light brown hair. She first started off as saying that she was biracial and then she transitioned into a completely different race, calling it trans-racial. Rachel is a civil rights activist and was the chapter president for NAACP. She has resigned due to her background coming out and many people accusing her of doing black-face. She believes that there is nothing wrong in her actions and still continues to say that she identities as being black. (Yuhas, 2015)
When people try to determine what race is, they mostly look for visual cues like skin color, which I stated before. Other visual cues people use are their hair texture, their facial features, the way they talk, where someone lives, and their social status. In my blog, I will concentrate on the difference between what people will consider pertains to white people and black people. I will not mention people of mixed races, or what people would consider in between races, like Asian, Native American, and etc., for now. When people think white, they picture someone with light skin, straight, blonde (or light colored) hair, smaller noses, speaking proper form of English, wealthy, and high socioeconomic status. When people think black, they picture someone with dark skin, curly, dark hair, bigger noses, using slang to speak, poor, and from lower socioeconomic status. Back when they started race categories, this is how they came about determining what race someone was. A white person had origins in Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa. A black person had origins from any of the black racial groups in Africa. (UF, 2018)
I personally believe that race should not exist. It was socially constructed to give a certain group of people power over others. It should not be something that we constantly keep putting in surveys, research materials, and etc., to identify people. This world has made me, and I think everyone else, believe that if you look a certain way you are this race. If I use the identifying origins of how race is determined, by looking at my ethnicity, I should be identified as Asian. But due to my skin being darker than what typical Asians are considered to be having, I am sometimes mistakenly identified as a different race. I have several friends that have parents from different races, so they are mixed. They have a hard time identifying themselves to a specific race and feel that being just one of those races would not be right. This comes to show that people can look like they are from a different race, but be something else. Or that they might be more than one race and cannot just be put in line with one specific race. I feel that instead of identifying with a race, we could identify with our ethnicity. Instead of having check boxes, why can we not have a BLANK line where we write what our ethnicity(s) is/are.
Saying all this, I personally still do not agree with Rachel Dolezal identifying as black. I feel that it is very offense. If you look at her origins, she should identity as white. If she feels that she does not want to identify as being white, she could have not identified herself with a race at all. Just because she grow up with a black family does not make her black. Maybe she liked their culture and ethnicity and thats why she identified as black. But to be respectful of someone’s else’s culture or ethnicity means not to lie and say that they are that, or misuse that. She could have shown her love for black people by speaking up for better opportunities for them and trying to make the world a fair place for everyone of all different skin colors. What she did is wrong and there should not be any excuses for it.
- Freeman, J.B. (September 26, 2011). Looking the Part: Social Status Cues Shape Race Perception. Retrieved from http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0025107
- Yuhas, A. (June 16, 2015). Rachel Dolezal defiantly maintains ‘I identify as black’ in TV interview. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/jun/16/rachel-dolezal-today-show-interview
- University of Florida. (2018). Background Information on the New Race/Ethnicity Codes. Retrieved from http://www.ir.ufl.edu/OIRApps/ethnic_code_changes/info.html#Old%20Race%20and%20Ethnicity%20Standards