For as long as I can remember, the concept of race has been overwhelmingly controversial. As a middle class white person, it’s rather uncommon for the negative aspects of racism to affect me. This idea of “whiteness” is something that has been very prevalent throughout history, stemming all the way back to medieval Europe, largely relating to the tension between Catholics and Jews which consumed much of European history. This framed much of the racial discrimination we saw in the centuries to follow, including movements such as the Jim Crow Laws and the Chinese Exclusion Act.
With such laws as the Immigration Act of 1924 in place in the early 1900’s, it’s no surprise that the United States was heavily populated by whites, or at least the idea of “whiteness” seemed to be the only factor influencing our opinions of others. For example, the reading explains that the Chinese Exclusion Act was brought about due to the idea that Chinese immigrants were soiling American society. These immigrants were accused of many things, such as stealing our jobs, our resources, and our people (by reproducing with white men and women). In an attempt to keep the United States as “white” as possible, the government implemented such policies as the Chinese Exclusion Act to prevent Chinese immigrants from the basic rights of the American whites.
Additionally, something that has struck me about many of the readings this week, as well as weeks in the past, is that many of the oppressed racial groups make up the majority, or at least a significant percentage of the population in one area/nation. This idea that those who made up the largest portion of society (and thus, made massive contributions to daily functions) could be disrespected at such a level, simply due to racial differences, is mind-boggling. Perhaps it’s just my progressive view of society and our world today, but no amount of historical evidence can justify any power due to “whiteness.”