Week 3 Reflection Post

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.”

8 thoughts on “Week 3 Reflection Post

  1. I agree that race has always been a hot topic. I am also a middle class white person. I have not experienced negative treatment because of my race. I agree that “whiteness” as been a major theme throughout history. “Whiteness” has historically affected the way people are judged and treated. I agree that laws were put in place to keep American white and discourage diversity. I really enjoyed the way that you said that, “oppressed racial groups make up the majority” I have never thought about it that way but I agree with that statement completely and appreciated your point of view.

  2. I agree with your post for the most part in starting. I believe that there was hardly any racial hardships growing up as a middle class “caucasian” American. However, there are still things that have been listed offensive that nobody riots or acts out against. For instance, Cracker Barrel, the restaurant, they have not changed their name, considering the changes, formally “Beaners” took on to change to”Biggby” due to ethnic and racial profiling of Mexicans. Totally taken out of context, someone calling us a “cracker” or when police shoot, it does not involve us to riot. I also want to comment on your “immigrants stealing jobs,” in my opinion (people feel free to disagree) but I feel as if these immigrants are in fact stealing our jobs, because as more jobs go to China and Mexico because of corrupt corporate America, tax evasion, and cheaper production costs, the less jobs that are available. When an immigrant takes a position, from an American, it looks as if they are stealing jobs. It is not only an illegal immigrant issue and foreign policy, but it is a Corporate America issue that needs to be solved.

  3. Something that you mentioned in your post I think resonated with me; you mention how the Chinese Exclusion Act when immigrants were accused of soiling American society and took our jobs. Today, I think the same can be said. “Whiteness” in America is very relevant in America today and I think in our current presidential election. I think for the aspect of immigrants taking our jobs, some people still have these views. Americans I think do have a higher cost of living so they require higher wages, which can be seen as ungrateful to employers. Many Mexican and Chinese immigrants will work for less just to send back to their families. As you mentioned, it was kind of shocking to see that the majority of racial groups were discriminated against and confined to their rights. It is sad that today this is still the case and how America needs to progress towards a more equality based society.

  4. Yes, the irrationality of laws such as the Chinese Exclusion Act say a lot about race constructions and prejudice being counter-productive and short sighted. After passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act, the western economy lost such a large number of low wage workers, companies went to Mexico to recruit non-white, low wage workers. The same group of people the Act was meant to rid America of. This pattern has continued over the past 125 years. In times of economic hardship, imported, non-white labor, seen as an economic threat, and painted as dangerous, is pushed out. Only for those same people to be recruited by companies desperately short of workers. We see this today, with the stagnation of wages in the working and middle classes, and the political discourse focused on illegality and violence, when, in reality, they are a very important and constructive part of our economy.

  5. I think it is very interesting that you bring up the Jim Crow laws. I agree with you that race has always been a hot topic of discussion. I remember growing up, as an Armenian-American, I did not consider myself “white” I thought this was interesting being that the term caucasian comes from the caucus mountains where Armenia is. I remember specifically that in middle school and in high school no one was called “white” rather by where their ancestors came from, if your ancestors hailed from Ireland then you would be called Irish….etc. What do you guys think about being considered “white” and white privilege?

  6. As a Chinese international student, I find your post really interesting to me. From what I’ve learnt from this article, during the middle 1800’s, as the United States seeking negotiation and cooperation with Chinese government, they changed their policy from completely banning the immigration of Chinese to limitation, but then tend to become worse in the late 1800’s. From personal perspective, what the United States government did in the middle and late 1800’s is rational but still incorrect. I consider it can be rationally explained because it’s the United States government’s responsibility to protect this nation’s native citizens, either their rights or the whole society’s balance, so it’s totally understandable that anti-Chinese immigrants laws and actions passed during that special time period, but still, I think all mankind have their rights to choose, to live and to build up their own future, so those laws and actions is somehow inhuman to me.

  7. I feel like what you say about the idea of whiteness in the past is very relevant today, especially when we talk about immigration from Mexico and the current populist attitude toward limiting it and taking Mexicans out of the country, as well as banning Muslims, which can be said is much the same. While France is currently a hotbed of terrorism, no one suggests we ban immigrants from France, only Muslims and hispanics.

    • Jordan, I am confused by your wording- are you suggesting that Muslims and “hispanics” are not recognized as immigrants in France? Also, immigration is a hugely divisive issue in French politics.

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