What is race? Aside from all the possible definitions anyone can come up with what it comes down to race is our physical differences. Race refers to a person’s physical appearance, such as skin, hair texture, eye color, bone/jaw structure, etc. Race divides people from one another solely based on your physical characteristics. Racial prejudice remains a problem throughout the world today and will always be a problem. Du Bois believed whites see themselves a certain way, as superior to others. This all stems back to the slavery days and race was something created by our own society. The whites were the slave owners and the slaves were those of color. Whites are imprisoned in their own minds and self-conception of the world. Du Bois uses the concept “whiteness” as a social construct, developed in the time of slavery. It all stems down to the white culture dominating the blacks by exploiting them, raping and murdering them in order to gain their riches. As a result the wealth and power gained gave whites a sense of superiority among all and this continues today.
It was astounding to see the historian blame the London riots on the “black culture”. That goes to show that anything deviant that does not pertain to the roles mandated by the authorities and high class, ‘white’ society will be blame on the minorities of color. Now that I see why the riots occurred, it is baffling that it is even suggested riots being a consequence of ‘black/urban culture’. They are social issues, not racial ones. This is not limited to London, here in the United States it is extremely visible with how crime is portrayed in the media. White killers are always attached to some mental illness or temporary outrage, while any other race is immediately thought of as “evil” or “influenced by their culture” (poverty, stereotypical ‘urban culture’- for lack of a better term). In the Dominican Republic, Haitians born in the country are not granted citizenship- due to their darker skin tone (there’s a history of discrimination in the country because of racism), human rights organizations are outraged. The treatment of race in the media and the government only adds to the racial profiling of people in all aspects of society.
(In this tweet by comedian Katt Williams, he clearly differentiates between the handling of crimes in America according to one’s race/ethnicity- stereotypes are powerful if given constant attention).
Blog #5 Du Bois discusses a concept called Double Consciousness. This means that black people feel they are split between being black and having to think like a white person. This comes from the idea that the only way to survive in this world is if black people live and think the way a white person does. This also stems from stereotypes white people have about the way black people live. Du Bois says that Black people feel they have a conflict between being black and being American. Almost like there is no such thing as being both. All these ideas clearly stem from a deep-rooted racism that started from the times of slavery. One would think our world has come a long way and that we no longer see a “color line” and we just see people. But how true is this? It’s true we all a part of a different race and have different ethnicities but why should a specific race mean you are a different species?
I think the way to really combat racism and end major inequalities in America is by teaching kids at a young age that people are people and they come in all shapes and colors. But that the color in itself doesn’t mean anything. Maybe that means they celebrate different holidays or wear different clothes but that doesn’t mean they don’t have the same rights as everyone else. Our social institutions are only “Racialized” because we still see people as colors and not as humans. This also goes along with the idea of “racial profiling”. because we created this concept people feed into it. Because society has decided that racial profiling is helpful to society it must be good. But in reality we are just continuing the idea that people are colors and that makes them different. When will everyone be equal? Will there ever be such a concept in this world? As long as people teach their kids that “black” means something else than white, we will never have real equality.
Dr. Cornel West, in many regards, reminds me of a modern W.E.B. Du Bois, particularly as he got older and his ideas became more radicalized. Dr. West is a large proponent of exposing and criticizing systems of inequality or as he calls it, “systems that lose sight of the humanity of other people”. This is something that is very similar between West and Du Bois; there is a personal element in their rhetoric. This interview touches on many topics we have discussed in class, including the “Stop & Frisk” and the “New Jim Crow”. He believes that we must express our sentiments loudly and clearly; we must hold those responsible, accountable. He discusses elements of imperialism, capitalism, and colonialism as well. Although quite similar to Du Bois, West is a both a bit more universal and critical “across the board”. He calls for constancy amongst activists and elected officials who fight against the various systems that are mentioned.
Racism and discrimination are pretty much the exact same thing. Now a days we see more of both terms being used around like if it was nothing. We tend to judge people based on their color of skin or where they come from. I think the skin color of a person does not make them better or smarter, is your personality, education and skills that make you who you are. We all have the same color blood and we all have the same inside, all it changes is our color.Sometimes we tend to generalize a person an automatically assume that they are all form the same country or place without even stopping to realize that we all have some of the same features except that we come from another country. If you really think about it when Columbus and the Europeans came to America, there were Native Americans and Black, they all had relations with each other without caring about the color, so technically if you think about it, we are all mixed. When it comes to racism/discrimination, it not only happens between black and white, but also between any other race, between lesbians and gays, between immigrants etc. it shouldn’t be like that, but society makes it that way. I think that we should start teaching our children at home and in schools that we are all alike and maybe someday this will all stop and we will be seen as equals and not as Black, White, Asian,Hispanics.
I’ve personally sat and listened to conversations with co-workers of black and white ethnic background. It ultimately would end with the white individual stating they were not racist and the black individual slightly confused. They only agreed that they regretted voting for Obama; therefore the skit viewed in class had me laughing hysterically because conversation such as those do occur -frequently.(Of course, I am only stating my own experience.)
After class, I was enlightened on how mainstream and pervasive the saying, “That’s racist!” is. With in my own group of friends it is never said and I obviously was not paying attention to my surrounding because once I did, I heard it everywhere. Mostly in the mornings on the bus from children in their teens and younger. And just as reported, it would make no sense. One child said: How you not know how to swim though?!. And the other responded: That’s racist. Another example I heard at work while we were guessing our middle names. It was the turn of a co-worker who is from the Caribbean and identifies as black. One co-worker guessed: Jackson!. And then everyone proceeded to laugh. More than one individual said: that’s racist! By that time of the day I knew those two words were going to be uttered by someone…
The PBS series, “Race: The Power of an Illusion” explores “race in society, science and history.” Here’s a link to the online companion to the California Newsreel’s 3-part documentary.
The exercise, “Sorting People: Can You Tell Somebody’s Race by Looking at Them?,” asks “How easy is it to group people into ‘races’ based on appearance? What about using individual traits? Does everybody classify the same way?”
Try your hand at “sorting” individuals and see if it matches how people think of themselves. Reflect on how we tend to sort people by physical traits.
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