Module 7. Our Divisions

RACISM & EXPLOITATION

Race reflects a social stigma or marker of superiority (Kottak & Kozaitis, 2012). Racism is an attitude, ideology, behavior, or social arrangement (e.g., institution) that benefits and supports a particular race or ethnic group (i.e., dominant or powerful) over another (minority). Racism is projected by people in different forms such as racial prejudice, ideological racism, scientific racism, individual discrimination, and institutional discrimination.

Racial prejudice is the fundamental attitude that favors one racial-ethnic group over another, lending it to cause unequal treatment on the basis of race (Farley, 2010). Prejudicial attitudes derive from people’s thinking and can be overt or subtle. Overt prejudice manifests into direct dislike or disdain of a particular racial-ethnic group or its members with the belief that they are inferior. Subtle prejudice occurs through the recognition that a particular racial-ethnic group causes their own problems or is the root of social problems.

 

Man wearing a shirt with an anti-racist slogan written on the back
Image by Kelly L, Pexels is licensed under CC BY 4.0

Ideological racism is the belief that some people are biologically, intellectually, and culturally inferior to others (Farley, 2010). This ideology views racial-ethnic groups as superior or inferior to one another. Racist ideology has been substantiated by early publications of scientific theory forming racist bias in research called scientific racism. Consider, social Darwinism which argued “survival of the fittest” creating the socially accepted belief that people with wealth and power are the “most fit.” This ideology was adopted in colonial America to warrant the domination and support the colonization of the native peoples of Africa, the Americas, and Asia by White Europeans (Farley, 2010). The use of scientific theory to justify a racial superiority and inferiority rationalized for many the idea of a “natural law” advertently served dominant group interests. However, thorough scientific analysis does not substantiate or validate the biological, intellectual, cultural superiority of any racial-ethnic group (UNESCO, 2021: Montagu, 1964). True science has discredited the existence of racial superiority, defines race as a social construct and confirms that race is not sound on a biological basis. Therefore, ideological and scientific racism are accepted by those who want to rationalize their domination of other groups or legitimize their superiority.

Discrimination is an action of unfair treatment against someone based on characteristics such as age, gender, race, religion, etc. When discrimination centers on race, it is racism. There are two types of racial discrimination: individual and institutional. Individual discrimination is “unfair treatment directed against someone” (Henslin, 2011, p. 218). Whereas institutional discrimination is negative systemic treatment of individuals by society through education, government, economy, health care, etc. According to Perry (2000), when people focus on racial-ethnic differences, they engage in the process of identity formation through structural and institutional norms. As a result, racial-ethnic identity conforms to normative perceptions people have of race and ethnicity reinforcing the structural order without challenging the socio-cultural arrangement of society. Maintaining racial-ethnic norms reinforces differences, creates tension, and disputes between racial-ethnic groups sustaining the status quo and reasserting the dominant groups position and hierarchy in society.

 

APPLICATION 7.3
LITTLE ACTS OF DISCRIMINATION

Goal

To identify and distinguish indirect, subtle, or unintentional acts of discrimination.

Instructions

  1. Read the article from Psychology Today (2010) by Dr. wing Sue called Microaggressions in Everyday Life.
  2. Listen to an NPR interview of Dr. Wing Sue explaining the concept Microaggressions: Be Careful What You Say.
  3. Watch Implicit Bias and Microaggressions: The Macro Impact of Small Acts presented by Dr. Wing Sue.
  4. Summarize the social and personal impact of microaggressions.
  5. Share a personal experience related to implicit bias and microaggressions.

 

Upon the establishment of the United States, White legislators and leaders limited the roles of racial-ethnic minorities and made them subordinate to those of White Europeans (Konradi & Schmidt 2004). This structure systematically created governmental and social disadvantages for minority groups and people of color. It has taken over 200 years to ensure civil rights and equal treatment of all people in the United States; however, discriminatory practices continue because of policies, precedents, and practices historically embedded in U.S. institutions and individuals behaving from ideas of racial stereotypes. Think about the differences people have in employment qualifications, compensation, obtaining home loans, getting into college, toxic waste dumping. What racial and ethnic stereotypes persist about different racial and ethnic groups in these areas of life?

Whites in the United States rarely experience racial discrimination making them unaware of the importance of race in their own and others’ thinking as compared to Americans of color or ethnic minorities (Konradi & Schmidt, 2004). Some Whites argue racial discrimination is outdated and feel uncomfortable with the blame, guilt, and accountability of individual acts and institutional discrimination. These ideas and feelings have prompted many White Americans to protest Critical Race Theory in schools.

Critical Race Theory (CRT) is a socio-intellectual movement of civil rights scholars and activists who challenge approaches to racial justice in U.S. laws. A key concept of CRT is intersectionality and how forms of inequality and identity are affected by race, class, gender, and disability. CRT emphasizes critical thinking about race, views race as a social construct, uses storytelling to explore lived experiences, and argues the idea of race advances the interests of Whites at the expense of people of color. CRT challenges the idea that U.S. law is neutral and color-blind. The movement began in the 1960s, but in 2020 became the focus of U.S. conservative lawmakers to ban and restrict the instruction of CRT and anti-racism education in primary and secondary schools in response to White grievance, guilt, and shame. Those opposed to CRT have misrepresented its principles and significance. CRT has not been part of the U.S. primary and secondary school curriculum. Its study and writings have historically been examined in higher education. Banning or restricting the work of CRT silences discussions about the history of race, racism, equality, and social justice.

 

APPLICATION 7.4
RECOGNIZING WHITE PRIVILEGE

Goal

To appraise and detect racial privilege in our lived experience.

Instructions

  1. Read the article White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack (1989) by Peggy McIntosh.
  2. Watch I Grew Up in Poverty. Here’s Why I Recognize My White Privilege presented by Tom Reitz.
  3. Reflect on why it is important to share your story with others and listen to the story of others.
  4. Why is it important to have conversations with people who are different from you? How might sharing stories transform our lives, our stories, and the society we live in?

 

By redirecting attention or ignoring race, White people believe they are practicing racial equality by being color blind, and it will eliminate racist atmospheres (Konradi & Schmidt, 2004). They do not realize the experience of not “seeing” race itself is racial privilege. Research shows the distribution of resources and opportunities are not equal among racial and ethnic categories, and White groups do better than other groups and Blacks are predominantly among the underclass (Konradi & Schmidt, 2004). Regardless of social perception, in reality, there are institutional and cultural differences in government, education, criminal justice, and media and racial-ethnic minorities received subordinate roles and treatment in society.

 

APPLICATION 7.5
VISUAL ETHNOGRAPHY PART 1

Goal

To compare and contrast our personal life to others around the world and make connections within diverse populations.

Background

Ethnographers study people and cultures by using qualitative methods. Ethnography or ethnographic research is the firsthand, field-based study of a particular culture by spending at least one year living with people and learning their customs and practices (Kottak and Kozaitis, 2012). In the field, ethnographers are participant observers and a participant of the group or society of study. Participant observers face challenges in remaining objective, non-bias, and ensuring their participation does not lead or influence others of the group in a specific direction (Kennedy, Norwood, and Jendian, 2017). This research approach expects ethnographers to eliminate the risk of contaminating data with interference or bias interpretations as much as humanly possible.

Some researchers choose to study their own culture. These practitioners refer to themselves as native anthropologists. Many native anthropologists have experience studying other cultures prior to researching their own (Kottak and Kozaitis, 2012). The practice of learning how to study other cultures gives practitioners the skills and knowledge they need to study their own culture more objectively. In addition, by studying other cultures then one’s own, native anthropologists are able to compare and analyze similarities and differences in cultural perceptions and practices.

Visual ethnography is a qualitative research method of photographic images with socio-cultural representations. The experience of producing and discussing visual images or texts develops ethnographic knowledge and provides sociological insight into how people live. For this exercise we will use a visual ethnographic research method to learn about ourselves and others.

Instructions

You will use pictures from your living spaces to connect with others from around the world. Consider teaming up to support visually impaired learners. In your home or place you live, take a photo of the following items:

  1. The street you live on
  2. Your home
  3. Front door of your home
  4. Your family
  5. The living room
  6. The ceiling
  7. Your sofa or seating
  8. Lamps or lighting
  9. The stove
  10. The kitchen sink
  11. Your cutlery drawer
  12. Pantry or where you store food
  13. The toilet
  14. The shower or bathing area
  15. Your toothbrush
  16. Your bedroom
  17. Your wardrobe
  18. Your shoes
  19. Children’s toys (if applicable)
  20. Children’s playground (if applicable)
  21. Your pets
  22. Your car or method of transportation

Source

Kennedy, V. (2018). Beyond race: Cultural influences on human social life. West Hills College Lemoore.

 

APPLICATION 7.6
VISUAL ETHNOGRAPHY PART 2

Goal

To compare and contrast our personal life to others around the world and make connections within diverse populations.

Instructions

  1. Watch the video See How the Rest of the World Lives, Organized by Income presented by Anna Rosling Ronnlund
  2. Next visit the website Dollar Street
  3. Once you have accessed the Dollar Street website, take the Quick Tour for a tutorial on how to use the site. If the Quick Tour does not appear when you click the site link, click the menu on the right-hand top corner and select Quick Guide, which will open the Quick Tour window.
  4. After completing the Quick Tour, access your visual ethnography photos and compare your photographs with other people throughout the world.
  5. For your analysis, explain the differences and similarities based on income and country. Specifically, describe what the poorest conditions are for each item as well as the richest conditions and what cultural similarities and/or differences exist in comparison to your items with your assigned learning team.
  6. Share the similarities and/or differences between your photographs and those on the website with the class.

Source

Kennedy, V. (2018). Beyond race: Cultural influences on human social life. West Hills College Lemoore.

License

Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Our Lives: An Ethnic Studies Primer by Vera Guerrero Kennedy and Rowena Bermio is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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