Racism has been a common theme to most of the discussions and lectures in this sociology course. Although many feel that race is biological, but in fact it is a social construct. Racism is basically “…the systematic means of denying access to resources and opportunities to a group based on their skin colour or ethnicity.” (Tridico 309) One must also try and understand the concept of “race” as “race” and “racism” are two completely different things but do not exist without one another. There is no agreed upon definition for “race”, it is not how you look, “…it’s about how people assign meaning to how you look.” (Tridico 311)
The first and last video’s we watched in class were on the concept of race and racism. The Danger of a Single Story with Chimamanda Adichie spoke of our preconceived notions we have about each race and how those notions create a stereotypes or a single story. We must learn to base things on our own experiences and debunk any stereotypes we hear, to fully appreciate and learn from other races and cultures. If we do not do this, we will be missing out on many beneficial experiences and be held back in life. The other video we saw, Race: The Power of an Illusion was a great example of proving that genetics in correlation to our appearances and physical characteristics are not true. Students in this video did experiments and found out that their genetic coding was not similar to those they were categorized as being in the same racial group as. In conclusion we are all mongrels because genetics do not determine our genetic variance, rather it’s how we mate and breed.
If this course has taught me anything it has taught me to not jump to conclusions or base my thinking on assumptions made by others. I must make my own conclusions about race and racism based on my own person experiences and to have an open mind when put in new situations with races and cultures that are unfamiliar. It is in fact all about recognizing the unfamiliar in the familiar that makes one appreciate that we are all similar in some way. Race is basically lies in the eye of the beholder because what one person constitutes as being “white” may be different to another person. We all categorize race differently and this is why it is hard to define race. Although many believe that race is biological it is rather a social construct and “society has made [racism], it can also unmake it” (324).
Race is thought to be a biological makeup or genetically usually where one can see the distinct categories but this is a myth. Appearance is a major indicator of race. Whether someone is intelligent, musically talented or athletic are seen as a biological trait but there are no genetic markers that define race. Throughout the video students conduct an experiment to see if their assumptions of race are true by testing to see who is most similar and different from one another. In reality, we are the only species that are genetically similar as we only have one nucleotide which is different from one another.
Humans have been constantly scrutinized for their racial differences through analysis of the face shape, brain color and other organs. It has been proven that there is no connection with colour and what is skin deep, which is known as concordance. Race is not all scientific and mostly formed by society’s in which we live. The Eugenics theory is when one trait comes from the mo0ther and one from the father; these are cultural or behavioural traits. Race mixing between superior and inferior classes is seen as a negative thing because it brings down the characteristics that one would want for their civilization. W.I.N are white, Indian and negro mixed people that are coarse interbred.
At the end of the video, the students learnt that their genetic coding was not similar to those they were categorized as being in the same racial group as. In conclusion we are all mongrels because genetics do not determine our genetic variance, rather it’s how we mate and breed.
“What question did the text/ chapter raise?
How does it make sense to the US government to spend almost $200 billion to fight the war in Iraq and offer $50 billion for the heads of Saddam Hussein and his sons in a world that could use that money to help the lives of millions?
“How did the text answer this question?”
Bush and the US government are only see what they want to see through tunnel vision logic. They only see the weapons of mass destruction. Thousands of innocent Iraqis were killed in the process to gain revenge or freedom from Saddam. The only reason why Bush is so interested in liberating Iraq and not Liberia is because of the oil Iraq’s land holds and the one man he is dedicated to murdering.
“How does the answer match our own ideas and experiences?”
As I have not and do not live in a third world country that is affected by government officials invading my country and creating war it still affects all of us. We are exposed to the kinds of things being done and witness the suffering of many. It shows us the capabilities and lengths that the human race will go to, to get what they want.
This article speaks to how Charles Quist – Adade feels about the September 2001 terrorist attack and how the government has continued to deal with it. He believes that we should grieve for those who lost their lives that day and for their loved ones but to not forget about those that continue to die every day “by the apathy, wastefulness and greed of people in the industrialized nations of the world.” (Appendix)
I feel that Charles is correct in this article that people forget about those that suffer everyday and only focus on the huge tragedies that we have had to face as a whole society. I think that gaining revenge on the terrorists of the September 2001 may have felt necessary at the time for the government but it may have not been the right thing to do overall as more wars could be a result of it. I believe that we are all human and we sometimes make irrational decisions based on emotion although it may seem logical in the moment. I know that the world learns by their mistakes and hopefully we can grow for the better.
In 1971, Professor Phillip D. Apart of the psychology department of Stanford University decided to test “The Power of the Situation”. This is where the situation controls or influences certain behaviours and people are stripped of their individuality. Several theories were bound to be tested, such as if people rise above a negative environment or if people tend to conform to unusual behaviours when put in different situations. In this experiment there were guards and there were inmates. The inmates rebelled after the second day and as a result the guards increased disciplinary action through insults, making the inmates to exercise and interrupting their sleep. The people volunteered to play these distinct roles started to see it as reality. One inmate became a snitch and one started to act crazy, one believed that they were not able to leave the experiment and were actually imprisoned. The whole experiment became unethical because the professor made the mistake to play both roles of the psychologist and superintendent of the prison. The Hawthorne effect had a great deal of influence on the experiment in that, volunteers knew the expectations of the experiment and in turn this affected their overall behaviour.
I thought this experiment was a real eye opener, in that people started to act in ways they normally would not have. They were put in an odd situation and dealt with it by exuding unpleasant human behaviour. I do believe that if the roles were reversed between the guards and inmates, the volunteers would have acting the same in their opposing role. There is always a leader or rebel and then there are those that follow or support that leader. I wonder if the volunteers were not told the expectations of the experiment if it would have played out differently.
Adichie speaks about how when we reject a single story of a place we can gain a sense of paradise. Whether people are aware of it or not, they have preconceived notions and stereotypical views of a culture or particular society without firsthand experience. She grew up in Nigeria, where she read British books and finally came to realize that people like her could exist in literature. When Adichie when to university in the states her roommates conveyed a single story of Africa and stereotyped her. They felt that there was no possibility of being considered equals and that she was nothing more than poor. There are many perceptions of Africa that are not true; the landscape is beautiful, people cannot speak for themselves, it is a constant daily struggle for citizens, many are dying of aids and all are waiting to be saved by white people.
The concept of the single story clearly has consequences as we are robbed of people’s dignity and it highlights how we are different not how we are similar. When Adichie travelled to Mexico she bought into the single story and was surprised and ashamed to admit it. The single story repeatedly shows people as one thing and soon enough that is what they become. Stereotypes are not true and very incomplete.
What question did the text/chapter raise?
People’s realities can be very different, in that the meaning behind similar things, objects or events may hold a certain meaning to someone but then may be valued differently by someone else.
How did the text answer this question?
Social reality has become a social construct as it is “…created by individuals to reflect certain interests in a world not necessarily of their making”. (19) It is made up of a collection of humans different realities of everyday existence as the same messages can have different meanings to people in different societies. Basically social reality is multidimensional and has multiple meanings. The ways of doing things or rather, the personal habits of people are passed down from generation to generation as a social reality because it is all they know to be true. These habits get shared through communication and interaction and may eventually be widely known and accepted as the norm
“Any actions that are repeated frequently become cast into a pattern, which can then be reproduced with an economy of effort and which are apprehended by its performer as that pattern.” (22)
This quote from the book clearly explains the process of how personal habits are transformed into something bigger that relates to a lot of people.
How does the answer match our own ideas and experiences?
Dr. Charles’ soccer god story is a good experience that he has shared with the class and in the book. It is a clear example of how although many people believe in a god or something, they do not all worship the same god but the concept is basically the same as they choose to believe in things depending on various reasons.