Race is a concept used more often to signify classification of people based on their human physiognomy. Whereas there have been many attempts to offer biological basis for such classification, sociologist show that the truth of the race lies in the characteristics of skin color and other appearances. Sociologists argue that race is not concrete or fixed aspect of human bodies but rather an illusion that keeps changing due to interactions and relationship between people. In the contemporary view race is a variable shaped by societal values, hence the meaning of race differs from society to the other and over time.
Sociologist and racial theorists Omi and Winant give an explanation of race that places it in the social, political and historical contexts. For example, in the United States America politics is said to play a key role in defining race by virtue of political contestation and voting. A post-election study conducted indicate that 70% of American voters had race considerations in the Election of president Barrack Obama. They explicitly explain that race is directly linked to the social and political struggles emanating from competing groups. In the British politics, the term black basically is used to refer to all non-whites (Omi and Winant 3). But in non-political contexts young Asians and Afro-Caribbean people adopt the term as an expression of identity.
Historically, race is defined by many through the political struggles lens and how such definition has kept shifting over time. For example in the founding of the nation blacks were perceived to be brute, dangerous and out of control who ought to be monitored for their own sake and that of those around them (Chaney and Robertson 12). Such definition was to the benefit of the business owners to justify enslavement and therefore benefit from the cheap labor of the slaves.
Racial categorization is a function of social, political and economic forces and how these determinants are shaped by races. The manner in which we understand races depends on the preconceived ideas. From the TED talks (Raising a black boy in America) the speaker explains how his dad knew their security was in danger as they were considered to be a security threat even when they were just being boys. In the US, the racial etiquette is a set of perceptions on self-distinction of status and appropriate mode of conduct associated with dominant group. Melody Hobson’s mother believed that her daughter would be treated in a different way just by being among a dominant group and by being of a different group. Some of this etiquette vary from group to group as everybody learns the rules of racial stratification often without teaching, and therefore in this case race becomes common sense.
The differences in skin color has played a great role in racial categorization, as the skin color offers an armature way of explaining the preconceived differences underneath in terms of temperaments, intellect, athletic ability and aesthetic preference hence leading to the distinct treatment of the racially identified groups (Omi and Winant 5). As such the continued existence of such racial ideologies show that racial myths can’t be exposed in popular imagination. Stereotypes and racial profiling seem to be permanent just to the existing social order for instance in the U.S.
The media plays a big role in how we understand and view issues. The industry’s through continued coverage of only negative things from the black people makes even the black people never associate success to their fellow black. As Mellody Hobson indicates from the TED talks, most people would like to associate with the white than the black (Hobson n.pag).
In conclusion, races do not emerge from nowhere, they are stereotypes and ideologies shaped as a result of diverse historical practices. These ideologies are subject to challenge over their truthfulness, definition and meaning.
How Social Constructs Impact on Privilege and Power.
Power most often is a result of political dispensation. Politics and the results of an election are largely determined by racial preferences, as those belonging to the dominant group clinch power. From the talks, Melody Hobson explains how in most boards of directors the blacks were of the smallest percentage or none at all. It could not raise eyebrows finding board room full of whites; that would be implausible in the case of blacks.
With regard to jobs and employment the blacks are considered to lack the intellect to run big corporates this again brings out the possibility of these race securing job opportunities with decent positions and salaries. When Melody accompanied a friend to a media house they could not be expected to be nothing other than worker in junior position hence supposed to be in uniforms.
Racial categorization complicates the ease with which some groups access privileges. For instance the black young people do not have freedom of moving around freely as indicated by the speaker Clint Smith. Some find it very difficult to find housing for their families, James White Sr. demonstrates how he went for long distance just to find a house. A study conducted on neighborhood coexistence, showed that a big percentage of whites did not have or encourage to live with blacks as neighbors, as there are some towns that are purely of white residents. This is demonstrated by Rich Benjamin in his road trips to various areas.
Omi, Michael and Winant, Howard. Racial Formation in the United States: From the 1960s to the 1990s (Critical Social Thought) (2nd ed). London: Routledge, 194. pp. 3-13.
Chaney, Cassandra and Robertson, Ray V. “Racism and Police Brutality in America.” Journal of African American Studies 17.4 (2013): 480–505. Web.
Hobson, Mellody. “Color blind or color brave?”. TED Talks. Available at: https://www.ted.com/playlists/250/talks