HOW DOES THE HISTORICAL CONSTRUCTION OF RACE INFLUENCE THE WAY IN WHICH
HOWDOES THE HISTORICAL CONSTRUCTION OF RACE INFLUENCE THE WAY IN WHICHRACIAL CATEGORIES ARE UNDERSTOOD IN CONTEMPORARY TIMES?
Inthe early 21st century, the concept of race that is the belief thathumans can be classified based on biological distinct groups eachwith own social, political and intellectual features, was regarded bysocial and natural scientists as an unsound idea. Current scientistsdon’t thing the idea just as the past scientists during the civilrights movement when people promoted inferiority of Africans asagainst the economic and social policy.
Thispaper has shown how the historical perception of races has affectedthe contemporary practices and its perception on the current races.It has mainly used the blacks or Africans and Indians since thesegroups mainly bored the brunt of racism and are still to date facingsuch challenges.
Inthe ancient times people were developed beliefs that people can beclassifieds in to biological distinct groups each with differentphysical, social and intellectual features. Many scientists havedifferent thinking concerning the views of the contemporary ethnicityand those of the ancient times (Botkin, 1945). For instance, theblacks were seen as having the most inferior genetics and were notinvolved in the social and economic development. In this case race isseen scientifically as genetic cues of man diversity which ismeasured in past, present, and the future. This is because it isaffected by changes influenced by politics geography, science cultureand economics. In our contemporary world, despite, increasingagreement among the scientists that the race cannot be used as aclassification tool, the explanation of human difference and itsdiversity still a milestone to current scientific practices and doesoffers a contradictory statement on how to make human difference inan absence of race concept.
Inthe beginning of eighteenth century, mankind was actually categorizedonto different diversities as a result of spread of colonialism. Inthis case some races were considered inferior to others and in turnwere made slaves and taken to Europe, paving way for the explanationand assessment of diversity in all human species. Carolus Linnaeuswho was a Swedish botanist played a key role in explaining the raceconcept. He divided mankind into Europeans, Africanus, Asiaticus andAmericanus through natural selection system. The French naturalistGeorges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon in 1749 introduced the raceconcept into science and made it clear that human races resulted fromdifferent varying climates in the world and that the Europeans aresuperior and produces the most beautiful and handsome men hencerepresent the genuine color of mankind. That’s why the Europeansare still viewed as superior till date.
Thusbegging from the 19th century, the racial science has been used a s abasis for degrading people both physically and intellectually andthat the American scientists had took part immensely in itsdevelopment for instance the scientists like Samuel Morton, JosiahNott, and George Gliddon who gave a lot of information favoringsuperiority of whites in terms of intelligence and physical abilityin Americas racial groups in addition to capacity of non-whites(Franklin, 1967). In addition, Morton who worked in the Americanschool of anthropology gave the theory of polygeny where he didexperiments on the cranial intelligence and capacity. He collectedsamples of skulls in the whole, measured their volume and came upwith the conclusion that the Caucasian and Mongolians had the highestcapacity of cranial hence highest intelligent levels as compared toAfricans to who has lowest capacity of cranial and hence lowestintelligent levels. This is still expressed and witness till to date.
Racismfrom American perspective
Inunderstanding the historical perspectives of race it’s important tofurther define its meaning. Race is a social thing and not biologicalas some people think. Available sources defines race as a naturalcategory expressing the biological variation from different peoplewhose forefathers came from different areas of the world. Thisdefinition is further explained socially. In this case the there isinheritance of biological traits and socially explains how thistraits are treated and expressed into races but not biologically. Therace boundaries are created though various ways in different timesand places. For instance in USA a person is regarded as black if heor she has an African ancestral characteristic.
Racismis seen as a way of harming disadvantaged groups in the whitepopulation through encouraging the division of the political andsocial movement challenging the ability to conquer existing state ofpower and inequality. In our contemporary world rulers have used therace concept to as a means of dividing and conquering in order tosafeguard their interests. For instance before 1900s there was apolitical movement called Populist in the South of America whichcomposed of workers and small farmers. The composed of black farmersand small group of white farmers and they would have conquered thelargest landowners in that period. It became more popular and couldconquer them but racial disagreement arose tearing apart theirfarming unity and led to its decline
Genocideand Geographical Displacement
Whenthe Europeans came to North America they made the indigenous peoplewho owned land as a greatest t resource. From that time they starteddisplacing the people and committing genocide to possess the landwhen there are conflicts over the land. This was first done byBritain and later the US government. People at that time used to saythat the only good Indian is a dead Indian and called for the killingof Indians. Many portions of land were grapped and the owners whoresisted were killed. Later the lands were gotten back throughtreaties when the military was defeated which offered them thecertain rights
TheNorth America natives were regarded as uncivilized and didn’t ownland due to their nomadic and temporary settlements coupled withtemporary cultivation of land. In the late 19thcentury, the displacement was completed and the natives were confinedto a geographical area called the Indian reservations. Currently theyare not allowed to live in these reservations and have been fullyaccorded the full American citizenship and moves around freely.However, their lives are still rooted to the geographical isolationand racial oppressions they were exposed to. In addition, they aretoday still the most economically deprived in America.
Thereare a lot of blacks in United States and everyone is aware that theyarose from African ancestors and are now the descendants of Americanswho owned them as properties. In the ancient times, the black werecaptured as slaves to work for the masters who were the whites. Theycould be whipped, killed, raped or sold at any time. Any harm causedto them was not punished (Macht & Hull, 1997).
Allmasters never ruthlessly treated their slaves despite having a lot ofpower. Many masters had moral beliefs that the slaves were childrenwith responsibility and many slave owners accepted that ideology. Inaddition, the slave owners were mainly business men where they didbusiness on slaves as an entrepreneurship hence they protected it asa business value. When the slave trade was abolished in the beggingof 19thcentury, the cost of slavery rose and the masters ensured that theirbusiness didn’t go down. As a consequence, when the civil waroccurred, the slaves through their protection had achieved the higherliving standard more than the poor farmers and unskilled workers inEurope (Macht & Hull, 1997).
Slaverywas considered by the slaves as lifetime condition and had to workharder not to be punished. Because the success of the slave ownersmainly relied on the slaver efforts, this illustrated that slaverowners had to depend on negative incentives such as threat of forceand the force itself to get that effort. The masters who actuallybelieved in the pertanal roles to protect their slaves in factjustified their harsh treatment on the reasons that the nature of theblack slaves are aimed to force them to work as the only option andthe slaves understood this.
Thishigh domination and slavery exploitation coupled the emergence andpervasive form of slave resistances and it occurred mainly in theareas of passivity, low quality work and sabotaging workoccasionally. In addition, the slaves developed a habit of runningaway occasionally to the North from South and it became a chronicproblem leading to political conflicts hence the civil war (Franklin& Moss, 1994).
Someof the resistance by the blacks lead to rising fear among whitesliving in the South and led to great violent and repressive objectsof the slavery in South. Slavery, was repressed at the end of civilwar a in one and half century ago but its effect has not yet endedtill today even if forms of race classes relations was destroyed(Burney, 2009).
Theslavery actually contributed to the harsh and long lasting form ofraces beliefs that still goes on to affect the American culturecurrently. It developed a rooted cultural challenge for the unitedstate of America after the rise of America revolution because it isdifficult to understand on how a country which was established basedon the principles of search of happiness, liberty and life be able toaccomplish slavery (Burney, 2009). It is also difficult the answerthe question on how it was possible to link democracy and libertydevotion with dealing or regarding others as properties because theslaves were considered slaves (Franklin & Moss, 1994).
Theremedy to this contradictory reality of slavery was the demonstrationof racial concepts of degrading and dehumanizing the blacks throughviewing them as inferior in terms of intellectuals and morals andtherefore deserves the to be accorded the harsh treatments. They werebranded as inferior intellectually meaning that they were viewed asshort of intellectual capacities to make rational actions andtherefore for their children the choices should be made by only theirresponsible adults (Risen, 2006). They were also branded as inferiormorally as they were viewed as dangerous, only lead by passion,sexual and aggressive and not able to exercise the liberty. Suchbeliefs composed the root cause of racism culture meted out inslavery and despite such beliefs were always challenged in many timesduring the end of 20thcentury, and are no longer viewed as respectable, they are stillaffect the rise relationships to the latter (Parish, 1989).
Inthe US everyone was viewed based on the biophysical characteristicsand was used as markers for social status and memorized for group andinternal identities. Despite the end of civil war which led toabolition of slave trade, the racial concepts and race ideology stillexisted and was strengthened. The African-Americans had to bear theblunt of being branded as having the lowest status in America andfaced a lot of stereotyped and some are still facing till today.
Thelow class individuals always had images of possessing backwardculture, stunted intellect, violence, immoral corruption, notdeserving civilization, not sensitive to fine arts, animal like andugly. In this case all the Americans were made to look that they weredominant in identify from the look of the biophysical attributes ofrace ideology and its culture imperatives. This soon took over thereligion, training and education, ethnic origins, language, morals,geographical location, lifestyles and socioeconomic classes.
Thedilemma on the lowest class races was, is still and will be in termsof coming up with identity in the sense of racial race branded tothem by the dominant society. In the last decades, there has beenresponse to this and some African Americans have become afro centricin that they see black intellectuals as they developed in the early21stcentury and some Indians have developed being native going back toprevious Native American lifestyle.
Afrocentrism aims at re-identification of peoples and African culture andto promote African position to have high esteem through promotion ofvaluable and aesthetics of its cultures. In addition to delete thenegativity posed to Africans, the afro centric have made assertionsconcerning the positive attributes of Africans and looks at means torecognize and fame Africans in a descend manner. There areassumptions made by many that the African descendants still possessqualities that keeps them apart from other people. These people are aclear demonstration that race ideology has been implanted in them.Most Americans finds it had to reason above the racial global viewand conclude the similar strategies as white racists in wantingsuperior characteristics for Africans (Price, 1776). Also, some afrocentric is careful of the fact that their endeavors are political andare practicing similar biological argument just like racists, whomthey oppose.
Indianshave also not been left out in racism and have been exposed tooppression, disempowerment and alienation in the community. They arealso endeavoring to construct a new picture just like the afrocentric and are working on showing its communities as people withpride, worthy and highest achievers. Many say that they were createdfor art beauty, democratic, nature preservers and to have egalitariangovernment. Indians have not been able to establish their destinydespite named as at least superior since they were foreigners. Thishas resulted to a lot of frustrations and divisiveness in the Indiansocieties (Moore, 2001).
TheTragedy of Urban Black Youth Identity
Thissections deals with how the racial ideology has been structures andaffect the human identity. This is the level in which individualsperceived as having low status have received and been affected by thebeliefs on the racism.
It’sinteresting to find out that many black people accept that they havedifferences with the black. They always underestimate their culturefrom those of whites though initiating a behavior which is differentfrom the whites. This is an alienation that from the dominantcultures which is the white’s which has slowed the development ofand access of many options belonging to the minority in the societyin America. In the past this has been the challenge inflicted onthe black youths who have believed that media and propagandas onracism that the only identity to them is performing well inentertainment and sports. The racial global view still maintains thatblacks can’t acquire in any intellectual trial and this has beenbelieved by all blacks till the level end that young blacks areconscious that cannot express their intellectual curiosity (Darwin &Gibbings, 1957).
Thefields like geometry, geology, mathematics, physics, zoology, botany,chemistry, genetics, biology and anatomy have been thrown to blacks.The research and the science are not incorporated in their syllabus.This has taken place over the last four decades despite the societyable to open new avenues for the opportunities. This is heightened byincreased promotion of narcissism and pleasure and the blacks havebranded themselves a new identity as an opposition to what they viewas whites.
Theblackness has actually been explained in various ways which isoutrageous and by the middle class standard though this is not lookedat by blacks as a social class variation but a matter of true racialidentity. Full of hype and valuing of sports and entertainmentpersonalities of who mainly promote super styles with a lot ofsubstances, a lot of blacks have tuned to identities which are mainlyfeatured in consumerism. The institutions which were perceived togive a good picture of life and depicted good picture of blackcommunity has been eroded like the barber, storekeeper, neighborswith caring elders, kin sand kinship, the church and the pride ofachievement on work (Nevins & Commager, 1966).
Slaverywas banned aftermath the civil war but this did not cease theenforcement of racism oppression. The 14thamendment of the US constitution in 1868 advocated for the equal lawprotection and equal rights to all citizens. But this did not stopracial oppression. And this resulted also to another concept ofsecond class citizenship. This is the concept were some citizens orpeople have more rights than others through forms of legal rightdenial both formally and informally. An instance is the law whichstopped people who have been charged with criminal activities fromvoting and this is still practiced to date in America and this isformal form. An instance of informal form is the situation where thepolice targets particular people and impart strict laws on them toimpose highly punitive sentences. There are still policies which makeor treat others as of higher value than others as a second classcitizenry.
Thiswas meted to African Americans in the past and is still practicedtoday for example in the hurricane Katrina of 2005 in New Orleans,the poor African Americans were neglected or abandoned. This vicebecame noticeable in the South of America after civil war. Manyslaves wanted to own land despite many landowners were the whites. Tofulfill their dreams, they disposed a lot of land from whites but thefederal government in some case tried to violate this. Few ex slavesowned the lands and the white landowners still retained the land butcould not own the labor (McNeill, 1967). This led to tying of slaveson the land and providing planters with control of labor. From this,the sharecropping system was devised to solve the labor problems.This is agriculture where a tenant farmer provides rents tolandowners from the total crops on the land. This was seen asprofitable to the landowners since there were a politically weakvulnerable people in addition to poor economy of tenant farmers. Thisis the neglects of political and legal rights meted to blacks in theSouth and still lingers in the minds of many. This was later termedthe Jim Crow and helped bring order in the agrarian system at the endof 19thcentury (Irving, 1983).
Inaddition the blacks were denied the rights to vote as they wereconsidered second class citizens. This was done legally but in Southit was seen as the way to disempower the black minority. The racismalso was used to prevent the blacks from getting jobs or employmentsand minimize their movements. The segregation laws which existed alsoexcluded the blacks from universities and schools, restaurants andpublic transport (Reilly, 1985).
Theblacks who had been arrested and charged in prisons were also notallowed to vote despite being released and finishing their terms.Practices of Police still goes on to targeted racial minorities,mainly young African American men, and judicial courts still goes onto give more punitive punishments to African-Americans. For instanceyoung black man who is driving a car in a white estate or area hasvery high chances of being stopped by police to be questioned than awhite person found in the same location. In America this is calledDWB offence or driving when black. In addition, there are many typesof public policies existing from the areas of toxic dumps to theeducation funding which continues to fully assign or give highervalue to the interest and wellbeing of certain citizens than others(Keegan, 1991).
Fromthe cases of policy making, these policies are not actually framedracially. From these and many other ways, the negative image ofsecond class citizenship still goes on to play a big role in theracial inequality in the united states and this still remains in theminds of many affected blacks.
Thispaper has shown that the historical practices based on the race inthe last one half century has really impacted the thoughts andjudgments of contemporary races in the way they are structured andperception of the race structures. Many people still feel like othersare inferior or superior. These are beliefs which needs to be gottenrid off. This paper has shown that the most affected people on thebrunt of racial oppression were the blacks or Africans. They werefrom the beginning viewed as having the lowest intelligence andcannot make sound judgments so they were enslaved with the main aimof making them similar to other superiors human beings. Racialprejudice is indeed a major concept which needs to still beresearched and its beliefs on the minds of many be done away withsince man was created equally and in the image of God and no one issuperior to another.
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